You are on page 1of 9

The Freudian Conception of Man and the Continuity of Nature Author(s): Jerome S. Bruner Source: Daedalus, Vol. 87, No.

1, Science and the Modern World View (Winter, 1958), pp. 77-84 Published by: The MIT Press on behalf of American Academy of Arts & Sciences Stable URL: . Accessed: 21/10/2013 17:31
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at .

JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact


The MIT Press and American Academy of Arts & Sciences are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Daedalus.

This content downloaded from on Mon, 21 Oct 2013 17:31:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

of man's ideas about man. anything last half-century of psychology. with the forces and conceptions to our of man. Since that time.106. and significance political for it is patent that the view one takes of man affects is with Our concern ideas that have given I need not insist upon of this image one's standard of the it is in And humanly possible. it is that man has and powerful for himself of his violations against exquisite capacities defending man has not is not to say that Western This cherished self-image. conception of which accounted for the forms and substances of the myriad was subtle to world. the as continuous as world has been conceived and monistic.The Freudian and of Man Conception of Nature the Continuity Jerome S.42. rated forms. derived from a more general stuff. for the structure of govern guardians consensus ment rests upon an uneasy and about human nature man is of the order of res publica. 21 Oct 2013 17:31:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . set our the of such a standard that we light acts. Anaximander that physical enough recognize matter must be viewed as a free of substance. anxiety inquiry the dawn of the sixth century before Christ. Bruner of man. brings of where is no longer free. may propose. For man as individual has a and emotional invest deep ment in the If we have learned in his image of himself. any partic generalized ular sensuous Air. " " is man that thou art mindful asked: What of him? persistently us to the It is that the when question. physical This content downloaded from 64. ethical. edge only pressed. and The human wants. The behavioral scientist. society nowadays a matter con is the idea of man Nor of disposes. water or bone were only elabo properties. a as matter of fundamental transformation substance. simply public cern. idea of to status the idea is not of its with virtue subject change by pubUc " as some out debate. It is for and the fitness of men's learning." people public at but insist on large calling him. profoundly establish our laws. then. the Greek By physi a bold had formulated of the conception cist-philosophers physical as a material world The Ionics had set forth unitary phenomenon. judge aspirations no must wrho that those be govern perforce jealous surprise. contemporary shape image the social. iron.43 on Mon.

battle for the acceptance of continuities. became the obvious The bold view eventually to our common of the and it gave view. bottled-up nor CorneUus Greek of creation man's prevail against conceptions the of the Malleus Maleficarum. voices in each generation. between consciousness. the of urging exploration to a continuities. between cherished primitive and civilized man ?each in doctrinal discontinuity preserved to be sure. by the governed sense counter to in bold the of the immediate testimony one. Agrippa against demonopathy states Neither in establishing between the varied the continuity the continuity between man and animal was of man nor in pursuing success until the nineteenth there century. of man: Darwin Freud's was the more day conception the more the more and in a daring. fortune or happy insight between Lawful between man and the animal kingdom. running of the senses. understanding shape case their this Even rested the alchemists upon physical world.78 Dcedalus common The view was a bold laws of matter. indeed. revolutionary. right explore as the architects of our present stand out massively and Freud. continuity on the on one side and dreams and unreason waking rationality between and consciousness and un other.106. then. upon proper they might stone.42. philosopher's ? and these matters are al The fortune of the good physicist for the monism of material have ways relative. conspicuous In of the of man that have changing speaking. the battle for the to such continuities. on Freud's to center our and timely just inquiry perhaps historically Two figures of these has been a canons. poetic It is both But is inconceivable without Darwin. Freud insight. There were This content downloaded from 64. Anaximander had a passing good approximation based on natural selection. impeded physics may into the nature and delayed insights nineteenth-century thinking of in modern theory ?this complementarity physical early good has no counterpart in the sciences of man. indeed. had they known continuity even have hit neutron the bombardment. between madness sanity.43 on Mon. conceptions our modern world I shall be the inspirited discussing perspective. deep sense. doctrine of material about and. a the mind of child and the adult mind. It has served as an axiomatic basis of for more physics than two millennia. 21 Oct 2013 17:31:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Cornelius Agrippa theory of evolution a of mental of the health and offered plausible theory continuity disease in terms of did not But Anaximander sexuality.

