Freud on Instinct and Morality

By Donald C. Abel

Paperback : 9780791400258, 123 pages, July 1989
Hardcover : 9780791400241, 123 pages, July 1989

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents



Part One Freud's Theory of Instincts

1. The Concept of Instinct

2. The Sexual and Ego Instincts

3. The Problem of Narcissism

4. The Life and Death Instincts

Part Two Freud's Moral Philosophy

5. Freud's Implicit Moral Theory

6. Individualism and Group Psychology

Appendix Freud's Instinct Classification Theory: Three Stages or Four?





This book examines Freud's changing views of human instincts, exploring the moral and social implications. Part One investigates Freud's concept of instinct and discusses the phases of his ongoing attempt to classify the instincts. In Part Two the author argues that Freud's instinct theory leads to a moral philosophy, and he relates this philosophy to Freud's views on group psychology.

The notion of instinct is central to psychoanalytic theory, but never before has it been treated so comprehensively, with such close attention to the text. Nor has anyone previously examined in detail the moral and social implications of Freud's instinct theory. In examining these implications, Abel bridges the fields of psychology and philosophy.

Donald C. Abel is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at St. Norbert College.


"This careful, systematic, and thorough treatment of the moral theory implicit in Freud's ideas makes an important contribution. The book is a first-rate piece of scholarship, performing a needed service. It helps restore the kind of continuity of inquiry between philosophy and psychology which is sorely needed. " — Michael A. Wallach, Duke University

"The author does a nice job of locating his analysis squarely in the middle of the Freudian texts. " — Robert Hogan, McFarlin Professor and Chair, Department of Psychology, University of Tulsa