Life and Deaths of the Freudian Unconscious. Presentation of Dimitris Sdrolias at the 23d World Congress of Philosophy.

Birth and deaths of the Freudian unconscious:
Towards a new-born Cogito

Abstract: After initially attempting to establish a connection between philosophy’s main problematic and the psychoanalytic theorization of the unconscious, making a first step towards its view under the Heideggerian “Destruktion”, -the historical account of being in terms of its own epochs-, we attempt to show that although indeed the unconscious came to support initially the Kantian finite limit, giving a new-born background to new philosophical theories, enriching and expanding crucially what we consider knowledge, leading after all philosophy to face its ownmost challenge, as death’s most primordial study, embracing therefore substantially our human per se condition with new, unprecedented data, in terms of its finite mystery, it failed this goal fundamentally. Its ownmost way of dying, though, -positively or even negatively-, in the course of its brief history, highlighted wholly different paths that need to be now taken, untraced by psychoanalysis or even by philosophy, pushing us to an uncharted ground, which doesn’t give newborn contents –in this way of course negating it- to the notion per se of Limit. Because it is by now apparent, that this is our only hope out of our current no way out, that of the meta-modern paradigm, which led us to the big holocaust of an anarchic difference behind neo-capitalistic crises. But how is it really possible to think from our thought’s limit, defining anew the conscious? Because it is true indeed that someone or something thinks behind our almighty cogito, thinking there on a Hole. But what would this Hole now here signify? A “Vacuum” –to say the least- “cogitans”? Is it just only an “Other”? A quasi or pure Alterity? Unconscious or mere pre-conscious? How can our thought per se think through its own unthinkable? It may be that on the contrary to Hamlet’s most famous monologue, there after all exists an instrument for the unknown. A death’s so called intuition. Herein should now enter the era of our new philosophy. To a cogito per se of Death. To an “entropic” Conscious. On which Ego’s new experience, would this be eventually based?

Keywords: consciousness, unconscious, post-structuralism, meta-modernism, post-metamodern paradigm, difference, dream, limit, real, deconstruction, death intuition, cogito of death, wound, pain.

I would like now, that I’m still at the beginning of this article, before sliding into its peripheral tracks, to discern its general aim from afar, viewing it in its widest scope , against its broad horizon. This is the same horizon, on which the simplest, therefore the most complex of questions rise, whose red threads I wish to follow and which will traverse my text’s body like arteries.
I immediately dare therefore ask what could without doubt stand as the question of today’s philosophy: At which exact point of the philosophical venture did the psychoanalytic theorization become pertinent? Because it is surely true, that if we wish to reflect on our being’s current epoch , that is on its contemporary paradigm, beyond the former one, that of metamodernism , bringing in this way philosophy before its highest challenge, where it should respond at once, -against the pseudo-prophecies concerning its final death – we ought to account for this fatal, yet unexpectedly odd, encounter, between philosophy and psychoanalysis, which has not yet taken place, at least satisfactorily enough . And we say odd, because their first repulsion , -even the later one – is widely known to all. And we say fatal, because the extent, to which our thought and its conditions changed, even mutated -one might dare say-, due to their crossing , is also well known already. And yet in fact so intensely, that one could indeed support, that the philosopher ought to be a psychoanalyst, and the psychoanalyst a philosopher, given that this assemblage would indeed give now its owner -a hybrid still thrust with doubt-, a broader and more privileged view over the following Era. If we don’t simply grasp them, in their most complex structure, the terms of their mutual junction, we have no right to hope for an exit out of our current no way out, to which our Age pertains: Τhe holocaust of difference .
And when we speak of junction, we ought to note the following: Τhat this has taken place not on a point of fusion but on a point of scission, so that the common question: “How do philosophy and psychoanalysis in fact relate”, may thus be also interpreted, as if it really asked how indeed not at all. Because no intersection actually is free of some mutual blood: And as Laius the King himself, a dangerous alter ego in relation to his son Oedipus, -his double, most lethal shadow -, struggled with him to death in those ancient intersected streets , this is how philosophy and psychoanalysis first came to meet on cost of their intersection.
And of course it was surely death the Gift from the one to the other, that psychoanalysis gave philosophy, which the unconscious sent to the conscious. Death in the name of Limit. Psychoanalysis without doubt limited the omnipotence of philosophy. Leaving our holes exposed. It made our knowledge stumble, accounting for our transparent bodies. But now what kind of limit would this exactly be? Since it is surely true, philosophy, right from its rise and dawn, was known as death’s own study . But has it really studied death? Not even close till now. Because if one bears in mind how it managed to escape from it , even in the case of philosophers, who, ironically, were death’s main thinkers , one would expect the following to come out from this discussion: How through its subsequent deaths, the deaths of the unconscious, -which really did in fact initiate, and if not, surely invigorated- the finite’s newborn discourse, eventually, though, escaping it, we ought to give new meaning nowadays again to consciousness and its undiscovered registers.
