1st Edition

Freud as a Social and Cultural Theorist On Human Nature and the Civilizing Process

By Howard L. Kaye Copyright 2019
    250 Pages
    by Routledge

    250 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book offers a new account of Freud’s work by reading him as the social theorist and philosopher he always aspired to be, and not as the medical scientist he publicly claimed to be. In doing so, the author demonstrates that’s Freud’s social, moral, and cultural thought constitutes the core of his life’s work as a theorist, and is the thread that binds his voluminous writings together: from his earliest essays on the neuroses, to his foundational writings on dreams and sexuality, and to his far-ranging reflections on art, religion, and the dynamics of culture. Returning to the fundamental questions and concerns that animate Freud’s work - the nature of evil; the origins of religion, morality, and tradition; and the looming threat of resurgent barbarism - Freud as a Social and Cultural Theorist provides the first systematic re-examination of Freud’s social and cultural thought in more than a generation. As such, it will be of interest to social and cultural theorists, social philosophers, intellectual and cultural historians, and those with interests in psychoanalysis and its origins.




    1. Was Freud a Medical Scientist or a Social Theorist?

    2. In Search of the "Royal Road"

    3. The "Compelling Call" of Psychology and the Foundational Texts of 1899-1905

    4. Psychoanalysis as Cultural Critique: From Frustrated Sexuality to the Problem of Authority

    5. Totem and Taboo: The Emergence of Freud as a Social Theorist

    6. From Metapsychology to Social Psychology

    7. Death, the Uncanny, and the Post-war Crisis of Authority

    8. The Psychology of the Ego and the Riddles of Mind and Culture

    9. The Work of Culture

    10. Freud’s Testament

    Conclusion: The Freud Who Endures



    Howard L. Kaye is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Franklin and Marshall College, USA, and the author of The Social Meaning of Modern Biology.

    "[…] Kaye’s detailed and scholarly defence of Freud as a social theorist commands our respect and close attention." - Bryan Turner, Journal of Classical Sociology

    "[a] highly intelligent and artfully compressed study of Freud. […] the recession of Freud's reputation clears the way for a more rational and temperate appreciation of him, one that does not claim (or deny) too much and is not overly tainted by passion or partisanship. That would be a fair description of what Kaye's book attempts to do ...neither to praise Freud inordinately nor to bury him prematurely, but instead to understand him more accurately, and make a case for his enduring importance as a social thinker. Not, he insists, as a scientist. […] Kaye's treatment of Freud recalls, in many ways, the great age of sociological writing, when sociology was philosophical inquiry of the highest order, and its practitioners--Durkheim, Marx, Weber, Simmel, Toennies, among others--belonged in a long and illustrious intellectual succession tracing back to Tocqueville, Hume, Hobbes (to whom Kaye compares Freud), and all the way to the ancients." - Wilfred M. McClay, The Hedgehog Review

    "Instead of seeing Freud as a reckless scientist who failed to develop clinical protocols for his neurotic patients, Kaye wants us to see him as a social theorist who wrote broadly about social issues while supporting his family through his medical practice. Kaye wants to put the cart back behind the horse. The mistake he sees us making with Freud is, I suppose, a bit like the mistake of thinking of Alfred Schütz as a banker rather than as a phenomenologist or of Erving Goffman as a stock market expert and antique dealer rather than as a sociologist. […] The scholarship surrounding Freud is intimidating, and Kaye has mastered it and is able to show this mastery while writing in a clear and elegant way. His book s