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Skeptical Engagements download epub

by Fred Crews

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Skeptical Engagements book. Crews’ change of heart about psychoanalysis convinced him that his loyalty shouldn’t belong to any theory but rather to empirical standards and the skeptical point of view.

Skeptical Engagements book. Throughout his career, Crews has brought his concern for rational discourse to the study of various issues, from the recovered memory craze, Rorschach tests, and belief in alien abductions, to theosophy, creationism, and intelligent design, to common standards of clear and effective writing.

Skeptical engagements. Frederick Crews is Professor of English, University of California, Berkeley, and author of "Skeptical Engagements" (1986) and "Out of My System: Psychoanalysis, Ideology, and Critical Method" (1975). by. Crews, Frederick C. dn. Publication date. urn:acs6:ew:pdf:4ff-2f57c223337c urn:acs6:ew:epub:5e2-276c601e8847 urn:oclc:record:1036944669. University of Toronto. Other readers will always be interested in your opinion of the books you've read. Whether you've loved the book or not, if you give your honest and detailed thoughts then people will find new books that are right for them. 1. Jus Culmense ex ultima revisione, oder das vollständige culmische Recht, mit Anmerkungen.

Other articles where Skeptical Engagements is discussed: Frederick C. Crews: In such .

The state of American fiction and criticism in the 20th century is the subject of The Critics Bear It Away: American Fiction and the Academy (1992). The state of American fiction and criticism in the 20th century is the subject of The Critics Bear It Away: American Fiction and the Academy (1992).

Frederick Campbell Crews (born 20 February 1933) is an American essayist and literary critic. Professor emeritus of English at the University of California, Berkeley, Crews is the author of numerous books, including The Tragedy of Manners: Moral Drama in the Later Novels of Henry James (1957), E. M. Forster: The Perils of Humanism (1962), and The Sins of the Fathers (1966), a discussion of the work of Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Collection of sourced quotations from Skeptical Engagements (1986) by Frederick Crews. ISBN 9781877275005 (978-1-877275-00-5) Softcover, Lisa Loucks Christenson Publishing, LLC, 2002. Find signed collectible books: 'Skeptical Engagements'. Coauthors & Alternates. Learn More at LibraryThing. Fred Crews at LibraryThing. Eleven years ago, in Out of My System, the influential literary critic, Frederick Crews, disclosed the erosion of his Freudian sympathies. Now, in a carefully reasoned and witty new book, he reveals where that reappraisal has taken him and why he has come to regard himself as an opponent of all "self-validating" doctrines.

This carefully reasoned and witty book presents a searing critique of the pretension and folly infecting the literary academy. Besides targeting the excesses of "theory," the essays cover such diverse figures as Joseph Conrad, Henry Miller, Norman Mailer, Philip Roth, Philip Rahv, and Leslie Fiedler.

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Skeptical Engagements is a key collection of essays by Frederick Crews, and it's surprising it hasn't received more reviews. Anyone interested in Crews should definitely read it, since it helps explain how he reached the views he expressed later in The Memory Wars, Unauthorized Freud, and Follies of the Wise. Unlike Crews' previous essay collection, Out of My System (published in 1975), where he expressed a mixed and rather equivocal verdict on the merits of psychoanalysis, Skeptical Engagements takes an almost entirely negative view of Freud's work.

The most important essay here is "Analysis Terminable", first published in Commentary in 1980. Although a previous essay by Crews, a 1975 piece on Erik Erikson, was also anti-psychoanalytic (as he points out), "Analysis Terminable" has received much more attention, and reading it, it's easy to see why. "Analysis Terminable" is combative in the extreme, and it's difficult to avoid concluding that it was written to provoke an equally extreme response from Freudians; for whatever reason, Crews must have been spoiling for a fight when he wrote it. Crews expresses his scorn not only for Freud, but for a series of eminent intellectuals and philosophers (Habermas, Ricoeur, Derrida, Lacan, Barthes...) who are "all Freudians in their various ways." Crews has big news for them: "psychoanalysis has received only trifling and debatable corroboration, and much devastating criticism." He is happy to imply that all these esteemed French figures (and the German Habermas) are a little dim-witted, writing, "If that criticism has yet to make an impact on literary intellectuals, we can anticipate that even they will eventually get the point." That is such a strange comment coming from someone who is himself a literary intellectual that one is left with the distinct impression that the hostility to psychoanalysis Crews acquired in the middle of the 1970s reflects an alienation from literary criticism itself.

Crews discusses the failings of psychoanalysis as a therapy, suggesting that "if it were shown that the Freudian clinical situation is epistemologically compromised by the therapist's presuppositions, then the whole necessity for positing the deep structures and mechanisms of the Freudian unconscious would dissolve", and citing a series of studies which concluded that psychoanalysis had no advantage over its competitors. He suggests that all therapies work (insofar as they do work) for the same reasons, including the placebo effect, a contention which is not implausible, but which he and the researchers he relies on could hardly claim to have proven. Crews sweepingly dismisses clinical evidence as so contaminated by suggestion that it is effectively worthless, a verdict which might or might not be fair.