But let us directly start right from the beginning: Τhe first one to raise a limit against the almighty conscious was Immanuel Kant himself . It was indeed first Kant, with his famous “Thing in itself” , who “ruined” our old philosophy , the philosophy of the non-finite, -of course still in such a way, as surely to quickly make up for it -, and it was with him that Heidegger wanted to mainly identify, -after his well known “Failure” – rather than Edmund Husserl . It is this Kantian hole per se, this Kantian hole in knowledge, which came to be the hidden base for Freud and his unconscious. Therein appears its birth. The unconscious first came to live on the edge of this sharpest limit. And although since then traditionally this limit was seen as “wall” , the Freudian unconscious saw it alternatively as a “boundary”, as far as it came to add its own and private ground beyond that Kantian limit, a ground now all made of dream. There where our knowledge stumbles, from now on starts our dream. The stardust of our dream’s memory inhabits now our unconscious, filling it through and through with what our knowledge banished. Parallel to Martin Heidegger’s new inner-worldly memory , expanded throughout the interplay of open sets, fields and networks , memory of our awake there Dasein, memory of the future , (a “dream world” of our awake per se, according to phenomenology, where entities become phenomena), lies another memory, the memory of our dream itself , memory of our past’s presence, -of our sleep while awake -, memory of our oblivion, as Nietzsche per se prepared it . In this sense we open gradually apart from the same to the other, which additionally came to enforce philosophy’s main concern . Philosophy’s key concern was always the quest for freedom: The finding of an equilibrium point, a point of ideal balance, so that the human entity can feel on the one hand one in the all, and one with the all on the other, so that it can belong, not having to belong at all, same with itself and other all at the same time. Philosophy’s main task, therefore, has consisted in inventing algorithms, perfecting dialectical syntheses as a therapy towards freedom. Alongside these struggles, though, it came to wholly sacrifice pieces that form the real, -larval entropic bodies of change and of becoming-, which since then were always pressing for immediate reintegration. And although via Soren Kierkegaard or via indeed Friedrich Nietzsche philosophy tried to offer us its ownmost keen solutions, proposing a will to power’ s eternal return in the infinite via indeed forgetting , or addressing this same will’s impetus alternatively to a wholly other, God’s here-and-now-moment , avoiding altogether the “Aufhebung” of Hegel’s doctrine, -but not avoiding infinity-, nevertheless psychoanalysis responded totally differently to this highly urgent problem, by turning our eyes on that field, which boiled with real’s crude entropy: Namely, on the field of dream, as was revealed anew by the discourse of the hysteric, and his/her discontinuous Body, the discourse of the “slave” per se , who was never till then considered as a candidate vital key holder of a sacrificed body of truth. In this sense now exactly, registered as a heroic quest for truth’s maltreated Body, psychoanalysis rewrites alternatively the connotation of the word «alethia» , subverting it from the return of memory, (mnemi), of what I must remember, to the return of my οblivion (lethi), of what I in fact forgot, having indeed repressed it, negated it, or foreclosed it .
A first step had thus been made. From now on our real of reals, was mediated by our dreamiest dreams. And if we indeed consider that up to that point the senses, in combination or against the mind, or the mind against the senses, were reality’s sole mediators, recorders, or even generators according to the view of philosophy, who else could this now be, according to the psychoanalytic view, but that strange, peculiar force, baptized by Freud as libido, a traction and repulsion-like energy, a union and separation impetus, traversing our body’s holes via its material fluxes, moving among their openings, defining them anew as limits? It seems as though here for once, a fluid or a leaking body, is featuring as an alternative recorder of our reality in place of our mind or senses. So as to freely say, that there where our knowledge ends, from now on starts our “Eros”. And there where till now we‘re limited by the “Thing in itself” per se, from now on we are only limited by the object of our Desire.