had shown a in its effort to wisdom produce persistent to It remained for Freud the present perfect product. post-Darwin era of and had literaUsm had abated exaggeration religious passed into a new nominalism. Man principle unifying an unique but the inheritor of organic legacy.43 on Mon. what remained was a broad. 21 Oct 2013 17:31:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Freud was strangely yet fitted for his role as archi appropriately tect of a new of man. As the summit of an evolutionary process. What Freud was proposing was that man at his best set of and man at his worst is subject to a common explanations: that good and evil grow from a common process. psychological a Darwin to did not fundamentalism slay it Rear-guard require in an age of He but this contribution was trivial technology. We must pause to examine his conception man that he created was in no small for the qualifications. of his to the determinism he was wedded century's materialism. H.106. young boldly represented by tion to the structures was a measure of anatomical of exploration the same time. host alike never an of madness and majesty. Auden have recognized with much This content downloaded from 64. from free fully infancy anything but innocent. helped. impelled by driving to be contained if man was to live in to seeds society. proclaim a final. A child dynamics. We his psycho but with the intellectual traditions he embodies. that this is a form of license. man could still view indeed himself with that God or Nature smug satisfaction. as both of at this inheritance. unitary organic conception continuity to man. of course. But the strength Lionel Trilling and W. Darwin I shall treat contribution image as a necessary condition for Freud and for his success.The Freudian Conception of Man 79 to the modern of man. a vast of from the nature. and the classical so of physicalism nineteenth-century physiology Helmholtz. the Freud's devo Indeed.42. recognizing. image of on his measure founded achieved and image of himself painfully are concerned not so much with of his times. What had done was to propose comparison a set of unified around the that all organic conception principles a common set their had and took their form from species origins ? of circumstances the of survival. and orderly. at monocellular had found its last protozoans Biology was not in the doctrine of evolution. Darwin in with another. image of man as the unfinished un of nature: product struggUng against inner vicissitudes and urges that had reason. All requirements biological creatures were on a common When the Uving footing.

8o there was sensitivity. sense of the role of a deep Dcedalus current of romanticism in Freud ?a of the drama of Ufe.106.42. therapist. knowing this in It was of the cultural alienation. is now free who is cured is the one who The enough of patient to decide about his own destiny. 21 Oct 2013 17:31:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . not in a doctrinal sense but in his of conception morality. of ways of that were more poetic than rational symbolism. " commentator In children. it is in for freedom. in his love of the of reason. patent. are out ?these the hall of the human inevitable working plight marks of Freud's case histories." For the God gives humanity good a feature toward children is modern trend of surely permissiveness of the Freudian legacy. taught. the combining no as man's of the there is for the Stoics. disobeying possibility that for him the laws of nature. is also in the classical tradi But for all the Hebraic quality. it was of the Haftorahs who said. a it is not to intervene as a directive becomes authority. the tragic dramatist. As for his neurosis intelligently seemed to me that its of mature love. makes possible patient's therapist a and when a the transference. as as antithetical two traditions Freud also embodies almost romanticism and nineteenth-century scientism. " " of Wisdom for the soft voice intellect would Freud prevail. Nor did it lead to a counsel of of innocence Free oneself of illusion. but the achievement of maturity. a chance to make its mistakes. His either Utopianism prophetic or of social control. it has always conception the uxorious and combined both blend of tenderness sensuality of tradition and sensual the Chassidic the of the imagery quality it not have been Freud rather than a And of Song might Songs. in his distrust of illusion. of the power of impulse. Again. And yet. Freud. Freud For tion ? Stoics and the great Greek dramatists. even in his conception prophetic to a talent was antithetic eroticism. infantilism. the wisdom necessary This content downloaded from 64. play within the drama. He was profoundly a Jew. it is in this lawfulness drama and his use of it love for Greek human drama inheres. When Freud. the patient has play.43 on Mon. His sense of the human are the The in his formulation tragedy. spirit. of neurotic and renunciation. he has achieved and understood "worked through" as with the Stoics. was neither doctrine nor formula. enters the drama of the The life. poet's perhaps sense of drama that led to his about romantic's gullibility parental to the seduction and to his generous of the fallacy susceptibility dramatic instance. skeptical play of mature in the form of his talent.

