Life and Death in Freud and Heidegger

By Havi Carel | Go to book overview

Six

Death Structuring Existence

This part examines how Freud and Heidegger coincide and differ in their conceptualisation of death's presence in life and suggests points of contact through which a unified view may be constructed. The overall aim of this part is to synthesise the Freudian view of death with the Heideggerian one, in order to achieve two goals. The first is to create a picture of the relationship between life and death as linked. Through a series of five encounters, I show how this view overcomes the individual deficiencies of each thinker's position, using the strengths of each to augment the other's view.

The second aim is to create dialogue between philosophical and psychoanalytic concepts of death. This aim is worked out in detail in each encounter, where a comparative analysis of common terms, such as repetition and moods, demonstrates the differences and similarities, strengths and weaknesses of each discipline, thereby enacting this dialogue in a concrete way.

The first encounter illustrates the main claim of the book, that death is central to the understanding of existence. The second encounter explores the ethical implications ensuing from Heidegger and Freud's accounts of death. The third encounter continues the ethical focus, arguing that there can be an authentic relationship to the death of another. The fourth encounter uses the conclusion reached in the third to argue that if an authentic relationship to the death of another is possible, then the focus on anxiety is unjustified and other moods may also lead to authenticity. The fifth and final encounter examines the relationship between the unconscious and death, and explores the analogy between Freudian repression and Heideggerian covering up. Introducing an unconscious element into Dasein creates an affinity between it and the Freudian subject, which serves to further support the unified view.


DEATH IS CENTRAL TO UNDERSTANDING EXISTENCE

For both Heidegger and Freud death is a central concept actively shaping life processes. Both thinkers give death a central place in existence and emphasise its continuous relevance to life. Furthermore, both see death as a constitutive element of existence. Being-towards-death structures Dasein as temporally finite, and as such determines Dasein's understanding and action. In Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics Heidegger writes: “As a mode of Being, existence is in itself finitude […] More original than man is the finitude of Dasein in him' (1990, p.156; GA 3:228). Similarly, the death drive regulates psychic dynamics,

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Life and Death in Freud and Heidegger
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Contemporary Psychoanalytic Studies 6 ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Part I - The Metaphysics of the Death Drive 1
  • One - Freud's Drive Theory 3
  • Two - The Development of the Death Drive 13
  • Three - Collapse of the Dualistic View 31
  • Part II - Give to Each His Own Death 63
  • Four - Being Towards Death 65
  • Five - Towards a Relational Understanding of Mortality 93
  • Part III - Encounters Between Freud and Heidegger 113
  • Six - Death Structuring Existence 115
  • Seven - The Ethics of Death 125
  • Eight - Death of Another 147
  • Nine - Death and Moods 161
  • Ten - Death and the Unconscious 171
  • Conclusion 185
  • About the Author 191
  • Bibliography 193
  • Index 213
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