Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Ilham Dilman: a neglected philosopher (comparatively speaking)

Occasionally one comes across a philosopher who, one believes quite strongly, was unduly neglected when alive, and thus virtually forgotten or ignored after his or her death. Ilham Dilman (November 4, 1930 – January 17, 2003) perfectly illustrates such a case (or at least that’s how it appears from my vantage point). I was surprised to discover some years ago from my dear friend, Nandini Iyer, that Dilman, a philosopher par excellence, taught for a brief period at UC Santa Barbara (I doubt they made an offer to keep him, knowing the philosophical or ideological orientation of the department in those days, although I suspect, with very little evidence, that he got along well with Herbert Fingarette). (Incidentally, I was no less surprised to learn that Kristin Shrader-Frechette once taught in the department as well: for two years, in the Philosophy of Science and Environmental Studies).
Among the titles by Dilman in my “library,” three of them I bought as “used” after being drawn to their cover art while browsing in The Book Den in downtown Santa Barbara many years ago, thereby providing proof of a sort that, at least sometimes, and albeit inadvertently and in part retrospectively, one can judge a book by its cover.
I want to bring to your attention four books in particular by Dilman that treat various dimensions of Freudian psychology and psychoanalysis (sometimes in comparison to what is termed ‘academic,’ ‘scientific,’ ‘empirical,’ or ‘experimental’ psychology, that is, that sort of psychology that dominates the academic discipline in the U.S. and perhaps elsewhere) in a manner that is at once incisive, elegant, and accessible if not simply brilliant (one hesitates to use the latter adjective today, given that such adjectives of assessment and praise are all-too-frequently employed for hyperbolic and rhetorical effect in both public and specialized discourses, thereby diminishing their semantic intent and power):
  • Freud and Human Nature (Basil Blackwell, 1983).
  • Freud and the Mind (Basil Blackwell, 1984).
  • Freud: Insight and Change (Basil Blackwell, 1988)
  • Raskolnikov’s Rebirth: Psychology and the Understanding of Good and Evil (Open Court, 2000).
Other works by Dilman (not an exhaustive list):
  • Morality and Inner Life: A Study in Plato’s Gorgias (Macmillan, 1979).
  • Love and Human Separateness (Basil Blackwell, 1987).
  • Philosophy and the Philosophic Life: A Study in Plato’s Phaedo (Macmillan, 1992).
  • Existential Critiques of Cartesianism (Macmillan, 1993).
  • Free Will: A Historical and Philosophical Introduction (Routledge, 1999).
  • Wittgenstein’s Copernican Revolution (Palgrave, 2002).
  • Philosophy as Criticism: Essays on Dennett, Searle, Foot, Davidson, Nozick (Continuum, 2011).
My bibliography for Freudian Psychoanalytic Psychology is here.


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