under that certain the memory-trace. and light could is ever everything conditions capable . it that the that govern good Freud's us aware. The Psychopathology is not one of Freud's of Everyday Life " " more to the but the Freudian contributed has works. In the that the most realm highly lowest. it is usually the proof of it.. deeper slip common in human than of lawfulness behavior acceptance perhaps from Wundt formulations any of the more rigorous and academic to the of lunch engagement. the barked shin could no be dismissed as accident.43 on Mon. the conception continuity. When of or further problem or a bifurcation an One development.106. again.42. primitive. extension Haeckel's of Darwinian doctrine beyond that ontogeny is another contribu recapitulates phylogeny It is the that in the human mind. is that in every man there acci these are neither of a delicate but products that 14-15. by prepared proposition It remained scientific naturalism. * Freud. had. continuity " Accident in human affairs was no more to be brooked as explana tion" such an than accident in nature. 21 Oct 2013 17:31:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . of conservation has in quantitative while another close very . . of mind. . view that nothing survives of being in once formed some brought way to or in the mind other. psychologists a moment. . Civilization and Its Discontents. Why philos we will in and had failed consider academic ophers.. theorem tion to Where developed Freud's animals are concerned we have arisen from the hold the view . on the other hand. burgeoning nineteenth-century to the heart of human for Freud to extend naturalistic explanation affairs. the primitive type is so commonly preserved alongside the transformations which have developed out of it that it is superfluous to give instances in this happens. the present day. The sUp forgotten the tongue. he made lies in the continuities of which contribution The first of these is the of organic lawfulness. .# What are has now come for to be common sense and potentialities criminality dents nor visitations of degeneracy. side-by-side with and evolved. This content downloaded from 64.The the Freudian Conception of Man 81 of the laws of one's own nature and in the acceptance recognition Ufe is to be found. The basis for accepting " " a obvious of been well course. Since we to the part has the time of under more when an result attitude gone we general recognized the error of supposing annihilation of that ordinary forgetting have been signified inclined destruction to the opposite perish. brings in the mind. survived impulse unchanged us This development. pp. and exist the civilized archaic infantile. longer Freud should have succeeded where the novelists.

sense both. distinc it is our heritage from Freud that the all-or-none Finally. And and fears has become senting disguised wishes in the creative of unconscious Freud's processes recognition deep our under toward let far be has it also act. in short. human suffering comparable of sense of the continuity that Freud's One may argue. father of to the man. might Good and evil. from grow of Freud's genius was in his resolution was one of child and adult such. the humanist. not suffice theory stages development psychosexual the the latter clumsy. The polarities. toward a basis for of these ishment?none compassion provided to that of our time. normality produced a common root. between of the standing kinship man of science. This content downloaded from 64. gone enriching and the the artist. to the anal. under different or even saintliness. It did the child was and the the gap. said. finally. illness and mental health has been replaced by a tion between mental of these states.43 on Mon. sense or in the developmental in common general psychology. to the of sexual expression progression and finally to the genital has not found a secure place either phallic. it is Freud because innocence again the between the discontinuity into common question brought irrational life and the seemingly of waking rational purposefulness the crude symbolism of fantasy and dream. And of effects the shown and others has research of Beach profound even on in lower sexual behavior adult infantile experience organisms. revolutionary in formulation.42.82 balance of forces Dcedalus have circumstances. of infantile sexuaUty were an effort to fill are reluctant to the If report their dreams with today people once attached to such recitals. The of divine pun and doctrines the demonologies nineteenth century. While purposelessness at dream has come increas of Freud's efforts early interpretation tunnels have an to be abandoned ? that and poles telephone ingly of the dream as repre invariant sexual reference ? the conception common coin. 21 Oct 2013 17:31:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . The distinction to reiterate that that.106. the former elegant. The more of the continuity humane conception is as to human trouble is a severe reaction view that neurosis as it is for social practice in its implications daring of the the nosologies "bad seed" theories. Common of sexuality has been recognized by continuity in the baby books and in the permissiveness honors the continuity the with which young parents of today resolve their doubts. Though alleged from the oral.

