Perversion and Utopia: A Study in Psychoanalysis and Critical Theory (Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought)
Publisher: The MIT Press (March 10, 1995)
Format: PDF / Kindle / ePub
Size: 9.3 MB
Downloadable formats: PDF
In this challenge to the postmodern critiques of psychoanalysis, Joel Whitebook argues for a reintegration of Freud's uncompromising investigation of the unconscious with the political and philosophical insights of critical theory. This work follows in the tradition of Herbert Marcuse's "Eros and Civilisation" and Paul Ricoeur's "Freud and Philosophy". It expands on these books however, because of the author's grasp not only of psychoanalytic studies, but also of the contemporary critical climate. Joel Whitebook, a philosopher and a psychoanalyst, writes with equal facility on both Habermas and Freud. A central thesis of the book is that there is an essential affinity between the utopian impulse and the perverse impulse, in that both reflect a desire to bypass the reality principle that Freud claimed to define the human condition. The book explores the positive and negative aspects of the relationship between these impulses, which are ubiquitous features of human life and the requirements of civilized social existence. Whitebook steers a course between orthodox psychoanalytic conservatism, which seeks simply to repress the perverse-utopian impulse in the name of social continuity and cohesion, and those forms of Freudo-Marxism, postmodernism and psychoanalytic feminism that advocate its direct and full expression in the name of emancipation. While he demonstrates the limitations of the current textual approaches to Freud, especially those influenced by Lacan, Whitebook also enlists the rationalism of the Habermasian brand of critical theory, thus making a contribution to current discussions within critical theory itself.