Saturday, 1 January 2022

Thinking 1923. Buber: 'I and Thou' - Freud: 'The Ego and the Id' - Groddeck: 'The Book of the Id' - 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 Id (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 1923, two books were published; both were immediately, and repeatedly over the following hundred years, invoked and quoted, without any sign of this interest diminishing: Das Ich and das Es (translated as The Ego and the Id) by Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) and Ich und Du (translated as I and Thou) by Martin Buber (1878-1965).
Freuds book, published in the third week of April 1923, became celebrated as a canonical statement of his later, structural, psychoanalytic theory. Bubers book, published the same year, became acknowledged as a masterpiece and paradigm of his dialogical existential thinking.
Both titles contain the word Ich’ (I), and both are also concerned with Es’ (it). But apart from this, the books, and even the titles, are strikingly different.
Buber speaks straightforwardly of Ich(I’) and Du (‘You’). He contrasts Ich-Du with Ich-Es (I-it). Ronald Gregor Smith (1937) translated Du’ as Thou’ but Walter Kaufmann argued cogently in his profound introduction to his own (1970) translation that it should be (‘You’)though he retained Thou’ in the title to avoid confusion. We shall explore Kaufmanns complex criticism of what he saw as Bubers over-simplification.  
Freud reifies ich’ and es’ by referring to das Ich’ (the Iand das Es’) (the It), turning I’ as well as ‘it’ into objectified entities. There is phenomenological validity in referring to 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). But there is no such entity as das Ich’ or das Es’ (the I or the It’) which did the dreaming.
Georg Groddeck (1866-1934), from whom Freud took the idea, coined the term das Es’ (the It), and wrote Das Buch vom Es (The Book of the It), also published in 1923. But Groddeck was clearer than Freud that Es’ was not an entity. A psychoanalytic committee in England supervised the translation of Freuds works to ensure that they appeared sufficiently scientific’. TFreuds dismay, but in line with the ideology of the committee, his translator Joan Riviere (1927) translated das Ich’ and das Es’ into Latin: the Ego and the Id’. This reification was retained in James Stracheys (1961) Standard Edition revision of the translation.
Ontologie: Hermeneutik der Faktizität was a course of lectures by Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) at Freiburg University in the summer of the same year, 1923, that  Freud, Groddeck, and Buber published their books. It was published in book form in 1988, and in translation as Ontology: Hermeneutics of Facticity by John von Buren (2008). The genitive of’ in hermeneutics of facticity as Heidegger understands it is subjective as well as objective, or perhaps a genitive that transcends both subjective and objective. Hermeneutics and facticity are inseparable. This lecture course is remarkable for its original hermeneutic-phenomenological description and interpretation of ‘tarrying for a while’ at the table in Heideggers house which has been the scene of many activities of himself, his wife, his young sons, and their guests. One might think that hermeneutics would entail an interplay of interpretations that would be dialectical, but these lectures include one of Heideggermost impassioned denunciations of dialectic (at least of a certain kind) as an approach to truth, a theme to which he returns often elsewhere; here he denounces it as ‘double-sidedly unradical’, a ‘madame for the public whoring of the spirit’. We shall explore what he meant. Does this mean he opposed Bubers dialogical thinking? Clearly not; he did say the Ich-Du relationship would be more accurately called a Du-Du relationship, and he did not think Buber a philosopher (a highly ambivalent term for Heidegger at any time); but he had great respect for Buber, and indeed 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, we shall try to bring the 1923 thinking of this extraordinary quadrumvirate into some kind of at least imagined dialogue. Your contribution 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.

No comments: