Freud's philosophy of the unconscious and its relation to recent philosophical criticisms and reconstructions of his work.
This thesis examines aspects of Sigmund Freud's philosophy of mind,
particularly with respect to his concept of unconscious mental events.
Freud moved from psycho-physical dualism to a version of the identity
theory in 1895. This transition coincided with, and provided the basis for
his theory of unconscious mental events. Freud used a principle of
mental continuity to provide philosophical support for his physicalistic
theory of unconscious mental processes and to defend it against rival
theories of neurophysiological dispositional ism and the dissociationism.
The neuroscientist Jackson had a strong influence on the development of
Freud's philosophical ideas. Freud eventually rejected Jackson's
ontological dualism, although he ultimately retained Jackson's
methodological dualism and anti-localisation ism. Freud's physicalistic
theory of consciousness, which is intimately related to his theory of the
unconscious, was set out in 1895, and the main features of this account
were retained for the rest of his lifetime. Freud's concern with the
neurophysiological ontology of mental items led him to take an anti-realist
stance toward folk-psychological entities. His theory of mind is hospitable
to homuncular· functionalism but incompatible with causal role
functionalism. Freud advanced a thesis that the mental system that he
called Ucs. is not governed by rational norms that raises problems for the attribution of mental contents to Ucs. John Searle has strongly criticised
Freud's theory of mind and has used a form of neurophysiological
dispositional ism to support his concept of the 'connection principle'.
Searle's criticisms of Freud are unsound, and Freud's arguments against
neurophysiological dispositional ism undermine Searle's argument on
behalf of the connection principle. Donald Davidson attempts to
philosophically underwrite Freud's theory of mind, but his split mind thesis
does not capture Freud's distinctive theory and is vulnerable to criticism.
Five appendices discuss matters of interest that would otherwise detract
from the logical flow of the text.
I have limited the scope of the present work to an investigation of a set of
interlocking philosophical issues that were of concern to Freud and have
been taken up by Searle and Davidson in relation to Freudian claims.
Several important topics in the philosophy of psycho-analysis have
therefore inevitably been touched upon only in a cursory fashion or