Friday, 1 January 2021

Divinity, Double-bind, Daseinsanalysis: For the bicentenary of Dostoevsky’s birth (11 November 1821). Anthony Stadlen conducts Inner Circle Seminar 274 (21 November 2021)


Divinity, Double-bind, Daseinsanalysis

For the bicentenary of Dostoevskys birth

(11 November 1821)

Anthony Stadlen


Inner Circle Seminar No. 274

Sunday 21 November 2021

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Medard Boss
Martin Heidegger
Emmanuel Levinas

Thomas Szasz

Aaron Esterson
R. D. Laing

This seminar marks the bicentenary of Fyodor Dostoevsky (born 11 November 1821).
Walter Kaufmann wrote: ‘I can see no reason for calling Dostoevsky an existentialist, but I do think that Part One of Notes from Underground is the best overture for existentialism ever written. [...] This book, published in 1864, is one of the most revolutionary and original works of world literature.’
Vladimir Nabokov, in his Lectures on Russian Literature, disapproved of the translation ‘Notes from Underground’; he proposed ‘Memoirs from a Mousehole’. But, more fundamentally, Nabokov strongly disagreed with the general high estimation of Dostoevsky, whom he described as ‘not a great writer in the sense Tolstoy, Pushkin, and Chekhov are’, but ‘a rather mediocre one—with flashes of excellent humor, but, alas, with wastelands of literary platitudes in between.’
A defining moment for Nabokov is in Crime and Punishment: ‘[...] the redemption scene when Raskolnikov, the killer, discovers through the girl Sonya the New Testament. [...] then comes this singular sentence that for sheer stupidity has hardly the equal in world-famous literature: The candle was flickering out, dimly lighting up in the poverty-stricken room the murderer and the harlot who had been reading together the eternal book. [...] The murderer and the harlot reading the eternal book—what nonsense. There is no rhetorical link between a filthy murderer, and this unfortunate girl. [...] It is a shoddy literary trick, not a masterpiece of pathos and piety.’
Frank Budgen reported in his book James Joyce and the Making of Ulysses that he asked James Joyce ‘if he did not think Dostoevsky a supremely great writer. No, said Joyce bluntly. Rousseau, confessing to stealing silver spoons he had really stolen, is much more interesting than one of Dostoevsky’s people confessing to an unreal murder.
But many ‘existential’ writers have declared that Dostoevsky was a master writer and great thinker.
In about 1940, Martin Heidegger wrote in one of his Black Notebooks (GA96): ‘My meditation of Russianism began in 1908-1909, when I attempted, in my last year of secondary school, to learn Russian. [...] Lying hidden in the essence  of Russianism are treasures of expectation of God...’ Heidegger attributed to Dostoevsky himself the assertion by his character Shatov in (the German translation of) The Devils: ‘He who has no people [Volk] has no God.’
In 1972 Heidegger placed Dostoevsky third (after Nietzsche and Kierkegaard) in a shortlist of writers who had been crucial in his own development between 1910 and 1914. In 1920 he wrote to his wife: ‘[...] gradually I feel what it means to have one’s roots in the soil—in fact this only fully struck me through Dostoevsky [...] do try to read Dost[oev]sky’s political writings.’
