Sunday 1 January 2017

Heidegger Zollikon Seminars. 9. Baby Dasein – mother-baby Mitdasein. Tanja Staehler & Anthony Stadlen conduct Inner Circle Seminar 240 (10 December 2017)

Heidegger’s Zollikon Seminars


A 50th-anniversary revaluation

9. Heidegger and Boss discuss Freud (2)
(Taormina, April 1963)

Baby Dasein – mother-baby Mitdasein
Demystifying ‘Introjection

‘... [the child] is out there” still absorbed in the ways of being-in-the-world of its mother.’

Tanja Staehler   Anthony Stadlen
Inner Circle Seminar No. 240
Sunday 10 December 2017
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Martin Heidegger with his son Jörg

Martin Heidegger
at home in Freiburg
Heidegger and Boss
on the Feldweg south of Messkirch, 1963
Tanja Staehler with her sons Luka and Nikolai

In this seminar we continue exploring Heidegger’s original, positive, and creative rethinking of Freud’s understanding of human beings and their relationships. Too many existential therapists practise shallow supportive counselling mystified with pretentious ‘existential’ jargon. They remain complacently ignorant of psychoanalysis and so fail to help their clients to learn from history and break the cycle of repeating it. Similarly, too many psychoanalysts are caught in a mechanistic ‘metapsychology’ that mystifies human freedom. Todays seminar points the way to transcending this schizoid split which dishonours our profession.

In April 1963 in TaorminaSicily, preparing the Zollikon seminars, Martin Heidegger showed Medard Boss how Daseinsanalysis could demythologise and purify psychoanalysis. He did not throw Freud’s phenomenological insights out with the ‘metapsychological’ bathwater, but understood them as ‘ecstatic world-relationship’ rather than as ‘psychic mechanism’. Today we explore Heidegger’s critique of the psychoanalytic concept of introjection introduced by Ferenczi and adopted by FreudAbraham, and Klein to conceptualise how a baby relates to its mother. The truth, says Heidegger, is the opposite: the child is out there” still absorbed in the ways of being-in-the-world of its mother. We also examine Heidegger’s discussion, in his 1928-9 lectures (Introduction to Philosophy) the year after he published Being and Time, of a new-born baby as already Da-sein, being-in-the-world. This ‘crying, wriggling moving into the world’ shows that the baby is not a ‘shut-in subject’ but ‘already out there with ...’. This is surely a simple but profound way of understanding and not doing violence to human reality. But does Heidegger do justice to the rich phenomenology of so-called 
‘unconscious’ bodily phantasy, for example of so-called introjection, as described by Freud, Ferenczi, Abraham, Klein, and subsequent psychoanalysts?

What is the history of our childhood with which each of us has to come to terms? It can be radically clarified and transformed, or further mystified and degraded, through psychotherapy. This is sometimes a matter of existential life or death, for our clients and for us.

Tanja Staehler
, Professor of European Philosophy at the University of Sussex, has written many papers relating Heidegger’s thinking to birth and mother-baby relationships.

Anthony Stadlen
 is the only UK Daseinsanalyst, an existential, psychoanalytic, and family psychotherapist; he is convenor of the Inner Circle Seminars.

Mothers with babies are especially welcome in the seminar to contribute to an evaluation of Heidegger’s account.

Venue: ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE
Cost: Mothers with babies £20, psychotherapy trainees £132, others £165, some bursaries; coffee, tea, mineral water, biscuits, berries, nuts included; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London 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 universities.

Discussion and performance of Tim Watts’s opera Kepler’s Trial at Victoria and Albert Museum (9 November 2017)

The Disharmony of the World

An Accused ‘Witch’ and her Inquisitors
Katharina Kepler (1546–1622)
Johannes Kepler’s Defence of his Mother
in her ‘Witch’ Trial

Ulinka Rublack, Tim Watts, and a panel discuss
Tim Roberts's opera
Keplers Trial (2016)
before it is performed
at the Victoria and Albert Museum
Thursday 9 November 2017

Participants in the Inner Circle Seminars
are recommended to attend
(details and tickets from the V & A)

