EGO AT THE THRESHOLD by Edward E. Sampson


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A brief but ambitious formulation of human duality -- the ""natural"" and the ""transcendent"" -- that achieves surprising success in spite of the hackneyed subject matter. Sampson, a sociologist, relates the ""natural"" to the radical schism that results from the primal introjection of the Other (following Laing, Sartre, Freud); to interpersonal conflict (lack of trust, need for self-validation); to the tyranny of labels and paradigms (especially in the social sciences); and to the need for otherdirectedness (following Reisman) in adaptation to a technological and crowded culture. He argues that ego, the product of conflict between self and culture, is preceded by pure experience, that consciousness in service of ego becomes oppressive. But when we arrive at an epoche (Husserl), an abridgement of everyday functioning, in the transcendent, ego and action are then not reflected objects derived through role-taking, but a ""stream"" of the present -- absolute, undifferentiated experience. ""Freedom is based on being unpredictable to our ego, surprising even ourselves by our spontaneous actions."" Sampson rises above the usual cant in devoting considerable attention to the necessity of ego strength and personal commitment. Moreover, he sees that transcendence is not a ""state"" or ""product"" but a constant process of threshold vacillation between the two modes. At times his eclecticism is annoying, but Sampson is usually cautious in juxtaposing disparate thinkers and personal experiences. An enticing and provoking Laingian synthesis.

Pub Date: Feb. 3rd, 1974
Publisher: Delacorte