Friday, 1 January 2016

Heidegger’s Zollikon Seminars. A 50th-anniversary revaluation. 7. Seminar of 1 and 3 March 1966. Inner Circle Seminar 223 (6 March 2016)

Martin Heidegger
at home in Freiburg
Heideggers Zollikon Seminars

A 50th-anniversary revaluation

7. Seminar of 1 and 3 March 1966

‘Unburdening and burdening are possible only through the human beings ecstatic being-outstretched

Martin Heidegger and Medard Boss
on the Feldweg south of Messkirch

Anthony Stadlen
Inner Circle Seminar No. 223
Sunday 6 March 2016
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Between 1959 and 1969 the German philosopher Martin Heidegger conducted seminars for psychiatrists in the Swiss psychiatrist Medard Bosss house in Zollikon near Zürich. Fifty years later almost to the day, in the seventh of our subseries of Inner Circle Seminars recapitulating Heideggers Zollikon seminars, we focus on his seminar of 1 and 3 March 1966, after which there is a gap of three years until the last recorded seminar, on 18 and 21 March 1969.

Heidegger’s seminars in Zollikon fifty years ago were contemporary with the epochmaking work of Szasz in The Myth of Mental Illness in Syracuse NY and of Laing and Esterson in Sanity, Madness and the Family and Esterson in The Leaves of Spring in London. The deep connection between these three foci of revolution in thinking on interpersonal relations and psychotherapy has never, until now, been adequately explored; but our seminars are revealing, for the first time, their underlying unity.

Our seminars are about the same length as Heidegger’s. Like his, they are in four parts; though in his case these are spread over two weekday evenings and in ours over one Sunday.

On 1 March 1966, Boss compares the seminars to a kind of group therapy intended to enable a more adequate view of the nature of being human. As in Freudian analysis, resistance has arisen, in the form of the objection that Daseinsanalysis is anti-scientific: first, because Heideggers discussion of natural science is (allegedly) valid only for classical, not nuclear, physics; second, because psychotherapy is in any case not a procedure like physics.

Heidegger questions whether the seminars are a cure. He recalls that semen’ means a seed, and hopes these evenings may succeed in strewing a seed that will come up here and there. He says a philosophical seminar is always in the situation of Socrates, who said that what is most difficult is always to say the same thing about the same thing.

He now repeats his explanation that physics objectifies nature, and argues that this is even more so for nuclear than for classical physics. Heisenbergs Uncertainty Principle does not change this.

Heidegger demonstrates how a discussion of stress in a journal of psychosomatic medicine is couched in the objectifying language of physics. He discusses how this negative critique can become a positive one by showing how the language of his own Being and Time can open up the discourse on stress in a way appropriate to human science. He quotes Hölderlin: ... we are a conversation.’ ‘Stress’, he stresses, makes sense only as part of this conversation, whether as a burdening or an unburdening.

On 3 March, Heidegger reiterates that stressbelongs to the constitution of human existence determined by thrownness, understanding, and language. He discusses Plügges account in the psychosomatic journal of being stressed by the sound of his neighbours children but not his own. Heidegger summarises his paradigmatic daseinsanalytic opening up of the concept of stress’ in the sentence: ‘Unburdening and burdening are possible only through the human being’s ecstatic being-outstretched.’ In our own seminar we shall try to do justice to what he means.

Psychotherapists who have attended have declared these seminars revelatory for their practice and thinking. Most of us – even if we call ourselves existential therapists and phenomenologists – have been corrupted and confused by the ideology of scientism. In these seminars we strive, through dialogue, to do justice to Heideggers clarifying vision. If we cannot, then our therapy’ remains technological tinkering and our righteousness is as filthy rags.

Venue:  ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra AvenueLondon N22 7XE

Cost:  Psychotherapy trainees £120, others £150, some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, mineral water included; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled   

Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra AvenueLondon N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857     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 colleges.

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