Facts and fantasies
embodiment and the early formation of selfhood
Husserlian phenomenology and Freudian psychoanalysis both offer a theory of the emergence of the self-other relationship, but end up in very different accounts. Husserl argues that all experiences are essentially accompanied by primordial self-awareness, and that there is, from the start, an insurmountable difference between self and others. Freud and his early successors famously claim on the contrary that infantile experience originally involves no clearly demarcated borderline between self and other, and that selfhood is rather something that the infant comes to acquire in the course of development. In this paper, I will set off with the received view which suggests that there is an unbridgeable gap between Husserlian phenomenology and Freudian psychoanalysis. I will argue that the relationship between phenomenology and psychoanalysis is more complex than that. By explicating the different ways in which the early distinction/indistinction between self and other is portrayed in psychoanalytic scholarship, my central claim will be that instead of comprising two contradictory views concerning the early distinction/indistinction between self and other, the psychoanalytic view is united in a peculiar sense: although the self-other distinction is there from the start thanks to kinesthesis, the distinction might still, at the same time, be absent in the register of fantasy. I argue that, considered in this manner, the psychoanalytic view is not incompatible with, but complementary to the phenomenological account.
Taipale, J. (2013)., Facts and fantasies: embodiment and the early formation of selfhood, in D. Moran (ed.), The phenomenology of embodied subjectivity, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 241-262.
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