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If it is the case that particular types of brain organization make particular forms of thought more attractive, easier to enter into etc we might take the view that the exposal of any particular philisophical position can be viewed as a projective personality test. For example from a psychologists point of view the personality of one supporting the primacy of a hedonists view of ethics, might be regarded as likely to be different from that of a strict Utilitarian.

Such an analysis undermines the notion that pure reason is the foundation of philosphy and that genetic, biological, biographical elements can play a substantial role in developing the cognitive and emotional preferences of philosophers, before they ever take up that role.

The psychological study of the lives of philosophers might bear considerable fruit. For example what role did the death of Friedrich Nietzsche's father when he was four, and the death of his younger brother soon afterwards play in the development of what one might analyse as a narcissistic philosophy? If a person with his veiws came to us for therapy, what hypotheses would we develop about his emotional and intellectual development. What ideas might we have about the link between his later writings and his subsequent mental decline.

This of course turns the traditional view - that psychology is a child of philosophy - on its head.

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  • Wolfenstein, E.V. (2000).Inside/Outside Nietzsche: Psychoanalytic Explorations. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.


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