Epic of Id, Epic of Superego: A Freudian Reading of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey

LECTURES > PREVIOUS

Although the Iliad and Odyssey are often understood as two parts of a single larger story that manifests a single, coherent “heroic” worldview, an alternative perspective sees the Odyssey as essentially a repudiation of, and replacement for, the values of the Iliad. Indeed, from this point of view the Odyssey is often seen as standing in relation to the Iliad much as the New Testament is often seen as standing in relation to the Hebrew Bible.  This alternative perspective can be deepened by analyzing the two epics using Freud’s theory of the tri-partite psyche (a process that Freud himself often employed  when interpreting classic literature and other works of art). From this Freudian perspective, the Odyssey appears as the epic celebration of the hero of the superego (Odysseus) that repudiates and supersedes the Iliad, the epic celebration of the hero of the id (Achilles).
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An Introduction to Sigmund Freud

COURSES > LIFELONG

As one of the great turn-of-the-century thinkers, Sigmund Freud’s development of psychoanalytic theory and practice forever changed the way people – even people who disagreed with him – looked at the human mind.  This course will provide an introduction to Freud’s life and views through a careful reading and discussion of three of his works: An Autobiographical Study, The Interpretation of Dreams (selections), and Moses and MonotheismNo prior experience of any kind is required. Continue reading

Agent in Athens, Patient in Jerusalem: The Cosmic (Sense of) Self in Greek and Hebrew Culture and their Descendents

WRITINGS > Unfinished

This essay is a generalization about idealizations.  As such, it is necessarily imperfect and incorrect.  In some ways it says too little.  In other ways it says too much.  Nonetheless, my hope is that this essay still says something true, something that begins to get at some of the ways that Greek and Hebrew civilizations spawned “senses of self” (or even more radically, actual “selves”) that were fundamentally different from, perhaps even antithetical to, one another — just as they also spawned “worldviews” (or even actual “worlds”) that were fundamentally different and perhaps antithetical.  As such, this essay is an exploration in what might be called “historical cultural psychology” — an examination of the ways in which “self” and “world” mutually constituted one another in two historically-important civilizations.  And to the extent Athens and Jerusalem live on in at least two contemporary civilizations, this essay is also an exploration of the ways in which “self” and “world” mutually constitute one another today. Continue reading

Freud on the Human Condition

COURSES > LIFELONG | COURSES > ONLINE [→ ONLINE ARCHIVE MATERIAL]

Although Freud has been primarily known for his theories of individual psychology, Freud himself never saw his work in such narrow terms. Rather, Freud constantly strove to develop a comprehensive theory of the human condition by using his psychology to explain fundamental features of human evolution, history and modern social life. In this course, we will approach Freud’s worldview, which often equated children, neurotics, “primitives” and proto-humans, through some of his lesser-read works which put his psychological theories in a larger context. Continue reading

The Scientific Construction of Developmental Norms

WRITINGS > FINISHED

Although the notion of a dialectical (or reciprocal) relationship between psychology and culture has been nominally acknowledged for over a generation, it is only recently and tentatively that the study of developmental norms has begun to be shaped by this fact.  This paper presents a theoretical outline of this relationship and the resulting need for a self-conscious (or reflexive) study of developmental norms. Continue reading

The Scientific Construction of Developmental Norms

LECTURES > PREVIOUS

Although the notion of a dialectical (or reciprocal) relationship between psychology and culture has been nominally acknowledged for over a generation, it is only recently and tentatively that the study of developmental norms has begun to be shaped by this fact.  This paper presents a theoretical outline of this relationship and the resulting need for a self-conscious (or reflexive) study of developmental norms. Continue reading

An ‘Is’ and ‘Ought’ of Developmental Psychology: Toward a Scientific Study of Human Ontogeny

WRITINGS > FINISHED

This paper is an attempt to weave an account of developmental psychology that is alternately descriptive and normative.  In the descriptive mode it takes the discipline as data for which it seeks an explanation.  In the normative mode, it takes the discipline as an enterprise for which it seeks optimal goals, theories and methodologies.  Descriptive, it is anthropological, examining a Western sociocultural artifact.  Normative, it is psychological, participating in a scientific undertaking to systematically study human ontogeny.  Descriptive, it is on the outside looking in; normative, it is on the inside looking out.  Collectively this paper claims that developmental psychology neither is what it says it is nor what it ought to be and asks: What is this project called “developmental psychology” and how ought it best be conducted? Continue reading

An ‘Is’ and ‘Ought’ of Developmental Psychology: Toward a Scientific Study of Human Ontogeny

LECTURES > PREVIOUS

This paper is an attempt to weave an account of developmental psychology that is alternately descriptive and normative.  In the descriptive mode it takes the discipline as data for which it seeks an explanation.  In the normative mode, it takes the discipline as an enterprise for which it seeks optimal goals, theories and methodologies.  Descriptive, it is anthropological, examining a Western sociocultural artifact.  Normative, it is psychological, participating in a scientific undertaking to systematically study human ontogeny.  Descriptive, it is on the outside looking in; normative, it is on the inside looking out.  Collectively this paper claims that developmental psychology neither is what it says it is nor what it ought to be and asks: What is this project called “developmental psychology” and how ought it best be conducted? Continue reading