In his later teaching, the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan made several surprising theoretical manoeuvres, which are usually considered as him taking a distance from his own earlier structuralism as well as from the structuralist movement as a whole. The notion of semblance seems to engage in such a manoeuvre, as well as Lacan’s rather extravagant concept of lalangue. Both accentuate the relation between structure and instability, as well as the question of the ontological status of language (understood as an unstable and dynamic ‘accumulation of semblances’). But does this really constitute a break with structuralism or even its rejection? Or is it the concise formulation of its implicit materialist ontology?

Samo Tomšič holds a PhD in Philosophy and is currently a researcher at the Interdisciplinary Laboratory Image Knowledge Gestaltung at the Humboldt University Berlin. His research areas comprise contemporary European philosophy, structuralism and poststructuralism, psychoanalysis (Freud and Lacan), epistemology, and political philosophy. Recent publications include The Capitalist Unconscious (2015) and The Labour of Enjoyment (2018).

In English
Organized by

Wilhelm Brüggen (BIPP), Monika Englisch, and Andreas Gehrlach (HU Berlin); a cooperation of the BIPP, the Department of Cultural History and Theory of the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, and the ICI Berlin

Further details:

The lecture series Psychoanalytic and Cultural Theory devotes itself to the influence of psychoanalysis on cultural theories at large as well as to particularly poignant applications of psychoanalytical research to current cultural phenomena. The central psychoanalytic concepts of Freud and his successors are to be taken up in an open and non-partisan perspective fashion and applied to the cultural, political, and economic phenomena encountered today. Whereas early psychoanalysis dealt primarily with the family as it was shaped by bourgeois Victorian society, current research increasingly focuses on extreme kinds of individualization, social uncertainties and threats, as well as on new digital and technological cultural techniques. The series would like to develop, new, critical, and innovative readings of psychoanalytic theory and combine them with concepts and ideas from the humanities and from cultural critique.

Lecture Samo Tomšič

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