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, it’ has also a different role as a pronoun referring to a specific object or entity, 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 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 appears to have been 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 in 1937 translated Buberbook, rendering Du’ as Thou’; but Walter Kaufmann in 1970 translated 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 as Ontology: Hermeneutics of Facticity by John von Buren (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 an interplay of interpretations that would be dialectical, but these lectures include one of Heidegger’s most impassioned denunciations of dialectic as an approach to truth, a theme to which he returns often elsewhere, for example in Being and Time (1927), where he describes dialectic as ‘a real philosophical embarrassment’; in the 1923 lectures he had denounced it as ‘double-sidedly unradical’, a ‘madame [Prokuristin] for the public whoring of the spirit’ (as we discussed in Inner Circle Seminar No. 279 (27 January 2023). Does this mean that he opposed Buber’s dialogical thinking? Clearly not; he did say the Ich-Du relationship would be more accurately called a Du-Du relationship, but he had great respect for Buber, and after the second world war wrote to his wife about Buber’s ‘wisdom’, and told a friend that he had ‘just had a beautiful conversation with Martin Buber’.
Today, a century on, from the evidence of these four books, we shall try at least to imagine some kind of 1923 dialogue, dialectic, or interplay amongst this extraordinary conjunction of four 1923 thinkers. Your contribution to the discussion 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.

Centenary seminars: 1920s-born existential therapists. 2. Peter Lomas. Anthony Stadlen conducts Inner Circle Seminar 280 (5 March 2023)


Existential therapists born in the 1920s

Centenary seminars

2. Peter Lomas

27 February 1923  12 January 2010

The extraordinary ordinary

Peter Lomas

Anthony Stadlen
Inner Circle Seminar No. 280
Sunday 5 March 2023
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Peter Lomas was born on 27 February 1923 and died on 12 January 2010 aged nearly 87. His central thought, that psychotherapy is ‘ordinary’, made him, paradoxically, an extraordinary figure in the history of psychotherapy. By ‘ordinary’, he meant that psychotherapy deals with decency, love, kindness, goodness, creativity, courage, and truth – and their absence or negation; and that it is best described in ordinary language. This he did, with great sensitivity, in ordinary, but very good, English. Well versed in psychoanalytic and existential literature, he valued their authentic findings but disliked their pretentious jargon. A respected Member of the British Psychoanalytical Society and founder of the Guild of Psychotherapists, he resigned from both because of what he thought they had become. He then founded a training scheme known as the ‘Outfit’ (officially, the Cambridge Society for Psychotherapy).
Today we shall discuss some of Peter Lomas’s books and papers, psychoanalytic and existential. He is best known today for his writings on individual psychotherapy, such as The Limits of Interpretation (1987), Cultivating Intuition (1993), and Doing Good? Psychotherapy Out of its Depth (1999). But he was deeply concerned also with family relationships and their relevance for the individual. He edited and contributed to The Predicament of the Family: A Psychoanalytic Symposium (1967), and his own papers on the family were collected in Personal Disorder and Family Life (1997).
R. D. Laing and Aaron Esterson, in Sanity, Madness and the Family: Families of Schizophrenics (1964), thank various colleagues for participating in the research, but do not mention Lomas, who was one of the interviewers – indeed, he was that interviewer who reticently asked the ‘schizophrenic’ Ruth Gold, ‘But do you feel you have to agree with what most of the people around you believe?’, eliciting her immortal reply: ‘Well if I don’t I usually land up in hospital.’
Thomas Szasz wrote (email to Anthony Stadlen, 10 February 2010): Honesty shines through [Lomass] writing.’ But Szasz thought (ibid.) that Lomas wrote too gingerly’ about medicalisation. We shall discuss this as well as Esterson’s and John Heaton’s doubts about Lomas’s concept of ‘ordinariness’.
Your contribution to the discussion will be most welcome, especially if you were his client, supervisee, colleague, or friend.

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.

