Philosophical Freud

Most people think of Freud as a psychologist rather than as a philosopher. And worse, they often think of his work as achingly passé and of the man as a pseudo-scientist at best, and a charlatan at worst. But I think that Freud was a great philosopher who still has a lot to teach us about ourselves.

Achieving a Measure of Insanity

British psychoanalyst Donald Woods Winnicott wrote in a review of Carl Jung's memoir Memories, Dreams, and Reflections: “I was sane, and…through analysis and self-analysis I achieved some measure of insanity.” How do we make sense of this strange claim?

The Politics of Illusion: From Socrates and Psychoanalysis to Donald Trump

Perhaps the most remarkable (and, for many, alarming) political event in 2015 has been the rise of Donald Trump. At first, many people thought of Trump as an amusing sideshow. Over the months, mass-media talking heads (and also lots of my philosopher friends) kept repeating that there’s “no chance” of Trump getting the republican nomination, and therefore that there’s “no chance” of his becoming president of the United States. After each of his inflammatory statements, they declared that this time Trump has “gone too far” and predicted his downfall.

The Legacy of Freud

On the one hand, it would be hard to deny that Freud was one of the towering intellectual figures of the 20th Century. Arguably, he single handedly changed the way we think about ourselves once and for all. To be sure, he wasn’t the first to think about the idea of unconscious beliefs and desires. That idea goes back over two thousand years ago to Epicurus. Unlike Epicurus, Freud developed detailed, putatively scientific hypotheses about the exact workings of the unconscious mind. And those theories basically ruled the roost for several decades more or less unchallenged.