The Stone: Freud as Philosopher
Sigmund Freud, that seer of the psyche, taught that you could be angry and not know it. You can also be a philosopher and not know it. And Freud was just that, an unconscious philosopher of the unconscious — one who had nary a positive word to say about philosophy. Just listen to him grouse in 1933:
Philosophy is not opposed to science, it behaves itself as if it were a science, and to a certain extent it makes use of the same methods; but it parts company with science, in that it clings to the illusion that it can produce a complete and coherent picture of the universe. Its methodological error lies in the fact that it over-estimates the epistemological value of our logical operations… But philosophy has no immediate influence on the great majority of mankind; it interests only a small number even of the thin upper stratum of intellectuals, while all the rest find it beyond them. (New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-analysis, Lecture xxxv)
Still, as Philip Rieff observed in his classic 1959 book, “Freud: The Mind of the Moralist,” the father of psychoanalysis was also a moralist, and a conservative one at that — conservative in both his personal mores and in his deep seated conviction that repression and self-restraint are essential to civilization. In his science, Freud prescribed a vision of the good life and in that regard he was, for all his sneering at philosophy, a member of the Socrates guild.