Johannes Kepler (15711630)
Ulinka Rublack
Tim Watts
Johannes Kepler (1571–1630) was the great astronomer whose Laws developed Copernicus’s thinking and were explained by Newton in his theory. When Kepler’s mother Katharina (1546–1622) was incarcerated and put on trial in Tübingen, accused of being a witch, he moved to live near her, and devoted himself to studying law so that he could defend her in court with the most convincing arguments he could muster. Against all odds, he won the case. Katharina was cleared of the charge of witchcraft. But she has continued to be misrepresented and maligned over the centuries. For instance, Paul Hindemith, in his own libretto for his 1957 opera about KeplerThe Harmony of the World, while ascribing to her a real clairvoyant gift, invents what seems an unhistorical split between mother and son in which she deplores his natural-scientific investigations as desecration and he rejects her alleged magical-mystical practices as superstition. (In fact, Kepler embodied a vision of the oneness of religion and nature, in which there was no such split.) Hindemith’s opera associates Katharina with the moon, and by implication with lunacy, even if at the end it assigns her supposed moonshine’ activities a legitimate place in the cosmos. And Arthur Koestler, in his book The Sleepwalkers: A history of mans changing vision of the Universe (1959), called Katharina an ‘old hag’, ‘a hideous little old woman, whose meddlesome and evil tongue, together with her suspect background, predestined her as a victim’.

The research of Ulinka Rublack, Professor of Early Modern European History at St Johns College in the University of Cambridge, has challenged this tradition of denigrating Katharina Kepler. Professor Rublack shows, in her book The Astronomer and the Witch: Johannes Keplers Fight for his Mother (2015), that Kepler brilliantly argued and demonstrated in the trial that his mothers behaviour needed no demonological explanation of the kind proposed by her inquisitors; on the contrary, her conduct was socially intelligible in ordinary human terms, as the understandable conduct of an older widowed woman in her social situation. In this way of seeing and presenting the phenomena, Kepler anticipated Laing and Esterson’s twentieth-century work with women diagnosed as schizophrenicreported in Sanity, Madness and the Family (1964), which we have been studying in the Inner Circle Seminars.

The composer Tim Watts’s new opera Keplers Trial (2016) ( was written at Ulinka Rublacks instigation and with her collaboration as a response to Hindemiths unhistorical treatment of Katharina in his opera.

On the evening of Thursday 9 November, Ulinka Rublack, Tim Watts, and a distinguished panel will introduce a performance of the opera Keplers Trial at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Participants in the Inner Circle Seminars are recommended to attend. (See  

Is this merely an historically fascinating episode? Or is the inquisitorial method of the witch’ trials four hundred years ago still alive, as Szasz, Laing and Esterson insisted, in the methods of diagnosis and treatment prevalent in our present-day clinical psychiatry – and its handmaiden, institutionalised and falsely medicalised psychotherapy? And is the continuing disparagement of Katharina Kepler a paradigm of that continuing hegemony of the calculative machination’ of natural-scientism that Heidegger documented and deplored? The concerns of our seminars are unified in this enthralling opera.

Professor Ulinka Rublack was born and raised in Germany, but has taught at Cambridge for nearly twenty years. Her research interests focus on sixteenth and seventeenth century culture, its visual and material aspects, the European Reformation, gender and society as well as methodological concerns.

She is editor of the Oxford Concise Companion to History. Her previous monographs include Dressing Up: Cultural Identity in Early Modern Europe, also published by Oxford University Press, which explores the relation between dress and identities in the period, won the Bainton Prize and was one of six books nominated for the Cundill Prize, the largest non-fiction history book prize in the world.

Ulinka Rublack is sole founder of the Cambridge History for Schools outreach programme; she is a co-founder of what became the Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies and has served on its working party for over ten years. She has been a full member of three European research networks and most recently served as a member of the steering committee of the AHRC-funded network on the history of luxury, led by Giorgio Riello. She has been visiting scholar at the Maison de lHomme, Paris, and her books have been translated into German and Chinese. One of her aims is to explore and interpret the past in novel ways by collaborating with other scholars as well as with artists and makers. She has co-curated the Fitzwilliam exhibition Treasured Possessions and curated its exhibition A Young Man's Progress (March - September 2015), which resulted from her collaboration with an artist and fashion designer in response to Renaissance fashion images. Further information is available on her tumblr The First Book of Fashion.

