Sunday 1 January 2023

Circling Round Reality. Raymond Tallis conducts Inner Circle Seminar 288 (10 December 2023)


Circling Round Reality

Raymond Tallis

conducts by Zoom
his tenth Inner Circle Seminar: No. 288
introduced by Anthony Stadlen
Sunday 10 December 2023
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Raymond Tallis

Raymond Tallis is one of our best-loved invited speakers. Today he conducts his tenth Inner Circle Seminar, eleven years after his first on 2 December 2012.
Professor Tallis has shown in nine profound Inner Circle Seminars that he is one of the world’s leading demystifiers of what he calls the ‘neuroscience delusion’ (‘neuromania’) and the ‘intellectual plague of biologism’ (‘animalism’). His ruthless, good-humoured exposure of reductive natural-scientism continues the tradition of Heidegger and Szasz, for example, but is utterly his own.  The heart of the thinking, which has informed all his more than thirty books and all the seminars he has conducted for us, is in harmony with the underlying philosophy and raison d'être of the Inner Circle Seminars as a whole. Psychotherapists are free to choose to go on pretending to be ‘validated’ by ‘neuroscience’; but their work, such as it is, sometimes radically transforming and helpful, sometimes best passed over in silence, speaks for, or against, itself, as the case may be; and no pseudo-scientific ‘validation’, or ‘invalidation’, can disguise this.
Raymond Tallis is one of the select few who affirms and advocates human language to depict and describe the human world and human relationships.
In his book Logos Professor Tallis exposes the absurdity of the argument that evolutionary biology or neuroscience show that our thinking is merely a function of our bodies-as-objects-for-science and therefore can have no truth-value of its own unless it is in some way itself derived from evolutionary biology or neuroscience, which are taken to be ‘objectively true. But those sciences are themselves human creations, and therefore, by this argument, not ‘objectively true. Professor Tallis remarks that those who use this argument are worthy successors of the Cretan of old who said all Cretans were liars.

Raymond Tallis introduces his seminar today as follows:
Circling Round Reality

In this seminar, Raymond Tallis will examine the idea of reality as it has been explored by philosophers. He will begin by discussing the reasons why philosophers have traditionally believed that reality is hidden from us and that the main sources of knowledge of what there is – our sense experiences – only weave a ‘veil of appearance’ concealing what is there.  He will then critically examine the claim that objective, quantitative, physical science will strip off the veil of appearance. Finally, he will challenge the idea that reality is hidden from us – by mobilising linguistic and existential arguments.

The heart of these seminars is dialogue, and it will of course be possible to argue in depth with Professor Tallis if you disagree with any of his points or positions.  

Raymond Tallis is a philosopher, poet, novelist and cultural critic, and a retired physician and clinical neuroscientist. He ran a large clinical service in Hope Hospital Salford and an academic department in the University of Manchester. His research focussed on epilepsy, stroke, and neurological rehabilitation.
He trained in medicine at Oxford University and at St Thomas’s Hospital in London before going on to become Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Manchester and a consultant physician. He was an editor and major contributor to two key textbooks in the field, The Clinical Neurology of Old Age and Textbook of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, and author of over 200 original scientific articles, mainly in clinical neuroscience, including papers in Nature MedicineBrain, Lancet. In 2000, he was elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in recognition of his contribution to medical research. Among many prizes, he was awarded the Lord Cohen Gold Medal for Research into Ageing. He played a key part in developing guidelines for the care of stroke patients in the UK. From 2011-14 he was Chair, Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying (HPAD). He was a member of the Council of Royal College of Physicians between 2016 and 2019. He is a member of the criteria-setting group for the UK Research Excellence Framework 2021 in philosophy.
He has published fiction, poetry, and 30 books on the philosophy of mind, metaphysics, philosophical anthropology, and literary and cultural criticism. Aping Mankind (2010) was reissued in 2016 as a Routledge Classic. Of Time and Lamentation. Reflections on Transience (2017; 2019) a comprehensive inquiry into the nature of time was widely praised. NHS SOS (2012), co-edited with Jacky Davis, examined the destructive impact of Tory policies on the NHS. Logos. An Essay on the Mystery of the Sense-Making Animal was published in Spring 2018. His most recent volume of verse – Sunburst – was published in November 2019.
A series of eight seminars on Humanism given in the philosophy department of Charles University Prague, formed the basis of his book, published in 2020, Seeing Ourselves. Reclaiming Humanity from God and Science. A defence of free will – Freedom. An Impossible Reality – was published in May 2021 and an issue of the philosophy journal Human Affairs was devoted to it. Professor Tallis has based three Inner Circle Seminars on these books.
His current projects include Prague 22. A Book of Tenuous Connections – which is a collection of essays; and De Luce. Reflections on My Time in the Light – a philosophical autobiography.
In 2009, the Economist Intelligent Life Magazine described him as one of the world’s leading polymaths. The critic Stuart Kelly said of him in Scotland on Sunday in 2016 that he is one of the very few contemporary thinkers whom I would unequivocally call a genius. He has four honorary degrees: DLitt (Hull, 1997) and Litt.D. (Manchester, 2001) for contributions to the humanities; and DSc (St George’s Hospital Medical School, 2015; University of East Anglia, 2017) for contributions to research in medicine.