At the beginning of his 1940 Freiburg lectures on Nietzsche, Heidegger quoted from the German translation of Dostoevsky’s Foreword to his famous 1880 lecture on Pushkin to illustrate the beginnings of European ‘nihilism’: ‘a significant, morbid manifestation among our intelligentsia [...] the character who [...] does not believe in his native soil [...] who will have nothing to do with his own Volk’.
Heinrich Wiegand Petzet reported: ‘For a long time a picture of Dostoevsky sat on Heidegger’s desk as an homage to the literary genius of Russia.’
R. D Laing wrote in The Self and Others (1961): ‘Dostoevsky’s genius is unmistakable in his handling of the merging of dreams, phantasy, imagination, and reality [...] his characters’ simultaneous participation in the world in these modalities [...] handled with complete mastery.’
Laing makes a good case for this, as we shall see in today’s seminar. But Laing also wrote in his portentously apocalyptic Introduction to The Politics of Experience (1967): ‘We are all murderers and prostitutes’—thereby precisely replicating the sentimental coupling of ‘murderer’ and ‘harlot’ that Nabokov called ‘shoddy’. 
Whatever their strengths and weaknesses, Dostoevskys novels do provide striking aphorisms pronounced by some of the characters as well as remarkable interpersonal situations; both have served as useful starting-points for discussion by ‘existential’ thinkers.
We shall consider three such aphorisms and one such situation from the novels, which have been treated variously by HeideggerLaing, and Emmanuel Levinas as nodal points with far-reaching existential and spiritual implications.
1. Heidegger ponders, as noted above, in his Black Notebooks (GA96, XIII:82), Shatov’s statement in The Devils (which Heidegger attributes to Dostoevsky himself):
‘He who has no people has no God.
2. Laing expounds, in the chapter Transcendental Experience of The Politics of Experience (1967), Ivan’s assertion in The Brothers Karamazov:
‘[If there is no God] then everything is permitted.
3. Levinas affirms and elaborates, in many of his writings, Alyosha’s declaration in The Brothers Karamazov:
‘We are all responsible for everyone else—but I am more responsible than all the others.’
4. Laing analyses, in The Self and Others (1961), the effect on Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment of his mother’s letter: the position’ he is put in by its contradictory attributions, injunctions, and double-binds—immediately before he commits his murders. This is a kind of overture to Laing and EstersonSanity, Madness and the Family (1964, 1970) and to Aaron Estersons The Leaves of Spring (1970), with their lessons for Daseinsanalysts, existential therapists, and psychoanalysts, as argued by Anthony Stadlen in The Madhouse of Being (Daseinsanalyse, 2007). See Daseinsanalysis, Existential Psychotherapy, Inner Circle Seminars: Anthony Stadlen, London W1, N22: The Madhouse of Being (January 2007)
We shall discuss how Daseinsanalysis might be deepened by examining, critically, each of these points. 