Professor Rublack has been awarded grants to collaborate with composer Tim Watts and video artist Aura Satz to create art work which responds to the story of Johannes Kepler and his mother; this resulted in Wattss acclaimed opera Keplers Trial ( She is also co-investigator of a Swiss National Foundation grant to explore the relationship of materiality, objects and emotional communities in the early modern world. She has recently been appointed as Gender Equality Champion for the University. She combines her busy career with raising two children.

Tim Watts combines careers as composer, pianist and teacher, and lives in Downham Market, Norfolk.

His music has been performed across the UK in venues including Wigmore Hall, the Purcell Room, the King’s Head Theatre and Ely Cathedral, as well as internationally in Canada, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Recently commissions have included works for St John's College, Cambridge, The Fairey Band, Southbank Sinfonia, Britten Sinfonia, Laura van der Heijden and the European Union Chamber Orchestra, Contemporary Consort, the Benyounes Quartet, song cycles for Andrew Kennedy and Cerys Jones and harpsichord solos (with and without electronics) for Jane Chapman, one of which was joint winner of the Horniman Museum Composition Competition.

He was the featured composer at the 2013 King’s Lynn Festival and has enjoyed residencies at Bedford School and Uppingham School, both of which have inspired numerous works for young performers.

Tim Watts studied composition with Jeffery Wilson, Hugh Wood and Robin Holloway. He is a Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge and also teaches at the Faculty of Music in Cambridge and at the Royal College of Music.

Laing and Esterson. 9. The Irwins. 50 years on. Hilary Mantel and Anthony Stadlen conduct Inner Circle Seminar 239 (15 October 2017)

Laing and Esterson

Sanity, Madness and the Family
50 Years On
Family 9: The Irwins

Dame Hilary Mantel   Anthony Stadlen
Inner Circle Seminar No. 239
Sunday 15 October 2017
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
R. D. Laing
Hilary Mantel
Aaron Esterson

This utterly straightforward book is still not understood today, especially by ‘professionals’. But Hilary Mantel, who gained courage to become a novelist through reading it when she was nearly twenty-one, understood it. She urged readers: ‘Just read the simple words the people speak.’ In this seminar you will have a unique opportunity actually to hear and discuss with Hilary Mantel herself ‘the simple words the people speak’, from the tape-recordings that Esterson made of the Irwin family in the early 1960s and that I made of surviving members of the family half a century later.

In her first Reith lecture Hilary Mantel discusses the relation between the historical novelist and the historian.

She brings to our seminars the unique genius of an historical novelist who sees far more profoundly than the rest of us the implications of the known historical facts but does not present invention as history. Each of our seminars begins with her wonderful reflections on what is given in the text of the book. She has no privileged access to the case. She learns what I have discovered as an historian only as do the other seminar participants, when I play recordings of my interviews with the surviving members of the family half a century later and explore Estersons original library of tape-recordings on which the book is based.

Nine of the original eleven women diagnosed schizophrenic are now dead; but Mantel recalls Auden:

... the crack in the teacup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.

She could also have quoted Eliot:

And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead: the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.

Mary Irwin’ and her mother are both dead. But Marys passionate insistence to her mother that she is neither selfish’ nor ill (the only two possibilities acknowledged by her mother) rings out from Estersons recording as if they were in the room with us. 

Why is this nowadays rarely read or even referenced book of 1964 so important? It is, after all, absent from almost all discussions either of the family or of schizophreniaThe extremely rare discussions of it patronise it, as if they had long passed beyond it; but without having begun to understand it, let alone catch up with it.

And yet it is so simple.

It is true that R. D. Laing and Aaron Estersons research, reported in this masterpiece of 1964 and continued by Esterson in his profound The Leaves of Spring: A Study in the Dialectics of Madness (1970), was a concrete embodiment of the complex theoretical work of their most advanced and radical contemporaries of the 1960s: Jean-Paul SartreCritique of Dialectical Reason and The Question of MethodThomas SzaszThe Myth of Mental Illness; and (though these they cannot have known) Martin Heidegger and Medard BossZollikon Seminars.