Søren Kierkegaard 16 October 1843 and beyond. Marilyn Piety, Daniel Conway, et al. conduct Inner Circle Seminars 279 281, ... (12 February, 26 March,... 2023)


Søren Kierkegaard 

16 October 1843 and beyond

Faith, repetition, anxiety, despair, love

Fear and Trembling
Upbuilding Discourses
Philosophical Crumbs
The Concept of Anxiety
Concluding Unscientific Postscript
Works of Love
The Sickness Unto Death
and other works

Marilyn Piety, Daniel Conway, et al.
conduct by Zoom
Inner Circle Seminars Nos. 279, 281, ...
introduced by Anthony Stadlen
12 February 2023, 26 March 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

Our exceptional constellation of speakers and seminars on the works of the foundational existential thinker Søren Kierkegaard is helping existential therapists to reach a deeper understanding both of him and, therefore, of the foundations of their discipline. This does not mean, of course, that they should expect to agree with everything he or his pseudonyms said, which would in any case be logically impossible, by the very nature of the sometimes contradictory interplay of his and his pseudonyms' perspectives. 
Some of the worlds greatest Kierkegaard authorities have already guided us through the three extraordinary books Kierkegaard (and two of his pseudonyms) published on 16 October 1843.  
In 2023 we resume, with the intention of covering all Kierkegaards main works over a few years, with particular focus on their relevance to psychotherapy.

Philosophical Crumbs
or A Crumb of Philosophy
by Johannes Climacus
published by Søren Kierkegaard
13 June 1844

Marilyn Piety
Inner Circle Seminar No. 279
Sunday 12 February 2023
2 p.m. to 5 p.m.  6 p.m. to 9 p.m.  London time (GMT)

Professor Marilyn Gaye Piety of Drexel University in 2021 conducted a much praised seminar on Repetition, which she had herself translated. Today she will discuss Kierkegaards pseudonym Johannes Climacuss book Philosophical Crumbs (1844), which she has also excellently translated.

Fear and Trembling
Dialectical Lyric
by Johannes de silentio
published 16 October 1843
From Problema 3 to the end

Daniel Conway  Anthony Stadlen
Inner Circle Seminar No. 281
Sunday 26 March 2023
 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  2 p.m. to 5 p.m.  London time (GMT)

Over the last few years we have, with the help of Professor John Lippitt, closely read the text of Kierkegaard’s pseudonym Johannes de silentio’s book Fear and Trembling (1843), to the end of Problema 2. Today Professor Daniel Conway, speaking from Australia, and Anthony Stadlen in London will lead the detailed discussion of the text from Problema 3 to the end of the book.

[Other seminars in this series will soon be announced.]

Why study Kierkegaard? Everyone now seems to be talking about ‘mental health’. But is this the best way of understanding what people are experiencing in today’s undoubted crises? 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?
In 2021 our subseries of six seminars devoted to Kierkegaard showed decisively that a significant number of existential therapists do indeed know and value religious experience. In 2023 we resume our exploration of Kierkegaards major works.
Existential therapists, whether or not they are aware of this, are implicitly identifying the previously 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 orally named his own later philosophy as 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, Schelling.
None 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 2023 with the fifth and sixth seminars on this text, conducted by Professor Daniel Conway and other world authorities.
Other leading international specialists will explore the other major works by Kierkegaard and his pseudonyms: Philosophical CrumbsThe Concept of AnxietyConcluding Unscientific Postscript, Works of Love, The Sickness Unto Death.
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.
Evaluations of Kierkegaard vary.
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.
Dr Abraham Myerson, a psychiatrist, 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.
Professor Ernesto Spinelli, an existential therapist, in his 2017 essay ‘Kierkegaard’s dangerous folly’ in Existential Analysis, denounced Kierkegaard for allegedly admiring Abraham’s
        ‘self-evident lunacy.
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, Thomas Merton, 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, despite what many have alleged, 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: 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.
Professor John Lippitt, who guided our reading of Fear of Trembling in three remarkable seminars, has pointed out in his book Humour and Irony in Kierkegaard’s Thought that Søren 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 Kierkegaard’s works 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 six Kierkegaard seminars: 
per seminar, psychotherapy trainees £105, others £131
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.