Freud. Just say his name and people snicker, roll their eyes, and tune out of the conversation. The whole of my education on Freud till beginning study at the U of C could be summed up in a teacher’s comment from high school that “Freud was a product of Victorian morays being blamed for every conceivable psychological deviation.” The experience of actually reading Freud suggests that perhaps the best thing that an education can do is give old thinkers a fresh hearing.
I have been surprised at how cogent Freud’s Three Essays are to many discussions in modern philosophy and contemporary psychiatry. However, more importantly, I have been surprised at how guarded–with the exception of the possibilities of hypnotism–Freud actually is with his own conclusions. Freud frequently demurs when he could draw a dramatic conclusion and occasionally even gives up–allowing that psychiatry of his day simply does not know enough to address some issue.
I’m thinking I could learn at least that much from a disgraced master.