Thursday 1 January 2015

Heidegger’s Zollikon Seminars. A 50th-anniversary revaluation. 2. Seminar of 18 and 21 January 1965. Inner Circle Seminar 210 (18 January 2015)

Martin Heidegger and Medard Boss
on the Feldweg south of Messkirch, 1963
Heideggers Zollikon Seminars

A 50th-anniversary revaluation

2. Seminar of 18 and 21 January 1965

Can we disregard the human being altogether?

Anthony Stadlen
Inner Circle Seminar No. 210
Sunday 18 January 2015
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.                                                                           

Anthony Stadlen writes:

Between 1959 and 1969 the German philosopher Martin Heidegger conducted seminars for psychiatrists in the Swiss psychiatrist Medard Boss’s house in Zollikon near Zürich. (The first seminar was in the Bürghölzli mental hospital in Zürich.)

Martin Heidegger
at home in Freiburg

Boss, with Heidegger’s collaboration and consent, published a book containing reports of the seminars, and of his own conversations and correspondence with Heidegger (Heidegger, M., 1994 [1987], Zollikoner Seminare: Protokolle – Zwiegespräche – Briefe, herausgegeben von M. Boss, second edition, Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann).

Fourteen years later an authorised American translation was published (Heidegger, M., 2001 [1994], Zollikon Seminars: Protocols – Conversations – Letters, edited by M. Boss, Evanston IL: Northwestern University Press).

I showed in detail (Existential Analysis, 14.2, July 2003) that this American translation is not trustworthy, even though the translators took twelve years and were ‘helped’ by some of the world’s leading Heideggerian scholars. Many passages are acceptable but others seriously distort what Heidegger is saying.

A simple, telling example: Heidegger ridicules the title of a psychology congress as ‘reichlich komisch’. Even without knowing German you might rightly guess this means ‘richly comic’; but these rather humourless translators render it as ‘rather humorous’, thus misrepresenting Heidegger’s own biting humour and justified contempt as bland praise.

Our Inner Circle Seminars on the Zollikon seminars are remedying this.

In this second seminar on Sunday 18 January 2015 we shall look at Heidegger’s seminar of 18 and 21 January 1965, exactly fifty years earlier. This was the first of five seminars of 1965, his most active year in relation to the Zollikon seminars. Our seminar will thus have the same structure and time-scale as his: two three-hour sessions (with coffee and tea breaks) separated in our case by a lunch break and in his by three days.

In this seminar Heidegger tries to encourage his listeners to meditate on time. He also gives an extraordinarily original analysis of the psychiatrist Franz Fischer’s 1930 case study of a young male ‘schizophrenic’ supposedly suffering from ‘time- and thought-disorders’. Heidegger, without psychiatric or psychotherapeutic training, boldly disputes this diagnosis. We shall study his analysis in detail, but also ask whether he neglects aspects of Fischer’s case study which might be intelligible phenomenologically in the light of Laing and Esterson’s then just published Sanity, Madness and the Family (1964).

Our subsequent seminars this year will examine the other Zollikon seminars of 1965. Our seventh seminar, on 6 March 2016, will examine the Zollikon seminar of March 1966.

We shall also explore the important Boss-Heidegger conversations and correspondence reported in the book. These may require further Inner Circle seminars to do them justice.

Whatever bad things Heidegger did in his long life, his Zollikon seminars were an act of decency and piety – even if he and Boss were naive in thinking that clinical psychiatrists, of all people, were likely to be receptive to his radical questioning of the foundations of psychotherapy. The seminars can be a force for great good in psychotherapy if we are prepared to take them slowly and seriously, and open ourselves to their profound simplicity. They are revolutionary in their return to beginnings, saying ‘the same thing in the same way’ – which, as Heidegger points out, Socrates said was the hardest of all.

You should, if possible, bring a copy of the American translation if you attend any of the seminars, and if you know a little German it would be helpful to bring a copy of the original. I will provide photocopies for anyone not able to bring a copy. I will provide my own corrected translations of certain passages, revealing sometimes an astonishingly different meaning from that proposed by the American translation and giving English speakers for the first time an idea of what Heidegger is really saying.

You can attend any or all of these seminars. Each is self-contained, but it makes sense to attend as many as possible (and you also pay a reduced fee for the remaining six: students £600, others £750).

1. 30 November 2014
(Inner Circle Seminar No. 208)
Heidegger’s Zollikon Seminars of 1959-1964
‘How does Dr R. relate to this table here?’
(Inner Circle Seminar No. 210)
Heidegger’s Zollikon Seminar of 18 and 21 January 1965
‘Can we disregard the human being altogether?’
(Inner Circle  Seminar No. 213)
Heidegger’s Zollikon Seminar of 10 and 12 March 1965
‘In making-present the Zürich main railway station, we are directed not to a picture of it, not to a representation ...’
(Inner Circle  Seminar No. 216)
Heidegger’s Zollikon Seminar of 11 and 14 May 1965
‘We now make a leap to the body-problem.’
(Inner Circle Seminar No. 219)
Heidegger’s Zollikon Seminars of 6 and 8 July 1965
‘Is the body and its bodying ... something somatic or something psychic or neither of the two?’
(Inner Circle Seminar No. 224)
Heidegger’s Zollikon Seminar of 23 and 26 November 1965
‘Whence comes the insight that ... the Sein of the Da is ecstatic ... ?’

7. 6 March 2016
(Inner Circle Seminar No. 228)
Heidegger’s Zollikon Seminar of 1 and 3 March 1966
‘Unburdening and burdening are possible only through the human being’s ecstatic being-outstretched.

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

Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £120 per seminar or £700 the subseries of seven, others £150 or £875 the subseries of seven); 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 7X
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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