Psychoanalysis and Philosophy (3): Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society

From Hegel to Marcuse and Lasch, a 2-day course with Keith Barrett BA PhD.

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3 June, 1:30 pm - 4 June, 5:00 pm

£40 – £45

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This course will take place over 2 days: 3 and 4 June 2021, from 1:30 – 17:00 pm (GMT) each day (time includes a tea break). All attendees will also receive access to the recording.

Before Hegel, Western philosophy assumed that ‘ultimate reality’ was an eternal realm exiting outside time: Hegel brought philosophy down into history and into the ever-changing flux of human society. On this course we will explore the new, social and historical vision of human life that was opened up by thinkers after Hegel, reviewing social critiques of psychoanalysis; attempts to synthesise Marx and Freud; the way psychoanalytic ideas have been used to understand contemporary society; and some recent works of cultural history which explain the emergence of psychoanalysis itself in terms of the historical and cultural changes that brought modern society into being.

Session 1: Hegel based his philosophy on the radical new idea that reality is dynamic and changing and that human consciousness evolves as society develops over the course of history. We will study Hegel’s masterpiece ‘The Phenomenology of Geist’ (1807), and especially its most important passage, the famous ‘Master-Slave Dialectic’, tracing its enormous influence in both philosophy and psychoanalysis. We will explore the way Hegel’s ideas were taken up by Marx, Nietzsche and Lacan.

Session 2: In this session we will explore the most important attempts to extend and deepen Freud’s social thought, including Herbert Marcuse’s ‘Eros and Civilisation: A Philosophical study of Freud’ (1955), and Normal O. Brown’s ‘Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytical meaning of History’ (1959). We will also review thinkers who try to synthesise psychoanalysis and Marxism, such as Erich Fromm and Wilhelm Reich, and consider the recent emergence of critical psychology and psychotherapy.

Session 3: Finally, we will examine some recent works that use psychoanalytic ideas to critique contemporary society – such as Christopher Lasch’s ‘The Culture of Narcissism’ (1979) – or bring current social theory to bear on psychoanalytic ideas – such as ‘Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia’ (1972) by Deleuze and Guattari. We will also consider those works that have begun to appear – such as Peter Homan’s ‘The Ability to Mourn: Disillusionment and the Social origins of Psychoanalysis’ (1989), and Eli Zaretsky’s ‘Secrets of the Soul: A Social and Cultural History of Psychoanalysis’ (2004) – which offer an understanding of how the social changes that brought our contemporary world into being created the conditions for the emergence of psychoanalysis.

[All attendees will receive additional reading material just before the course.]

This is the third of four courses exploring psychoanalysis and philosophy. The courses will be accessible to beginners – but are also designed for those already familiar with these theories who wish to acquaint themselves with the results of the latest research and scholarship, and update themselves on the recent debates addressing the intellectual issues and controversies surrounding it.

BURSARY – There are a limited number of bursary places available for £15. Priority will be given to UK unemployed and PIP/ESA claimants. Click here to apply.

If you have missed the previous courses, you can purchase the recordings on-demand. Please check the museum’s website for details >>


3 June, 1:30 pm
4 June, 5:00 pm
£40 – £45
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