Sunday, 1 January 2023

Thinking 1923. Buber: 'I and Thou' - Freud: 'The Ego and the Id' - Groddeck: 'The Book of the It' - Heidegger: 'Ontology: Hermeneutics of Facticity'. Centenary investigations. Anthony Stadlen conducts Inner Circle Seminar 282 (23 April 2023)

 Thinking 1923

Martin Buber: I and Thou (1923)

Sigmund Freud: The Ego and the Id (1923)

Georg Groddeck: The Book of the It (1923)

Martin Heidegger: Ontology: Hermeneutics of Facticity (1923)

Centenary investigations

Anthony Stadlen

conducts by Zoom

Inner Circle Seminar No. 282

Sunday 23 April 2023

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Sigmund Freud

Georg Groddeck

Martin Buber
Martin Heidegger

A century ago, in the single year 1923, three important books were published and an important course of lectures was delivered, books and lectures all in German.
In 1923, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) published Das Ich und das Es (later translated as The Ego and the Id) and Martin Buber (1878-1965) published Ich und Du (later translated as I and Thou).
Freuds book, published in the third week of April 1923, is a statement of his later, structural, psychoanalytic theory. Bubers book, published the same year, is a paradigmatic, if idiosyncratic, exposition of his dialogical existential thinking.
Both titles contain the word Ich’ (I), and both books are also concerned with Es’ (it). But the books, and even the titles, are strikingly different.
Freud reifies ich’ and es’ as das Ich’ (the Iand das Es (the It). There is phenomenological and common-sense validity in distinguishing between ich’ (I) and es’ (it), as one can say in German, for example, ich träumte’ (I dreamt) or es träumte mir’ (it dreamt to me); and these are different ways of speaking of dreaming. But is there such an entity as das Ich’ or das Es’ (the I or the It’) to do the dreaming? (Of course, ‘I and it’ have different roles as pronouns referring to specific persons or objects, just as  there’ may refer to a specific place, but does not do so in ‘there is...’.)   
psychoanalytic committee in England supervised the translation of Freuds works to try to ensure, among other requirements, that they would appear sufficiently scientific’. TFreuds dismay, but in line with the committee’s ideologyJoan Riviere translated das Ich’ and das Es’ into Latin: the book became, in her English’ translationThe Ego and the Id (1927)This Latinised reification was retained in James Stracheys (1961) revision of her translation in the English Standard Edition of Freuds works.
Also in 1923, the psychoanalyst Georg Groddeck (1866-1934), an admirer and friend of Freud, published his own book Das Buch vom Es (The Book of the It). It was Groddeck who coined the term das Es’ (the It), which Freud adopted. But Groddeck was perhaps clearer than Freud that das Es’ should not be reified as a pseudo-entity.
Buber speaks straightforwardly of Ich(I’) and Du (‘You’). He contrasts Ich-Du with Ich-Es (I-it). Ronald Gregor Smith translated Buberbook in 1937, rendering Du’ as Thou’; but Walter Kaufmann translated it in 1970, rendering Du’ as ‘You’ throughout the book, while retaining Thou’ in the title to avoid confusion. We shall discuss, among other things, Kaufmanns profound introduction to his own translation of Bubers book.  
Ithe summer of the same year, 1923, in which Freud, Groddeck, and Buber published these books, the philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) gave a course of lectures, Ontologie: Hermeneutik der Faktizitätat Freiburg University. The lectures were published in book form in 1988, and translated by John von Buren as Ontology: Hermeneutics of Facticity (2008).
Heidegger understands the genitive of’ in hermeneutics of facticity’ as subjective as well as objective, or perhaps as a genitive that transcends both subjective and objective: hermeneutics and facticity are, for him, inseparable. This lecture course is remarkable for, among other things, ‘tarrying for a while’ at the table in Heideggers house which he reveals not as a secondarily derived and abstracted object, but, primordially, through hermeneutic-phenomenological description and interpretation, as the site of many activities of himself, his wife, his young sons, and their guests. We shall compare this with Jane Austens account of the table in Fanny Priceoriginal family home in Mansfield Park (1816). 
One might think that hermeneutics entail a dialectical interplay of interpretations, but these lectures include one of Heidegger’s most impassioned denunciations of dialectic as an approach to truth, a theme to which he was to return often elsewhere, for example in Being and Time (1927), where he describes dialectic as ‘a real philosophical embarrassment’. In these 1923 lectures he denounces dialectic as ‘double-sidedly unradical’, a ‘madame [Prokuristin] for the public whoring of the spirit’. We discussed this in Inner Circle Seminar No. 279 (27 January 2023).
Does this mean that Heidegger opposed Buber’s dialogical thinking? Clearly not; he did say the Ich-Du relationship should be more accurately called a Du-Du relationship, but he had great respect for Buber; and after the second world war Heidegger wrote to his wife about Buber’s ‘wisdom’, and told a friend that he had ‘just had a beautiful conversation with Martin Buber’.
However, Heidegger does seem to have valued silence even above dialogue. Is this why Buber declined subsequent invitations to visit Heidegger and continue their conversations in his mountain hut? 
At any rate, there were conversations between Freud and Groddeck and between Buber and Heidegger. But what of conversations between the first and the second pair, the psychoanalysts and the philosophers? There do not seem to have been any at the time, but Buber and Heidegger both engaged in dialogues with psychiatrists and psychotherapists, notably after the second world war. In 1957 Buber gave the William Alanson White Memorial Lectures for psychiatrists and others and engaged in a remarkable recorded dialogue with the psychotherapist Carl Rogers; and between 1959 and 1969 Heidegger conducted the Zollikon Seminars for psychiatrists, psychotherapists, and others in the house of the psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Medard BossA century on from 1923, basing ourselves on the evidence of these four books, and on what we know of these later discussions, we shall explore and try to extend the dialogue, dialectic, and interplay between these extraordinary four thinkers and their thinking, from 1923 to 2023. Your contribution will be most welcome.           

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.

No comments: