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Lacan and Psychoanalysis: A Conversation between Andrew Stein and James Luchte

James Luchte
James Luchte
Andrew Stein
Andrew Stein

The following piece is a conversation between psychoanalyst Andrew Stein and philosopher James Luchte on Lacan and psychoanalysis that took place on 22 May 2014.

The conversation was prompted by an invitation by James Luchte to Andrew Stein to comment on his article, ‘Fatal Repetition: Badiou and the Age of the Poets, with an Appendix: A Psychoanalysis of Alain Badiou.

To read the conversation, please visit Lacan and Psychoanalysis: A Conversation between Andrew Stein and James Luchte

Appendix: A Psychoanalysis of Alain Badiou

This piece is an ‘Appendix: A Psychoanalysis of Alain Badiou’ to my essay Fatal Repetition: Badiou and the Age of the Poets, but though it still remains linked to the essay, I believe that it deserves attention on its own as an exploration into the phenomenon of Alain Badiou and as an invitation to a discussion about Alain Badiou, his relation to Lacan, Surrealism, and Poststructuralism.

Appendix: A Psychoanalysis of Alain Badiou


This current deconstruction of Badiou should be taken, along with the myriad other implications of its criticisms of Badiou, in a political sense as a critique of the credibility of his approach to Marx with respect to the derivative and rather conservative advocacy in his philosophy.  In the press, from which he originally emerged as a host of a television programme, he takes often radical and I would argue worthwhile stands.  But, then, there is his philosophy and the particular psychoanalytic obsession that underlies his thought.  This would seem fair game as he has overtly confessed his discipleship to Lacan.  But, what is this psycho-analytic image that underlies his thought, in the sense in which Wittgenstein felt lay below Heidegger?  

To read the rest of the Appendix, please visit  Appendix: ‘A Psychoanalysis of Alain Badiou’

Makeshift: Phenomenology of Original Temporality, with Appendix: Reply to Kisiel

Martin HeideggerThis essay was published by Philosophy Today in Vol. 47, No. 3, pp. 252-257 (Fall, 2003). The Appendix: Reply to Kisiel, ‘The Indication of “Makeshift” in an Interpretation of Heidegger’s Radical Phenomenology’ is intended as a reply to Theodore Kisiel’s criticism of the indication of ‘Makeshift’ as too revolutionary for Heidegger in his Review of  Heidegger’s Early Philosophy: The Phenomenology of Ecstatic Temporality, published by Bloomsbury in 2008.

When questions are raised about principles, the network of exchange that they have opened becomes confused, and the order that they have founded declines. A principle has its rise, its period of reign, and its ruin. Its death usually takes disproportionately more time than its reign.1

In a summary of the Davos Disputation with Ernst Cassirer, and in his lecture on Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics, Heidegger is documented as announcing the deaths of the principles of ‘reason’, logos, and ‘spirit’ as adequate “grounds” for a finite thinking rooted in existence. He rings the alarm bells – the “foundations of Western thinking” are in “crisis” – and are threatened with utter collapse. Heidegger makes these statements amidst the horizons of his own temporal existence and problematic, that of his radical temporalization of thought and of the exposure of these traditional grounds to their ‘tragic’ origin as aspirations of finitude. Cassirer contests Heidegger’s radical, temporal interpretation to Kant – any thought worth its salt must be open to the eternal. Despite his comments elsewhere that defer to the spirit of Cassirer’s criticism, Heidegger intimates possible readings of or engagements with the Kantian text which moves beyond “philology” or “scholarship” in the usual sense of cultivating or advocating a “school of thought” – or any attempt to identify the will as a ding an sich. Heidegger’s attempt to disclose an “unsaid”, to de-construct texts so as to retrieve the original temporality of the question, concerns not only Kant but, in light of the “Being and Time project”, other thinkers, such as Leibniz and Husserl, who are significant for his expression of a radical phenomenology – for his temporalist thinking.

In many ways, these many names are place-names, topoi, for the investigation of the historicity of thought in its significant junctures, reversals, transitions, convergences, transgressions. And there is a marked similarity in the treatment of these many thinkers as each is appropriated in the context of Heidegger’s “makeshift.” As mentioned, Heidegger does not seek to be a “good scholar,” but to investigate various topoi of thought with respect to their disclosure of “matters themselves,” in their accentuation of the phenomenon of original temporality. In his activity of squatting these various topoi, Heidegger is in a destruktive, oppositional comportment with the “history of ontology,” but in such a way which seeks to learn from this trajectory of the questionable thesis that truth resides in the proposition and that the measure of truth is ultimately “logic.”

