Saturday, 1 January 2022

Dostoevsky and Daseinsanalysis: Divinity, Dialogue, Double-bind. For the bicentenary year of the birth of Dostoevsky (11 November 1821 – 9 February 1881). Anthony Stadlen conducts Inner Circle Seminar 276 (21 August 2022)


 Dostoevsky and Daseinsanalysis

Divinity, Dialogue, Double-bind

For the birth bicentenary year of Dostoevsky

(11 November 1821  9 February 1881)

Anthony Stadlen

conducts by Zoom

Inner Circle Seminar No. 276

Sunday 21 August 2022

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Martin Heidegger
Emmanuel Levinas

R. D. Laing

This seminar marks the birth bicentenary year of Fyodor Dostoevsky (11 November 1821  9 February 1881).
What is his significance for Daseinsanalysts and existential analysts? 
Walter Kaufmann, in his book Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre, wrote: ‘I can see no reason for calling Dostoevsky an existentialist, but I do think that Part One of Notes from Underground is the best overture for existentialism ever written. [...] This book, published in 1864, is one of the most revolutionary and original works of world literature.’
In 1972, Martin Heidegger placed Dostoevsky third (after Nietzsche and Kierkegaard) in a list of writers crucial in his own development between 1910 and 1914.
Heinrich Wiegand Petzet reports: ‘For a long time a picture of Dostoevsky sat on Heidegger’s desk as an homage to the literary genius of Russia.’
In 1920, Heidegger wrote to his wife: ‘[...] gradually I feel what it means to have one’s roots in the soil—in fact this only fully struck me through Dostoevsky [...] do try to read Dost[oev]sky’s political writings.’
At the beginning of his 1940 Freiburg lectures on NietzscheHeidegger quoted from the German translation of Dostoevsky’s denunciation of European ‘nihilism’ in the Foreword to his famous 1880 lecture on Pushkin: ‘a significant, morbid manifestation among our intelligentsia [...] the character who [...] does not believe in his native soil [...] who will have nothing to do with his own Volk’.
And at about the same time, 1940, Heidegger wrote in one of his Black Notebooks (GA96): ‘My meditation of Russianism began in 1908-1909, when I attempted, in my last year of secondary school, to learn Russian. [...] Lying hidden in the essence  of Russianism are treasures of expectation of God...’
In the same Notebook (GA96, XIII:82) Heidegger attributed to Dostoevsky himself what he clearly regarded as the important assertion by Shatov in (the German translation of) The Devils:
‘He who has no people [Volk] has no God.’
Emmanuel Levinas affirms in many of his writings (his biographer Marie-Anne Lescourret calls it ‘sa citation fétiche)’ the declaration of Markel reported by his elder brother Father Zossima to Alexey Karamazov in The Brothers Karamazov:
‘We are all responsible for everyone else—but I am more responsible than all the others.’ 
R. D. Laing discusses, in the chapter ‘Transcendental Experience’ of The Politics of Experience (1967), Mitya’s (not Ivan’s, as Laing says) assertion in The Brothers Karamazov:
‘[If there is no God] then everything is permitted.
Laing wrote in The Self and Others (1961):
Dostoyevsky’s genius is unmistakable in his handling of the merging of dreams, phantasy, imagination, and reality [...] his characters’ simultaneous participation in the world in these modalities [...] handled with complete mastery.’
Laing demonstrates this in Raskolnikov’s experiences in various modalities in Crime and Punishment, including his ‘terrible dream’, a few hours after he receives a letter from his mother, and shortly before he commits his double murder. Laing analyses the untenable ‘position’ Raskolnikov is put in by his mother’s letter’s contradictory attributions, injunctions, and double-binds.
Laing’s admiration of Dostoevsky’s handling of the ‘counterpoint of experience’ is consonant with Mikhail Bakhtin’s high praise, in Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics (1984 [1963]), of his ‘counterpoint’ and ‘polyphony of voices’.
But Laing also wrote in his portentously apocalyptic Introduction to his own book The Politics of Experience (1967): ‘We are all murderers and prostitutes’—thereby precisely replicating a sentimental and sententious coupling of ‘murderer’ and ‘harlot’ by Dostoevsky that Vladimir Nabokov, in his Lectures on Russian Literature, called ‘shoddy’.
Nabokov called Dostoevsky a ‘sentimentalist’: ‘not a great writer in the sense Tolstoy, Pushkin, and Chekhov are’, but ‘a rather mediocre one—with flashes of excellent humor, but, alas, with wastelands of literary platitudes in between.’
Nabokov read Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment when he was twelve and thought it ‘a wonderfully powerful and exciting book’; it took him forty-five years, he says, to realise what was ‘so dreadfully wrong’ with it. He points to the
‘redemption scene when Raskolnikov, the killer, discovers through the girl Sonya the New Testament. [...] then comes this singular sentence that for sheer stupidity has hardly the equal in world-famous literature: The candle was flickering out, dimly lighting up in the poverty-stricken room the murderer and the harlot who had been reading together the eternal book.” [...] The inhuman and idiotic crime of Raskolnikov cannot even remotely be compared to the plight of a girl who impairs human dignity by selling her body.  The murderer and the harlot reading the eternal book—what nonsense. There is no rhetorical link between a filthy murderer, and this unfortunate girl. [...] It is a shoddy literary trick, not a masterpiece of pathos and piety.’
Raskolnikov’s alleged transformation, Nabokov says, ‘happens somehow from without: innerly even Raskolnikov does not go through any true development of personality, and the other heroes of Dostoevsky do even less so.’
D. H. Lawrence had already written, in ‘Morality and the Novel’: ‘When the man in Crime and Punishment murders the old woman [...] it is never quite real. The balance between the man and the old woman is gone entirely: it is only a mess.’
And Frank Budgen, in his book James Joyce and the Making of Ulysses, recalls asking Joyce ‘if he did not think Dostoevsky a supremely great writer. No, said Joyce bluntly. Rousseau, confessing to stealing silver spoons he had really stolen, is much more interesting than one of Dostoevsky’s people confessing to an unreal murder.
Bakhtin, however, praised Dostoevsky as ‘one of the greatest innovators in the realm of artistic form’, who ‘created [...] a completely new type of artistic thinking, which we have provisionally called polyphonic’. But there are moments when the master speaks in his own voice, which can be distinctly unimpressive, as in Crime and Punishment when he describes ‘the murderer and the harlot’ reading the ‘eternal book’ or ‘that everlastingly peevish and woebegone look which has been so sourly imprinted on all the faces of the Jewish race without exception.’
Dostoevsky does show how one person can deceive himself, or mystify and seduce another, into a false or untenable position. And some of his characters utter aphorisms which have been starting-points for philosophical or theological debate. These two facts alone have inspired thoughtful discussion by existential writers such as HeideggerLevinas, and Laing. This does not mean that these writers’ interpretations and evaluations are beyond question: we shall question some of them today. We hope thereby to help demystify and demythologise the discourse on both Dostoevsky and Daseinsanalysis.
Your contribution to the discussion will be warmly welcomed.

