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By Frank Cioffi

What's it that problems and preoccupies us concerning the anxieties and anguishes of social and personal existence? Have advances within the disciplines of psychoanalysis, psychology or the social sciences mostly ministered to our wishes in those parts? Frank Cioffi's elegantly argued essays diversity over Wittgenstein's remedy of Frazer's anthropological bills of human sacrifice and different ritual practices, and Freud's dealings with desires, jokes and psychological lifestyles ordinarily. This quantity should be of large curiosity to readers in philosophy, psychology and aesthetics.

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I have suggested that the reason Goffman insists on illustrating his truisms is often that he enjoys dwelling on specimens of humbug or fatuity and shrewdly suspects that some of his readers 39 40 Wittgenstein on Freud and Frazer will too. But often there is a purer and more universal motive at work as well. For example, we are told that a circumspect, prudential performer will choose his audience so as to economise the effort he has to expend on putting over his act and minimise the possibility of its disruption.

4 One of Riesman's proposals for ameliorating other-directedness and expediting the achievement of a state in which we all live autonomously ever after is the creation of 'a new type of engineer whose job it is to remove psychic hazards springing from false personalisation' by 'the elimination of locales that coerce the emotions'. To this end Riesman suggests the automating of filling stations so that we can help ourselves to petrol without the necessity of coming into any contact with the attendant.

It is that 'the option for children rather than more saving, or consumer goods, could be regarded as itself a demonstration of the change . . towards a high value on personal relations'. The manner in which the presence of a novel attitude towards social relations is just as well attested to by the desire to limit as to increase the number of offspring is typical of the argumentative texture of the book, and confirms Santayana's dictum that we are in 'a region of speculation where any man with a genius for quick generalisation can swim at ease'.

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