Life and Death in Freud and Heidegger (Contemporary Psychoanalytic Studies 6)

Life and Death in Freud and Heidegger (Contemporary Psychoanalytic Studies 6)

Language: English

Pages: 237

ISBN: 9042016590

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Life and Death in Freud and Heidegger argues that mortality is a fundamental structuring element in human life. The ordinary view of life and death regards them as dichotomous and separate. This book explains why this view is unsatisfactory and presents a new model of the relationship between life and death that sees them as interlinked. Using Heidegger's concept of being towards death and Freud's notion of the death drive, it demonstrates the extensive influence death has on everyday life and gives an account of its structural and existential significance. By bringing the two perspectives together, this book presents a reading of death that establishes its significance for life, creates a meeting point for philosophical and psychoanalytical perspectives, and examines the problems and strengths of each. It then puts forth a unified view, based on the strengths of each position and overcoming the problems of each. Finally, it works out the ethical consequences of this view. This volume is of interest for philosophers, mental health practitioners and those working in the field of death studies.

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but timelessness, then he lives eternally who lives in the present” (op.cit. §6.4311). 174 LIFE AND DEATH IN FREUD AND HEIDEGGER more modestly, wants us to learn to comply with the inevitable. We need to prepare for our own death by learning to accept it, by letting it be. But this cannot be done directly. It is through mourning that we can learn to separate ourselves from the fantasy of immortality, but only partially. But how can we learn mourning without letting this knowledge into the

drives. So although an aggression/sexuality dualism seems an attractive proposal, it is impossible to fit it into Freud’s drive theory and it also lacks coherence in several respects. Aggression does not lend itself to the concepts that make up the drive: especially somatic source and aim. It does not delineate a specific domain like sexuality does. It has no somatic source like sexuality does. And it does not provide a model that is generally applicable to all phases of development, like

many as the height of Freud’s pessimism, as an admission that we are born with an innate capacity for destruction. But, I argue, this is not the only ethical position that can be derived from the death drive hypothesis. There are other ways of viewing the problem of innate aggression which do not focus solely on the pessimistic conclusion attributed to Freud. In what follows I make two such suggestions. The Ethics of Death 127 First Solution: Neutralising the Death Drive The first solution

strengthening of the superego, resulting in an unhappy but tame social order (SE 22:212; FS 9:283). This trade-off is presented in Civilisation and its Discontents, in which Freud ties the dualistic model of life and death drives to the question of war and civilisation to explain civilisation as a process of sublimation and control over instinctual life. Civilisation is an evolutionary process that develops through the action of Eros, striving to unite people, families, and nations. Against this

will be explained in detail in what follows. The outcome will be a new interpretation of the death drive that salvages the notion from internal contradiction and allows us to retain the term, albeit in modified form. WHAT IS A DRIVE? Before we approach the death drive, we first need to look at Freud’s general drive theory and distinguish his drive concept from the seemingly-similar notion of instinct. In Three Essays on Sexuality Freud gives his first full definition of drive that takes it beyond

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