This will be an online seminar, using Zoom.

Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £140, others £175, some bursaries; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra AvenueLondon N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 7809 433250

For further information on seminars, visit:

The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and universities.

Kierkegaard 16 October 1843 and beyond. Texts and contexts. Marilyn Piety, Daniel Conway, et al. conduct Inner Circle Seminars 275, 277, 279, 280 283, 284 (31 July, 11 September, 2 October, 16 October 2022; 22 January, 12 February 2023)



16 October 1843 and beyond

Fear and Trembling
Upbuilding Discourses
Philosophical Fragments

Texts and contexts

Daniel Conway, Marilyn Piety, et al.
conduct by Zoom
Inner Circle Seminars Nos. 275, 277, 279, 280, 283, 284
introduced by Anthony Stadlen
31 July, 11 September, 2 October, 16 October 2022
22 January, 12 February 2023

Søren Kierkegaard and the three books he published on 16 October 1843

Repetition by Constantin Constantius

Fear and Trembling by Johannes de silentio

 Three Upbuilding Discourses by Søren Kierkegaard

Abraham, Isaac, and the angel
(by Rembrandt)
Everyone now seems to be talking about ‘mental health’. But is this the best way of understanding what people are experiencing in this pandemic crisis? Are these not existential, ethical, spiritual, religious problems? But what does ‘existential’ mean? And do not many existential therapists object to the ‘religious’, whatever that means? But do not some existential therapists find religious experience, their own or others’, of fundamental importance? Should not all existential therapists at least understand what their religious clients, or clients who say they have had some religious experience, are talking about?
Last year’s subseries of six seminars devoted to Kierkegaard has shown decisively that a significant number of existential therapists do indeed know and value religious experience.
Existential therapists, whether or not they are aware of this, are implicitly identifying the already existing English word ‘existential’ with the Danish word existentiel’ apparently subsequently coined by Søren Kierkegaard (5 May 1813 – 11 November 1855). His pseudonym Johannes Climacus introduced it in Concluding Unscientific Postscript to the Philosophical Crumbs (1846), described in its subtitle as An Existential Contributionand containing discussion, for instance, of ‘existential pathos’, to convey thinking with all one’s being, as an ‘existing’ thinker: as opposed to constructing a ‘system’ which, as his pseudonym Anti-Climacus wrote in The Sickness Unto Death (1849), would be like building a house in which one does not live.
Ludwig Feuerbach used the word ‘existence’ in a similar sense, but he wanted to secularise religious thinking, whereas Kierkegaard affirmed authentic religion as irreducible to social ethics (Sædelighed’ in Danish, Sittlichkeit’ in German).
Martin Heidegger translated Kierkegaards ‘existentiel’ into German as existenziell’ but restricted it to what he called the onticfor the ontological he used existenzial’, a word rare in German, though Edmund Husserl had used it in Philosophy as Rigorous Science (1910-11), and Kierkegaard had even on occasion used, perhaps coined, a Danish word existential’, meaning for him the same as existentiel’, in his private writings. He is alternatively alleged to have adopted the word(s) after he learned from a conversation with, or about, the Norwegian poet and critic Johann Sebastian Cammermeyer Welhaven that he used the Norwegian existensiell’ in this way. The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge had used existential as an English word and meditated on the nature of existence’ in The Friend as early as 1809, before Kierkegaard was born. The philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling influenced ColeridgeKierkegaard, and Heidegger, and was said by Johann Karl Friedrich Rosenkranz to have termed his own later philosophy, orally, Existenzialphilosophie’; but it is by no means clear that Coleridge's use of existential’ or Kierkegaards use of existentiel' or existential' were themselves directly suggested by, or derived from, SchellingNone of these usages, of course, should be confused with, or reduced to, the bare existential quantifier (there exists an x such that...) in subsequent logic and mathematics.  