Sartre highly esteemed Laing and Esterson’s work on families. Szasz had enormous respect for Esterson; he thought this book was on a higher level than Laing’s other books; he also thought Stadlens research following up the eleven families important. Heidegger would surely have loved the book, though it is very unlikely he knew it; it embodies that straightforward openness and humanity he tried to convey in his Zollikon seminars, though he might well have asked: Why drag in Sartre? Professor Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann of FreiburgHeidegger’s personal assistant whom he entrusted with editing posthumously his 102-volume Collected Works, and his wife Frau Dr. Veronika von Herrmann, particularly admire Laing and Esterson’s work. But almost all Daseinsanalysts, existential therapists, psychoanalysts, psychotherapists  and of course psychiatrists – ignore it.

But the book is essentially simple. What did Laing and Esterson say that was so simple: too simple for ‘professionals’ to understand?

We believe that the shift of point of view that these descriptions both embody and demand has an historical significance no less radical than the shift from a demonological to a clinical viewpoint three hundred years ago.

Thus they introduced their great phenomenological descriptions of eleven families of ‘schizophrenics’. But, more than fifty years on, the ‘clinical viewpoint’ still reigns supreme. ‘Existential’, ‘Lacanian’, ‘Laingian’, ‘humanist’, ‘person-centred’ therapists and a galaxy of similarly impressively titled psychoanalysts and psychotherapists love to call themselves ‘clinicians’.

The great and the good, including younger members of our royal family, seek ‘parity’ for ‘physical’ and ‘mental health’. This is well-intentioned but confusing. Indeed ‘it is good to talk’ – but not in this mystifying, pseudo-scientific language. 

Have Laing and Esterson been proved wrong? They wrote:

Nobody can deny us the right to disbelieve in schizophrenia.

Why, then, do most psychiatrists and psychotherapists claim Laing and Esterson said ‘families cause schizophrenia’? They can not have understood, if they have ever remembered, if they have ever read, the first sentences of the second edition (1970) of the book:

There have been many studies of mental illness and the family. This book is not of them, at least in our opinion.

Hilary Mantel wrote that ‘the simple words the people speak’ in Laing and Esterson’s book gave her, when twenty years old, the courage to write her own books, which have been internationally acclaimed. Her introductions to the seminars in this series have enthralled participants with their sensitive understanding of, and deeply perceptive insight into, each family in turn.

As she has written:

Some of us need a little push, before we recognise we have the right to pick up a pen. In my case it came from a book by the psychiatrists R. D. Laing and Aaron EstersonSanity, Madness and the Family... The people in it seemed close enough to touch... Each interview is a novel or play in miniature. So many of these family conversations seemed familiar to me: their swerves and evasions, their doubleness... For most of my life I had been told that I didn't know how the world worked. That afternoon I decided I did know, after all. In the course of my twenty-one years I'd noticed quite a lot. If I wanted to be a writer, I didn't have to worry about inventing material, I'd already got it. The next stage was just to find some words.

Hilary Mantelat least, had no difficulty understanding what Laing and Esterson were talking about:

All the patients profiled in the book are young women. I know their names are pseudonyms, but over the years I've wondered desperately what happened to them, and if there's anyone alive who knows, and whether any of them ever cut free from the choking knotweed of miscommunication and flourished on ground of their own: Ruth, who was thought odd because she wore coloured stockings; Jean, who wanted a baby though her whole family told her she didn't; and Sarah, whose breakdown, according to her family, was caused by too much thinking.

Anthony Stadlen, through his historical research, is able to answer some of Hilary Mantels questions. He continues to interview the eleven families in the twenty-first century. Today, in the ninth of eleven seminars, we shall explore Chapter 9, on Mary Irwin and her family, with the help of Esterson’s original tape recordings on which the book is based; of photographs; and of Stadlen’s reports and recordings of his discussions with Marys family: her sister Angela’ (an important character in the published case) and Angelas husband and daughter.

Your contribution to the dialogue will be warmly welcomed.

Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ
Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £132, others £165, some bursaries; coffee, tea, mineral water, Durrants rock 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  +44 (0) 7809 433 250
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.

Black Notebooks: Martin Luther and Martin Heidegger. The role of ‘World Jewry’. Inner Circle Seminar 238 (24 September 2017)

Martin Luther

Martin Heidegger

Black Notebooks

Martin Luther and Martin Heidegger
‘World Jewry’ and the ‘uprooting of all being from Being’
500 years after Luther posted his 95 theses

Francesco Alfieri   Maurizio Borghi
  Anthony Stadlen
Inner Circle Seminar No. 238
Sunday 24 September 2017
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In eight Inner Circle Seminars over the last few years we have immersed ourselves in the detailed reports of the seminars that the philosopher Martin Heidegger gave between 1959 and 1969 in the home of the Swiss psychiatrist and Daseinsanalyst Medard Boss at Zollikon near Zurich, retracing them after fifty years almost to the day. We have also started to explore the discussions between Heidegger and Boss which were the ground from which the seminars sprang.

In today’s seminar we step back even further and look at Heidegger’s Black Notebooks. It is here that, according to his brother Fritz, Martin Heidegger is most authentically himself and his real philosophy is to be found. Yet twenty-six short entries in these Notebooks have been the occasion of yet another Heidegger scandal. How seriously should we take this scandal’?

Professor Fra Francesco Alfieri and Professor Maurizio Borghi  (both distinguished Heidegger experts) and I, with your help, will give serious and adult consideration to the widespread assertion that these notebooks manifest Heidegger’s alleged ‘anti-Semitism’. We shall use the occasion of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s epochmaking posting of his 95 theses against the Catholic church to explore whether Heidegger’s profound respect for Luther embraced, among other things, Luther’s ferocious denunciation of the Jews. But our investigation will be based on the accusatorial legal tradition, not on the international inquisitorial method that has condemned Heidegger. That is to say, we shall ask what exactly is the ‘anti-Semitism’ with which he has been vaguely charged and on exactly what evidence he has been summarily convicted. We shall examine varieties of anti-Judaism and ‘anti-Semitism’ over two millennia. And we shall presume that Heidegger is innocent until proved guilty

It has long been known that Heidegger was a paid-up member of the Nazi party from 1933 to 1945; that he was Nazi Rector of Freiburg University; that he told students: ‘The Führer alone is the present and future German reality and its law’; and that in 1949 he said: Farming is now a motorised food-industry, in essence the same as the manufacture of corpses in gas chambers and extermination camps.’ Was he ‘philosophically’ trivialising Nazi mass murder? But did he not have warm relationships, and even at least two love affairs, with Jewish students and colleagues? Did he not have a friendship, even after 1945, with Martin Buber? Granted, he had complained before the war about the ‘Jewification’ of Germany, but perhaps he meant this ‘metaphysically’? Heidegger was, it was said, a great thinker, and not ‘anti-Semitic’ as his granddaughter Gertrud says his wife Elfride was to the end of her life.

The rumours, rather than the reading, of the Black Notebooks with their sprinkling of twenty-six remarks about Jews have shaken this view. Peter Trawny, in two influential books, has claimed the Notebooks prove Heidegger was indeed an ‘anti-Semite. But if we take this word in the non-religious sense of Wilhelm Marr in the nineteenth century, or in the pseudoscientific, biological’, ‘racial sense of the Nazis in the twentieth century, then the Notebooks show unequivocally that Heidegger insisted, with justification, that he was not an ‘anti-Semite. In the Notebooks he denounces ‘anti-Semitism’ as ‘foolish and reprehensible’, and he attacks Nazi ‘racial’ doctrine as itself part of the same destructive ‘calculative’ ‘machination’ and ‘uprooting’ of which he accuses not only Weltjudentum’ (‘World Jewry’) but also the Bolsheviks, the Americans, the English, in fact almost everybody except traditional non-Bolshevik Russians, Martin Heidegger, and of all people Lawrence of Arabia, an enemy of Germany in the first world war! He insists that his discussion of the role of ‘Weltjudentum’ is not to do with ‘race’, but is ‘a metaphysical questioning of the kind of humanity that can with downright abandon undertake the uprooting of all being from Being’. He sees his teacher Husserl, a convert to Christianity, as handicapped from attaining true insight by the inescapable fact that he is, still, a Jew; but this is presumably a cultural, not a ‘racial’, judgement; or if, in some Heideggerian sense, it is ‘racial’, this is not the Nazi ‘biological’ concept of ‘race’.

