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The Psychoanalytical Ontology of the Human

Date:20 January 2004 to
21 January 2004
Location:Middlesex University, White Hart Lane, London N17 8HR

This workshop brings together researchers from the universities of Middlesex, Nijmegen, Leuven and Brussels in the investigation of philosophical aspects of psychoanalysis.

For many years, the interest of philosophers in psychoanalysis focused on the question of the epistemological status of psychoanalytical theory: in what sense it is a 'science' and to what extent it is a 'hermeneutical' theory, for example. However, a Heideggerian interest in the existential ontology of the human as a self-questioning being has formed a discrete, but more marginal tradition of philosophical influence on psychoanalysis since the 1930s, in the work of Binswanger, Lacan and Laplanche. This workshop aims to explore the possibilities for a new approach to the ontological specification of 'the human' opened up by the encounter between psychoanalysis and this European philosophical tradition. More specifically, it seeks to stage an encounter between post-Heideggerian developments in European philosophy and recent debates within both philosophy and psychoanalysis about the extent to which psychological structures of human beings can be accounted for within the terms of scientific naturalism. It will consider the Lacanian and Laplanchean approaches to Freudian metapsychology in the light of new scientific naturalisms.

  • What is it about human beings that requires different methods of
  • investigation to the study of other animals?
  • What are the respective roles of biology, self-consciousness and
  • social relations in the constitution of the human being?
  • What is the ontological status of sexual difference?
  • What is the relationship between self-questioning and psychological disturbance?

This Research Workshop is sponsored by The Partnership Programme in Science of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and British Council Netherlands
Research Workshop: 'The Psychoanalytical Ontology of the Human'

Programme for day 1: Naturalism and its Limits

10.00-10.15 Introduction and welcome
Peter Osborne (Middlesex)

10.15-11.30 Infantile Sexuality, Attachment, and the Meta-psychological Status of
the Oedipus Complex: Re-reading Freud's 'On Female Sexuality'
Philippe Van Haute (Nijmegen)

11.30-11.45 Tea/coffee

11.45-1.00 Paranoia: A Matter of Life and Death
Andreas De Block (Nijmegen)

1.00- 2.00 Lunch

2.00-3.15 It Ain't What You Say, It's the Way that You Say It:
Freud on Poetic Pleasure and Psychosis
Tomas Geyskens (Leuven)

3.15-3.30 Tea/coffee

3.30-4.45 The Archaic Inheritance in Freud's Work on Religion
Tinneke Beeckman (Brussels)

5.00-6.30 Reception

8.00 Dinner

Programme for day 2: Lacanian and Post-Lacanian Perspectives

10.15-11.30 Psychoanalysis: a Non-Ontology of the Human
Marc De Kesel (Nijmegen)

11.30-11.45 Tea/coffee

11.45-1.00 Sex and Genos in Plato's Symposium
Stella Sandford (Middlesex)

1.00- 2.00 Lunch

2.00-3.15 Subject and Phallus in Lacan and Deleuze
Christian Kerslake (Middlesex)

3.30-4.45 Lacan and Ethics: Subjective Destitution - Traversing the Fantasy
Philip Derbyshire (Birkbeck College, London)

5.00-5.30 Closing discussion

5.30-6.30 Reception


Prof Peter Osborne , Professor of Modern European Philosophy and Director of the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Middlesex University, London. Books include: The Politics of Time: Modernity and Avant-Garde (Verso, 1995) and Philosophy in Cultural Theory (Routledge, 2000). Research interest: Psychoanalytical metapsychology as ontology of social being; the uses and abuses of psychoanalytical concepts in cultural theory.

Prof Philippe Van Haute, Professor of Philosophical Anthropology, University of Nijmegen; Co-director of the Centre for Psychoanalysis and Philosophical Anthropology, jointly organized by the University of Nijmegen and University of Leuven. Publications include: Psychoanalyse en Filosofie (Peteers, 1990), Against Adaptation: Lacan's Subversion of the Subject (trans. P.Crowe and M. Vankerk, The Other Press, New York, 2002) and (with Thomas Geyskens) Spraakverwarring. Her Primaat van de Seksualiteit in het werk van Freud, Ferenczi en Laplanche (Sun, Nijmegen, 2002). Research interests: Philosophical aspects of psychoanalysis in Freud, Lacan, Laplanche, Ferenczi.

Dr Christian Kerslake, PhD, 2001, Middlesex University. Thesis topic: Immanence in kant and Deleuze. Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow, Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Middlesex University (2002-4). Research project: The influence of Lacanian Psychoanalytical Theory on the Philosophy of Gilles Deleuze.

Dr Andreas De Block, PhD. 2001, University of Leuven. Thesis topic: Sublimation in Freud 2002/3: Post-doctoral Researcher of the NWO (veni-grant) at the University of Leuven (Belgium); 2003/4, Post-doctoral Reseacher, University of Nijmegen. Research topic: psychoanalysis and evolutionary psychology.

Dr Tomas Geyskens, PhD, 2002, University of Nijmegen. Thesis topic: Sexuality in Freud. Post-doctoral Reseacher, University of Leuven. Author (with Philippe Van Haute) of Spraakverwarring. Her Primaat van de Seksualiteit in het werk van Freud, Ferenczi en Laplanche (Sun, Nijmegen, 2002).

Dr Tinneke Beeckman , PhD, 2003 Free University of Brussels. Thesis topic: Philosophy and Religion in the Work of Sigmund Freud. Post-doctoral researcher, Free University of Brussels.

Dr Marc De Kesel, PhD. 2001, University of Nijmegen. Thesis topic: 'Ethics and Eros. A Reading of Lacan's Seventh Seminar'. Post-doctoral Researcher, Centre of Ethics, University of Nijmegen.

Dr Stella Sandford, PhD, 1997, University of Essex. Senior Lecturer in Modern European Philosophy, Middlesex University. Author of The Metaphysics of Love: Gender and Transcendence in Levinas (Continuum, 2000). Research interest: psychoanalytical accounts of sexual difference; Freud, Plato and Lacan.

Philip Derbyshire, PhD candidate, Department of Spanish and Latin American Studies, Birkbeck College, University of London. Thesis topic: 'Lacanian Psychoanalysis in Argentina, 1964-1990'.

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