The Ontology of Psychology

Questioning Foundations in the Philosophy of Mind

By Linda A.W. Brakel

© 2013 – Routledge

180 pages

Purchasing Options:
Hardback: 9780415635622
pub: 2013-05-21
US Dollars$145.00

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About the Book

In this volume, Brakel raises questions about conventions in the study of mind in three disciplines—psychoanalysis, philosophy of mind, and experimental philosophy. She illuminates new understandings of the mind through interdisciplinary challenges to views long-accepted.

Here she proposes a view of psychoanalysis as a treatment that owes its successes largely to its biological nature—biological in its capacity to best approximate the extinction of problems arising owing to aversive conditioning. She also discusses whether or not "the mental" can have any real ontological standing, arguing that a form of reductive physicalism can be sufficient ontologically, but that epistemological considerations require a branch of non-reductive physicalism. She then notes the positive implications of this view for psychiatry and psychoanalysis, Finally, she investigates the role of "consistency" in method and content, toward which experimental philosophers strive.

In essence, Brakel articulates the different sets of challenges pertaining to: a) ancient dilemmas such as the mind/body problem; b) longstanding debates about the nature of therapeutic action in psychoanalysis; and c) new core questions arising in the relatively young discipline of experimental philosophy.


"Brakel's book offers a cogent and original defense of a biological ontology of the mind. Chapters 2 and 3, in which Brakel puts forward a novel explanation of the biological effectiveness of psychoanalysis and a novel way of placing the psychoanalytical mind in the physical world, are of particular interest…this is a refreshing reconceptualization of the psychoanalytic theory of mind." - Claudia Passos-Ferreira, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

Table of Contents

Part I: Introduction 1.Introduction Part II: Biological Psychology 2.Extinction Phenomena: A Biologic Perspective on How and Why Psychoanalysis Works Part III: Psychological Biology 3.The Ontology of Psychology Part IV: Uses and Abuses of Consistency 4.The Uses and Abuses of Consistency in Thought Experiments, Empirical Research, Experimental Philosophy, and Psychoanalysis Part V: Conclusion 5. Summary and Conclusions

About the Author

Linda A.W. Brakel is Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School and Faculty Research Associate in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Michigan as well as Faculty Member of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Association.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Contemporary Philosophy

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Mind & Body
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Psychoanalysis