This book is a psychoanalytic exploration of the need to know in Western culture. It argues that this need is expressed by the relentless drive of science to get to the source of all phenomena. But the profound reach into the interior of nature is accompanied by primitive unconscious phantasies of mastery, of knowing as making, of masculine intrusion into nature s creativity and of nature s retaliation and deterioration. Science becomes a tool of domination and a suspect magical enterprise. Benign nature becomes an ominous nature. As a result, the need to know becomes a moral quest, in which science unconsciously researches into the internal world of our intentions, externalised into the world of the phenomena that it investigates. The book also argues that the masculine domination of nature typically understood as phallic mastery has roots in a phantasy mediated by semen, in which the male identifies with and replicates the sources of life.
These themes are addressed in a Kleinian psychoanalytic framework, using clinical, mythological, anthropological and historical material.
Chapter 1: At the Beginning Knowling Becomes Making.
Chapter 2: The Ominous in Nature.
Chapter 3: Encompassing Nature.
Chapter 4: The Dynamics of Objectification.
Chapter 5: The Idea of the Inanimate.
Chapter 6: The Quantitative Father.
Chapter 7: The Insecurity of Male Identity.
Chapter 8: Masculinity and Phallicism: the Repudiation of Seminality.
Chapter 9: The Oedipus Complex and the Perseus Complex: Naturalism and Omnipotence.
Chapter 10: Science and Virtue: The Case of Robert Boyle.