Trawny simply disbelieves Heidegger, and calls him an anti-Semite anyway. But why should we not believe Heidegger? Why should we not believe T. S. Eliot, who saw ‘freethinking Jews’ as more ‘deracinated’ than free-thinking post-Christians and thought Judaism a not very ‘portable’ religion, but revered Martin Buber (as did Heidegger) and denounced ‘anti-Semitism’ as, from the Christian viewpoint, a ‘sin’ and a ‘heresy’?

Why should Heidegger and Eliot not criticise Judaism?

Judaism differs from Christianity in many ways. The notion of a ‘Judaeo-Christian tradition’ is a nineteenth-century politically correct euphemism. It blurs the differences between these religions. Christianity, established by Paul, asserts and Judaism rejects: ‘Original Sin’; the Incarnation, Divinity, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus; the overcoming of Torah (law) through faith in Jesus’s saving presence. Why should each of these religions not, in a civil and civilised way, while recognising the right of the other to its position, nevertheless advocate its own position and oppose the other?

Heidegger sometimes opposes Judaic views from a Christian viewpoint and sometimes opposes both Judaic and Christian views from a Greek viewpoint. Sometimes, in traditional Christian or post-Christian fashion, he says things which are almost unthinkingly critical of Judaism. In Being and Time, and also in the Black Notebooks, Heidegger casually uses the term ‘pharisaic’ in its conventional Christian sense, as if the Pharisees had not been one of the most innovative and liberal groups in history. Even after the Shoah, Heidegger’s Christian theologian colleague Rudolf Bultmann, who bravely opposed Nazi ‘anti-Semitism’, gives in his book Primal Christianity (recommended by R. D. Laing in The Divided Self) an account replete with what are, from a Jewish perspective, ignorant assumptions about the inferiority of Judaism. This is standard European culture, even at its most sublime, as in Bach’s Passions. Such ‘anti-Judaism’ is not experienced as a doctrine to be adopted or not: it is an unquestioning presumption about the way things are. It presumes that a Jew can be saved by converting to Christianity; indeed, there must remain enough Jews to be converted at the end of time. ‘Anti-Judaism’ is not yet Wilhelm Marr’s 19th-century invention, ‘anti-Semitism’, far less the Nazis’ development of it into an absolute ‘biological’ doctrine of ‘race’, although ‘anti-Judaism’ undoubtedly prepared the ground for ‘anti-Semitism’. For the Nazi ‘anti-Semite’, the worst kind of Jew is the one who converts to Christianity, or is an assimilated German, because he is tenacious and harder to persuade there is no future for him in Germany. Nazi ‘anti-Semitism’ is absolute, simply because the Jews are an incompatible and unacceptable ‘race’; there is no reason to disbelieve Heidegger’s denunciation of such ‘anti-Semitism’. But when, in the Black Notebooks, he accuses the Jews themselves of traditionally pioneering the same kind of ‘calculative’ manipulation of ‘race’, Heidegger displays the ‘anti-Judaic’ prejudice that the Jews are a ‘race’, forgetting, if he ever registered, that some of the greatest Jews were converts to Judaism, and that there are Jews of all ‘races’.