super-ego. pleasure-seeking the and the its for ego. ideological elucidation of the human The had been know-nothing. proto-theory success in to fill the common Its the gap. plight.43 on Mon. the tragic. theory of uninterrupted recently capped by into evolution that brought man with the rest of the continuity as a way of The rise of naturalism animal kingdom. heritage a or a actors. a sense of the brotherhood It has in any of man.The human Freudian Conception of Man 83 of the likeness of the human has made conditions. and the scientific views of so It is here that Freud's matters intellectual necessity. the Freud was decomposition." plight not yet abandoned and science. a scientific progress. 21 Oct 2013 17:31:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . theory proto-theory peopled The characters are from life: the blind. Freud's is with deeply. punitive priggish battling being by the energy of the others to its own use. provides the clue to his ideological power. The ego for economy canny mechanisms develops with the threat of id rest. " to use Morton White's too often to religion. an imagery imagery of necessity. Balances are struck between the actors. transforming conception " " of man was not its recourse to the cause-and-effect dis simply course of science. after such initial resistance. dealing impulses: projection. by religion adopted by It was the the of Freud that was inspired imagery. the and denial. parts single had in and recognized phantasies Why. is a technique play whose that he himself the dramatic of using technique actors are a It of life. Rather it is Freud's I think. ?nergie. posed by our is one of the great moral of age. possible deeper case of the toward what once we took spirit punitiveness tempered as evil and what we now see as sick. that combines the dramatic. and in the balance are char acter and neurosis. agreed or an the role of a non-scientific spiritual grab-bag. We have not yet resolved two the dilemma of Its resolution these ways viewing. By the close of aspirations religion. were Freud's views so This content downloaded from 64.42. id.106. It is an if I may call it that. explanation in the mental There had been at least four centuries of sphere. understanding a nature and man witnessed decline in the corresponding explanatory of the nineteenth century. that imagery. concurrently. challenges phe common successful in of man? transforming nomenally conceptions reason we have considered: the readiness of the One already to world naturalistic of Western accept explanation organic phe nomena to be readier for such and. The drama has an diverting and a terseness. accept phrase.

physics was the image of man secular. he has the century prepared an he has the growth. At as when are formed times it is electrical.43 on Mon. conceiving analogy. times the is hydraulic: imagery it breaks out in a suppress this stream of impulses. is I would the Anaximander that proper parallel: propose nature was also an analogy of his view of the connectedness physical ? and a one.106. by necessity At of the classical mechanics. finding his utopianism asceticism of the totalitarians of ideological the contempt the image has found a ready home Right in the rising. its tragic quality. its conflict. But I have said virtually It was Daydream. moreover. an a way of tional sense. capable own and of from both This freedom way. one which Dcedalus is honored in his essay. its Finally. and cathexes The way of thought fitted well withdrawn like electrical charges. plight. the Freudian in the ideal type has become a struggle against spiritual rallying point has earned Freud and the Left. liberal intellectual middle class.84 dreams. ficial conscious But it fits the human experience. The Poet and the of the theory. a to say that Freud's success Victorian in reluctant forcing lay to accept the is as empty as hailing of sexuality world importance over fundamentalism. about Freud's equation of sexuality nothing But and still is a stimulus to resistance. a drama. frightening private impulsiveness. provided at the same without of man that has made him comprehensible time him making contemptible. it is a man. metaphor. urges. in the twentieth This content downloaded from 64. and perforce a The is closed and mechanical elsewhere. conception Freud's mode of thought is not a theory in the conven propriate. But. For them. far more image important. Freud is the ground from which theory powerful to nurture and twentieth will grow. thoroughly presented ideal type was the mature man free of infantile neuroticism. profound to the common of man Can Freud's contribution understanding of such great be likened to the century impact and Darwin's theories as Newtonian and biological physics physical but not ap is of evolution? The question tempting.42. 21 Oct 2013 17:31:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . its its its secret and torment. for his Darwin Each had a far more victory effect. experience. has an immediate resonance with the dialectic of it is not the stuff of super True. (the common-sense of its age. and surely impulse. The imagery regimentation. system displacement one. its scientific it is marked the Concerning imagery.