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date: 29 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This introduction provides an overview of the chapters in this section, which explores some of the important contributions of psychoanalysis to our understanding of religion, with particular emphasis on Sigmund Freud’s views. In The Future of an Illusion (1927), Freud argues that religion—or more specifically, beliefs in the Judaeo-Christian tradition and its prehistory—is an ‘illusion’, an idea that is not necessarily false, but one that is produced by the wish for it to be true. Each of the chapters agrees with the notion that there is a close connection between religious belief and desire, and addresses Freud’s account of the origin of religion in structures of subjectivity. Topics include Jacques Lacan’s theory of religion, the implications of psychoanalytic theories of subjectivity for philosophy of religion, the epistemology of religious belief in relation to the epistemology of psychoanalysis itself, and Freud’s supposed view that religion expresses a ‘historical truth’.

Keywords: psychoanalysis, religion, Sigmund Freud, religious belief, desire, subjectivity, Jacques Lacan, wish, philosophy of religion

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