Hermeneutics and Psychoanalysis

At the beginning of book 2 of Freud and Philosophy, Ricoeur lays out the plan for the rest of the work. As I guessed, he says the final result will be a much more reconciling view, but he thinks it is important to first lay out the potential conflict between psychoanalysis and other hermeneutics in a very stark way, before successively tempering it through several layers of further considerations. The initial stark reading “governs the ascesis of that narcissism that wishes to be taken for the true Cogito. Hence this reading and its harsh schooling will not be retracted but rather preserved in the final reading” (p. 60). Nonetheless, the opposition will be greatly refined. “The whole movement of this book consists in a gradual readjusting of that initial position…. In the end it may seem that… Freud is nowhere because he is everywhere” (pp. 59-60; see also Conflicting Hermeneutics.)

In Defense of Ordinariness

As a youth, I abhorred everything that seemed ordinary. I wanted only things I thought were special: love, nature, mystical experience, revolution, great art, philosophy. Abruptly, when I began to work for a living, I had a complete change of heart, and simultaneously became much more grounded and responsible. It’s not that I didn’t still appreciate the special things, but I came to a much more rounded point of view.

Ordinary life is to be treasured in its own right. I like to get up in the morning and see the sun shine. Nowadays, I even like to go to Costco with my wife — not because I like shopping, but because I love her and enjoy her enjoyment. Does this make me conservative? I don’t think so. Having an expanded capacity to appreciate the little things is a plus all around.

Now I want it all, from the extraordinary to the mundane. One of the reasons I especially like Aristotle and Brandom is that they both combine the lofty reaches with an appreciation of the ordinary. I distrust the contempt for the ordinary promulgated by contemporary figures like Badiou and at least some of the Žižekians. It seems like a strange kind of quasi-existentialist elitism. If you can’t relate to ordinary people and ordinary things, how can you be trusted to tell us how things should be for all of us?