Chapter 4 elaborates key conceptual points that inform many of his other studies, and I will review these arguments in some detail.
At various places in , Neu upholds a conditional freedom that is an achievement rather than a given, and he gives great attention to hidden, subterranean forces that influence our choices.
Sartre presents a theory of "bad faith" that aims to provide an alternative to psychoanalysis.
Readers interested in Freud from the standpoint of philosophical ethics often rely on a handful of scholarly treatments, such as those by Phillip Rieff, Paul Ricoeur, Richard Wollheim, and Jonathan Lear.
Neu's essays build upon the work of these scholars and should be considered among the valuable resources that we have for integrating psychoanalytic approaches into our philosophical considerations of selfhood and ethics.
Is the unconscious simply a mechanism, or does it have perceptiveness and purposiveness? And does the operation of semi-independent systems of reasons and mental causes require the postulation of semi-independent agents of consciousness?
If repression is not purely mechanical, what "selectively directs" the application of the energy of repression? Neu highlights that these questions open up much larger issues: Does purposiveness require consciousness? This is the cluster of issues which reemerges in contemporary debates about the suitability and limits of computer models for the mind. (77) According to Neu, Sartre criticizes Freud in part "to insist that people have choices in many more situations than they acknowledge, and so are responsible for more than they would acknowledge." Neu writes, "I believe this is true, but it is misleading to conclude that people have a choice" (78).According to Neu, in a Cartesian view of self-knowledge, my mind is known to me directly and incorrigibly, so self-deception on the model of other-deception is impossible (I am suspicious that Neu's account of Descartes' and Sartre's pictures of self-knowledge on 68-69 oversimplifies, but I do not have the expertise to give a sufficient counter-interpretation).In Freud's understanding of the mind as "split" into conscious and unconscious, "one may on one level (the unconscious) know, while on another level (the conscious) one does not know" (69).The fourteen chapters can be organized into five groups or sections that I characterize as follows: (A) Ethical considerations regarding emotion, fantasy, and authenticity 1. Divided Minds: Sartre's "Bad Faith" Critique of Freud 5. Euthyphro, the Legal Realists, and the Dilemma of Authenticity 11. Rely to My Critics In my reading, the discussions of Freud in Chapters 4 through 7 (B) provide the theoretical heart of the book, and the treatments of law in Chapters 8 and 9 (C) show most clearly the force and significance of a philosophical attention to emotion, fantasy, intention, and speech.The essays are interwoven in several other respects.While he captures some of the ways in which we trip over ourselves, there are many others. And in this territory, psychoanalysis is often a better guide.Recognizing this involves abandoning some of Sartre's favored positions -- such as belief in the Cartesian unity and transparency of consciousness, and faith in unconditional freedom -- but these are in any case questionable (67). Paradox seems inevitable if we attempt to understand self-deception on the model of other-deception.I strongly recommend Jerome Neu's volume for readers interested in ethics, emotion, fantasy, selfhood, and law, and also for those interested in Freudian method and theory, aspects of Descartes and Sartre, and Plato.Neu himself characterizes the book as follows: in this volume essays on the ethics of emotion, the ethics of fantasy, the ethics of authenticity, the complexities of self-deception, and the formation of the superego are front and center.Neu appeals to Freud throughout the book as a theoretical and methodological inspiration.Sartre and Descartes appear as opponents in several places, particularly Chapters 3, 4, 7, and also 10.