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Part III - The Third Modern Metaparadigm c.1860– c.1960

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 March 2021

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Summary

The analytic revelation is a revolutionary force. With it a blithe skepticism has come into the world, a mistrust that unmasks all the schemes and subterfuges of our own souls. Once roused and on the alert, it cannot be put to sleep again. It infiltrates life, undermines its raw naiveté, takes from it the strain of its own ignorance, de-emotionalizes it, as it were, inculcates the taste for understatement, as the English call it—for the deflated rather than the inflated words, for the cult which exerts its influence by moderation, by modesty. Modesty—what a beautiful word! In the German (Bescheidenheit) it originally had to do with knowing and only later got its present meaning; while the Latin word from which the English comes means a way of doing—in short, both together give us almost the sense of the French savoir faire—to know how to do. May we hope that this may be the fundamental temper of that more blithely objective and peaceful world which the science of the unconscious may be called to usher in?

Its mingling of the pioneer with the physicianly spirit justifies such a hope. Freud once called his theory of dream “a bit of scientific new-found land won from superstition and mysticism.” The word “won” expresses the colonizing spirit and significance of his work. “Where id was, shall be ego,” he epigrammatically says. And he calls analysis a cultural labor comparable to the draining of the Zuider Zee. Almost in the end of the traits of venerable man merge into the lineaments of the grey-haired Faust whose spirit urges him:

To shut the imperious sea from the shore away, Set narrower bounds to the broad water's waste.

Then open I to many millions space

Where they may live, no safe-secure, but free

And active. And such a busy swarming I would see

Standing amid free folk on a free soil.

The free folk are the people of a future freed from fear and hate, and ripe for peace.

Thomas Mann, Freud and the Future (1936)
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The Metahistory of Western Knowledge in the Modern Era
Four Evolving Metaparadigms, 1648 to Present
, pp. 145 - 148
Publisher: Anthem Press
Print publication year: 2021

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