For an account of how Raymond Tallis writes his extraordinary books, see his article ‘My writing day: In my favourite pub, the staff turn down the speaker in my writing corner’, in The Guardian Review of 29 April 2017:
Nicholas Fearn wrote in The Independent:
When Kirsty Young was asked to name her favourite guest on Desert Island Discs, the rock star Paul Weller was beaten into second place, for her own luxury item would be the writer Raymond Tallis.
Raymond Tallis, whose tenth Inner Circle Seminar this will be, kindly confirms that our seminar structure, in which dialogue is of the essence, enables him to communicate and reflect on his ideas. He wrote, after his first Inner Circle Seminar, The Intellectual Plague of Biologism, on 2 December 2012:
The seminar was for me an incredible experience. I have never previously had the opportunity to discuss the topics we covered in such depth with a group of people who came at it from such different angles but in a way that I found illuminating. I learned a lot. It was a tremendous privilege.


This will be an online seminar, using Zoom.

Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £140, others £175reductions for combinations of seminars; some bursaries; 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.

‘May you live to 120!’ Medard Boss (4 October 1903 – 21 December 1990). Anthony Stadlen conducts Inner Circle Seminar 287 (15 October 2023)


‘May you live to 120!’

Medard Boss

(4 October 1903 – 21 December 1990)

Boss and beyond:

from Daseinsanalysis to Diahermeneutics

Anthony Stadlen    Aleš Wotruba

conduct by Zoom

Inner Circle Seminar No. 287

Sunday 15 October 2023

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Medard Boss

Alice Holzhey-Kunz
  Martti Siirala

Anthony Stadlen    Thomas Szasz

Aleš Wotruba

The fourth of October this year is the 120th anniversary of the birth of Medard Boss (4 October 1903 – 21 December 1990), a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded Daseinsanalysis as a form, roughly speaking, of existential psychoanalytic therapy grounded in the thinking of the philosopher Martin Heidegger, and worked out in collaboration with him; though all three words – existential, psychoanalytic, therapy – were rendered questionable by this thinking. (Ludwig Binswanger had already used the term Daseinsanalysis to name his own method of psychiatric research, also intended to be grounded in Heidegger’s philosophy; but Heidegger insisted that Binswanger had to a significant extent misunderstood him.)

We marked Bosss centenary year, 2003, with two Inner Circle Seminars; and his successor, Gion Condrau, was due to conduct a third seminar on 26 October 2003,  close to the actual centenary, but was unable to do so due to illness. 

Has thinking on Bosss work progressed in the last twenty years?

The first of the two 2003 seminars examined Bosstwo books on dreams. The second explored the relation between his thinking and that of Thomas Szasz. This is how the two seminars were announced:

Medard Boss, The Analysis of Dreams (1953), 50 Years On

Inner Circle Seminar No. 66, Sunday 16 March 2003

Medard Boss was born a hundred years ago this October. Fifty years ago, he published The Analysis of Dreams, perhaps the most important twentieth-century book on dreams after Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams. Written in collaboration with Heidegger, it asks the simple, profound question: ‘What if there are no dream symbols at all?’


