Freud's Theory of Culture: Eros, Loss, and Politics takes a fresh look at Sigmund Freud, countering his prevalent image as a thinker who pessimistically renounces the possibility of social, political, and cultural change. Abraham Drassinower contends that what is generally mistaken as Freud's pessimism is, on the contrary, the very standpoint from which Freud envisions an alternative to the cultural 'malaise' described in his works. As Drassinower argues that Freud's attentiveness to loss and death is part of a critical effort to envision alternatives to things as they are, he ably demonstrates that Freud deserves greater stature as a participant in the Western tradition of political philosophy.
"In this slender, elegantly written volume, Drassinower argues that Freud's theory of culture 'culminates not in pessimistic resignation but in a richly textured pedagogical reflection.' Highly recommended."—Choice Magazine
"An intelligent book. . . . It represents a significant contribution to Freud scholarship."—Canadian Journal of Political Science
"Abraham Drassinower brings new life to an old discussion. Drassinower gives us much to think about in this book."—Perspectives on Politics
"Abraham Drassinower's book presents a very sober and thoughtful account of the centrality of mourning in culture and politics apropos of Sigmucd Freud's psychoanalysis."—Politician Studies Review (UK)
"Freud's Theory of Culture is a pleasure to read. The work reveals a high degree of intelligence and learning. It has something to say and it says it clearly, elegantly, often poignantly. It is worthy of being read by anyone who works on Freud or his relationship to culture and politics."—Melissa Orlie, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
"Clearly written and well researched, Freud's Theory of Culture provides a probing philosophical scrutiny of Freud and the implications of his thought for social and political theory, ethics, education, and, more broadly, philosophy of life."—Douglas Kellner, University of California, Los Angeles
"By focusing on Freud's preoccupation with death, Drassinower not only offers us a highly original interpretation of this seminal thinker; he also finds in the Freudian project quite unexpected resources for thinking sanely about our own cultural predicaments."—Victor Wolfenstein, University of California, Los Angeles
"Correcting the popular image of Freud as a morose pessimist, Drassinower presents him as a sober theorist of culture--where 'culture' means a pedagogy of 'mourning' which relentlessly pursues traces of Eros in the midst of our entanglement with death. Viewed in this way, Freud also emerges as a significant political thinker, steering a course between Hobbesian fear of death and Hegelian reconciliation, in the direction of an endeavor to lengthen creatively our 'circuitous paths to death.' A remarkably thoughtful, lucidly written work."—Fred Dallmayr, University of Notre Dame
Eros, Loss and Death
Between Hobbes and Hegel
The Abandonment of Hypnosis
The Precarious Chances of Eros
Pedagogical Hopes for the Future
About the Author:
Abraham Drassinower is assistant professor in the faculty of law at the University of Toronto.