To read the rest of the essay, which includes the Appendix: Reply to Kisiel, please visit Makeshift: Phenomenology of Original Temporality

Between Terrestriality and Aquacity: Foucault Contra Miller

Who am I? If this once I were to rely on a proverb then perhaps everything would amount to knowing whom I “haunt.” I must The Passion of Michael Foucaultadmit that this last word is misleading, tending to establish between certain beings and myself relations that are stranger, more inescapable, more disturbing than I intended.  Such a word means much more than it says, makes me, still alive, play a ghostly part, evidently referring to what I must have ceased to be in order to be who I am.

   Andre Breton, Nadja[1]

Michel Foucault is dead, decaying, etc., yet a faceless apparition persistently haunts the ‘living’ amidst this space of the present. A nebulous ‘who’ and ‘what’ flash on the surface of this polymorphous spectre. The apparition erupts, hovers amidst the massive collocation of traces and artefacts of the ‘life of the man.’ The fragments themselves remain dispersed, singular instantiations, traces, residues amidst the surface of homo terra. And, from the out and about of this anonymous sending of the terrestriality of the present, a discourse persists which suggests that the project of constituting a ‘who’ requires something more than this disarray of ruins. It pleads for the establishment of a principle of unity, projected as traversing the gathered traces, an identical matrix which systematically integrates intentionalities as a constantly present ‘subject’.

The throng of readers and writers chant mercilessly, “Who is he?” “Who is Michel Foucault?” And just as inexorably, the throng satisfies its hunger by providing its own answers: “He is this, he is that…” Unity is bestowed via the projection of systematic totality as a teleological unfolding of the Same.

To read the rest of the essay, please visit Between Terrestriality and Aquacity: Foucault Contra Miller

The Body of Sublime Knowledge: The Aesthetic Phenomenology of Arthur Schopenhauer

The Body of Sublime Knowledge:
Arthur Schopenhauer
The Aesthetic Phenomenology of Arthur Schopenhauer

Schopenhauer has been portrayed, since the emergence of the analytic philosophies of Russell and Moore[1], with respect to two primary philosophical results. On the one hand, he is described as a ‘metaphysician’ of the Will. On the other hand, he is depicted as an ‘ethicist’ of the tragic self-denial of the Will. Indeed, there is much evidence for such interpretations in his magnum opus. Yet, the collateral effect of our captivation to this picture of mere philosophical results has been to render Schopenhauer’s philosophy into a closed circle or a philosophical dead-end.

Indeed, even the rare admissions of his influence upon major philosophers such as Nietzsche and Wittgenstein[2] have been accompanied by a decided suppression of any consideration of the philosophical context of Schopenhauer’s original questioning and of the specific meaning of ‘metaphysics’ amid his post-Kantian horizons. Until the last decade or so, the usual attitude to the philosophy of Schopenhauer has been dominated by the prejudicial legacy of the logical positivists – and other anti-metaphysicians – with their respective dismissals of ‘metaphysical’ philosophies. For these iconoclasts, the philosophy of Schopenhauer is a contradictory, idiosyncratic – but above all metaphysical – teaching which sought, due to its own weakness or obscurity (or, Orientalism), to escape from the facticity of existence.[3] Of course, Nietzsche could be blamed for some aspects of this picture of Schopenhauer.

To read the rest of the essay, please visit The Body of Sublime Knowledge.

The Way That Is Not: Derrida’s Motif of Différance

Irony is the form of paradox. Paradox is what is good and great at the same time.

Friedrich SchlegelJacques Derrida

The other, namely, that It is not,

and that something must needs not be, –

that, I tell thee, is a wholly

Untrustworthy path

For you cannot know what is not –

that is impossible –

nor utter it …

— Parmenides

Derrida introduces the motif of ‘différance’, the purposive misspelling of the word difference, for purposes of ‘strategy’.[1] The playfulness associated with its usage is meant to be disruptive, subversive and adventurous (note Beaufret’s third question to Heidegger in the Letter on Humanism, regarding turning philosophy itself into an adventuress).  Différance, according to Derrida, is neither a concept nor a word, but a motif which intimates a play that, he claims, is prior to Being, and the ontological difference between beings and Being.  This motif that is neither a word nor a concept is instead a trace of that which does not itself have being, or presence.  Derrida informs us moreover that he intends the essay with its nameless name to proceed through the intensification of the play of the sign which, with regard to our customary expectations, is a misspelling – or perhaps a child’s game of no immediately useful significance.

To read the rest of the essay, please visit The Way That is Not: The Motif of Différance.