London Philosophy Club Reading Group

The Unconscious

'...this essentially simple notion seems to be able to relate to a far wider range of disparate human phenomena and to subsume the wildly abnormal and the tediously normal activities of human beings under the same headings far more easily than any other explanatory concept advanced so far'. (Alasdair MacIntyre)

A good reason then to shift our focus this time from the problem of consciousness to that of our seething unconscious minds.

The basic readings are from Sigmund Freud, with a wide choice of critical, complementary and supportive texts to draw on, some of which are easily available and cheap to buy, some less so. For the Freud, there is short and clear statement in 'The Structure of Consciousness', from two texts by Freud, gathered at

For more on the Unconscious, the Ego and the Id, see Freud The Ego and the Id (The Standard Issue) available from £0.01 and upwards on Amazon.

From the massive range of texts reviewing these ideas from a philosophical point of view, any of the following will nourish the discussion (some available relatively cheaply from online sellers).

A.C. MacIntyre (1958) The Unconscious: A Conceptual Study (classic respectful overview and critique).

A. Grünbaum (1999) 'A century of psychoanalysis:
critical retrospect and prospect'. On-line article by an indomitable critic of Freud.

Grunbaum's 1984 book The Foundations of Psychoanalysis: A Philosophical Critique is available fairly cheaply on-line.

Donald Levy (1996) Freund among the Philosophers engages with four critics of Freud (Wittgenstein, James, MacIntyre, Grunbaum) and defends the notion of the unconscious.

Alfred Tauber (2010) Freud: The Reluctant Philosopher - a fairly demanding text that locates Freud in a wider philosophical and psychological context.

Finally, Mathieu Arminjon (2011) 'The Four Postulates of Freudian Unconscious Neurocognitive Convergences' reviews the contribution of neuroscience to this discussion.

Hopefully, this will prime our thoughts for looking at free will in the last session for this spring, to be announced for June.

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  • bill t.

    wonderful evening for me with many contributions - a dialogue - very exciting imho - I really enjoyed it.

    May 14, 2014

  • Gillian

    Late cancellation. Apologies. Hope next person on waiting list can attr

    May 13, 2014

  • Thomas L.

    So sorry to drop out last minute, but I'm feeling rotten today so I'm going to head straight to sleep after work, I think.

    Hopefully it's not too late for someone to take my place at the reading group tonight...

    May 13, 2014

  • ech`bma

    would the unconscious not be the unawareness of a thing, thus when bringing it into awareness = your consciousness of its consciousness. it would have to require consciousness to know the thing. don't really get the point. best covered under consciousness?

    May 12, 2014

  • bill t.

    the links are all extremely helpful, thanks,

    April 27, 2014

  • Pete R.

    Parents evening on that evening I'm afraid. So cannot make it.

    April 26, 2014

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