Hist Philos Life Sci 2009;31(2):295-311
The essay analyzes the influence of evolutionary thought in the work of Sigmund Freud. Based on Freud's initial occupation as a neuro-anatomist and physiologist certain aspects stemming from the history of nature and developmental biological reasoning that played a role in his endeavours to find a new basis for medical psychology will be pointed out. These considerations are to be regarded as prolegomena of the task to reread Freud once again, and in doing so avoiding the verdict that holds his neuro-anatomic and comparative-morphological works as simply "pre-analytic." In fact, the time seems ripe to reconsider in a new context particularly those evolutionary, medical, and cultural-scientific elements in Freud's work that appear inconsistent at first sight. The substantial thesis is that Freud, given the fact that he was trained in comparative anatomy and physiology in the tradition of Johannes Müller, had the capability of synthesizing elements of this new point of view with the findings and interrogations concerning developmental history and the theory of evolution. More over, this was perceived not merely metaphoric, as he himself stressed it (Freud 1999, XIII, 99), but in the sense of Ubertragung, that inscribed terms and methods deriving from the given field into the realm of psychology. The moving force behind this particular Ubertragung came from a dynamically-neurological perception of the soul that emerged in France since 1800, which Freud came to know trough the late work of Charcot.