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FREUD AND DEVELOPMENT / Vol. 52, No. 1 (Spring 1985)

Arien Mack, Editor

A developmental perspective necessarily underlies any theory of personality which aspires to encompass the entire life span and the evolution of behavior through growth or therapy. More importantly, however, the developmental perspective appears to be at the core of the distinctive revolutionary vision of psychoanalysis, the matrix of its premises and promises. The developmental perspective was imperative for Freud—a revolutionary force intent on liberating man from psychological repression and cultural oppression. The twin themes of development and liberation recur throughout the exposition of psychoanalytic theory and therapy.

The mutability of the idea of a nation and the significance of the action based on this idea—namely, nationalism—emerges with special clarity in the case of Germany. The nation and nationalism are closely linked: the substantive determination of what the nation should be influences the action based on the idea of order. The most dissimilar political orders have legitimated themselves through ideas of the nation and the most diverse actions have appealed to a national interest. There is hardly another European nation with a history so full of changes as the Germans. Therefore, some of the characteristics and functional connections of the nation and nationalism can be analyzed more clearly than holds true for other West European states.

This analysis expresses some critical thoughts about a well-established and successful research program in contemporary American political and social science, namely, that of rational choice theory. But rather than dissecting its elaborate technology for logical proof, which already has received much attention, my critical reappraisal examines the outer theoretical limits intrinsic to choice theory’s core assumptions. In order to clarify these unarticulated philosophical assumptions in both the methodological presuppositions and analytical operations of rational choice theorists, I seriously question its use in political studies, particularly with regard to issues raised in normative political theory.

Sometimes, for some purposes, some of us may value equality in its own right. But sometimes, for some purposes, most of us undoubtedly value equality as a means to other ends. Foes will want to argue that the equality principle can be reduced without residue to these other values. Its friends will want to show that there is more to it than that. But it is important, for both friends and foes alike, to separate out this epiphenomenal egalitarianism from the real thing.

In the last several years the work of Habermas has been criticized as being incapable of adequately addressing the fundamental cause of environmental problems, because his system cannot help but regard nature as the object of man’s “will-to-power.” However, his response to the criticism is quite powerful. His critics, he says, confuse the epistemological and ethical dimensions of the issue. It will be argued here that this counterargument is correct as far as it goes.

Present circumstances may prove conducive to the revitalization of interest in Emile Durkheim’s political sociology. His account of how the liberal state, political pluralism, and the often-irrational dynamics of the capitalist economy converge to weaken the structure of authority in complex capitalist society brings his political sociology to the forefront of contemporary concerns. More significantly, his proposals for reestablishing the bases of social order and political authority anticipated will and clearly the recent development of two major issues in the study of the political arrangements of the present Western capitalist democracies—corporatism and state autonomy.

I will begin by describing four central trends in recent American sociology: the decline of functionalism and the rise of three would-be replacements—the quantitative extentionalists, the comparative historicals, and the social constructionists. These descriptions will be ideal typical in that I will emphasize what appear to be major trends and usually ignore what appear to be minor countertrends. Then I will consider why the present interregnum is lasting so long. Finally I will look briefly at the possible trend toward the institutionalization of diversity and ask whether this could be the beginning of a qualitatively new pattern in the history of American sociology.


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