The invention of the unconscious

Rhodri Hayward

in Resisting History

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print September 2007 | ISBN: 9780719074141
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700778 | DOI:
The invention of the unconscious

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This chapter explores the tension between different ways of knowing the past and the conflicting understandings of selfhood entailed in them. It is a conflict, which is sustained by different conceptualisations of death. These different conceptualisations determined both the form of the historical object and the imagined shape of the historian's insight. Christ emerged as a historical character in the Christologies of the nineteenth century through reference to his carnal limitation. His being and consciousness were portrayed as entities bounded in the kenosis by death. Similarly, the authority of the historical text was itself dependent on an implicit understanding of the limits of the historian's self. Within the new professional discipline of history, interpretations only became acceptable if they could demonstrate that the interpreted object was somehow insulated from the infective or partisan concerns of the interpreter.

Keywords: historical character; unconscious; conceptualisations; death; Christ; kenosis

Chapter.  20864 words. 

Subjects: History of Religion

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