Therein, however, lay the unconscious’ first sudden death. We diagnose at least two ways in which it did go astray: 1) Due to the re-integration of the unconscious into the conscious, 2) due to the exactly opposite. In the first of the previous cases, we didn’t avoid enforcing our traditional Ego anew, this time enriched additionally with elements per se of dream. The Freudian declaration here, concerning his ideal goal, confirms this most absolutely: “There where the unconscious was, now should come the Ego (Wo Es war, soll Ich werden) ”. The Subject and Object here remain almost traditional, enriched through the integration of unconscious representations. So although the unconscious seemed to have its own body initially, the latter was a transitional, a temporary indeed body, destined to be encompassed in the body of our Ego’s Subject , featuring as the conscious. No wonder that Freudian theory, especially after Freud’s death, gave subsequent rise to the psychologies of the Ego . And even though Jacques Lacan tried to restore from scratch Freud’s lost pride and honour , one holds Freudian theory as culpable of such a progress. This is how in fact the unconscious died its initial, primary death. But as we already mentioned, the opposite took also place. The injection this time of consciousness into a deified unconscious, which led to the rise of surrealism. Surrealism needed the unconscious to found its new reality. The movement which so much glorified the
“perchance per se to dream” , which led to its vital automatisms abolishing the reign of reason, and which although it enriched undoubtedly our thought again from start, -and primarily of course our art-, it quickly fell in the traps of certain unavoidable stereotypes, leading to its “sclerosis”, showing a final no way out to this promising turn of the road . Would surrealism exist at all without per se the unconscious? Such was their close communion, that the surrealist “faux pas” per se was credited to Freud himself. Given this twist and turn, no wonder that Freud condemned it –and by it we mean the unconscious- finally with a limit, there where he introduced us to the “bedrock” of our castration , which once and for all restricted the omnipotence of its authority. No Ego could now surpass the finiteness of the sexes. But here his opus ends. Leaving us all in wοnder as to where it would lead. (There also lies our challenge: Τo take now things from that point, wherefrom they abruptly ended).
So we can ask the question: Could we adopt a thought that somehow would in fact preserve the properties of the Freudian field, (displacement, condensation) in their conceptualizations of entropic change and becoming, as recordings of the real per se with a minimum loss of data, signalling irreducibly traditional Reason’s Limit, avoiding the confinement, thus, anew within an Ego, preserving the contradiction, though, of the same seen as an other? Which revolutionary paradigm would take over such a task?
No other of course than structuralism. The theory of inter-connectionism among big and complex networks, (without, though, integrating them in “clearings” or “an Abyss”) assimilates the Hegelian negative’s ever- generating impetus, the Husserlian emancipation of parts against the whole, and the Heideggerian Differenz per se as key deviation forces, in order to preserve the dream’s condensing and displacing power, without however falling in the trap of (bio)subjectivism, -integrating, synthesizing, or last but not least reducing-, leading us to a new born field, as an ideal candidate for the production of a thought more faithful to our abused real: A thought based on the field of language. Language replaces dream as a reality closer to reality. (Isn’t that really after all the challenge in Lacan’s “return”? To prove that per se the unconscious is structured like a language , showing that the field of Freudian dream had exactly the same properties as the linguistic field of Saussure?). Albeit with one addendum: The unconscious should now be taken as a variation of per se the conscious , encompassing in its broader scope elements found in dream, a movement without doubt founded on the Saussurian act itself, enriched by the Freudian The interpretation per se of Dreams . Language was now thus viewed in its multilayer level, exploding from its inside into its endo-structures, which aren‘t from now on limited to our strict “what” of meaning, but are interspersed integrally throughout its “how’s” wild dance .
But now our unconscious’ death strikes here ex contrario. Via its inverse diffusion, -in comparison, that is to surrealism-, into a “surplus-realism”. There where the unconscious was only at a previous instant, now it’s already conscious, so as to melt subsequently into the first anew. As if it’s always blinking here , through sudden bolts of lightning. Its Freudian spatiotemporal localized articulation is now forever gone through its complete dispersing into the guts of language. Our language possesses now all the unconscious necessary for the latter to renounce its ownership over a restricted space, getting here social totally, exiting its private nutshell. But something gets lost again. Because the linguistic network at some time attains its closure. There, where a sentence ends. A paragraph, a text, a book. And away goes our most ardent hope of a thought based on our unconscious. Since it gets lost anew among an infinite finite , which cuts up and divides the unconscious in infinitely little pieces, depriving it from the quintessence of its most finite limit. There where the sentence ends, in favour of a certain meaning, the effect of the limit’s finiteness goes astray completely. The object, albeit in pieces, gets “synthesized” again. The subject’s here dead concurrently, but presences “après coup” , on the ashes of its finitely infinite irreducible mutilation. That’s how our poor unconscious dies its ex contrario death. Via its “structuralization”.