Kierkegaard insisted that, whether pseudonymous (‘with the left hand’) or in his own name (‘with the right hand’), his writing was always religious, though he denounced institutionalised religion (such as Danish 19th-century ‘Christendom’) as a perversion of authentic, existential religion. Much writing by ‘existential’ therapists censors (and implicitly censures) Kierkegaard’s always-religious writing at the outset, claiming to find its ‘relevant’, secular-‘existential’ meaning. Ludwig Binswanger secularises The Sickness Unto Death in this way in his ‘The Case of Ellen West. But this is just what Kierkegaard was attacking as a betrayal.
Nowhere is this more explicit than in Fear and Trembling: A Dialectical Lyric by Johannes de silentio, published in Copenhagen on 16 October 1843, together with two other books, Repetition: An Essay in Experimental Psychology by Constantin Constantinus and Three Upbuilding Discourses by Søren Kierkegaard. Our seminars on this extraordinary event in publishing history, its context, and its implications, started on 14 October 2018, celebrating these three books’ hundred and seventy-fifth anniversary.
The author of all three books was Kierkegaard, as he acknowledged in ‘A First and Last Declaration’, the further postscript that he, in his own name, added to Concluding Unscientific Postscript.
We are exploring this astonishing creative incandescence and its aftermath in a subseries of the Inner Circle Seminars, Kierkegaard: 16 October 1843 and beyond’. Our close reading of Fear and Trembling will continue in 2022-3 with the fifth seminar on this text, conducted by Professor Daniel Conway and other world authorities. Three more seminars in 2022 will be devoted to other works by Kierkegaard and his pseudonyms. Professor Marilyn Piety, who last year conducted a memorable seminar on Repetition, which she had translated, will conduct one on Philosophical Crumbs, published by the pseudonym Johannes Climacus in 1844, which she has also translated.
Fear and Trembling focusses with terrible intensity on the dialectical tension between Abraham’s love and awe for God and his love for his son Isaac. It is a ‘dialectical lyric’ on the Akedah, the account (Genesis, 22:1-19) of Abraham’s ‘binding’ of Isaac in preparation for a sacrifice prevented only by an angel’s last-minute intervention. The meaning of the Akedah has been debated for millennia by Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and (more recently) atheist thinkers. It is chanted from the Torah scroll in synagogues at the New Year, with great textual precision, though everyone is free to propose his or her own interpretation. In Christianity it is held to prefigure the crucifixion of Jesus. The Qur’an does not name Ibrahim’s son in this narrative, and Islamic scholars have debated whether it was Ishmael or Isaac; today it is held to have been Ishmael; animal sacrifices on Eid al-Adha commemorate Ibrahim’s sacrifice of a ram instead of Ishmael. The Akedah has been the basis of many great works of art, music, drama, and poetry.
Other seminars, conducted by world authorities, including George PattisonMarilyn PietyC. Stephen EvansJerome (Yehuda) Gellman and Mariam al-Attar, have focussed in turn on: the problem of Kierkegaard’s pseudonyms; the two other works (Three Upbuilding Discourses and Repetition) published with Fear and Trembling on 16 October 1843; the interpretations of the Akedah in Kierkegaard and the Hasidic masters; and whether or not some form of ‘divine command theory’ is advocated by Kierkegaard, his pseudonyms, or any or all of the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam. (In a dialogue of Plato’s, Euthyphro is confused when Socrates asks him whether the gods love the good because it is good or whether the good is good because the gods love it. Many philosophers have thought that Socrates’s question presents a severe problem for divine command theory, but recently other philosophers have argued that there are forms of this theory not vulnerable to the problem Socrates raises for Euthyphro.)
Kierkegaard insisted in ‘A First and Last Declaration’:
... if it should occur to anyone to want to quote a particular passage from the books, it is my wish, my prayer, that he will do me the kindness of citing the respective pseudonymous author’s name, not mine.
Johannes de silentioJohannes Climacus, and the other pseudonyms are like characters in a drama written by Kierkegaard. He called it ‘indirect communication’, a dialectic of perspectives which invites the reader to work out his or her own point of view. Much commentary on Fear and Trembling and the other pseudonymous works ignores Kierkegaard’s urgent request to respect their pseudonymous nature.
Our exceptional constellation of speakers and seminars on the foundational existential thinker Kierkegaard and the religious and philosophical context in which he wrote is helping existential therapists to reach a deeper understanding of both him and his context.

