What We Are Reading Today: Freud, the Reluctant Philosopher by Alfred I. Tauber

Updated 27 January 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Freud, the Reluctant Philosopher by Alfred I. Tauber

Sigmund Freud began university intending to study both medicine and philosophy. But he was ambivalent about philosophy, regarding it as metaphysical, too limited to the conscious mind, and ignorant of empirical knowledge. 

Yet his private correspondence and his writings on culture and history reveal that he never forsook his original philosophical ambitions. Indeed, while Freud remained firmly committed to positivist ideals, his thought was permeated with other aspects of German philosophy. 

Placed in dialogue with his intellectual contemporaries, Freud appears as a reluctant philosopher who failed to recognize his own metaphysical commitments, thereby crippling the defense of his theory and misrepresenting his true achievement.

Recasting Freud as an inspired humanist and reconceiving psychoanalysis as a form of moral inquiry, Alfred Tauber argues that Freudianism still offers a rich approach to self-inquiry, one that reaffirms the enduring task of philosophy and many of the abiding ethical values of Western civilization.

Alfred I. Tauber is professor of philosophy and the Zoltan Kohn Professor of Medicine at Boston University, where he is also director of the Center for Philosophy and History of Science. His books include Science and the Quest for Meaning, Patient Autonomy and the Ethics of Responsibility, and Henry David Thoreau and the Moral Agency of Knowing.


What We Are Reading Today: Democratic Equality by James Lindley Wilson

Updated 17 August 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Democratic Equality by James Lindley Wilson

  • It mounts a bold and persuasive defense of democracy as a way of making collective decisions

Democracy establishes relationships of political equality, ones in which citizens equally share authority over what they do together and respect one another as equals. 

But in today’s divided public square, democracy is challenged by political thinkers who disagree about how democratic institutions should be organized, and by antidemocratic politicians who exploit uncertainties about what democracy requires and why it matters. 

Democratic Equality mounts a bold and persuasive defense of democracy as a way of making collective decisions, showing how equality of authority is essential to relating equally as citizens, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.

James Lindley Wilson explains why the US Senate and Electoral College are urgently in need of reform, why proportional representation is not a universal requirement of democracy, how to identify racial vote dilution and gerrymandering in electoral districting, how to respond to threats to democracy posed by wealth inequality, and how judicial review could be more compatible with the democratic ideal.