Freud as a Social and Cultural Theorist : On Human Nature and the Civilizing Process book cover
1st Edition

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

ISBN 9780367582968
Published June 29, 2020 by Routledge
250 Pages

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents




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


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