Psychoanalysis as Weltanschauung

Steve Hoenisch

Psychoanalysis has indeed gone on to become its own Weltanschauung, rising to an over-arching high theory, to a mythology that ironically takes it far beyond Freud's own proclaimed scientific Weltanschauung. Freud subsumed the discipline of psychoanalysis under the scientific Weltanschauung, arguing that psychoanalysis was not and should not be its own Weltanschauung:

"As a specialist science, as a branch of psychology ... [psychoanalysis] is quite unfit to construct a Weltanschauung of its own: it must accept the scientific one."

Yet for many philosophers and literary theorists -- Lacan, Norman O. Brown, Kaja Silverman -- psychoanalysis has become the overriding hypothesis that accounts for all our existential facts. And, perhaps even more ironically, postmodern theorists like Silverman (but not Lacan) seize on psychoanalysis while rejecting objective science, for no doubt the same reason that it appealed to Wittgenstein more than 50 years ago: It's mythological power of explanation.

Wittgenstein is against theory, against a Weltanschauung: He believes it is misguided to attempt to construct one, for in his philosophical work, at least after Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Wittgenstein renounced theory.

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