Wednesday 1 January 2014

Heidegger’s Zollikon Seminars. A 50th-anniversary revaluation. 1. Seminars of 1959 and 1964. Inner Circle Seminar 208 (30 November 2014)

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

Heidegger’s Zollikon Seminars

A 50th-anniversary revaluation

1. Seminars of 1959 and 1964
‘How does Dr R. relate to this table here?’

Anthony Stadlen
Inner Circle Seminar No. 208
Sunday 30 November 2014
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 home of 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. While some passages are reasonably translated, others give a highly distorted picture of what Heidegger is saying.

A simple but telling example: Heidegger says the title of a congress of psychologists is ‘reichlich komisch’. Even if you know no German you might guess this means ‘richly comic’, and it does; but these rather humourless (to put it mildly) translators render it as ‘rather humorous’, thereby misrepresenting Heidegger’s biting humour and justified contempt as bland praise.

These Inner Circle Seminars on the Zollikon seminars will go some way to remedy this.

In this first seminar on Sunday 30 November 2014 we shall look at the four reported seminars of 1959 and 1964. In the seminar of 1959 in the lecture theatre at the Bürghölzli, Heidegger produced his only recorded ‘drawing’ of ‘Da-sein’, on the blackboard, and his written elucidation of it; we shall study them both. Also, the seminar of 6 and 9 July 1965 in Boss’s house is remarkable as the only seminar where the awkward and fascinating dialogue between Heidegger and the baffled participating psychiatrists was reported in full verbatim – by Dr Erna Hoch, a person of great honesty and integrity. Our first seminar will thus take us to the heart of Heidegger’s amazing seminars.

1965 was Heidegger’s most active year in relation to the Zollikon seminars. He made no fewer than five visits. In 2015, we shall devote one seminar to each of his five seminars of 1965, on their 50th anniversaries almost to the day. These five seminars of ours 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 a day or two.

The seventh seminar, on 6 March 2016, will examine the seminar of 1 and 3 1966.

Subsequent seminars, to be announced in due course, will explore the important Boss-Heidegger conversations and correspondence reported in the book.

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 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 if you are not able to bring a copy. But I will provide my own corrected translations of numerous passages. In many instances, these reveal an astonishingly different meaning from that proposed by the American translation.

These seminars will, in such cases, give 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 would be advantageous to attend all seven (and you also pay a reduced fee for the seven: students £700, others £875).

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 Seminars of 18 and 21 January 1965
‘Can we disregard the human being altogether?’
(Inner Circle  Seminar No. 213)
Heidegger’s Zollikon Seminars 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 Seminars 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 Seminars 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 Seminars 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 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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