Enlightenment History, Psychoanalysis and Modernity, The Use and Abuse of Reason, International Society for Intellectual History (ISIH) Conference, Renvall Institute, University of Helsinki, July 2004.

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Abstract

In this paper I investigate the relation between modern and postmodern notions of enlightenment. I suggest that the postmodern Enlightenment’s claim to diagnose an oppressive “symptom” of the Enlightenment is false. I use Freud's Totem and Taboo and Voltaire's La Philosophie de l’histoire to demonstrate this point. I suggets that Freud and Voltaire share the same notion of history as a transition from savagery to civilization. However, while Voltaire places savage displays on the outside of civilization, Freud grants them a constitutive place in the heart of modern man. IN that sense, Freud not only uses the basic historical narrative of the transition form tradition to modernity to back a universal theory of psychoanalysis but also uses psychoanalytical theory to prop up this basic historical narrative. What used to be constitutive of society on the “outside” as social practices has now become constitutive on the “inside,” which generates a reversal of terms: traditional, savage practices lie at the very heart of modern man who keeps repeating the “original act” and the historical narrative (killing the father) in his development. We could also say that with Freud, we get the interiorization of the irrational and the other that the postmodern Enlightenment has been so eager to point out. In that sense, I suggest, the post-modern critique of the Enlightenment is not so much a diagnose of the Enlightenment as innately oppressive as it is a reformulation of the modern principles which keep reconstituting themselves around distinctions between the rational and the irrational, between myth and Enlightenment, or between the modern and tradition.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2004
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes

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History
Modernity
Abuse
Enlightenment
Helsinki
Psychoanalysis
Intellectual History
Sigmund Freud
Voltaire
Historical Narrative
Civilization
Modern Man
Props
Social Practice
Reformulation
Killing
Taboo
Savagery

Cite this

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title = "Enlightenment History, Psychoanalysis and Modernity, The Use and Abuse of Reason, International Society for Intellectual History (ISIH) Conference, Renvall Institute, University of Helsinki, July 2004.",
abstract = "In this paper I investigate the relation between modern and postmodern notions of enlightenment. I suggest that the postmodern Enlightenment’s claim to diagnose an oppressive “symptom” of the Enlightenment is false. I use Freud's Totem and Taboo and Voltaire's La Philosophie de l’histoire to demonstrate this point. I suggets that Freud and Voltaire share the same notion of history as a transition from savagery to civilization. However, while Voltaire places savage displays on the outside of civilization, Freud grants them a constitutive place in the heart of modern man. IN that sense, Freud not only uses the basic historical narrative of the transition form tradition to modernity to back a universal theory of psychoanalysis but also uses psychoanalytical theory to prop up this basic historical narrative. What used to be constitutive of society on the “outside” as social practices has now become constitutive on the “inside,” which generates a reversal of terms: traditional, savage practices lie at the very heart of modern man who keeps repeating the “original act” and the historical narrative (killing the father) in his development. We could also say that with Freud, we get the interiorization of the irrational and the other that the postmodern Enlightenment has been so eager to point out. In that sense, I suggest, the post-modern critique of the Enlightenment is not so much a diagnose of the Enlightenment as innately oppressive as it is a reformulation of the modern principles which keep reconstituting themselves around distinctions between the rational and the irrational, between myth and Enlightenment, or between the modern and tradition.",
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N2 - In this paper I investigate the relation between modern and postmodern notions of enlightenment. I suggest that the postmodern Enlightenment’s claim to diagnose an oppressive “symptom” of the Enlightenment is false. I use Freud's Totem and Taboo and Voltaire's La Philosophie de l’histoire to demonstrate this point. I suggets that Freud and Voltaire share the same notion of history as a transition from savagery to civilization. However, while Voltaire places savage displays on the outside of civilization, Freud grants them a constitutive place in the heart of modern man. IN that sense, Freud not only uses the basic historical narrative of the transition form tradition to modernity to back a universal theory of psychoanalysis but also uses psychoanalytical theory to prop up this basic historical narrative. What used to be constitutive of society on the “outside” as social practices has now become constitutive on the “inside,” which generates a reversal of terms: traditional, savage practices lie at the very heart of modern man who keeps repeating the “original act” and the historical narrative (killing the father) in his development. We could also say that with Freud, we get the interiorization of the irrational and the other that the postmodern Enlightenment has been so eager to point out. In that sense, I suggest, the post-modern critique of the Enlightenment is not so much a diagnose of the Enlightenment as innately oppressive as it is a reformulation of the modern principles which keep reconstituting themselves around distinctions between the rational and the irrational, between myth and Enlightenment, or between the modern and tradition.

AB - In this paper I investigate the relation between modern and postmodern notions of enlightenment. I suggest that the postmodern Enlightenment’s claim to diagnose an oppressive “symptom” of the Enlightenment is false. I use Freud's Totem and Taboo and Voltaire's La Philosophie de l’histoire to demonstrate this point. I suggets that Freud and Voltaire share the same notion of history as a transition from savagery to civilization. However, while Voltaire places savage displays on the outside of civilization, Freud grants them a constitutive place in the heart of modern man. IN that sense, Freud not only uses the basic historical narrative of the transition form tradition to modernity to back a universal theory of psychoanalysis but also uses psychoanalytical theory to prop up this basic historical narrative. What used to be constitutive of society on the “outside” as social practices has now become constitutive on the “inside,” which generates a reversal of terms: traditional, savage practices lie at the very heart of modern man who keeps repeating the “original act” and the historical narrative (killing the father) in his development. We could also say that with Freud, we get the interiorization of the irrational and the other that the postmodern Enlightenment has been so eager to point out. In that sense, I suggest, the post-modern critique of the Enlightenment is not so much a diagnose of the Enlightenment as innately oppressive as it is a reformulation of the modern principles which keep reconstituting themselves around distinctions between the rational and the irrational, between myth and Enlightenment, or between the modern and tradition.

M3 - Paper without publisher/journal

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