Sunday, June 2, 2013

Money Wisdom #135

"Already in the eighteenth century an important precursor Jean-Jacques Rousseau, had called attention to the incompatibility of society and man's original nature: civilized man, he affirmed, had made reflection subservient to his pride and passion instead of using it to attain a proper understanding of his place in the universal order. Consequently appearance differed from reality, and men who had become the slaves of opinion were no longer capable of heeding the voice of nature; what they consciously strove to become no longer corresponded to what they really were. If Kant set definite limits to the valid exercise of reason, later thinkers, such as Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, actually rejected reason in favor of an outlook that identified the meaning of human existence with the activity of the will. Kierkegaard also challenged the rationalist pretensions of Hegelianism in the name of Christian Freedom, which accorded priority to faith and grace instead of reason and nature. Before Freud, the German philosopher Eduard von Hartmann, drawing freely on Hegel, Schopenhauer, and Schelling, had elaborated 'the philosophy of the unconscious'. Hartmann attached a particular philosophical meaning to the term, identifying the unconscious with a higher, almost divine mode of creative being, which was treated as the absolute source of all existence. Henri Bergson, a contemporary of Freud, believed that intuition and duration as well as change and movement were more authentic aspects of ultimate truth than the intellectual conclusions of the mathematical and experimental sciences. Novelists such as Stendhal and Dostoevsky had stressed the importance of will and energy as the source of human activity, which often ran counter to the principles of everyday morality. Balzac's characters were also driven on by violent, obsessive passions; Balzac himself was fascinated by occultism and illuminism. The German Romantics had already proclaimed the value of poetry as a means of penetrating the deeper mysteries of existence, whereas later French poets, such as Baudelaire and Rimbaud and those of the Symbolist movement, appeared to add a new dimension to the aesthetic consciousness by exploring new aspects of the poetic imagination. Because of the rapid spread of these influences, nature was no longer envisaged in a static, abstract manner but was viewed as an organic, dynamic unity."
(emphasis my own)

Ronald Grimsley Psychoanalysis and Literary Criticism in Historical Perspective
in Benjamin Wolman (Ed) The Psychoanalytic Interpretation of History (1973) p.50

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