Here is our sequence of four seminars in 2022:

1. Inner Circle Seminar No. 275
Sunday 31 July 2022
[To be announced.]
2. Inner Circle Seminar No. 277
Sunday 11 September 2022
2 p.m. to 5 p.m.    6 p.m. to 9 p.m.    London time (BST)
Professor Marilyn Gaye Piety will discuss Kierkegaards pseudonym Johannes Climacuss book Philosophical Crumbs (1844), which she has translated excellently into English.
3. Inner Circle Seminar No. 279
Sunday 2 October 2022
2 p.m. to 5 p.m.    6 p.m. to 9 p.m.    London time (BST)
Professor Daniel Conway and other scholars will conduct our fifth seminar on the text of Fear and Trembling. They will focus on the four, until recently neglected, weaning scenarios, analogues of the four Abraham scenarios, in the Exordium of Fear and Trembling.
4. Inner Circle Seminar No. 280
Sunday 16 October 2022
[To be announced.]
5. Inner Circle Seminar No. 283
Sunday 22 January 2023
[To be announced.]
6. Inner Circle Seminar No. 284
Sunday 12 February 2023
[To be announced.]
In 2023 Professor Daniel Conway will conduct our sixth seminar on the text of Fear and Trembling. He will focus on Problema 3: Was it ethically defensible for Abraham to conceal his undertaking from Sarah, from Eliezer, and from Isaac?

