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The Place of Psychoanalysis in the History of Ethics

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Psychoanalytic writing rarely features on university ethics curricula, so the idea that psychoanalysis has a place in the history of ethics may be a surprise. The aim of the paper is to show that it should not be. The strategy is to sketch in outline an enduring line of inquiry in the history of ethics, namely the Platonic-Aristotelian investigation of the relationship between human nature, human excellence and the human good, and to suggest that psychoanalysis exemplifies it too. But since the suggestion, once made, seems not only true but obviously true, the paper spends some time exploring why the place of psychoanalysis in the history of ethics has so often been overlooked, before developing the outline more fully and offering detailed reasons as to why psychoanalysis fits it. One consequence is that Freudian and (in a sense explained) ‘relational’ variants of psychoanalysis continue the Platonic-Aristotelian line of inquiry in interestingly different ways.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Philosophy, Oxford University and Keble College, Oxford, edward.harcourt@philosophy.ox.ac.uk

10.1163/17455243-4681030
/content/journals/10.1163/17455243-4681030
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2015-09-10
2017-06-27

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