This will be an online seminar, using Zoom.

Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £132, others £165, 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.

Kierkegaard 16 October 1843. George Pattison, Marilyn Piety, C. Stephen Evans, John Lippitt, Jerome (Yehuda) Gellman, Mariam al-Attar conduct Inner Circle Seminars 263, 264, 265, 268, 269, 273 (14, 28 February; 21 March; 23 May; 13 June; 24 and 31 October 2021)

Kierkegaard 16 October 1843
Fear and Trembling
Three Upbuilding Discourses
Text and Context 

George Pattison   Marilyn Piety   C. Stephen Evans
John Lippitt   Jerome (Yehuda) Gellman   Mariam al-Attar
Inner Circle Seminars Nos. 263, 264, 265, 268, 269, 273
introduced by Anthony Stadlen
14, 28 February; 21 March; 23 May; 13 June; 24 and 31 October 2021

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

Abraham, Isaac, and the angel
(by Rembrandt)
Everyone now seems to be talking about ‘mental health’. But is this the best way of understanding what people are experiencing in this pandemic crisis? 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?
Existential therapists, whether or not they are aware of this, are implicitly identifying the 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 termed his own later philosophy, orally, 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, SchellingNone 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 in two series of seminars: one series (‘Søren Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling’) a close reading of this text over a few years, with a fourth seminar in this series this May, conducted by Professor John Lippitt from Sydney, Australia, on its central section of maximal tension and intensity; the other series (‘Kierkegaard: 16 October 1843’) a detailed study of its context, in five ‘satellite’ seminars between February and July.
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.
The ‘satellite’ seminars, conducted by world authorities, including George Pattison, Marilyn Piety, C. Stephen Evans, Jerome (Yehuda) Gellman and Mariam al-Attar, will focus 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 silentio, Johannes 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.
Here is our sequence of six seminars:
Inner Circle Seminar No. 263
Sunday 14 February 2021
10 a.m. to 1 p.m.    2 p.m. to 5 p.m.   London time
Professor George Pattison, English theologian and Anglican priest, has been Professor of Divinity at the University of Glasgow since 2013. He was previously Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford. Among his books are Kierkegaard’s Upbuilding Discourses, Kierkegaards Pastoral Dialogues (with Helle Møller Jensen), Kierkegaard and the Theology of the Nineteenth Century, The Mystical Sources of Existentialist Thought, Heidegger on Death; he has translated and edited a selection of Kierkegaard’s Spiritual Writings (including the first two of the Three Uplifting Discourses he will discuss today); and he has edited The Oxford Handbook of Kierkegaard (with John Lippitt). Today he will explain, in the first seminar on the context of Fear and Trembling, the complexity and subtlety of the problem of the pseudonyms. He will then guide us through Three Upbuilding Discourses (1843), discussing among other things why Martin Heidegger regarded these and Kierkegaard’s other upbuilding writings as his most important works philosophically.
Inner Circle Seminar No. 264
Sunday 28 February 2021
2 p.m. to 5 p.m.    6 p.m. to 9 p.m.    London time
Professor Marilyn Gaye Piety is Professor of Philosophy in the Department of English and Philosophy at Drexel University, Philadelphia. She is author of many scholarly articles on Kierkegaard and of the book Ways of Knowing: Kierkegaard’s Pluralist Epistemology. She has translated Repetition and Philosophical Crumbs. She is working on a book, Fear and Dissembling: The Copenhagen Kierkegaard Controversies. She is the author of the blog Piety on Kierkegaard. Her insistence on honesty and integrity in academic discourse is exemplary. Today, in the second seminar on the context of Fear and Trembling, she will help us make sense of the brilliant, perplexing short book Repetition, and the many conflicting interpretations it has received; and she will relate it to the other books, Fear and Trembling and Three Upbuilding Discourses, also published on 16 October 1843.
Inner Circle Seminar No. 265
Sunday 21 March 2021
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.    2 p.m. to 3.45 p.m.    4.15 p.m. to 6 p.m.    London time  
Professor C. Stephen Evans is University Professor of Philosophy and Humanities at Baylor University, Waco, Texas. He has been Curator of the Howard and Edna Hong Kierkegaard Library at Saint Olaf College, Minnesota. His books include Kierkegaard’s Fragments and Postscript: The Religious Philosophy of Johannes Climacus, God and Moral Obligation, Kierkegaard’s Ethic of Love: Divine Commands and Moral Obligations, Foundations of Kierkegaard’s Vision of Community: Religion, Ethics and Politics in Kierkegaard, A History of Western Philosophy: From the Presocratics to Postmodernism, Kierkegaard and Spirituality: Accountability as the Meaning of Human Existence, and many others. He has edited, with Sylvia Walsh, a new translation of Fear and Trembling. In todays seminar, the third on the context of that book, Anthony Stadlen will lead a two-hour morning discussion on the phenomenology of ancient and modern divine discourse, the Euthyphro dilemmaand ‘divine command theory’; and in a four-hour afternoon session (with half-hour break) C. Stephen Evans will disentangle the subtle varieties of that theory in Fear and TremblingWorks of Love, and more recent philosophical writing.
