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Origins and Ends of the Mind

Origins and Ends of the Mind: Philosophical Essays on Psychoanalysis

Christian Kerslake
Ray Brassier
Volume: 7
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Leuven University Press
Pages: 226
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  • Book Info
    Origins and Ends of the Mind
    Book Description:

    Psychoanalysis claims that the individual human mind is structured by its childhood relationships with its parents. But the theory of attachment, evolutionary psychology and contemporary philosophy of mind have all recently re-introduced new dimensions of innateness into mental development and pathology. If attachment is an instinct, then what is the psychological status of the child's relation to the mother? If the mind is in part a product of evolution, then how far down do the inhibitory mechanisms of the mind go? If the mind of the child is shaped by their encounter with a set of prohibitions, how, in the light of contemporary 'cognitive science' and philosophy of mind, can the child be conceived as 'taking on' a rule? How is the construction of the mind related to the normative ends of cognitive experience? Today, it is Lacanian psychoanalysis which most vigorously defends psychoanalytic theory and practice from the encroachment of the biological and 'cognitive' sciences. But a paradigm shift nevertheless appears to be underway, in which the classical psychoanalytic theories about the Oedipus complex, primary and secondary repression, sexual difference and psychosexuality, the role of symbols,etc, are being dismantled and reintegrated into a new synthesis of biological and psychological theories. In this collection of theoretical essays by philosophers and psychoanalysts, encounters are brought about between Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis on the one hand, and attachment theory, evolutionary psychology and philosophy of mind on the other.

    eISBN: 978-94-6166-037-4
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VI)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. VII-VII)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. VIII-VIII)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)
    Christian Kerslake

    From the beginning, Freudian psychoanalysis stood apart from other theories of the unconscious in relating the emergence of unconscious mental formations directly back to events and fantasies that shaped the mind in childhood. Freud decisively rejected all metaphysical and dialectical accounts of the emergence of consciousness from a nebulous unconscious (theories which had their roots in the idealism of Hegel, Schelling and Schopenhauer). He rejected Breuer’s claim (derived from the Janet school) that the presence of ‘hypnoid’ dissociative states was a necessary condition for the repression of a representation. The emergence of the unconscious, insofar as it was fundamentally related...

  6. Part One Origin and End:: Relations between Psychic Origins and Psychic Normativity

    • The Missing Link between Psychoanalysis and Attachment Theory: Michael Balint’s New Beginning
      (pp. 23-36)
      Philippe Van Haute

      It is commonplace to state that the various object-relations theories are more easily reconciled with attachment theory than Freudian psychoanalysis. Freud invariablyderivesboth the libidinal directedness towards an object and the attachment tendency from the need for love or food. He fails to posit attachment as a primary tendency which needs no further ontogenetic elucidation. In this way, he inevitably comes into conflict with attachment theory which emphasizes the originality and non-deducibility of this tendency (Geyskens & Van Haute 2003). Object-relations theories, on the other hand, teach us that the libido is first and foremost directed towards finding adequate objects....

    • Quasi-beliefs and Crazy Beliefs: Subdoxastic States and the ‘Special Characteristics’ of the Unconscious
      (pp. 37-58)
      Brian Garvey

      This paper concerns what Freud called the ‘special characteristics’ of the unconscious. According to his metapsychological writings, unconscious mental states differ from conscious ones not just in not being conscious, but in having what he calls ‘systematic’ features, such as exemption from mutual contradiction, imperviousness to the influence of external reality, and so forth. Yet he still wants to characterise them as mental states. He is often explicit in his use of psychological language to describe them. Even when he is not, he makes it clear that the mechanistic-sounding language he sometimes uses is to be understood metaphorically. The movements...

    • Paradoxes of Normativity in Lacanian Psychoanalysis. Or: Is Castration Necessary?
      (pp. 59-86)
      Christian Kerslake

      Freud’s discovery of the Oedipus complex can be dated back to his account of his self-analysis in a letter to Fliess in 1897, where he says that ‘I have found, in my own case too, falling in love with the mother and jealousy of the father [to be] a universal event of early childhood’ (SE 1: 265). He notes that the legend of Oedipus ‘seizes on a compulsion which everyone recognises because he feels its existence within himself’ (ibid). However, it was not until the 1920s that Freud introduced the Oedipus complex as the ‘core complex’ in psychological development. In...

    • Lacan and Ethics: The Ends of Analysis and the Production of the Subject
      (pp. 87-100)
      Philip Derbyshire

      Towards the end of ‘The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis’, the so-called ‘Rome Discourse’ published inÉcrits, Lacan gives an encomium to the practice of psychoanalysis: ‘Of all the undertakings that have been proposed in this century’, he says, ‘that of the psychoanalyst is the loftiest, because [his] undertaking acts in our time as the mediator between the man of care and the subject of absolute knowledge’ (Lacan 1953a: 106). I take this to mean that for the early Lacan, the psychoanalyst has a privileged position in mediating an emergent knowledge of the subject and a...

