Conference: Eternal Recurrence and the Unconscious: The Question of Fate in Psychoanalysis
Figures of Thought and Unconscious Configurations in Nietzsche and Freud
I begin by rehearsing briefly the interpretative difficulties familiarly posed by Nietzsche's conception of eternal recurrence. Is eternal recurrence a cosmological or metaphysical hypothesis? Is it a metaphorical formulation of some doctrine of Nietzsche's? Or a thought-experiment with diagnostic value? Or a fiction with ethical and therapeutic import? I suggest that, although the idea of eternal recurrence makes sense as a piece of metaphysics, the indeterminacy of its status – its resistance to classification ¬– is integral to its meaning, as Nietzsche conceives it. In order to address the further question, concerning how eternal recurrence may be related to psychoanalytic theory, I take up the suggestion, found in hermeneutical construals of Freud, that the unconscious exhibits a ''causality of fate''. This allows us, I suggest, to join Nietzsche and Freud on a single conceptual plane without confusing their fundamentally distinct projects.
Sebastian Gardner is Professor of Philosophy at University College London. His interests are in Kant, post-Kantian idealism, C19 German philosophy, aesthetics, and the philosophy of psychoanalysis. He is the author of Irrationality and the Philosophy of Psychoanalysis (CUP, 1993), Kant and the 'Critique of Pure Reason' (Routledge, 1999), and Sartre's 'Being and Nothingness' (Continuum, 2009). The Transcendental Turn (OUP), a collection of papers co-edited with Matthew Grist, appeared in 2015.
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