Inner Circle Seminar No. 268
Sunday 23 May 2021 
2 p.m. to 5 p.m.    6 p.m. to 8 p.m.    9 p.m. to 10 p.m.   London time
Professor John Lippitt is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Institute for Ethics and Society at the University of Notre Dame Australia, based in Sydney. He is also Visiting Professor at the University of Hertfordshire, UK where he previously worked for twenty-eight years. He is author of many papers and books on Kierkegaard, including the Routledge Guide to Fear and Trembling, Love’s Forgiveness, Kierkegaard and the Problem of Self-Love, Humour and Irony in Kierkegaard’s Thought, and editor of The Oxford Handbook of Kierkegaard (with George Pattison) and Narrative, Identity and the Kierkegaardian Self (with Patrick Stokes). He has already guided us in the second and third seminars on the text of Fear and Trembling. In the fourth seminar in the series on the text, we shall discuss, in a structured way suggested by him, his brilliant pre-recorded reflections on the intense central section, Problem 1: Is there a teleological suspension of the ethical? and Problem 2: Is there an absolute duty to God? The seminar will culminate in his personal interactive Zoom presence from Australia in his early Monday morning and our British late evening. 
Inner Circle Seminar No. 269
Sunday 13 June 2021
10 a.m. to 1 p.m.    2 p.m. to 5 p.m.    London time
Professor Jerome (Yehuda) Gellman is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Philosophy of Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. He has published many papers and books on religion, Jewish mysticism, Kabbalah, and Hasidism, including The Fear, the Trembling, and the Fire, Experience of God and the Rationality of Religious Belief, Mystical Experience of God: A Philosophical Inquiry, Abraham! Abraham! Kierkegaard and the Hasidim on the Binding of Isaac, This was from God: A Contemporary Theology of Torah and History, Perfect Goodness and the God of the Jews: A Contemporary Jewish TheologyThe History of Evil from the Mid-Twentieth Century to Today. Today, in the fourth seminar on the context of Fear and Trembling, he will explore the interpretations of the Akedah by Kierkegaard and the Hasidic masters, as well as the tradition of Hasidic therapy.  
Inner Circle Seminar No. 273
Sundays 24 and 31 October 2021
2 p.m. to 5 p.m. London time
Professor Mariam al-Attar teaches Arab heritage, introduction to philosophy, and Islamic philosophy at the American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. She has taught at the University of Jordan and at King's Academy in Jordan. Her research interests include ethics in medieval Arabo-Islamic thought, modern and contemporary Arab moral thought, and women and gender in the Islamic tradition. She is also a qualified physicist and has worked as a clinical scientist in Jordanian hospitals and in the United Kingdom. Her papers include ‘Divine command ethics in the Islamic legal tradition’ and ‘Meta-ethics: A Quest for Epistemological Basis of Morality in Classical Islamic Thought’. Today, in the fifth seminar on the context of Fear and Trembling, she will cite evidence from her book Islamic Ethics: Divine Command Theory in Arabo-Islamic Thought that, although many Islamic thinkers have endorsed ‘divine command theory’, Islamic tradition in general contradicts this.
This exceptional constellation of speakers and seminars on the foundational existential thinker Kierkegaard will perhaps help existential therapists to reach a deeper understanding of him.
Evaluations differ wildly.
For example, 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’. But Ernesto Spinelli, an existential therapist, has recently denounced Kierkegaard’s ‘dangerous folly’ in allegedly admiring Abraham’s ‘self-evident lunacy’. This is in line with a long history of clinical-psychiatric thinking: for example, Dr Abraham Myerson 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’.
Are these demystifying insights? Or is the existential tradition here degenerating into abject uncomprehending psychiatric reductionism?
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, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Martin Heidegger, Dietrich von Hildebrand, Emil Brunner, Edith Stein, Mikhail Bakhtin, Jorge Luis Borges, Jean-Paul Sartre, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Hannah ArendtEmmanuel LevinasAbraham Joshua Heschel, W. H. Auden, Maurice Blanchot, Simone de Beauvoir, Rollo May, R. S. Thomas, Albert Camus, Iris Murdoch, Thomas Szasz, Alice von Hildebrand, Aaron Esterson, Paul Feyerabend, R. D. Laing, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jacques DerridaDavid CooperJohn 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 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 and the other-as-‘neighbour, 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.
Above all, perhaps, as Professor John Lippitt, who has been guiding our reading of Fear of Trembling, has pointed out in his book Humour and Irony in Kierkegaard’s Thought and elsewhereSøren 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 humorist is the closest approximation to one who is religious ...
It is hoped that these seminars, on the text and context of Fear and Trembling, will enable existential therapists, Daseinsanalysts and others, to reflect more deeply on the foundations of their discipline. All of the invited speakers hope to attend, or at least study reports of, some of their colleagues seminars, in addition to those they are themselves conducting. As one of them commented: ‘This looks like a real intellectual feast.’ Our dialogical tradition will surely be much enhanced.  