  7. Part Two Psychoanalysis and Evolution

    • The Ultimate Causes of Paranoia: A Cross-pathological and Psychodynamic Approach
      (pp. 103-116)
      Andreas de Block

      Griesinger and Kraepelin qualified paranoia as one of the three major psychotic disorders, together with schizophrenia and manic-depressive psychosis (Griesinger 1845, Kraepelin 1915). In psychoanalytic thinking, paranoia even became the paradigmatic form of psychosis. Freud’s only case-studies of psychotic patients, for instance, were devoted to paranoid individuals (Freud 1911, Freud 1915). Jacques Lacan (1988), and to a lesser degree Melanie Klein (1946), pursued this line of thinking by considering paranoia as the essence of the psychotic process (Roudinesco & Plon 1997). Contemporary psychiatric nosography, however, handles schizophrenia as the central taxon. In fact, schizophrenia has become a more or less generic...

    • Reinterpreting Freud’s Genealogy of Culture
      (pp. 117-134)
      Tinneke Beeckman

      In what way can Freudian psychoanalysis help contribute to a naturalist, yet non-reductionist anthropology? Such an anthropology would be one that takes into account the significance of the natural history of the human species for our understanding of the human being, but without reducing the specificity of the human to processes of natural or sexual selection. The question of reductionism is all the more relevant today given that naturalism has become a major paradigm in contemporary philosophy. Simply put, naturalism’s basic tenet is that human beings are genealogically related to each other and have common ancestors with other species. Nevertheless,...

    • The Thanatosis of Enlightenment
      (pp. 135-148)
      Ray Brassier

      Myth is already enlightenment, and enlightenment’s destruction of superstition merely reinstates myth: this is the speculative thesis proposed by Adorno and Horkheimer’sDialectic of Enlightenment¹. My contention here is that this dialectic of myth and enlightenment is structured by an entwinement of mimicry, mimesis, and sacrifice which not only underlies the book’s ‘excursus’ on Odysseus and its celebrated chapter on anti-semitism, but arguably furnishes it with its fundamental conceptual core. Though each of these concepts are undoubtedly complex, mobilized to distinct purposes in different parts of Adorno’s oeuvre in particular, their deployment inDialectic of Enlightenmentseems to harbour the...

  8. Part Three: Philosophy and the Psychosexual Subject

    • Poetic Pleasure, Psychosis, and Perversion: Freud on Fore-pleasure
      (pp. 151-162)
      Tomas Geyskens

      In 1905, Freud wroteThree Essays on the Theory of SexualityandJokes and their Relation to the Unconscious. In both of these works, the concept of ‘fore-pleasure’ plays a central and structuring role, but only inJokesis it thoroughly analyzed. Freud’s theory of sexuality, therefore, can only be understood when it is confronted with his theory of jokes. Surprisingly, such a simultaneous reading ofJokesandThree Essaysleads us very far away from the classical interpretation of Freud’s theory of sexuality and especially from his later theory centred on the Oedipus complex. First, we will confront Freud’s...

    • The Origins and Ends of ‘Sex’
      (pp. 163-184)
      Stella Sandford

      In the opening paragraph of his 1915 paper ‘Drives and Their Vicissitudes’, Freud’s proximity to some of the concerns of twentieth-century philosophy is striking:

      We have often heard it maintained that sciences should be built up on clear and sharply defined basic concepts. In actual fact no science, not even the most exact, begins with such definitions. The true beginning of scientific activity consists rather in describing the phenomena [Erscheinungen] and then in proceeding to group, classify and correlate them. Even at the stage of description it is not possible to avoid applying certain abstract ideas to the material in...

    • Love as Ontology: Psychoanalysis against Philosophy
      (pp. 185-202)
      Justin Clemens

      Psychoanalysis has, from its origins, remained indifferent to or suspicious towards ontology. More precisely, 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 seems to have been the case: it is philosophers who have had to respond, with some urgency, to the challenges offered by psychoanalysis. However...

    • Psychoanalysis: A Non-Ontology of the Human
      (pp. 203-216)
      Marc De Kesel

      Today, entitling a theory an ontology is far from being ‘politically incorrect’. Publications featuring expressions such as ‘cultural ontology’, ‘ontology of mind’, ‘social ontology’, are no longer exceptional in the field of social sciences.² Even critical theory is seduced by the term. Is one of Žižek’s major works,The Ticklish Subject, not subtitled ‘The Absent Centre of Political Ontology’? Also the conference that gave rise to the present volume was originally entitled ‘PsychoanalyticalOntology of the Human’.³ Ontology is ‘in’. Again. Also in psychoanalysis.

      Does this mean that psychoanalysis and other theories have undergone a kind of Heideggerian turn? That...

  9. List of Contributors
    (pp. 217-219)