Here it is crucial to examine the role of Martin Luther in Heidegger’s (and European) thinking. Heidegger began training as a Catholic theologian, but married a Protestant woman and underwent a religious crisis. At the beginning of Being and Time, he lists the current crises in the foundations of the natural and human sciences: for example, the dispute between formalists and intuitionists in mathematics, the questions raised by relativity in physics, and so on. But he does not mention the names of the protagonists in these crises: Hilbert, Brouwer, Einstein, et al. Only in relation to one of the ‘sciences’ does Heidegger mention a proper name: the ‘science’ of theology, which, he says, is still being transformed by Luther’s ‘insight’ into the primacy of faith’. We shall study the importance of Luther, as well as of his precursor Paul, in Heidegger’s thinking, five hundred years after Luther posted his ninety-five theses criticising the Church at Wittenberg on 31 October 1517. Luther hoped that one result of his criticisms would be that the Jews would convert to Christianity. When they did not, he denounced the Jews as the killers of God, archetypal children of the devil, whose essence was evil calculative machination. Did this also influence Heidegger? Certainly, in an early lecture course on the ‘phenomenology of the religious life’, he extolled the ‘authenticity’ of Paul’s vision of ‘primal Christian’ community life.

But why should Heidegger not be opposed to Judaic ideas? In fact, he is opposed in many respects to both Judaism and Christianity, which, like Nietzsche, he sees as itself Judaic. Heidegger’s religion is essentially Greek. He may be right or wrong, if these terms are applicable here; but why should he not be free to argue his case?

And what, if any, are the implications of all this for the everyday practice of psychotherapy? Can Heidegger’s thinking help us improve our practice, as the Zollikon seminars make clear he hoped? It would seem so. But is he correct that psychoanalysis is in essence ‘calculative machination’, as many existential psychotherapists also seem to think? In the Black Notebooks he writes of it in these terms, but in the Zollikon seminars he is more nuanced, presumably under Boss’s influence. Existential therapists generally seem closer to his Black Notebooks position. If ‘calculative machination’ is all they can see in psychoanalysis, are they not by that token guilty of it themselves? Is this an unacknowledged ‘anti-Judaic’ tendency of existential therapy in general?

The Daseinsanalyst Gion Condrau expressed irritation that people mentioned what he called Heidegger’s ‘political error’. Condrau told me that Boss told his trainees they must not, in the Zollikon seminars, question Heidegger about his Nazism. But Heidegger, if only for a short time, saw his so-called ‘political error’ (and is ‘error’ the right word for a grave moral wrong?) as grounded in his philosophical thinking. Might not existential or daseinsanalytic therapy, also explicitly grounded in his philosophical thinking, be a ‘therapeutic error’? In this seminar, I do not wish to argue this, but rather to be open to this possibility. I hope that the consensus of participants in our seminars on Heidegger’s Zollikon seminars, that his thinking is indeed a fundamental and beneficent contribution to a more human and less alienated psychotherapy, will survive such questioning and be confirmed by today’s seminar also.

We are fortunate to have, as invited speakers, Professors Francesco Alfieri, and Maurizio Borghi.

Professor Francesco Alfieri is a Franciscan Monk at the Vatican and personal assistant to Professor Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann, who attended Heidegger’s legendary intimate seminar ‘Time and Being’ in his ‘hut’ at Todtnauberg in September 1962 and became Heidegger’s private assistant from 1972 until his death in 1976; Heidegger entrusted him with the monumental task of bringing out the 102 volumes of his Collected Works. Professors von Herrmann and Alfieri have written a book, already available in German and Italian, and soon to appear in English, in which they seek to do justice to Heidegger’s position in the Black Notebooks.

Professor Maurizio Borghi has edited the Italian translation of Heidegger's 1928-9 lectures (Introduction to Philosophy) and contributed to the journal Heidegger Studies, including a paper on the allegation of ‘antisemitism’ in the Black Notebooks. He is Professor in Law and Director of the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy and Management at Bournemouth University.

Professor Fra Alfieri shows that, for example, an entry of Heideggers in the Black Notebooks that has been read as attacking the Hebrew prophets actually affirms that they were the true prophets while Hitler, who had claimed to be a prophet, was a false one.

Professor Borghi points out that, had Heidegger been antisemitic, he could have proclaimed this publicly to great acclaim during the Nazi era.

This seminar will, it is hoped, make clear that those who signal virtue by attacking Heidegger distract from real antisemitism and thus perpetuate it.

Your contribution to the discussion will be warmly welcomed.

Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ
Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £132, others £165, some bursaries; coffee, tea, mineral water, Durrants rock included; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857  +44 (0) 7809 433 250
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.