Boss and Szasz on ‘Illness’
Inner Circle Seminar No. 68, Sunday 22 June 2003 
In the second of this year’s centenary seminars devoted to the work of Medard Boss, we explore the relation between his thinking and that of Thomas Szasz. For both, the concept of freedom is crucial. But they appear to have radically different concepts of ‘illness’. In Existential Foundations of Medicine and Psychology (1971), written in collaboration with Heidegger, Boss defines ‘illness’ as a restriction of Da-sein’s free possibilities. For him, ‘schizophrenia’, for example, while existing only in relation to a given social situation, is an ‘illness’ of Da-sein.

For Szasz, this invalidates the ‘ill’ person as not responsible for his or her actions, and is a pretext for imprisoning the innocent and excusing the criminal. In his view, ‘illness’ can predicate only the body, not the ‘mind’, and is established by scientific medicine according to Virchow’s criteria. Are these positions in any way reconcilable? We examine key texts of both men, and seek an answer that will do justice to both.

For more than three decades Anthony Stadlen, himself a Daseinsanalyst, the Independent Effective Member for the UK of the International Federation of Daseinsanalysis, has written, lectured, and conducted seminars proposing a balanced, non-idealising perspective: that Bosss Daseinsanalysis is, on the one hand, in many respects refreshing and revolutionary, but, on the other hand, limited in two important ways, which we explored in the above two and many other seminars, particularly in the last few years.

First, we have examined what the Finnish existential therapist Martti Siirala called the violent’ and absolutist assumption that the Daseinsanalyst has direct, unmediated access to phenomena and has the task of teaching this to the incorrectly seeing analysand (see, e.g., Inner Circle Seminars Nos. 63 [24 November 2002], 159 [23 January 2011], 278 [22 January 2023]).

Second, we have exposed the fact, and the consequences of the fact, that both Boss and his teacher Martin Heidegger appear to have assumed without question that Daseinsanalysis should be, and is, a medical discipline, concerned with mental health and mental illness, despite Heideggers having in 1953 answered, with a decisive No’, his own question Is the madman mentally ill?, thus in some ways anticipating Thomas Szaszs paper The Myth of Mental Illness (1960) by seven years, as we shall discuss in Inner Circle Seminar No. 292, Is the madman mentally ill?  

Szasz himself asked just what Boss meant by his question, ‘What if there are no dream symbols at all?’ Szasz endorsed Stadlens critique of Heideggers and Bosss project of medical Daseinsanalysis; but, when Stadlen lamented that this project was an unnecessary and contingent flaw of Daseinsanalysis, Szasz retorted that it was necessary’, in the sense that it could not be so easily corrected, given Heideggers and Bosss commitment to this medical ideology.


Szasz also wrote that Bosss apparent assurance to his patient Dr Cobling’, recalled by her in a letter reproduced  in his book Psychoanalysis and Daseinsanalysis (1962), that he would be available 24 hours a day to come round to her home and feed her from a babys bottle, as he did on occasion, was a sham’. However, Stadlen’s research on the case did show that Dr Cobling’, who wrote her own account of her therapy with Boss, was deeply grateful for the radical transformation she said it enabled her to undergo, resulting in greatly enhanced autonomy and spiritual fulfilment. 

Bosss close colleague and successor Gion Condrau, as well as the highly original, independent, and level-headed Daseinsanalyst Erna Hoch, who had worked for many years as a psychiatrist in India, collaborated with Stadlen in revealing in Bosss writings contradictions and what might be euphemistically called, in the language of psychiatry, confabulations’ or, in the language of literature, poetic licence’. Everything suggests that these were deliberate distortions, intended to produce a desired impression, for instance about his time in psychoanalysis with Freud, and about his discipleship in Kashmir with his guru Gobind Kaul, who was also the guru of Hoch; as well as about the superiority of Daseinsanalysis to Freudian and Jungian analysis. Condrau bluntly called his senior colleague a fantasist. However, CondrauHoch, and Stadlen all acknowledged Bosss admirable qualities.   

These and other questions about Boss are still scarcely acknowledged by most Daseinsanalysts, although Alice Holzhey-Kunz, from early on dissatisfied with daseinsanalytic orthodoxy, started an independent school of Daseinsanalysis in Zurich, still a member of the International Federation of Daseinsanalysis (IFDA). 

