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

Updated 27 January 2019
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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: Red Meat Republic by Joshua Specht

Updated 38 min 47 sec ago
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What We Are Reading Today: Red Meat Republic by Joshua Specht

  • Joshua Specht puts people at the heart of his story — the big cattle ranchers who helped to drive the nation’s westward expansion

By the late 19th century, Americans rich and poor had come to expect high-quality fresh beef with almost every meal. 

Beef production in the US had gone from small-scale, localized operations to a highly centralized industry spanning the country, with cattle bred on ranches in the rural West, slaughtered in Chicago, and consumed in the nation’s rapidly growing cities. 

Red Meat Republic tells the remarkable story of the violent conflict over who would reap the benefits of this new industry and who would bear its heavy costs, says a review on the University Press website.

Joshua Specht puts people at the heart of his story — the big cattle ranchers who helped to drive the nation’s westward expansion, the meatpackers who created a radically new kind of industrialized slaughterhouse, and the stockyard workers who were subjected to the shocking and unsanitary conditions described by Upton Sinclair in his novel The Jungle. 

Specht brings to life a turbulent era marked by Indian wars, Chicago labor unrest, and food riots in the streets of New York.