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This chapter explores the limits and uses of psychoanalysis for the practice of critical history. The argument is that Freud’s insistence on the ultimate indeterminacy of our knowledge is the best guarantee we have of practicing critique. Freud suggested that the pursuit of knowledge was illusory—the quest for positive knowledge (hard facts as they are called now) was a disguise that concealed the primary processes—the drives—which were the true motivation for the quest. Psychoanalysis is “suspicious” of any account that stops with the production of positive knowledge; the cure has nothing to do with the discovery of “the facts.” This skepticism about the status of positive knowledge and the insistence that the pursuit is ongoing—and itself needs interpretation—enables the kind of critical work that, by constantly interrogating normative concepts, keeps future possibilities open.

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