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 £132, others £165
Six Kierkegaard seminars 14 February 2021 to 1 August 2021: psychotherapy trainees £588 (= £98 per seminar), others £738 (= £123 per seminar) - a reduction of about 25% - payment may be spread over six months
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.

Heidegger’s ‘Worlds’. Inner Circle Seminar 272 (3 October 2021)

Early Freiburg Lectures (1919-25)
The self-world and other worlds
Why did Heidegger propose and then give up his three-worlds theory?
A revaluation 100 years on

Anthony Stadlen
Inner Circle Seminar No. 272
Sunday 3 October 2021
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Martin Heidegger

Martin Heidegger at home in Freiburg

In the 1940s, the psychiatrist Ludwig Binswanger described many idiosyncratic ‘worlds’ of his patients, such as Ellen West’s swamp world’, tomb world and aetherial world’; these undoubtedly were phenomenological descriptions of her actual experiences. He also, though only for a short time, tentatively proposed a relatively constant triad of ‘worlds’ supposedly of more general application, though explicitly not meant to be exhaustive: Umwelt’ (‘around-world’), Mitwelt’ (‘with-world’), Eigenwelt’ (‘own world’).
Half a century on, the existential therapist Emmy van Deurzen added a fourth: the ‘Überwelt’ (‘over-world’). These four ‘worlds’, or dimensions’, have been taught in training institutes and regarded as an important part of existential therapy, at least in London, for more than thirty years. They may indeed sometimes be helpful as an aide-mémoire for trainees, but they may also distract from a clients own quest and way of articulating it. Do they really make sense as a fundamental way of understanding our being-in-the-world-with-others? How is it that, for example, personal relationships are assigned in one book to the Eigenwelt’ and in another book by the same author to the Mitwelt’? How could such relationships be restricted to one or other such partial world’ or dimensionrather than by their very nature implicitly or explicitly embodying a shared search for wholeness that always already precedes and transcends such fragmentation into worlds?
As it happens, unmentioned by Binswanger and van Deurzen, presumably because the relevant lectures had not yet been published, Martin Heidegger had already, in his lectures a hundred years ago, proposed a triad like Binswanger’s, though with ‘Selbstwelt’ (‘self-world’) rather than ‘Eigenwelt’  only to denounce it a few years later, even before he published Being and Time (1927), as misconceived. Today we shall explore Heidegger’s reasons for this early turn in his thinking. An ‘Überwelt’ would, undoubtedly, have been even more alien to him, implying a quasi-schizoid split-off world of ‘meaning’ and spirituality’, rather than meaning and spirit illuminating the one world in which we all live, move and have our being. In any case, we may ask, if there were to be an Überwelt, why not also an Unterwelt’ (underworld), as so powerfully documented throughout the millennia from ancient mythology to Freud and Jung? Of course, Heidegger, like Freud, acknowledged and alluded to such ordinary and familiar worlds as the work-world, the world of mathematics, the ‘classical world’, the dream-world’, the wish-world; but by 1927 he had firmly dismissed his own earlier schematic threefold of worlds’; and he wrote in Being and Time: ‘The world of Dasein is Mitwelt.’
That is to say, our Mit-sein, our being-in-the-world-with-others, is not one ‘world’ or ‘dimension’, among others, of being human. Rather, being-in-the-world-with-others is what being human is.
Heideggers later vision of the Geviert’ (Fourfold’) of earth, sky, mortals and gods, itself questionable, is hardly the same as the proposed resuscitation of his long-abandoned three-world scheme and its augmentation with an Überwelt’. 
It is hoped that todays seminar will involve creative dialogue between those who have found it helpful and constructive to conceive experience in terms of a three- or four-‘world’ or -‘dimension’ scheme and those who have found this an artificial and misleading conceptualisation.

This will be an online seminar, using Zoom.

Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £132, others £165, 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.

The Myth of ‘Mental Health’ in Daseinsanalysis. The Dialectic Heidegger/Szasz. 2. Anthony Stadlen conducts Inner Circle Seminar 271 (19 September 2021)


The Myth of ‘Mental Health’ in Daseinsanalysis 

The Dialectic Heidegger/Szasz. 2 

Anthony Stadlen
Inner Circle Seminar No. 271
Sunday 19 September 2021
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This is the second in a subseries of Inner Circle seminars.

This will be an online seminar, using Zoom.

Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £132, others £165, some bursaries; payable in advance by bank transfer or PayPal; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra AvenueLondon 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.

Mindfulness East and West. Jyoti Nanda and Anthony Stadlen conduct Inner Circle Seminar 270 (15 and 22 August 2021)

Mindfulness East and West

Jyoti Nanda and Anthony Stadlen
Inner Circle Seminar No. 270
Sundays 15 and 22 August 2021
10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Sri Aurobindo Ghose
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

