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Inwardness and Existence: Subjectivity in/and Hegel, Heidegger, Marx, and Freud Paperback – April 15, 1989

ISBN-13: 978-0299120146 ISBN-10: 0299120147
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Editorial Reviews


“Davis takes the historical strains between determinism and agency, content and process, inwardness and the external (or historical contingency and processsual immediacy) into dynamic, rupturing explorations of categories which provoke the reader’s analytic process. His writing is elegant and energetic, saturated with stress, the heady rush of analysis, and the challenges of hard work.”—Leighton Brooks McCutcheon, Journal of Mind and Behavior

 “Praiseworthy because it grapples with the fundamental assumptions of these competing traditions, and does so with clarity and conviction.”—David M. Thompson, Philosophy and Literature

“This is . . . an enormously ambitious project, both for the mastery of diverse traditions and perspectives it requires, and for the philosophical acuity and imagination it presupposes. . . . Davis’s work has an original and important contribution to make . . . to the intellectual situation of our time.”—Jerrold Seigel, author of The Idea of the Self

About the Author

Walter A. (Mac) Davis is professor emeritus of English at Ohio State University. He is the author of Get the Guests: Psychoanalysis, Modern American Drama, and the Audience, also published by the University of Wisconsin Press, and Death's Dream Kingdom: The American Psyche Since 9/11.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 440 pages
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press (April 15, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0299120147
  • ISBN-13: 978-0299120146
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,406,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
In my not-so-humble opinion, Walter Davis's Inwardness and Existence is the most important work of philosophy since Sartre's Being and Nothingness. In this book Davis attempts an astonishing synthesis of 4 seemingly irreconcilable schools of thought: Hegel's self-consciousness, Heidegger's Existentialism, Marxist concepts of ideology and subjectivity, and Freudian psychoanalysis. His goal is a comprehensive and intellectually rigorous theory of "subjectivity," of what we are and how we got that way. Along the way he finds time to write a prose Ode to Death, explore the psychological mysteries of sexuality, provide the best explanation ever written of the Marxist concept of ideology, and intellectually skewer the phony "radical" Professors of academic deconstruction. This is a profound, challenging, wide-ranging book that deserves to be read, re-read, argued with, and discussed. "Put down thy Derrida; open thy Davis!"
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Thomas E. Quinn on July 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
I came across this book wandering through a bookstore in 1989. It had a section on Hegel's famous chapter on "Lordship and Bondage," and I thought Davis might have something interesting to add to my already considerable library on the subject. The academic sounding book title suggested a Ph.d thesis turned book or something from the mills of postmodernism, in those years grinding out mind-numbing book-length footnotes to Derrida et al.
Wrong, wrong, wrong! The pages showed an intellect and heart breathtakingly alive and engaged. Despite forbidding sounding chapter titles the prose was beautifully crafted and spoke to my life, my fears, my evasions. I found the book more akin to a sort of wisdom literature, maybe something Ralph Waldo Emerson could have written towards the end of the 20th Century. I read it 2-3 times. Gave it to friends along with advice to ignore the forbidding title and titles to sections.
Later I searched academic journals for reviews and, as I had expected, found none. There is something discomfiting about Davis' book. Maybe Davis meant to scratch your conscience, grapple with intellectual and emotional honesty and courage, put a tack in life's chair -- do those things, that is, that tend to not get one the big symposia at the academic conference. I'm not sure what Davis meant to do, but I have never read such engaged presentations of the likes of Hegel, et al, that so gently yet so relentlessly made me look at the question of how I live.
So, wandering through the Amazon.com jungle, I was greatly encouraged to see that, 12 years later, Davis' book is still available. Give it a try.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Suzo on April 30, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like a previous reviewer, I came across this book unheralded while searching through racks at a bookstore. As a psychologist, psychoanalyst and theologian, I see the topic of inwardness and subjectivity as much discussed today and often fading into greater obscurity for all the analysis. Davis's book manages to retain perspective on the actual phenomenology of subjectivity and addresses each of these four major approaches to the topic - Hegelian, Existential, Marxist and Psychoanalytic (which he addresses from the actual current state of the field, not simply returning to the Freudian model long since left behind) - without allowing his thought to be captured by any one of them. He achieves a true conversation amongst them, allowing each to inform the other and offering us a creative combination that permits the experience of subjectivity to be rediscovered from within that conversation. A well-researched, solid, accessible, excellent book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a thrilling adventure in deep who diving. That's right: who diving. As in you-I-they-we diving. But which? When you surface from the book you can see that Davis has fashioned some sturdy trestles for a new bridge that will help lead us somewhere unknown. Prior to reading the book that somewhere was not unknown; it was, rather, unknowable. Very good on Hegel, Heidegger and Freud, it seems to me; not quite as good on Marx, although very aware that Marx is a far cry from Marxism.
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