These complexities should not obscure the fact that, as well as his now deceased paradigmatic patients Dr Cobling and Regula Zürcher (also researched by Stadlen), there are patients, supervisees, students, and colleagues of Bosss still alive today who also testify that they remain profoundly grateful to him, while being clear-sighted about his limitations.

One such important witness is Dr Aleš Wotruba of Prague, who attended some of the last Zollikon seminars conducted by Heidegger, and had a personal Daseinsanalysis and subsequent supervision with Boss. Today he will honour us with his memories and reflections on Boss and the questions we are raising.

Today we continue to value Boss for the authentic freshness of his innovations and for his stature as a therapist (in 1971 he won the Great Therapist Award of the American Psychological Association), while declining to engage in the widespread idealisation of him by Daseinsanalysts. We shall continue investigating the dialectic between the approaches of Boss and Heidegger and those of Holzhey-KunzSiirala, StadlenSzasz, WotrubaThis will mean extending our recent investigation of Heideggers decades-long suspicion of dialectic itself, and of how this appears to limit his and Bosss teaching in the Zollikon seminars and elsewhere. We repeat our suggestion made in recent seminars and conferences that these restrictions might be remedied by recalling Heideggers fleeting reference in 1919 to Diahermeneuticswhich he never pursued. We shall continue to ask whether, and how, Daseinsanalysis as conceived by Boss and Condrau might be welcomed and affirmed but also developed and transcended as Diahermeneutics.  

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.

1920s-born existential therapists. 3. Aaron Esterson. The Dialectics of Madness. Anthony Stadlen conducts Inner Circle Seminar 286 with William Hopkins (1 October 2023)


Existential therapists born in the 1920s

Centenary seminars

3. Aaron Esterson

25 September 1923 – 15 April 1999

The Dialectics of Madness

Anthony Stadlen

conducts by Zoom

Inner Circle Seminar No. 286

with the help of William Hopkins

Sunday 1 October 2023

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Aaron Esterson
Aaron Esterson

Aaron Esterson (25 September 1923 – 15 April 1999) was one of the world’s greatest existential analysts. See obituaries by Anthony Stadlen in The Daily Telegraph and Existential Analysis:
  • Aaron Esterson. Obituary. Existential Analysis (January 2000)
  • Esterson’s father Julius emigrated in 1916 to Glasgow from the Jewish community of Horodyshche, in the Cerkassy region of Ukraine. At that time there were about 3500 Jews in Horodyshche. A hundred years later, in 2016, there were 10. There had been horrific pogroms in 1919, 1920, and 1941, the former perpetrated by Ukrainians, the latter by Nazi occupiers and Ukrainian police in collaboration.
    Rogovoy, a member of the Boguslav self-defense unit, describes the pogrom in Horodyshche in September 1920 in terrible detail. It was organized by ataman Golyi. “As a result of bandits’ efforts, there are up to 500 killed, 250 wounded, and several women raped. The wild fury of the roaring crowd didn’t spare even babies. There are mutilated dead bodies in town because the victims were not shot but slaughtered with knives and cudgels. All local hospitals are filled with women raped, many of them fatally.
    [NB (13 November 2023). A remarkably similar pogrom, but on more than twice the scale, and with even greater ferocity and efficiency, was conducted by Hamas in Israel on 7 October 2023, six days after this seminar.]    
    Julius died when Aaron was fourteen months old. Aaron, as a child, experienced great poverty, sometimes warming himself from the air currents through gratings of shops.
    This family history undoubtedly sensitised Esterson from an early age to what human beings can do to other human beings.

Esterson reported his pioneering research interviews with families of ‘schizophrenic’ women in his books Sanity, Madness and the Family: Families of Schizophrenics (1964, with R. D. Laing) and The Leaves of Spring: A Study in the Dialectics of Madness (1970). He also developed a dialectical method of existential psychotherapy and family therapy.

Nearly all readers bring to these books unexamined scientistic, medicalistic, psychologistic presuppositions. Existentially, most readers, including ‘existential’ readers, are misreaders: in effect, non-readers. They assume that the books claim that family interactions contribute to the ‘aetiology’ of the supposed ‘illness’, ‘schizophrenia’. Laing and Esterson repeatedly explicitly insist that this is not what they are saying. They emphasise that they disbelieve in ‘schizophrenia’. But this is not noticed. Or, if it is, it is disbelieved. For how could Laing and Esterson mean something so mad?