Evaluations of Kierkegaard differ wildly.
For example, Ludwig Wittgenstein, himself a profound thinker of the 20th century, said Kierkegaard was ‘by far the most profound thinker of the last [19th] century’, ‘too deep for me’. But Ernesto Spinelli, an existential therapist, in 2017 denounced Kierkegaard’s ‘dangerous folly’ in allegedly admiring Abraham’s ‘self-evident lunacy’. This is in line with a long history of clinical-psychiatric thinking: for example, Dr Abraham Myerson in 1945 diagnosed Kierkegaard as ‘a psychiatric case’, and his writing as ‘a schizoid and certainly utterly incomprehensible presentation by a mind which is quite deviate’.
Are these demystifying insights? Or is the existential tradition here degenerating into abject uncomprehending psychiatric reductionism?
Those who have acknowledged indebtedness to, or have struggled with, Søren Kierkegaard include Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg, Edvard Munch, Miguel de Unamano, Rainer Maria Rilke, Martin Buber, Theodor Haecker, Ludwig Binswanger, Ferdinand Ebner, Igor Stravinsky, Viktor Emil von Gebsattel, Karl Jaspers, Franz Kafka, Rudolf Bultmann, György Lukács, Niels Bohr, Karl Barth, Paul Tillich, Charles Williams, Franz Rosenzweig, Georg Trakl, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Martin Heidegger, Dietrich von Hildebrand, Emil Brunner, Edith Stein, Herbert Read, Mikhail Bakhtin, Jorge Luis Borges, Jean-Paul Sartre, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Hannah Arendt, Emmanuel Levinas, Abraham Joshua Heschel, W. H. Auden, Maurice Blanchot, Simone de Beauvoir, Rollo May, R. S. Thomas, Albert Camus, Emil Fackenheim, Iris Murdoch, Thomas Szasz, Alice von Hildebrand, Aaron Esterson, Paul Feyerabend, Frantz Fanon, R. D. Laing, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jacques Derrida, David Cooper, John Updike, David Lodge, Henrik Stangerup, and many others.
Kierkegaard’s idea of authentic religion differed from everybody else’s. He had contempt for the Danish Church: for ‘Christendom’, as he called it. For him, religion was radically existential, individual. But his vision of the individual was the antithesis of an encapsulated, isolated, unsocial, worldless, reified ‘self’. Rather, as Anti-Climacus put it in The Sickness Unto Death, the ‘self’ is a ‘relation’ which ‘relates itself to its own self’; it is ‘that in the relation that the relation relates itself to its own self’, while ‘resting in the [divine] power that established it’; and, as Kierkegaard insisted in his own name in Works of Love (1847), this ‘self’ is only truly itself in loving God andinextricably, the other: the other-as-‘neighbour, whether spouse, child, family member, friend, neighbour, stranger.
One of Heidegger’s most important early courses of lectures was on The Phenomenology of Religious Life (1920-21). Heidegger wrote in Being and Time (1927) that, of all Kierkegaard’s writings, his ‘upbuilding’ (i.e., explicitly religious) works had the most philosophical significance.
Kierkegaard’s work is a fundamental investigation of the existential phenomenology of individual, non-institutionalised, religious experience, as well as the religious implications of all experience, indispensable for unprejudiced understanding of both ‘religious’ and ‘non-religious’ clients.
Above all, perhaps, as Professor John Lippitt, who has guided our reading of Fear of Trembling in three remarkable seminars, has pointed out in his book Humour and Irony in Kierkegaard’s Thought and elsewhereSøren Kierkegaard can be very funny. His readers take the risk of being compelled to laugh out loud. As his pseudonym Johannes Climacus wrote in Concluding Unscientific Postscript:
... an existing humourist is the closest approximation to one who is religious ...
These seminars, on the text and context of Fear and Trembling, have enabled existential therapists, Daseinsanalysts and others, to reflect more deeply on the foundations of their discipline. Invited speakers often attend their colleagues Inner Circle Seminars, in addition to those they themselves conduct.
Professor C. Stephen Evans,  who conducted a superb seminar on Divine Command Theory and Fear and Trembling, described the seminars as a real intellectual feast.
Professor Marilyn PietyProfessor of Philosophy, Drexel University, Philadephia, USA, who conducted a marvellous seminar on Kierkegaards Repetition on 28 February 2021, wrote: 
I can’t thank you enough for inviting me to be a part of the seminar series. It was one of the most enjoyable experiences I have ever had. It was a wonderful group of people and an excellent discussion.

