Psychoanalysis Is an Antiphilosophy

Psychoanalysis Is an Antiphilosophy

Psychoanalysis Is an Antiphilosophy

Psychoanalysis Is an Antiphilosophy


Love, hate, slavery, torture, addiction and death - as this book shows, only psychoanalysis can speak well of such matters. Psychoanalysis was the most important intellectual development of the 20th century, which left no practice from psychiatry to philosophy to politics untouched. Yet it was also in many ways an untouchable project, caught between science and poetry, medicine and hermeneutics. This unsettled, unsettling status has recently induced the philosopher Alain Badiou to characterise psychoanalysis as an 'antiphilosophy', that is, as a practice that issues the strongest possible challenges to thought. Justin Clemens takes up the challenge of this denomination here, by re-examining a series of crucial psychoanalytic themes: addiction, fanaticism, love, slavery and torture. Drawing from the work of Freud, Lacan, Badiou, Agamben and others, Psychoanalysis is an Antiphilosophy offers a radical reconstruction of the operations and import of key psychoanalytic concepts and a renewed sense of the indispensable powers of psychoanalysis for today.


without the pursuit of I worship you
which is a French boxer
maritime values as irregular as the depression of Dada in the blood
of a bicephalous animal

Tristan Tzara, ‘Manifesto of Monsieur AA the Antiphilosopher’


Psychoanalysis is an antiphilosophy. Despite the precision of this concept and this claim, their implications remain controversial. This book thus introduces the concept of antiphilosophy, speaks of its constitution and pertinence with respect to psychoanalysis, and examines the consequences of such a determination through a sequence of casestudies. Although the concept has some highly abstract aspects and a somewhat forbidding intellectual history, it is deployed here, first, as a kind of corrosive of received ideas, and, second, as an affirmative means of characterising psychoanalysis that captures something essential, if often elided, about the peculiar status of the practice.

‘Antiphilosophy’ is, as the most cursory research reveals, a word in common use. It is for the most part deployed to designate an intellectual hostility – that is, a hostility within thought itself – to ‘philosophy’ more or less broadly conceived. Hence one finds accounts of how this or that religious thinker or theologian, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Islamic or what have you, self-consciously arrays their thought against the propositions and methods of philosophy. According to this general, essentially religious acceptation, philosophy is constitutively incapable of thinking what is most crucial, above all, the revealed truths of this

T. Tzara, Seven Dada ManifestosandLampisteries, trans. B. Wright, illustrations F. Picabia (London: John Calder, n.d.), p. 19.

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