Monday, February 11, 2008
Dalrymple, Theodore. "Freud and Us: Review of George Makari's REVOLUTION IN MIND: THE CREATION OF PSYCHOANALYSIS." NEW YORK SUN January 16, 2008.
What, if anything, did Sigmund Freud actually discover? What concrete human knowledge would be lacking if he, or someone very like him, had never lived? With most scientists, the same questions would not be hard to answer. In the case of William Harvey, we might say: He discovered the circulation of the blood. Though philosophers may tell us that all scientific hypotheses are provisional, no one now seriously expects a future scientist to discover that the blood does not, in fact, circulate. Freud also claimed to be a scientist in the strictest sense of the word (though his world outlook was more scientistic than scientific), but all of his supposed discoveries, such as that of the Oedipus complex, were highly speculative. With little independent empirical evidence to support them, his theories were more like inventions than discoveries. No one would take seriously a doctor who concluded from the fact that a young man had broken his leg playing football that playing football was the one and only cause of broken legs; but this was more or less Freud's method. Nevertheless his claims to be a scientist were widely accredited, particularly later in his life. When he sought refuge in Britain after the Anschluss, he was at once awarded the highest scientific honor that the country could bestow, Fellowship of the Royal Society. Ironically, the Society's motto is "Nullius in verba" ("On the word of no one"), which is to say that truth does not inhere in anyone's personal authority, however great it might be. But no one ever used personal authority to more effect than Freud, who was a master of the employment of rhetoric to deflect the need for evidence. . . . Read the rest here: http://www.nysun.com/article/69618.