In earlier cycles of Inner Circle Seminars devoted to the families in Sanity, Madness and the Family, as in our seminars on the work of Thomas Szasz, many participants attending for the first time have found it difficult to grasp the simple point that some people seriously disbelieve in ‘schizophrenia’. It serves as a ‘sacred symbol of psychiatry’, as Szasz pointed out in his book Schizophrenia: The Sacred Symbol of Psychiatry (1976): something in which, for example, that overwhelming majority of psychotherapists who regard themselves as ‘mental health professionals’ can hardly dare to disbelieve if they are to keep their identities and jobs.

Nobody seems to notice that the preface to the second edition of Sanity, Madness and the Family (1970) begins:
There have been many studies of mental illness and the family. This book is not of them, at least in our opinion. But it has been taken to be so by many people.
Nobody seems to notice that the first reference to another book in the first edition of the book (1964) is to Szasz’s The Myth of Mental Illness (1961), and to Szasz’s argument that a person should be presumed healthy unless proven sick, as in law they should be presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

Nobody seems to notice that, when Laing and Esterson write of social intelligibility, they are referring to the social intelligibility, not of the fact of illness, but of the presumption of illness.

That a person should be presumed healthy unless proven sick does not imply nobody is sick, any more than that a person should be presumed innocent unless proven guilty implies nobody is guilty.

Esterson wrote, at the conclusion of his case study of Rosie in his posthumously published paper, The Affirmation of Experience (2014):

What has happened, you might ask, to all those signs of madness, all those so-called clinical features of schizophrenia? In my view, Rosie was never mad. She was being driven frantic with despair. Psychiatry cannot discriminate between being mad and being frantic as if one is mad. I am not saying there is no such occurrence as madness. I am not claiming all behaviour deemed mad is a rational or socially intelligible response to how others are acting towards one. In my experience, some people are mad by any test I know. But, what has this to do with a disease of the mind, in the psychiatric sense, if there is no demonstrable, relevant tissue damage or dysfunction? In far more cases than is generally recognised, if these people are studied in their relevant, current social and interpersonal contexts by a phenomenologically appropriate method, it will be found that they are being invalidated and driven mad, albeit unwittingly, or driven frantic as if they are mad, by others including, I regret to say, psychiatrists themselves.

In my view, psychiatry as a branch of medicine is a snare and a delusion. I believe its methods, based on this delusion, are completely misconceived. In my opinion, we need to start afresh, and look again at the people who come within the purview of psychiatrists. We need a new science, a science of persons and social situations. And we need a new profession of existential analysts, counsellors and guides that subsumes and depasses psychiatry. This profession should systematically study and seek to understand the structure of human experience, the nature of misexperience and the intricacies of human relationships. And it should espouse appropriate principles and develop appropriate methods.

See The Affirmation of Experience. By Aaron Esterson (January 2014)

This makes clear that, also, a person should be presumed sane unless proven mad. And a person who is mad should not be presumed to be ill. The philosopher Martin Heidegger emphasised this when, in 1953, he asked Is the madman mentally ill?’ and answered with a decisive No’. This was seven years before Szasz’s paper The Myth of Mental Illness (1960) and eleven years before Laing and Esterson’s book Sanity, Madness and the Family (1964). We shall discuss this in Inner Circle Seminar No. 293 on 14 July.

Mental illness, as Szasz demonstrates, is a myth, a metaphor, a mistake. And if some schizophrenics’ should turn out to have an actual illness, a brain disease, then that – not a ‘mental illness – is what they would have: the province of neurologists, not psychiatrists.   

Today, as always, we shall read Estersons writings from this perspective. We shall also watch the 1972 BBC television film The Space Between Words: Family, directed by Roger Graef. It reveals how Esterson’s work with the different subsets of the family of a young teenage boy elicits and makes sense of the history of family interactions that has led to his despairing petty stealing which risks his being formally diagnosed as a ‘juvenile delinquent’.


The writings and the film give some idea of Estersonhighly original practice and thinking, which exemplify and embody what, as in the passage quoted above, he called a new profession, radically different from clinical, coercive psychiatry and the confused psychotherapy that is its handmaiden.

