chapter  12
28 Pages

Freud and continental philosophy

Sigmund Freud1 is a momentously important gure not only in relation to the history of the continental philosophical tradition; he casts a prominent long shadow over the entirety of the past century.2 In addition to informing certain varieties of therapy linked to speci c theoretical models of the mind, Freud’s invention of psychoanalysis has exerted (and continues to exert) enormous in uence on Western culture and the history of ideas, even transforming the very manners in which people think and speak about themselves at an everyday level. Who does not occasionally suspect that he or she and others are moved by obscure or hidden mental forces, that the reasons for observed behavior are not always what they super cially seem? And few thinkers from one hundred years ago continue to provoke controversy in the here-and-now. Freud’s writings, rather than being highly specialized psychological texts focusing on sexuality and family life, are incredibly rich and wide-ranging re ections on numerous aspects of the human condition, such as the workings of memory, the relation-

1. Sigmund Freud (May 6, 1856-September 23, 1939; born in Freiberg, Moravia [present-day Czech Republic]; died in London, England) took his MD at the University of Vienna (1881). His in uences included Brentano, Josef Breuer, Ernst Wilhelm von Brücke, Jean-Martin Charcot, Charles Darwin, Empedocles, Gustav Fechner, Wilhelm Fliess, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Hermann von Helmholtz, Nietzsche, Plato, Schopenhauer, William Shakespeare, and Sophocles.