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The Psychoanalysis of Fire New Ed Edition

6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 004-6442064613
ISBN-10: 0807064610
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Editorial Reviews


"[Bachelard] is neither a self-confessed and tortured atheist like Satre, nor, like Chardin, a heretic combining a belief in God with a proficiency in modern science. But, within the French context, he is almost as important as they are because he has a pseudo-religious force, without taking a stand on religion. To define him as briefly as possible – he is a philosopher, with a professional training in the sciences, who devoted most of the second phase of his career to promoting that aspect of human nature which often seems most inimical to science: the poetic imagination ..." – J.G. Weightman, The New York Times Review of Books

About the Author

Gaston Bachelard (1884-1963) is the author of The Poetics of SpaceThe Psychoanalysis of Fire, and The New Scientific Spirit.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 132 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; New Ed edition (January 30, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807064610
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807064610
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #272,295 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 61 people found the following review helpful By K. M. Gough on April 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
This little book constitutes, for me, an excellent introductory piece to the thoughts of Gaston Bachelard. Much more clearly than "Poetics of Space", or "The Right to Dream", this book gives insight into Bachelard's transition from scientist to philosopher. If you haven't yet read any of his works, you should consider doing so if only to reevaluate your own methods of analysis of the world around you, both the material and the immaterial. In the "Psychoanalysis of Fire" Bachelard turns his sciento-phenomonologist methods of analysis to the existence of fire, both as a real presence throughout the history of mankind and as a literary, symbolic presence with perhaps even more significance.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By S. Lee on November 26, 2007
Format: Paperback
Writing a preface for The Poetics of Space (1958) in 1963, a year after his friend's death, medievalist Etienne Gilson noted: "We all loved him, admired him and envied him a little, because we felt he was a free mind, unfettered by any conventions either in his choice of the problems he wanted to handle or in his way of handling them."

Gilson goes on to say that this book, The Psychoanalysis of Fire (1938), was Bachelard the free mind's "first warning shot." He records the puzzlement he had upon its publication in these words: "After appointing a man to teach the philosophy of science and seeing him successfully do so for a number of years, we don't like to learn that he has suddenly turned his interest to a psychoanalysis of the most unorthodox sort, since what then was being psychoanalyzed was not even people, but an element."

As one of the truly unusual and original books anyone would hope to come upon, almost every paragraph (nay, sentence) of the book has the power to change the perspective of an engaged reader. Perspective on, yes, fire, but also on many other things. Prometheus and his "clever disobedience," which leads to a startling formulation "The Prometheus complex is the Oedipus complex of the life of the intellect." The psychoanalysis of rubbing (thus, cleaning) and heat producing in what Bachelard calls the "Novalis complex," which leads to a meditation on the nature of love. Alcohol, the eau-de-feu ("water on fire") working as eau-de-vie by setting one's being on fire instantaneously in the "Hoffmann complex." These are just most obvious themes of the book. Attentive readers will discover much, much more to cherish.
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
Forget about The Poetics of Space (for now) and immerse yourself in The Psychoanalysis of Fire. Watch Bachelard circle and destroy modern rationality through a proto-rationalistic, Socratic assault on the concept of fire. Bachelard's subject is the 'concept' rather than the real thing, fire itself, the number one immaterial 'substance' prefiguring even light. Read, in amazement, as scientific scrutiny of this primordial phenomenon approaches farce. But pay very, very, very close attention to the section on Novalis, "Psychoanalysis and Prehistory: The Novalis Complex", and you'll find Bachelard's genius swooping in for the kill. "These scientific explanations originate in an arid and cursory rationalism which claims to be profiting by recurring factual evidence; but which is, however, quite unrelated to the psychological conditions of the primitive discoveries." Bachelard is not the prophet of surrationalism for nothing! It is this book (first published in 1938) that locates his critical method at the forefront of philosophical critical idealism. Unlike Ernst Cassirer, Bachelard is more than willing to take the plunge into the abyss of imagination - that Coleridgean imagination that is the mostly unacknowledged source of our collective intelligence.
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