Esterson regarded his work as complementary to that of Szasz, who was his friend and colleague. But he thought his erstwhile colleagues R. D. Laing and David Cooper had frivolously betrayed and romanticised the serious work that needed to be done.

Esterson also inspired, discussed in depth, and supervised the early stages of Anthony Stadlen’s historical research on the paradigm case studies of FreudBoss, and other psychoanalysts and psychotherapists; and, with Mini Gelbard (now Kopilov), on the psychological techniques by which the Nazis mystified their victims in the Holocaust.

Todays seminar will also serve as an introduction to our third subseries, starting in April, of twelve Inner Circle Seminars over a few years devoted to a systematic investigation of each in turn of the eleven families in Sanity, Madness and the Family and to Stadlens twenty-first-century historical follow-up research on the supposedly ‘schizophrenic women and their families.

This time, the novelist Dame Hilary Mantel, who died last year, will no longer be able (as in our second subseries a decade ago) to introduce each family in her inimitable way. But the New York film director Yaara Sumeruk, who will participate today, is directing in consultation with Stadlen an extraordinary film-in-progress based closely on the eleven families, will be making her own unique contribution to our new subseries. (All identifying features of families have, of course, been removed.)

Dr William Hopkins, a consultant psychiatrist and existential psychotherapist who was trained by and worked with Esterson, will also discuss Estersons contribution in depth in todays seminar.

In the Inner Circle Seminars we have repeatedly explored how to integrate Estersonwork with the best of Daseinsanalysis. Daseinsanalysis, psychotherapy, and the dialectics of sanity and madness might thereby become diahermeneutics (an early, but abandoned, term of Martin Heideggers)We shall continue to develop this idea today and in the coming seminars. Your contribution will be warmly welcomed.

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.

Heidegger’s Last Seminar (6-8 September 1973). A 50th-anniversary exploration. Inner Circle Seminar 285 (10 September 2023)

Heideggers Last Seminar

in his home in Zähringen, Freiburg

6-8 September 1973

A 50th-anniversary exploration

Anthony Stadlen

conducts by Zoom

Inner Circle Seminar No. 285

Sunday 10 September 2023

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Saint Nepomuk, Zähringen, June 2019
The bridge saint Heidegger mentions in his 1950 lecture
Bauen Wohnen Denken (Building Dwelling Thinking)
Photograph copyright Anthony Stadlen

Martin Heidegger
Le Thor, 1966
Photograph copyright estate of François Fédier

Barbara Cassin and Martin Heidegger
Le Thor, September 1969
Photograph copyright estate of François Fédier

Henri-Xavier Mongis and Martin Heidegger
Zähringen, 1972
Photograph copyright Henri-Xavier Mongis

Professor Dr. Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann
in the porch of Heideggers home in Zähringen
Sunday 30 June 2019
Photograph copyright Anthony Stadlen

Inside Heideggers home in Zähringen
with glimpse of the old-age cottage in the garden
Sunday 30 June 2019
Photograph copyright Anthony Stadlen

Heideggers old-age cottage
(in the garden of his home in Zähringen)
where his last seminar took place 6-8 September 1973
Sunday 30 June 2019