And a seminar participant wrote afterwards: What a remarkable opportunity to sit with some of the greatest Kierkegaard scholars in the world.  

These will be online seminars, using Zoom. All are on Sundays, but the times for some of them will differ (see above) from the usual 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time or British Summer Time, to accommodate invited speakers from distant lands.

Individual Kierkegaard seminars: psychotherapy trainees £140, others £175
25% reduction for series of six Kierkegaard seminars
Some bursaries; payable in advance by bank transfer or PayPal; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled 
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 7809 433250   E-mail:
For further information on seminars, visit:

The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and universities.

Heidegger’s ‘Worlds’. The Rise and Fall of Heidegger’s Three-‘Worlds’ Theory (1919-25). Inner Circle Seminar 274 (19 June 2022)


The Rise and Fall of HeideggerThree-‘Worlds’ Theory
A centenary investigation

Anthony Stadlen
conducts by Zoom
Inner Circle Seminar No. 274
Sunday 19 June 2022
10 a.m to 5 p.m.

Martin Heidegger
at the well by his hut above Todtnauberg

Emmy van Deurzen
Ludwig Binswanger

In the 1940s, the psychiatrist Ludwig Binswanger described many idiosyncratic ‘worlds’ of his patients, such as ‘Ellen West’. The ‘swamp world’, the ‘tomb world’, and the ‘aetherial world’ seem to have been good phenomenological descriptions of Ellen’s actual experience. Binswanger also, only for a short time, tentatively proposed a relatively constant interrelated triad of ‘worlds’ supposedly of more general application, though explicitly, as he said, not meant to be exhaustive: ‘Umwelt’ (‘around-world’), ‘Mitwelt’ (‘with-world’), ‘Eigenwelt’ (‘own world’). 
Half a century on, the existential therapist Emmy van Deurzen added a fourth: the ‘Überwelt’ (‘over-world’).
These four ‘worlds’, or dimensions’, have been taught in training institutes, and regarded as an important part of existential therapy, at least in London, for more than thirty years. Trainee therapists say they have found them helpful. But how far do they clarify a clients experience? May they not entail an arbitrary and restrictive conceptualisation? How is it that, for example, personal relationships are assigned in one book to the Eigenwelt’ and in another book by the same author to the Mitwelt’? How could such relationships be confined to one or other such partial world’ or dimensionrather than by their very nature embodying an implicit shared search for wholeness that always already precedes and transcends such fragmentation into worlds?
As it happens, a hundred years ago, in the early 1920s, decades before Binswanger and van Deurzen proposed their three- and four-world schemes, Martin Heidegger had already, in a number of lecture courses, proposed a triad like Binswanger’s, also with Umwelt’ (‘around-world’) and Mitwelt’ (‘with-world’), but with ‘Selbstwelt’ (‘self-world’) rather than ‘Eigenwelt’ (‘own world’).
But Heidegger, only a few years later, denounced and renounced his own triad of worlds’ as misconceived.
This was in 1925, even before he had published Being and Time (1927), and decades before first Binswanger and then van Deurzen proposed their sets of worlds. Neither of them could have been expected to mention Heideggers earlier proposal and retraction of his three-world’ scheme, as his lectures were only published posthumously towards the end of the twentieth century.
Today we shall explore Heidegger’s reasons for this early turn in his thinking.
Heidegger, like Sigmund Freud, used such colloquial, rough-and-ready, terms as the ‘work-world’, the ‘classical world’, the ‘dream-world’, the ‘wish-world’. Freud, indeed, in his Gesammelte Werke (Collected Works) used ‘Mitwelt’ 9 times, ‘Umwelt’ 20 times, and ‘Unterwelt’ (‘underworld’) 14 times, without making them components of a formal scheme. But Heidegger’s threefold world-scheme was meant to be more systematic.
