Psychoanalysis is an Antiphilosophy

Psychoanalysis is an Antiphilosophy

Justin Clemens
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    Psychoanalysis is an Antiphilosophy
    Book Description:

    Psychoanalysis was the most important intellectual development of the twentieth century, which left no practice from psychiatry to philosophy to politics untouched. Yet it was also in many ways an untouchable project, caught between science and poetry, medicine and hermeneutics. This unsettled, unsettling status has recently induced the philosopher Alain Badiou to characterise psychoanalysis as an ‘antiphilosophy’, that is, as a practice that issues the strongest possible challenges to thought. Justin Clemens takes up the challenge of this denomination here, by re-examining a series of crucial psychoanalytic themes: addiction, fanaticism, love, slavery and torture. Drawing from the work of Freud, Lacan, Badiou, Agamben and others, 'Psychoanalysis is an Antiphilosophy' offers a radical reconstruction of the operations and import of key psychoanalytic concepts and a renewed sense of the indispensable powers of psychoanalysis for today.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-7895-2
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vi-viii)
  4. Introduction: Psychoanalysis is an Antiphilosophy
    (pp. 1-16)

    Psychoanalysis is an antiphilosophy. Despite the precision of this concept and this claim, their implications remain controversial. This book thus introduces the concept of antiphilosophy, speaks of its constitution and pertinence with respect to psychoanalysis, and examines the consequences of such a determination through a sequence of case-studies. Although the concept has some highly abstract aspects and a somewhat forbidding intellectual history, it is deployed here, first, as a kind of corrosive of received ideas, and, second, as an affirmative means of characterising psychoanalysis that captures something essential, if often elided, about the peculiar status of the practice.

    ‘Antiphilosophy’ is,...

  5. 1. Listening or Dispensing? Sigmund Freud on Drugs
    (pp. 17-43)

    In this chapter, I will reread an overdetermined and complex event in the prehistory of psychoanalysis: Sigmund Freud’s so-called ‘cocaine episode’ from the 1880s, in which, prior to entering private practice as a psychiatrist, Freud attempted a kind of reputational ‘get-rich-quick’ scheme, staking his scientific credentials on what has appeared to many subsequent commentators as unethical drug experimentation. While I re-examine this event by drawing on the requisite historical facts and secondary literature, my aim is different from that of a standard revisionist account. In fine, I wish to show something quite counter-intuitive: how Freud came to imagine the possibility...

  6. 2. Love as Ontology; or, Psychoanalysis against Philosophy
    (pp. 44-62)

    Because it is an antiphilosophy, psychoanalysis has, from its beginnings, remained indifferent or suspicious towards that most philosophical of themes: ontology. One can see this indifference operating at a number of levels. The practice of psychoanalysis has not necessitated that clinical psychoanalysts intervene directly in ontological questioning, whether implicitly or explicitly. Even in the most volatile moments of its struggles to sustain itself as a singular practice, psychoanalysis has remained relatively unmoved in the face of the counter-claims, concepts and criticisms coming from philosophy – and, a fortiori, from philosophical ontologies. Indeed, the reverse is more the case: it is...

  7. 3. Revolution or Subversion? Jacques Lacan on Slavery
    (pp. 63-83)

    The previous chapters pinpointed a new form of the ancient relationship between ‘slavery’ and ‘alienation’ emerging at the origins of psychoanalysis in the form of the relationship between drug-addiction and sexuality. The first chapter also showed how this emergence was coterminous with Freud’s forced transition from scientific experimentation to linguistic interlocution; that is, it entailed Freud’s departure from a strictly scientific field and directed him into situations that, while never abandoning a guiding ideal of science, required supplementation by the extra-scientific armature derived from a form of attentiveness to ‘literature’. In terms of the ‘therapy’ offered by psychoanalysis, this required...

  8. 4. Messianism or Melancholia? Giorgio Agamben on Inaction
    (pp. 84-101)

    In the preceding chapters, I tried to show how psychoanalysis emerged as an antiphilosophy and, in this emergence, came to establish certain routines as its own: the diagnosis of slavery as the consequence of the encounter between the body and language, a concomitant intrication of sexual protest, the ambivalence of love as at once mediating, obscuring and transforming this relation between slavery and sex, and, finally, the development of an ethics of poetic invention. This chapter, by contrast, turns its attentions to a different kind of thinker: one who begins as a self-nominated ‘philosopher’, but who, in covertly drawing from...

  9. 5. The Slave, The Fable
    (pp. 102-122)

    Having established slavery as a key antiphilosophical theme – whether considered primarily as an essential possibility of the animal body or as a necessity of the political one – I turn here to one of the extant ancient practices of ‘slave-speech’, those texts commonly generically recognised as ‘Aesopic fables’. I will argue here that ‘the Aesopic’ is always intimately connected with the problem of slavery, ‘real’ slavery, slavery in a real political sense. But the Aesopic is not simply the discourse of the slave as such; it is rather a discourse that is at once the expression and evidence of...

  10. 6. Torture, Psychoanalysis and Beyond
    (pp. 123-142)

    In the previous chapter, I examined the problem of slave-speech under the heading of the ‘Aesopic’: how a slave, whose speech can only have public standing when it is extracted through legal torture, can nonetheless transform the obscenity of such restrictions into inventive utterance. I also argued that psychoanalysis was the contemporary discourse that affirms the speech of slaves, against the depredations of authoritarian dispensations. Yet, by this very affirmation, psychoanalysis should also alert us to the centrality of torture in the formation and maintenance of human polities. Torture is historically variable in its means and uses, and, if I...

  11. 7. Man is a Swarm Animal
    (pp. 143-166)

    The previous chapter ended with a dilemma: if the human is that ‘living being’ which can actually be separated from what once was held to be its essence, that is, ‘language’, what possible effectivity – whether of diagnosis or treatment – is left to psychoanalysis? The ongoing psychiatric, pharmaceutical and philosophical assault against psychoanalysis is one thing; the loss of its very basis for being is quite another. The first, as I have shown throughout this book, is hardly the threat to psychoanalysis that it is often supposed to be; but the second would be fatal. The second, in fact,...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 167-184)
  13. Index
    (pp. 185-192)