Photograph copyright Anthony Stadlen

Martin Heidegger held his last seminar on Thursday 6, Friday 7, and Saturday 8 September 1973, from 3.30 p.m. to 6 p.m.each day, in the cottage he and his wife Elfride built for their old age in the garden of their house in Zähringen, Freiburg, with money raised by selling the manuscript of Being and Time. House and cottage, as well as Heideggers famous mountain hut, were all designed by Elfride, who advised the architect. Heidegger was nearly 84. He died in May 1976, aged 86. Elfride died in 1992, aged 99.
The other five participants were French philosophers or philosophy students: Jean Beaufret, François Fédier, Henri-Xavier Mongis, Jacques Taminiaux, and François Vezin.
Only one of the five, the youngest, is still alive: Professor Henri-Xavier Mongis, who was a 23-year-old philosophy student at the time. He cannot participate in todays seminar but has kindly provided much information for it.
Professor Barbara Cassin, present as a philosophy student of 22 at Heideggers previous seminar for his French colleagues in 1969 in Le Thor on the banks of the Sorgue in Provence, is now herself a world-famous philosopher and philologist. She also can not participate today, but sends her best wishes.   
This last seminar of Heidegger’s recapitulates, refines, and renews themes which he had explored from the time of his earliest lectures more than fifty years earlier. A number of these themes are relevant to the practice of psychotherapy.
For example, in many of his lectures over the decades, as well as in the Zollikon seminars, Heidegger had asked his listeners to make-present a familiar place, such as the Freiburg Cathedral or the Zürich main railway station, and then tried to draw from them an admission that what they made-present was not an image, not a representation, in their heads, but the place itself. (We have repeated this exercise in several Inner Circle Seminars.) On the second day of this last seminar Heidegger once again asks: 
When, in my memory, I think of [his friend, the poet] René Char at the Busclats [Char’s home in Provence, which Heidegger loved], who or what is thereby given to me? René Char himself! And not God knows what image through which I would be mediately related to him.
This is so simple, says Heidegger, that it is extremely difficult to explain philosophically.
Heidegger is here explaining, in response to a question from Beaufret, how his own thinking differs from Edmund Husserls. He points out that both started from the philosopher Franz Brentano, but from different books of his: Husserl from Psychology from the Empirical Standpoint and Heidegger from On the Manifold Meaning of Being in AristotleHeidegger’s single-minded quest, since being lent this book by a teacher when he was 18, had been to answer the question: What is the fundamental meaning of Being?
He does not discuss this question in the light of Ludwig Wittgensteins question at the start of Philosophical Investigationsis there, necessarily or contingently, a single essential meaning of, rather than family resemblances’ between, the manifold instances of, for example, the word game’? 
But in his previous seminar with his French colleagues, in le Thor, Provence, in 1969, he had cited (slightly misquoting, but essentially correctly) the first assertion of Wittgensteins TractatusThe world is all that is the case’, calling it ‘ein gespenstischer Satz (‘an eerie [or uncanny] sentence), presumably because it represents the world as a set of ‘atomic facts, each represented by an ‘atomic proposition. For Heidegger, this epitomised the radical falling-away of Western philosophy from the ancient pre-Socratic Greek experience: 
‘For the Greeks, things appear.
For Kant, things appear to me.
For Heidegger, the world was more a question of questioning than a proposing of propositions corresponding to facts. Truth was not the correspondence of proposition to fact, but what the Greeks called aletheia, unconcealedness. The seminar ends with Heidegger reading a text he has recently written on Parmenides. Again, he returns to a problem that has troubled and enthralled him for more than half a century: how to translate Parmenidess words on aletheia. He now tentatively suggests his latest, never final, effort:
the untrembling heart of well-circling unconcealedness’.
Heidegger alludes to what he now regards as a serious mistake in his lecture The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking, which was translated into French by Beaufret and Fédier and read by Beaufret at the UNESCO conference Kierkegaard Vivant in Paris in 1964. He had there asserted that Parmenides saw self-concealing, concealment, lethe, [...] as the heart of aletheia [unconcealment, truth]’; but now (a little over nine years later) Heidegger says: What is said here is not right. Parmenides says nothing of the sort.
Heidegger said he had also long been troubled that Parmenides’s words esti gar einai’ seemed to mean Being is’, which seemed nonsensical as only beings can be; but now he realised they meant Presence presences’, which was meaningful as fundamental tautological thinking.
Again, this means something fundamentally different from Wittgensteins definition of the entire logico-mathematical system of Alfred North Whitehead’s and Bertrand Russell’s Principia Mathematica as an exploration of tautology.
