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Psychoanalysis and Science

Contingency and Materialism

Jul 1, 2016

The workshop discusses the relation between psychoanalysis and science. The question is not whether psychoanalysis is a science, wants to be a science, or calls science into question, but what role scientific models play within psychoanalysis. Lacan famously insisted, in "Science and Truth", that "the subject upon which we operate in psychoanalysis can only be the subject of science". What, then, is this science that constitutes the subject and its suffering? Jean-Claude Milner has followed Lacan’s reference to Alexandre Koyré who stated that the paradigm of modern or Galilean science is a theory of technology and technology in turn a practical application of mathematized physics. Modern science thus materializes itself in technology and its machines. Does this assertion subscribe to a materialist doctrine and how would this materialism relate to other familiar kinds of materialism, for example, historical materialism or the more recent "new materialism"?

If, as Geneviève Morel asserts, both science and psychoanalysis search for knowledge in the Real, the question becomes, for Lacan: what is the Real? Mai Wegener recalls: ‘The Real is what one finds always at the same place. As soon as someone starts from the assumption that this Real stays in place or always returns in the same place without her doing, the possibility of science emerges. It exits from the magic relation to the Real in which the natural order is thought to depend on acts and rituals."As a consequence, psychoanalysis becomes interested in the ‘signification of chance". As Lacan says in seminar II: "We try to get the subject to make available to us, without any intention, his thoughts, as we say, his comments, his discourse, in other words that he should intentionally get as close as possible to chance."

The workshop intends to address this emphasis on contingency both as clinical problem and in its relation to science. Lacan’s text ‘Science and Truth’ is available upon request from info(at)ici-berlin.org.


14:00 – 15:30
Psychoanalysis, Science, and Contingency (Friedman, Tomšič)

15:30 – 16:00
Coffee Break

16:00 – 17:30
Science in Psychoanalysis as Materialism (Coelen, David-Ménard, Reinhard)

19:30 – 21:00 Keynote
Jean-Claude Milner: Is Lacan's Reference to Koyré and Kojève Still Fruitful?


Marcus Coelen has held positions in Romance Philology and Comparative Literature at the universities of Hamburg, Zürich, and Munich (LMU) and has taught in Israel and Brasil. His publications include Angemaßte Notwendigkeiten. Lektüren Proust (2007), several German translations and editions of Maurice Blanchot, and the edited volume Die andere Urszene (2009). He is co-editor of the series Neue Subjektile (Turia+Kant) and a practicing psychoanlalyst.

Monique David-Ménard
is a professor of philosophy at the Université Paris VII – Diderot where she, as the Director of the Centre d’études du vivant (2005-2011), established the field of research 'Gender and Sexualities'. She is also a practicing psychoanalyst, founding member of the Société de Psychanalyse Freudienne, co-founder of the International Society for Psychoanalysis and Philosophy, and member of the International Network of Women Philosophers (UNESCO).

Michael Friedman studied philosophy in Israel, concentrating on Lacan and Heidegger, and earned his doctorate in mathematics. He is a researcher at the Excellence Cluster 'Image, Knowledge, Gestaltung' at Humboldt University Berlin. He has published ‘Über drei Erscheinungen von Unterschied in der Mathematik’ (2015) and co-edited the volume On Folding (2016).

Kenneth Reinhard is associate professor of English and Comparative Literature at UCLA and the director of the UCLA graduate certificate program in Experimental Critical Theory. He is the author, with Slavoj Zizek and Eric Santner, of The Neighbor: Three Inquiries in Political Theology (2006), with Julia Reinhard Lupton, of After Oedipus: Shakespeare in Psychoanalysis (1993), and of articles on French and German philosophy, literature, and the Bible.

Samo Tomšič received his doctorate at the Institute for Philosophy in Ljubljana and is a researcher at the Excellence Cluster ‘Image, Knowledge, Gestaltung’ at the Humboldt University Berlin. His current research is dedicated to the philosophical question of formalization, the history of rationalism, and the topicality of the structuralist programme. Recent publications: The Capitalist Unconscious (2015) and Jacques Lacan Between Psychoanalysis and Politics (2015).

Michaela Wünsch is an affiliated fellow at the ICI with a project on psychoanalysis and the sciences and teaches Media Studies at the University Vienna and the Academy of Fine Arts Braunschweig. She is a practicing psychoanalyst and serves as the president of the Psychoanalytic Library Berlin, a space for psychoanalytic research and practice. Publications include Im inneren Außen. Der Serienkiller als Medium des Unbewussten and the edited volume Angst. Lektüren zu Jacques Lacans Seminar X.

Date: Friday, 1 July 2016
Venue: ICI Berlin
In English

Organized by Michaela Wünsch, co-organized by Marcus Coelen

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