Criticising psychoanalysis as a theory, Crews writes that Freud "took little care for self-consistency"; a more fair-minded writer might well praise Freud for being open-minded enough to consider more than one approach. He quotes an analyst as saying that Freud's writings were "formulated in a bewilderingly unsystematic way" - but one suspects that if they hadn't been, Crews would be quoting someone else complaining that Freud was overly systematic. Crews finds it a damning criticism of psychoanalysis that, "Notions like 'id' and 'Oedipus complex' and 'pleasure principle' take their meanings from a network of postulates that generate no straightforward behavioral consequences. Thus the presence or absence of such consequences in a given instance cannot serve as a test of theoretical adequacy." Such an objection might be valid in the case of the id and the pleasure principle; it is tendentious as a criticism of the Oedipus complex, a theory not remotely on the same level of abstraction.

The other essays here are also worth a look, although they also tend to suffer from the same mixture of reasonable criticisms of whatever Crews is writing against with unreasonable and exaggerated criticisms. The main failing of the book overall is that it does not provide a fully convincing or satisfactory account of Crews' reasons for rejecting psychoanalysis, something that he was committed to for many years. Crews could undoubtedly have written much more about this subject had he wished, and many of us might have been interested to read it.
This is an interesting and suggestive book, but one that is subject to the problems that naturally result from the nature of its constituent materials. It is a collection of previously-published essays, falling into three sections, the first two of which are more closely related than the third.

The first section constitutes an attack on psychoanalysis in general, Freud in particular. Many of us have seen Freud characterized as a ‘philosopher’ or as a ‘poet’. Crews has characterized Freud as a charlatan. Why? Because he purports to be a scientist, but offers a system of thought which is not supported by evidence. His work, unlike science, is not falsifiable. It cannot be corroborated. The master narrative of childhood sexual experiences which are repressed, locked away in the unconscious and then come back to bite us thirty-five years later may be nothing more than pure moonshine. Do infants really have such sexual experiences? Is there an ‘unconscious’? The questions and suspicions are not resolved by empirical science.

A host of subsidiary issues are raised—the (poor) success rate of Freud’s practice, the possibility that ‘successes’ were the result of other issues, factors, or realities; the propaganda apparatus that supported his activities and attacked those of his critics and detractors; Freud’s misogyny, Freud’s dependence on the thought of his friend and colleague, Wilhelm Fliess; the time-bound nature of some of his assumptions, assumptions which made his applications little more than quackery; his heavy use of cocaine, and so on. The great majority of these points are not Crews’s alone, but rather his distillation of the thought of a number of critiques of Freud, particularly that of Adolf Grunbaum.

The second section of the book deals with capital-T Theory in the modern academy. Again, many of the critiques echo his critique of Freud. The French Nietzscheans by and large offer us sweeping, exhilarating, counter-cultural patterns of thought that cannot be challenged because they are simply unscientific. In effect, they constitute faiths that command belief that is not anchored in reason, logic or evidence. In jettisoning rational argument, facts and evidence they produce an academy in which there are no verifiable standards or grounds for shared debate and discourse, an academy built on naked power rather than the power of argument and evidence. The new power consists of cliques of true believers who control hiring committees, promotion and tenure committees, journal and press editorial boards, and so on. One succeeds in this realm by serving as an ephebe to the right master.

One of the most interesting points here is Crews’s linking of take-it-on-faith psychoanalysis with take-it-on-faith poststructuralism. He argues that the majority of mid-century+ European intellectuals were also Freudians and he says, in passing, that the ultimate root of their thought and Freud’s is romanticism. He includes Marx and Marxism in this nexus. In a jacket blurb, E. O. Wilson comments that the chapter “Dialectical Immaterialism” is worth the price of the book alone.

All of this is very suggestive but since the constituent pieces are discrete we do not get the overarching argument that synthesizes all of this material, presenting it as a unified, consistently-argued whole. We are helped, however, by headnotes which Crews provides. These date the essays/reviews and place them within the context of his developing thought.

The third section of the book is quite interesting but largely unrelated to the previous two sections. It consists of essays on specific writers and critics (Roth, Henry Miller/Norman Mailer, Philip Rahv and the staff of Partisan Review, Leslie Fiedler and recent biographical materials on Conrad). It is helpful to have them gathered in one place even if the reason for their placement is not altogether clear.

Bottom line: this is a fascinating and suggestive book, the most interesting aspects of which must be put together by the reader, using the materials which Crews places at that reader’s disposal. One of its continuing themes is the loss of the empirical method within the humanities. This, Crews believes, is one of the reasons for the humanities’ ‘crisis’ and its endless fragmentation, issues which are as pressing today as they were in 1986.
Skeptical Engagements download epub
Essays & Correspondence
Author: Fred Crews
ISBN: 187727500X
Category: Literature & Fiction
Subcategory: Essays & Correspondence
Language: English
Publisher: Lisa Loucks Christenson Publishing, LLC (June 1, 2002)
Pages: 256 pages