Master Course Tilburg University 2017-18 Freud, Lacan, Žižek Masters of Suspicion: Freud, Lacan, Žižek



Although not a philosopher, the work of Sigmund Freud caused an earthquake in Western philosophy. If there's one thing that we should be suspicious of, it is the subject as conceived of in modern philosophy. The subject is not what you think it is. This, in a nutshell, is the all disruptive message of Freud on threshold of the twentieth century. During the course we will study psychoanalysis not that much as a therapeutic strategy, but as a tool to deconstruct discourse on truth and to reframe experience. We will focus on three thinkers who destructed the modern idea of the ego: Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan and  Slavoj Žižek.

Freud was the first to lay stress on the subjet as a narrative being. The subject speaks, but the meaning of the words is not the meaning that he himself attributes to. Instead, the subject uses language not to reveal truth but to conceal it. In the work of psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, this is the leading thought. The unconcious is structured like a language. Farwewell to the principle of non contradiction and to formal logic as the structure of truth.  The course will start with the origins of psychoanalysis in the interpretation of dreams, trauma theories of hysteria, their apparent replacement by developmental models of sexuality, the theory of  repetition-compulsion, the death drive and Freud's associated analysis of the aesthetics of the Uncanny. Specific concepts to be examined include language and narrativity, desire, trauma and repression, phantasy and the unconscious, the pleasure principle and the death drive. We will look at some very basic theoretical concepts of Lacan, such as the three registers of “The Imaginary, The Symbolic and The Real” which Lacan considered to be major re-readings of Freud’s basic tenets.

Sigmund Freud, Modern Classics Penguin Freud Reader (Penguin Modern Classics. Ed. Adam Philips). London: Penguin Books 2006. ISBN 978-0-141-18743-3

Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams (any version)

Jacques Lacan, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis. New York: W W Norton & Co Inc, 1981 (or any other edition).

Slavoj Žižek, Less Than Nothing: Hegel And The Shadow Of Dialectical Materialism ( Verso; 2013)