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Fetishism, Psychoanalysis, and Philosophy: The Iridescent Thing
Bass, Alan
Routledge / Softcover / 2017-12-01 / 1138556416
Psychoanalysis and Philosophy
reg price: $70.50 our price: $ 63.45 (may be subject to change)
196 pages
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Fetishism, Psychoanalysis, and Philosophy explores how and why Freud’s late work on fetishism led to the beginnings of a re-formulation of the theory and practice of psychoanalysis. Freud himself, however, was unaware of the long history of the concept of fetishism, a history crucial to understanding the concept.

This book contains three main thrusts. One is historical, tracing the development of the concept of fetishism from the 16th century onwards. The focus here is on two important thinkers: Charles de Brosses from the 18th century, and Auguste Comte from the 19th. The second thrust is philosophical. Fetishism is always about the relation between the mind and things. Martin Heidegger, Jaques Derrida, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty have made essential contributions in this area, contributions which have important scientific relevance. The third thrust integrate the historical, philosophical, and psychoanalytic investigations of fetishism. It also looks at Wallace Stevens’ poetic meditation on mind and thing, which helps to illuminate everything that precedes.

This comprehensive book features careful integration of the historical, philosophical, and psychoanalytic investigations of fetishism. It will contribute to opening new ways of thinking about the mind and how it is structured, so that fetishism is possible. Fetishism, Psychoanalysis, and Philosophy will appeal to psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists as well as philosophy scholars.


"Based on a rigorous re-reading of Freud’s text on fetishism, and on the fundamental psychic mechanism at its source, Verleugnung (disavowal), which simultaneously links belief and non-belief in an undesirable perception and the maintenance of a counter-belief, Alan Bass achieves the great feat of showing how all thinking about fetishism, (from de Brosses, through Comte, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty and even Heisenberg’s principle of uncertainty), remains haunted by this question. If fetishism in the strict sense takes the ersatz, the substitute, for the missing thing itself, every experience of substitution of one representation in the place of another--their distinction and their connection--clarifies the fundamental process of differentiation itself, of a thinking of difference (Derrida), and of the very process of symbolization. New consequences for the understanding and interpretation of any transference are given their full importance and are perfectly elucidated."-Rene Major, Director, Institute for Advanced Psychoanalytic Studies, Paris, France.

"With great skill, the author plots his course through a dazzling array of writer and texts, although tht overall effect is not to register dispersion as much as to trace out complex and sometimes unexpected connections across a wide body of literary and philosophical work. In fact, the book is very well choreographed, bringing together those philosophical and literary voices with a great deal of elegance and poise. As much as it is an intellectually challenging book, it is also a highly readable one, and beautifully written"-Simon Morgan Wortham, PVC Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Kingston University London.

"Alan Bass’s book provides an example of the finest comparatist work in the humanities and attests to the remarkable illumination that true interdisciplinary work can produce. I believe this unusual and provocative book will appeal to scholars of literature, philosophy, and psychoanalysis, as well as to historians and political theorists. The breadth of this book will make it a precious resource for students and teachers alike. It provides an invaluable rethinking of the extraordinary legacy to contemporary thinking that is the concept of fetishism."-Elizabeth Rottenberg, DePaul University.

Table of Contents

Introduction; Chapter 1 De Brosses: Universal Fetishism; Chapter 2 Comte: Neo-Fetishism; Chapter 3 The Heidegerrian Thing; Chapter 4 The Signature of the Transcendental Imagination; Chapter 5 "Every Historical Object…"; Chapter 6 Ordinary Iridescence; References

About the Author

Alan Bass Ph.D. is a psychoanalyst practicing in New York City. A training analyst and faculty member at the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research and the Contemporary Freudian Society, he is also on the graduate philosophy faculty of the New School for Social Research. He is author of two previous books (Difference and Disavowal: The Trauma of Eros and Interpretation and Difference: The Strangeness of Care), translator of four books by Jacques Derrida and editor of The Undecidable Unconscious, A Journal of Deconstruction and Psychoanalysis.

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