However, in his 1925 summer term Marburg University lecture course, Prolegomena zur Geschichte des Zeitbegriffs (GA20, S. 333) [History of the Concept of Time: Prolegomena (1992, p. 242)], Heidegger denounced his own threefold system of ‘Umwelt’, ‘Mitwelt’, and ‘Selbstwelt’ as ‘grundfalsch’ (‘fundamentally false’).
He went on to write in Sein und Zeit (1927, S. 118) [Being and Time (1962, p. 155)]: ‘The world of Dasein is Mitwelt.’
So he retained Mitwelt’, but not as a component of a triadic system. Our Mitwelt, as he now conceived it, is not merely one ‘world’, or one ‘dimension’, among others, of being human. Being-in-the-world-with-others is what being human is.
Furthermore, the early ‘existential’ and ‘phenomenological’ psychiatrists and psychologists, especially the self-styled Wengen Circle’ (Ludwig Binswanger, Viktor Emil von Gebsattel, Eugène Minkowski, Erwin Straus), wrote about ‘the world of the compulsive’, ‘the world of the schizophrenic’, and so on: the ‘worlds’ of those whom psychiatrists traditionally classified as ‘degenerate’, not like ‘us’. Even those ‘existential’ therapists who today discard psychiatric diagnoses often claim that they are helping the client explore ‘the clients world’. This may be helpful if it is a stage on the way to acknowledgement, by therapist and client, of what Heidegger called our ‘being-in-the-world’ [‘in-der-Welt-sein’]: the one world we all share. But this is often unclear.
It was already Josef Breuers and Freud’s revolutionary innovation in the last decade of the nineteenth century to regard their ‘hysterical’ patients, such as ‘Frau Cäcilie M.’, not as ‘degenerates’ who were living in their own world, as many, perhaps most, of their contemporaries supposed, but as sharing with the rest of us the one world in which we live and move and have our being.
In this respect, were not Freud and Heidegger more advanced than many existential therapists today?
Heidegger, as well as the Daseinsanalysts Medard Boss and Gion Condrau, argued explicitly against the supposition that ‘meaning’ and spirituality’ are to be found in a separate, split-off, quasi-schizoid world. On the contrary, they insisted, our one, shared world is always already illumined by meaning and spirit.
It is in any case unclear why, if there were an Überwelt, there would not not also be an Unterwelt’ (underworld), as documented from ancient mythology, through Dante, to Freud (as mentioned above) and Jung. Would such an Unterwelt’ be part of the Eigenwelt’, or of the Überwelt’, or would it be a fifth Welt in its own right?
And does Heideggers later vision of the Geviert’ (Fourfold’) of earth, sky, mortals and gods, itself questionable, really justify a resuscitation of his long-abandoned three-worlds scheme and its augmentation with an Überwelt’?
And again, why this fetishising by the later Heidegger of four? Why not, for instance, a sevenfold, traditionally implying greater wholeness? But Heideggerians and Daseinsanalysts reverently repeat the reference to the fourfold and do not question it.
We shall explore these enigmas today. We shall try in particular to clarify the logic by which Heidegger came to conceive, and then renounce, his own three-worlds theory.
Your contribution to the discussion will be warmly welcomed.

This will be an online seminar, using Zoom.

Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £140, others £175, some bursaries; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra AvenueLondon N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 7809 433250

For further information on seminars, visit:

The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and universities.

