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Freud and Culture

Freud and Culture (IPA: Psychoanalytic Ideas and Applications) by Eric Smadja
English | 2015 | ISBN: 1782202080 | 208 pages | PDF | 1,5 MB

This book explores the representations of society and culture that Freud elaborated in the course of his work. His profound interest in these areas led to his construction of a personal socio-anthropology, one which was virulently criticized by the social sciences of the day as it challenged many contemporary sociological and anthropological conceptions.

Freud's view of culture and society encompassed both his Viennese and wider Western society and civilization and also historical and so-called "primitive" societies, which he viewed from the evolutionist perspective of the British anthropologists of his time. When Freud writes about society, culture, civilization, the masses, or the community, it is therefore necessary to take into consideration the interrelationship between these various perspectives - both contemporary Viennese and Western, historical and primitive. By exploring these subjects the book also raises a number of compelling questions: What constitutes a culture? What are its essential traits, its functions, its relationships with society and with nature, and with other aspects of "reality" or of the "external world". What account of it did Freud seek to reconstruct (phylogenesis), and what role does it play in the development of each individual (ontogenesis) through the construction and functioning of his or her psyche?

This book provides some fascinating answers and skilfully elaborates the distinctively Freudian notion of "Kulturarbeit", an idea that played a central role in his work but which, rather curiously, he never defined. The author compellingly reconstructs this concept from a strictly Freudian perspective by drawing on both his socio-anthropological writings and also those of others outside the field.

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