The Philosophy of the Unconscious
|The Philosophy of the Unconscious|
|Author(s)||Eduard von Hartmann|
|Original title||Philosophie des Unbewussten|
|Translator||W. C. Coupland|
|Published in English||1884|
The Philosophy of the Unconscious (German: Philosophie des Unbewussten) is an 1869 book by Eduard von Hartmann. The culmination of "The speculations and findings of German romantic philosophy in the first two-thirds of the nineteenth century", according to medical historian Henri Ellenberger, it became famous. By 1882, it had appeared in nine editions. A three volume English translation by W. C. Coupland appeared in 1884. The work influenced Sigmund Freud's theories about the unconscious.
The work drew on ideas from Jakob Böhme, Friedrich von Schelling, and Arthur Schopenhauer, referring to what they had called will as the unconscious. Hartmann, as part of his attempt to reconcile philosophers such as Schopenhauer, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, argued that "the unconscious Absolute is both will and idea, which respectively account for the existence of the world and its orderly nature. Will appears in suffering, idea in order and consciousness. Thus there are grounds for both pessimism and optimism, and, since the Absolute is one, these must be reconciled. As the cosmic process advances, idea prevails over will, making possible aesthetic and intellectual pleasures. But intellectual development increases our capacity for pain, and material progress suppresses spiritual values. Hence ultimate happiness is not attainable in this world, in heaven, or by endless progress towards an earthly paradise. These illusions are ruses employed by the absolute to induce mankind to propagate itself. We will eventually shed illusions and commit collective suicide - the final, redeeming triumph of idea over will."
There are, according to Hartmann, three layers of the unconscious: "(1) the absolute unconscious, which constitutes the substance of the universe and is the source of the other forms of the unconscious; (2) the physiological unconscious, which like Carus' unconscious, is at work in the origin, development, and evolution of living beings, including man; (3) the relative or psychological unconscious, which lies at the source of our conscious mental life." Mankind had reached the second stage, with the forces of irrational will competing with rational mind, while misery and civilization would advance until misery and decay reach a climax when the third stage will be possible, the will checked for reason to prevail.
Ellenberger believes, however, that the main interest of The Philosophy of the Unconscious is not its philosophical theories, but its wealth of supporting material, commenting that "Von Hartmann collected numerous and relevant facts concerning perception, the association of ideas, wit, emotional life, instinct, personality traits, individual destiny, as well as the role of the unconscious in language, religion, history, and social life."
 Influence on Freud
The Philosophy of the Unconscious has been seen as preparing the way for Sigmund Freud's later theory of the unconscious. Freud consulted The Philosophy of the Unconscious while writing The Interpretation of Dreams. Hans Eysenck writes that Hartmann's version of the unconscious is very similar to Freud's; he also notes that von Hartmann's book which is more than 1100 pages in its English translation, reviews the work of many German philosophers, and also discusses the ideas of the Indian Vedas.
- Full title "Philosophie des Unbewussten: Speculative Resultate nach inductiv-naturwissenschaftlicher Methode (speculative results according to the inductive method of physical science) (original sub-title in 1st edn 1869: Versuch einer Weltanschauung): cited by Sebastian Gardner, "Eduard von Hartmann's Philosophy of the Unconscious, chapter 7 of "Thinking the Unconscious, Nineteenth-Century German Thought", ed. Nicholls and Liebscher, Cambridge University Press, 2010.
- Ellenberger, Henri F. (1970). The Discovery of the Unconscious: The History and Evolution of Dynamic Psychiatry. New York: Basic Books. pp. 209–210. ISBN 465-01672-3 Check
- Dufresne, Todd (2000). Tales from the Freudian Crypt: The Death Drive in Text and Context. Stanford: Stanford University Press. p. 88. ISBN 0-8047-3885-8.
- Stack, George J. (1999). In Audi, Robert. The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 363. ISBN 0-521-63722-8.
- Sulloway, Frank (1979). Freud, Biologist of the Mind: Beyond the Psychoanalytic Legend. London: Burnett Books. p. 253. ISBN 0 233 97177 7.
- Inwood, M.J. (1995). In Honderich, Ted. The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 334–335. ISBN 0-19-866132-0.
- Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
- Eysenck, Hans (1986). Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. p. 33. ISBN 0-14-022562-5.