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The impacts of psychoanalysis on contemporary political theory

by Richard Meckien - published Oct 15, 2015 12:20 PM - - last modified Jun 04, 2019 11:51 AM
Rights: Original version in Portuguese by Sylvia Miguel

Held by the Center for the Study of Diversity, Intolerance and Conflicts (Diversitas), the USP's Institute of Psychology and the IEA, the Symposium on Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Political Theory will discuss the theoretical approach between these two fields of study. The lectures and round tables will take place on November 16, at 7 pm, and on November 19, from 10 am to 6 pm, in the former room of the University Council. Coordination is in charge of Professor Paulo Cesar Endo.

Scholars show that Freud did not reduce his invention to a method of healing mental disorders. In his work, he has also focused on important works that addressed fields that were external to medical knowledge. Politics, however, ws included in his work with an indirect treatment, when the author addressed issues such as civilization, law or the libidinal foundations of leadership.

However, the scope of the unconscious theory on political matters has not been overlooked by the following generations. In fact, some schools of thought have been impacted directly by Freud's work, or even by its consequences and reinterpretations, such as those carried out by Jacques Lacan.

The explicit approach between contemporary political theory and psychoanalysis gets its first inspirations from the Frankfurt School: Herbert Marcuse, Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, besides Walter Benjamin.

The generation of French intellectuals of the 60s and 70s, among them Félix Guattari, Georges Bataille, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida, Jean-François Lyotard, Louis Althusser and Michel Foucault, takes up their essays and criticism in the possibilities of thinking with and against psychoanalysis.

Political thinkers like Cornelius Castoriadis, Ernesto Laclau, Norbert Elias, Slavoj Zizek and Zygmunt Bauman put the psychoanalysis of Freud and Lacan in the center of his works. Many of these writings would be impossible to be properly understood without the psychoanalytic knowledge.

Important similarities between the two fields have also been pointed out by Alan Badiou, Claude Lefort, Giorgio Agamben, Jacques Rancière, among others.

Freud's estate was particularly vast and rich for political thought. Currently, one can say that Freud and psychoanalysis define ways of thinking politics within the political theory.

The panelists will seek to deepen and highlight important implications of these studies. Initially, the focus will be on the production of theorists known for their dialogues with psychoanalysis, including Norbert Elias and Walter Benjamin. This step will be completed by a conference and a round table on the thought of Hannah Arendt stressed at the thought of Freud and Lacan.

As future prospects, this meeting will seek to contribute to research on the psychoanalytic thought and its interface with contemporary political theory.

The organizers of the event are André Oliveira Costa and Gabriela Costardi.