Georges Politzer’s “brilliant errors”: Concrete psychology in France (1930–1980)

A piece online first at History of Psychology will interest AHP readers: “Georges Politzer’s “brilliant errors”: Concrete psychology in France (1930–1980),” Bianco, Giuseppe. Abstract:

The present article assesses the hidden importance of Georges Politzer’s (1903–1942) work in the development of French philosophy and psychology. After sketching his biography and isolating the most important concepts developed in his book Critique of the Foundations of Psychology (1928), this article proceeds by dividing his reception into four distinct moments, the features of which derive from the interconnected mutations of the scientific field in its relation with the transformation of the political field. In the first moment, the publication of the Critique, Politzer’s most important work, played an essential role in introducing psychoanalysis into philosophy, psychology, and psychiatry, and in sketching the path of a possible encounter between psychoanalysis and Marxism. In the second moment, during the 1940s and the 1950s, following Politzer’s Marxist auto-critique, French communists widely rejected psychoanalysis as a dangerous ideology. In the third moment, during the 1960s in a context marked by structuralism, both the psychoanalysts and the Marxists addressed to Politzer’s humanism a new, theoretical, critique. Finally, at the end of the 1960s and even more after May 1968, Politzer’s works were republished and reevaluated, and new transformations taking place in the intellectual and political field during the 1970s contributed to a better understanding of Politzer’s essential role in French philosophy, psychology, and psychoanalysis.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.