Sri Ramana Maharshi
Martin Heidegger
Medard Boss

Erna Hoch                        Gobind Kaul

The existential psychotherapist Jyoti Nanda recently published a deeply moving account, ‘My Ramakrishna’ (Hermeneutic Circular, April 2021: 27-31), of her lifelong love of the Bengal sage Ramakrishna and his influence on and inspiration for her practice of mindfulness therapy. She will explain and exemplify this today. 
She and Anthony Stadlen will also discuss some of the leading Eastern and Western thinkers of ‘mindfulness’, and what they meant by it. We shall explore the links between them. In some cases, we shall make these links—tentatively, theoretically; but in others, we shall show that the thinkers themselves made great efforts to get to know and to understand one another, even if at a great physical distance.
For example, the sage Sri Aurobindo Ghose studied at St Paul’s School in London and at Cambridge University before engaging in the Indian independence struggle, going to prison, and becoming a spiritual teacher and founder of an Ashram of great renown. He compared Eastern and Western thinking—Vedanta and the Presocratic philosophers—in his book Heraclitus (1917). And in September 1955 the Sri Aurobindo Ashram of Pondicherry was represented—along with the Sorbonne, Göttingen, and Princeton—at an international colloquium on contemporary British linguistic philosophy in Oxford.  
The philosopher Martin Heidegger in 1938 wrote one of his most difficult and important books, Besinnung, only published posthumously in German in 1997, and in English translation not until 2016, with the title Mindfulness. He had long been influenced by personal contact with Japanese thinkers and by Martin Buber’s translation of the ancient Chinese writings of Chuang Tse. In 1946-7 he worked in his mountain hut at Todtnauberg with a Chinese colleague Paul Shih-yi Hsiao on a translation of the Tao Te Ching (unfortunately never completed). His friend and colleague, the Swiss psychoanalyst and founder of psychotherapeutic Daseinsanalysis, Medard Boss (in whose home Heidegger conducted the Zollikon seminars from 1959 to 1969), visited India in 1956 as described in his book A Psychiatrist Visits India, and studied with a number of sages and gurus, including the Kashmiri guru Gobind Kaul, whose disciple he became, and with whom he claimed to remain in telepathic contact on returning to Switzerland.
The psychiatrist Erna Hoch, herself a disciple of Gobind Kaul, worked for years in India and Kashmir and was able to correct (in conversation with Anthony Stadlen) some of Boss’s wilder claims about his relation with Kaul. She also functioned as, in her own words, a ‘messenger between East and West’, comparing, and contrasting with Indian sages and with Heidegger and Boss nuances and implications of the respective philosophical terms they employed. Remarkable correspondences emerged.
We shall discuss the following mindful thinkers of East and West, and the links between them:
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (18 February 1836 – 16 August 1886)
Sri Aurobindo Ghose (15 August 1872 – 5 December 1950)
Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi (30 December 1879 – 14 April 1950)
Martin Heidegger (26 September 1889  26 May 1976)
Gobind Kaul [birth and death dates sought from Kashmir]
Medard Boss (4 October 1903   21 December 1990)
Erna Hoch (18 March 1919   29 August 2003)
The seminar will be divided, as usual, into four parts, of 1 hour 20 minutes each. But, in this case, they will be spread over two Sunday mornings.
Each part will take as starting focus one of the four Eastern sages listed above.
On Sunday 15 August, Jyoti Nanda will introduce Ramakrishna, and Anthony Stadlen will introduce Aurobindo.
On Sunday 22 August, Jyoti Nanda will introduce Ramana, and Anthony Stadlen will introduce Kaul.
We shall also discuss Heidegger, Boss, and Hoch. Your contribution will be warmly welcomed.

Jyoti Nanda is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist and Existential Psychotherapist. She has taught on the Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology Programme at Regent’s University, School of Psychotherapy and Counselling Psychology.
She has received education in India and the UK and she brings a wide cross-cultural perspective and openness of world-view to her work. She has trained at Master’s level in Counselling Psychology and in Child Development and Family Relationships, and at the Advanced level in Existential Counselling Psychology, and Existential Psychotherapy. She has also trained at the Advanced level in teaching Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the Center for Mindfulness, UMASS Medical School, Worcester, USA.
She is a long term practitioner of meditation in more than one tradition. Her research interests have centred on The Effect of Meditation on Existential Therapeutic Practice. Her love for spiritual practice and the company of sages draws much from the influence of her family lineage.
Her wide clinical experience includes working with out-patients in an NHS hospital and with clients in Private Practice. She has offered Mindfulness workshops and courses with the aim of exploring the ‘Domain of Being’ and its implications for therapeutic practice.  

This will be an online seminar, over two mornings, using Zoom.

Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £132, others £165, some bursaries; payable in advance by bank transfer or PayPal; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra AvenueLondon 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.