Love in Dark Places: You shall love your crooked neighbour / With your crooked heart (Auden). Derek Jeffreys conducts Inner Circle Seminar 273 (13 February 2022)

Love in Dark Places

Working with prisoners who will never be released
Seifert’s critique of Hildebrand’s phenomenology of Heart 

‘You shall love your crooked neighbour
With your crooked heart.’
(W. H. Auden)

Derek Jeffreys
conducts by Zoom
Inner Circle Seminar No. 273
introduced by
Anthony Stadlen

Sunday 13 February 2022
2 p.m. to 5 p.m.  6 p.m. to 9 p.m.  London time

Derek S. Jeffreys

In this seminar Professor Derek S. Jeffreys will discuss his project of loving, as his neighbours, his fellow human beings, prisoners who will never be released, whose crimes he regards as utterly evil. This is no sentimental notion of ‘love’, but a clearsighted radical attempt to love perpetrators of radical evil, without denying or colluding with the evil they have done. Professor Jeffreys  is a distinguished teacher of the philosophy of, among other thinkers, Dietrich von Hildebrand, great phenomenological philosopher of love; favourite pupil, with Martin Heidegger, of Edmund Husserl, who was disappointed that both rejected his later phenomenology; friend and colleague of Max Scheler, whom he made it his business to rescue from disaster after Scheler's sexual escapades. Derek Jeffreys finds Hildebrand's philosophy of the Heart of great practical help in his approach to prisoners, especially when refined by Hildebrand's friend Joseph Seifert's critique of it.
Derek Jeffreys and Anthony Stadlen will also discuss the flattening of ethical sensibility by many psychiatrists, psychotherapists and psychologists, whose ‘non-judgemental’ psychologism and denial of personal moral responsibility erodes the perception of good and evil, entails sentimental collusion, and precludes authentic love.
The discussion will start, but not end, with Derek Jeffreyss stark statement, in his book Spirituality in Dark Places: The Ethics of Solitary Confinement (2013):
Many inmates in solitary are not heinous or vicious, but such inmates do exist. They commit crimes that separate them from any community. Moreover they show no remorse and no interest in reconciliation. It seems remarkably naive to think we can communicate morally with them. Those promoting moral respect for all people seem to foster foolish convictions about human equality. Their ideas fall apart at the appearance of radical evil. Perhaps we should honestly admit that we can no longer associate with some people. 
Is this the last word? No; but it is the necessary absolute zero from which Derek Jeffreyss profound, positive thinking and clear-sighted engagement springs. At the end of this book he writes:
[...] we can use our creativity to acknowlege the dignity of even those who have committed horrific crimes. Despite political and economic forces, we can end a morally and spiritually bankrupt policy.
Your contribution to the discussion will be warmly welcomed.
Professor Jeffreys will structure the day as follows:
Session 1. (2 p.m. to 3.20 p.m.)
The credit of love: Freedom and gift in the human person
Session 2. (3.40 p.m. to 5 p.m.)
Life imprisonment: An American anomaly
Session 3. (6 p.m. to 7.20 p.m.)
Should we banish the wicked forever? Revisiting life imprisonment.
Session 4. (7.40 p.m. to 9 p.m.)
General discussion of love, ethics and imprisonment.
Derek S. Jeffreys is Professor of Humanities and Religion at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay. He teaches courses on love, Thomas Aquinas, ethics, ethics and punishment, evil, Dante, Buddhism, and other topics. For more than a decade he has been involved in jail and prison education, giving volunteer religion and philosophy lectures to inmates in Wisconsin’s jails and prisons. His research focusses on personalism and violence, with a particular emphasis on punishment and incarceration. He is author of Defending Human Dignity: John Paul II and Political Realism (2004), Spirituality and the Ethics of Torture (2009), Spirituality in Dark Places: The Ethics of Solitary Confinement (2013), and Americas Jails: The Search for Human Dignity in an Age of Mass Incarceration (2018). He is currently working on issues relating to love and mental illness in penal institutions.
See also:

This will be an online seminar, using Zoom.

Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £140, others £175, some bursaries; payable in advance by bank transfer or PayPal; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra AvenueLondon N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 7809 433250    E-mail:
For further information on seminars, visit:

The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and universities.