Freud, the Reluctant Philosopher

Princeton University Press
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Freud began university intending to study both medicine and philosophy. But he was ambivalent about philosophy, regarding it as metaphysical, too limited to the conscious mind, and ignorant of empirical knowledge. Yet his private correspondence and his writings on culture and history reveal that he never forsook his original philosophical ambitions. Indeed, while Freud remained firmly committed to positivist ideals, his thought was permeated with other aspects of German philosophy. Placed in dialogue with his intellectual contemporaries, Freud appears as a reluctant philosopher who failed to recognize his own metaphysical commitments, thereby crippling the defense of his theory and misrepresenting his true achievement. Recasting Freud as an inspired humanist and reconceiving psychoanalysis as a form of moral inquiry, Alfred Tauber argues that Freudianism still offers a rich approach to self-inquiry, one that reaffirms the enduring task of philosophy and many of the abiding ethical values of Western civilization.
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About the author

Alfred I. Tauber is professor of philosophy and the Zoltan Kohn Professor of Medicine at Boston University, where he is also director of the Center for Philosophy and History of Science. His books include Science and the Quest for Meaning, Patient Autonomy and the Ethics of Responsibility, and Henry David Thoreau and the Moral Agency of Knowing.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jul 1, 2010
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Pages
344
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ISBN
9781400836925
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Social History
Philosophy / History & Surveys / Modern
Psychology / History
Psychology / Movements / Psychoanalysis
Psychology / Personality
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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From the Hardcover edition.
Modern immunology traditionally conceives of the immune system as providing defense against pathogens. Alfred I. Tauber criticizes this conception of immunity as too narrow, because it discounts much of the immune system's other normal functions. These include active tolerance of nutritional exchanges with the environment and the stabilization of cooperative relationships with resident micro-organisms. An expanded account extends immunity's functional role from singular 'defense' to broadened discernment of environmental 'exchange.' This ecological perspective has profound theoretical implications, for the basic notion of immune identity is reconfigured: highlighting the organism as a holobiont (a consortium of diverse organisms living in cooperative relationships) challenges prevailing concepts of individuality and the self/nonself dichotomy heretofore organizing immune theory. Indeed, if theoretical interest is focused on the challenges of maintaining immune balance in the full ecological context of the organism, then immune regulation assumes new complexity. Tauber maintains that the key to unravelling that puzzle requires a critical re-assessment of the cognitive processes that underlie immune effector functions. Accordingly, he provides the outline of a re-formulated 'cognitive paradigm' that dispenses with agent-based models and adopts an ecologically conceived understanding of perception and information processing. The implications of this revised configuration of immunity and its deconstructed notions of individuality and selfhood have wide significance for philosophers and life scientists working in immunology, ecology, and the cognitive sciences.
Modern immunology traditionally conceives of the immune system as providing defense against pathogens. Alfred I. Tauber criticizes this conception of immunity as too narrow, because it discounts much of the immune system's other normal functions. These include active tolerance of nutritional exchanges with the environment and the stabilization of cooperative relationships with resident micro-organisms. An expanded account extends immunity's functional role from singular 'defense' to broadened discernment of environmental 'exchange.' This ecological perspective has profound theoretical implications, for the basic notion of immune identity is reconfigured: highlighting the organism as a holobiont (a consortium of diverse organisms living in cooperative relationships) challenges prevailing concepts of individuality and the self/nonself dichotomy heretofore organizing immune theory. Indeed, if theoretical interest is focused on the challenges of maintaining immune balance in the full ecological context of the organism, then immune regulation assumes new complexity. Tauber maintains that the key to unravelling that puzzle requires a critical re-assessment of the cognitive processes that underlie immune effector functions. Accordingly, he provides the outline of a re-formulated 'cognitive paradigm' that dispenses with agent-based models and adopts an ecologically conceived understanding of perception and information processing. The implications of this revised configuration of immunity and its deconstructed notions of individuality and selfhood have wide significance for philosophers and life scientists working in immunology, ecology, and the cognitive sciences.
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