In response to:

'Freud's Megalomania' from the December 21, 2000 issue

To the Editors:

In his review of Israel Rosenfield’s novel Freud’s Megalomania [NYR, November 2, 2000], Daniel Mendelsohn reports approvingly that “since the early 1970s, when Paul Ricoeur and Jürgen Habermas advanced the ‘hermeneutic’ vision of Freud’s work, it has provided supporters of Freudianism with an increasingly popular way of preserving Freud’s cultural centrality while granting the validity of the complaints about the inadequacy of his ‘scientific’ method. Interpretation, after all—whether of texts or of neuroses—isn’t quantifiable. It isn’t a hard science.”

Mendelsohn then steers your readers to an anthology edited by Frederick Crews, Unauthorized Freud: Doubters Confront a Legend (Penguin, 1999), for a purported criticism of this hermeneutic conception of psychoanalysis. But, as Crews points out in his editorial preface, the essays by his eighteen contributors are intended “to expose his [Freud’s] system of psychological propositions to the same kind of scrutiny one would apply to any other aspiring science.” Thus, there the reader will look in vain for a critical evaluation of the rival hermeneutic take on Freud’s enterprise.

I have given an in-depth, systematic, and cumulative critique of the major hermeneutical reconstructions of psychoanalytic theory and therapy by a number of its leading exponents in a series of my writings from 1984 until 1999, starting with my The Foundations of Psychoanalysis: A Philosophical Critique (University of California Press, 1984), pp. 1–94.*

Adolf Grünbaum
Andrew Mellon Professor of Philosophy
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania