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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: January 30, 2000
Latest update: January 31, 2006
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Index of Topics on Site Jonathan Lear's Open Minded


Introduction: Situating Freud

As we move into the 21st Century, there has been a frenetic need to assess the contributions of the great thinkers of the past. Lear's book guides us through an understanding of Freud's contribution. His approach is one that makes enormous sense for an undergraduate seminar that chooses to look at theory in some depth. He highlights Freud's key contributions, goes back to the texts to develop his arguments, and is clear about the assumptions he makes, and the unstated assumptions of others. Thus, in addition to one plausible way to interpret the West's love of rationality, you are treated to some fine examples of solid reasoning in tracing the development of ideas through classic texts. These are skills we hope you will apply to future reading.

This book is of particular interest as we move into the 21st Century, for it sets a tone of how we might eventually value the intellectual contributions of the 20th Century. Freud-bashing is popular in today's climate of "knowingness." Simply "everyone" knows Freud, though most of us have never read his work. Lear brings that work into the reach of those of us who would like to incorporate into our understandings the insights psychoanalysis offers to those of us who will never be in a position to afford psychoanalysis. I was particularly impressed that Lear's major conclusion is that what psychoanalysis is all about is heightened "awareness," not necessarily "knowing," why we do things, but understanding that we are both rational and non-rational creatures. The willingness to accept "not knowing" is as important to Lear as it is to us. Lear interprets it that psychiatrists may do no harm. We interpret it that teachers, with whom you are all more likely to come in contact with, may do no harm. In this review of Lear's work, we will emphasize what we as teachers have found to enlighten our practice in Freud, as interpreted through this text.

Questions to Spark Your Thinking

  1. How can cheating be explained as "acting out?"

    For a plausible answer see Cheating as Acting Out response to Pass? or Prepared? on Love, Learning, and Structural Violence.

  2. Why is Lear's study of the role of love in transference important to an understanding of higher education in the 21st Century? For discussion threads, you may refer to the letter identifying the phrase.

    1. Lear explains that transference based on love may result in
    2. the acting out of pure emotion
    3. which is not yet available as rationally thought out behavior
    4. to either the conscious or the unconscious.
    5. To the extent that Lear's interpretation of Loewald's interpretation of Freud,
    6. that such "acting out" transference is not rational,
    7. we cannot discuss the inappropriateness of the "acting out"
    8. with the person "acting out"
    9. because the behavior is as non-rational to him as it is to us,
    10. and because he, too, is unable to explain to himself what he is doing and why.
    11. Much of Bourdieu's work on academic discourse
    12. stresses the extent to which students do not understand
    13. and are not taught such discourse.
    14. It is structurally violent to expect our students to engage in academic discourse
    15. without preparing them to do so.
    16. Lear's explanation of "acting out" helps make teachers aware
    17. that students may not be able to grasp such concepts as "cheating" clearly
    18. and express the same level of commitment to academic integrity as their teachers profess
    19. to the extent that they engage in such behavior as though it were a magic potion
    20. that would transform them into "good students."
    21. For a long time we have called our response to this dilemma grade inflation.
    22. It is time to describe the phenomenon more accurately, that we may eliminate the structural violence reflected bythe concept of "cheating".