Heidegger also speaks in this seminar of a phenomenology of the inconspicuous or inapparent [unscheinbar]’, which he had previously mentioned in his 1942-3 lectures on Parmenides. We shall discuss what he may have meant by this. 
We have already discussed in recent Inner Circle Seminars (see e.g.
how, when Beaufret at the end of the seminar asks about the place of Heraclitus relative to Parmenides, Heidegger recalls having in Being and Time (1927) dismissed dialectic as a genuine philosophical embarrassment’, which would imply that Parmenides was ‘more profound and essential’ than Heraclitus. But now Heidegger suggests (the following is only an approximate translation): 
‘If one is able to read Heraclitus from out of the Parmenidean tautology, he himself then appears in closest proximity to the same tautology, he himself in the entrance to a single way which gives access to Being.
Does this grant not just to Heraclitus but also to dialectic a validity if ‘read’ in ‘proximity’ to Parmenides’s ‘tautological thinking’ and to the goddess Aletheia (truth, ‘unconcealedness’)? Is Heidegger at last, at the very end of his life-long quest, conceding that ‘dialectic’, if seen in the light of Aletheia, may not be such a total ‘embarrassment’ after all?
Are these considerations esoteric refinements, of no practical significance for Daseinsanalysts, let alone for psychotherapists of other schools? 
Or, as we have been asking in recent seminars, do these considerations not point to a possible quintessentially practical renewal of psychotherapy as Daseinsanalysis and of Daseinsanalysis itself as Diahermeneutics, the word that Heidegger had (according to the philosopher Oskar Becker’s transcription of an improvised unwritten addition to Heidegger’s lecture) coined in passing in 1919 more than half a century earlier at the start of his long journey but appears never to have mentioned again?
Specifically, this would mean being open to dialectic in three regions.
FirstDaseinsanalysis (or any other psychotherapy) would not be a procedure in which the analyst is presumed to have a ‘correct’ phenomenological or daseinsanalytic way of seeing or having access to the phenomena, and teaches the confused patient or client this ‘correct’ way. Rather, it would be a conjoint, shared endeavour, a dialogue or dialectic, in which both daseinsanalytic partners work together diahermeneutically to interpret, or make sense of, the phenomena.
Second: Dialectics and diahermeneutics do not only concern the relationship between the daseinsanalytic couple (therapist and client) but also the relationships, including family relationships and group relationships, in the client’s life, from early childhood to the most contemporary. It might be unrewarding to seek guidance from Heidegger on this. His preferred mode of approaching interpersonal problems in his own family seems to have been silence, as family members confirm. Daseinsanalysis here needs assistance from the Anglo-American tradition of investigation of research and therapy in families: the study of what people actually say to each other round the kitchen or dining table, that is the stuff of everyday life, but may in the less happy cses amount to something like a chronic, slow, existential poisoning. This was the field of study of Gregory Bateson, R. D. Laing, and Aaron Esterson, all of whom were Heidegger’s and his daseinsanalytic colleague Medard Boss’s contemporaries from the 1950s to the 1970s, including the time of Heidegger’s Zollikon seminars in Boss’s home. But these men and their work are conspicuously absent from daseinsanalytic writings except Anthony Stadlen’s. Yet it would have been very interesting to know Heidegger’s thinking on, for example, the double bind, defined by Bateson in his epoch-making paper written with Jay Haley, Don Jackson, and John Weakland, Toward a Theory of Schizophrenia (1956), in terms of Russell’s theory of logical types. Heidegger was mathematically quite sophisticated (sitting on committees discussing mathematics courses at Freiburg Uiniversity); he referred in his early writings to Russell’s The Principles of Mathematics and also to Principia Mathematica, which contains, in Chapter 2 of Volume 1, Russell’s account of his theory of logical types. Heidegger, however, as in his criticism of Wittgenstein, was clear that the world was not a collection of facts represented by propositions, ‘atomic’ or otherwise. He might have respected the philosopher J. L. Austin, the founder of speech-act theory, who pointed out that language entails not just propositions, but questions, injunctions, exclamations, promises, declarations of love, ...
Third: Diahermeneutic Daseinsanalysis would take account of the fundamental work of Thomas SzaszHeidegger’s and Boss’s other contemporary in the 1960s and 1970s. Szasz’s book The Myth of Mental Illness (1961) is a radical challenge to Boss’s bland presentation of Daseinsanalysis as a medical discipline and Heidegger’s collusion with this. It is surprising that Heidegger did not invoke the pre-Socratic thinker Democritus’s (ca. 420 BCE) clear distinction (in no way an early form of cartesian dualism’):
Medicine heals diseases of the body, wisdom frees the soul from passions.
Your presence, and comments, questions, or silence, will be warmly welcomed.
This will be an online seminar, using Zoom.

Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £140, others £175 (reductions for combinations of seminars); 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.