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7 - The id and the thinking process

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 October 2009

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Summary

Introduction

The concept of the id was formulated by Freud in 1923, in a work entitled The Ego and the Id, and it marked the culmination of almost thirty years of empirical investigation and meta-psychological thought concerning the unconscious part of the mind. It is remarkably similar to concepts found in the nineteenth-century German philosophical movement, most especially to Shopenhauerian Will and the Dionysiac of the early Nietzsche; indeed, we must in some sense accept that those two great explorers of the mind had stumbled upon the truth of the id. But I think we can, in addition, discern significant likenesses between the Freudian id and concepts ranging as far afield as the Lockean material substratum and the Kantian noumenon.

It is important to notice the sharp distinction which Freud drew – though not perhaps in so many words – between a part of and a system within the mind. The id, in Freudian theory, is the mental system that is the repository of the two ultimate instincts, the life and death instincts, Eros and Thanatos. Then while these instinctual contents of the id are in themselves invariably unconscious, so that an entry on their part into consciousness would be possible only in symbolic form, the Freudian concept of the unconscious is not the concept of a particular mental system like the id.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1982

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