Tag Archives: Sigmund Freud

Robert Wright

All told, the Darwinian notion of the unconscious is more radical than the Freudian one. The sources of self-deception are more numerous, diverse, and deeply rooted, and the line between conscious and unconscious is less clear.

Robert Wright, The Moral Animal: Why We Are, the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology, New York, 1994, p. 324

Ludwig Wittgenstein

[Freud] always stresses what great forces in the mind, what strong prejudices work against the idea of psycho-analysis. But he never says what an enormous charm that idea has for people, just as it has for Freud himself. There may be strong prejudices against uncovering something nasty, but sometimes it is infinitely more attractive than it is repulsive.

Ludwig Wittgenstein, quoted in Normal Malcolm, Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Memoir, Oxford, 1958, p. 39


Anyone reading Sigmund Freud’s original works might well be seduced by the beauty of his prose, the elegance of his arguments and the acuity of his intuition. But those with a grounding in science will also be shocked by the abandon with which he elaborated his theories on the basis of essentially no empirical evidence.

‘Psychology: A Reality Check’, Nature, vol. 461, no. 7266 (October 15, 2009), p. 847

Greg Egan

Freud had saddled Western culture with the bizarre notion that the least considered utterances were always, magically, the truest—that reflection added nothing, and the ego merely censored or lied. It was an idea born more of convenience than anything else: he’d identified the part of the mind easiest to circumvent—with tricks like free association—and then declared the product of all that remained to be ‘honest’.

Greg Egan, Distress, London, 1995, pp. 82-83

Paul Krugman

If you follow trends in psychology, you know that Freud is out and Darwin is in. The basic idea of “evolutionary psych” is that our brains are exquisitely designed to help us cope with our environment—but unfortunately, the environment they are designed for is the one we evolved and lived in for the past two million years, no the alleged civilization we created just a couple of centuries ago. We are, all of us, hunter-gatherers lost in the big city. And therein, say the theorists, lie the roots of many of our bad habits. Our craving for sweets evolved in a world without ice cream; our interest in gossip evolved in a world without tabloids; our emotional response to music evolved in a world without Celine Dion. And we have investment instincts designed for hunting mammoths, not capital gains.

Paul Krugman, The Great Unraveling, New York, 2003, p. 31