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The Psychoanalytic Movement: The Cunning of Unreason (Paladin Movements & Ideas)

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  25 Ratings  ·  4 Reviews
How did psychoanalysis become so accepted by the public? This provocative book reconstructs the system of ideas upon which the theory and practice of psychoanalysis rests, describing a modern culture that has created a psychic or a spiritual void that psychoanalysis seems custom-made to fill. Gellner approaches the question as a sociologist and attains a broad perspective ...more
Paperback, Second Edition, 256 pages
Published January 1st 1993 by Fontana Press (first published January 1st 1990)
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J.M. Hushour
May 18, 2016 J.M. Hushour rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's remarkable that this book has so few reviews here on Goodreads, which might be more a testament to its relevance than anything negative, for Gellner's intention is clear: to take down one of the central pillars of our modern life, psychoanalysis.
Gellner's arguments are complex if impervious, because he keeps it pretty simple. I'll try to sum it up as best I can while trying to maintain the appeal of the work:
1) Psychoanalysis is a supreme confidence trick whose existence is predicated on th
...more
David M
Oct 10, 2016 David M rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think Gellner is at his best when he narrows his focus. The subject matter of Plough, Sword, and Book: The Structure of Human History is really too vast to be amenable to his breezy, essayistic style. By contrast, in this book and his work on Wittgenstein, he's able to achieve great force by picking a specific target and then attacking from avariety of different angles.

It's possible to debunk Freud and the movement he founded from an Enlightenment perspective. While today there is no non-contr
...more
Dan Geddes
Nov 06, 2013 Dan Geddes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Psychoanalytic Movement tries to answer the question: how did Freudianism come to achieve such a solid foothold in the intellectual life of the West, especially in light of the fact that Freudianism has such little scientific basis?

Gellner is sarcastically dismissive of the claims of psychoanalysis, but backs up his claims with a wealth of insight and argument. His premise is that no movement should be studied strictly on its own terms, that a movement’s claims should be verifiable against e
...more
Will
Jul 23, 2016 Will rated it it was amazing
In the 1950s psychoanalysis was popularized with the Anglo-American public through a series of bestsellers like Herbert Marcuse's Eros and Civilization (1955), Philip Reiff's Freud: The Mind of the Moralist (1959), and Norman O. Brown's Life Against Death (1959). From then until the early 1980s, it was relatively easy to defend psychoanalysis from its detractors, mostly because the best known criticisms were either belligerent (Karl Jaspers), incompetent (Sartre), or overly simplistic (Karl Popp ...more
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Ernest Gellner was a prominent British-Czech philosopher, social anthropologist, and writer on nationalism.
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“The co-presence of mind and object simply is not sufficient for an apprehension or comprehension of any object. Before one can seize an object, one must be equipped with a whole mass of sensitivities, concepts, expectations, background assumptions. A layman looking at a car engine just sees a jumble of metal objects and wires; a person who knows about car engines can immediately identify the parts and see their interconnection. Countless similar examples can be invoked: the capacity to perceive depends on the possession of the appropriate concepts. ... And here’s the rub: the concepts, the anticipatory classifications and interpretations, contain theories which a) had to be discovered and built up by a long process, and b) may yet in the future turn out to be false. So even the purest of hearts, free of inner deception, will not perceive and understand an object unless endowed with proper intellectual equipment. Perception is never, so to speak, the innocent encounter of a pure mind with a naked object, and therefore capable of serving as an untainted foundation for an edifice of knowledge; perception is the encounter with some given element, which cannot be seized or isolated in its purity, but depends on a corpus of knowledge acquired up to that time, but open to revision in the future.” 1 likes
“But the whole idea of knowledge, even, or especially, of oneself and one’s own inner states, attained by direct contact and not dependent on theoretical and conceptual assumptions, is absurd.” 1 likes
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