Here enter the post-structuralists in hope of a new solution. Playing with meaning’s boundaries in the new field of language. Trying to re-conceptualize the subject-object complex, defining anew its “Sym-ptom” , seeing it now as difference, -insoluble, not synthesizable- in all its iridescent meanings. Fighting to the end heroically with the thought of representation , or alternatively undermining it . Struggling to keep wide open our structural network’s circuit, not closed on its ownmost terms ironically by its very weapons. Let’s now see each one of them in their own special systems.
One of the ways to cure the closure of the linguistic network, would be the identification with that exact point within it, which causes it in the first place, while nevertheless remaining its innermost outside. This is the so called “extimate”, Lacan’s famous “object a” , a most irreducible difference between subject and object, the point of their “jouissance”, pleasure but also suffering, -since it on the one hand promises an access to a certain object, whereas on the other hand it bans it most absolutely-, compressing in it our truest lie, being there simultaneously a lack as our most basic truth, and also an archi-fraud in essence, an illusory archi-phantasm. It is in this way exactly that Jacques Lacan highlights it in his most renowned article, that on the “purloined letter” . And surely, in order to achieve that, the signifier is now separated completely from its own signified , entering without return into a signifier chain in language. But it fails to remain faithful to its primary mission, namely to expose completely our most finite limit. Because now here our ex-timate, -and that is our obj.a-, functions in fact as “masque” : Although it still reminds us, that it is only a lie, -putting this way a limit to our most true of truths-, it nevertheless “shows us something” being a signifier, resulting in a certain “Ding”, the jouissance of the letter’s “matter”, in that way completely faking its function as pure, sheer limit, since it recurs eternally as our eternal symptom, not to say our “sinthome” . Although in Jacques Lacan, that is, there is no truth as whole , the unconscious in Lacanian theory, in its Meurlopontian chiasm, as an invisible visible , as an impossible possible, is remaining so self-evident , shining in its transparency, that it totally ex contrario annihilates per se the unconscious. And in spite of the fact that this time the network remains open, (not closing there exactly where meaning has closed already), keeping alive the surprise of a most sudden limit, it nevertheless rises promises to help us locate a truth, going through psychoanalysis, identifying with the lack per se, – cause of desire of the other-, which still keeps the circuit running, escaping again from Death as our most finite limit. So, although he tries incessantly to not close the network’s circuit, on the contrary thus expanding it, liberating the signifier, he inhabits anew its boundary with a “semblent” of content, -that of his famous obj.a-, which as a pure archi-phantasm gives the incorrect impression of being a finite limit.
Therefore the key concern of Deleuze’s parallel venture was exactly in fact the following: To avoid immobilizing the structural networks’ circuit on only one point of privilege, -the point of obj.a-, but to open to a depersonalization and alienation without limits . Object and subject here always remain in progress, exploding under mutation. As the grand representative of the promising thought of difference , he exposes it here completely out of the field of language, -cutting, however, through it-, viewing it as a consequence of a complex body of senses . He therefore indeed now manages to trespass the signifier, as in its materiality it maintained a “representation” viewing it as a “portmanteau” . The sense here never closes, remaining under construction , defining itself continually, with every new-added difference accumulating on the former one without any kind of synthesis in the traditional sense or meaning. Even the repetition here is in itself a difference. Language indeed refers itself to the chaos of sheer, pure senses, functioning like a camera, a mega-machine in motion, which insatiably edits data derived from our external pores, our “bodies without organs”, without worrying at all how to synthesize them, since from now on the syntheses occur on their own completely, randomly and surprisingly, via their differential nature, on planes of territorialization, so that they afresh subsequently can deterritorialize again . The senses produce here constantly newer and newer senses, taking thus part now totally in a non-stop creation, having as sole invariable their an-archic difference. This is, then, now our new-born thought that wholly rewrites the real, no longer still polarizing it in conscious and unconscious areas, but fuses these poles completely, folding the real multiply and intricately around itself, in a radical plane of immanence, creating per se the virtual as it produces the actual, in an ever-dilating Real. What can we say then after all about Deleuze’s unconscious ? The unconscious here dying multiply turns out to not die at all , since through a schizo-(un)-conscious thought it gets always born anew .
It is this scheme exactly that Jacques Derrida puts forward: To exceed the Deleuzian paradox, aiming at further excavating structural fields and networks locating their aporias , without, though, on the contrary, hyper-invigorating them, negating them thus anew. The bet so now in Derridian terms, is not to rebuild once more on other virtual realities, -which either refer to dream (Freud), to chains of signifiers (Lacan), or trans-empiric data (Deleuze)-, but deconstruct this reality , in its own play of the signified, which incessantly in its writing seems to be already written. He digs among its adhesions, finding right there its basic chasm, the rift and the crack in meaning, causing a proto-delay, in its archi-discontinuity . The object here isn’t changing, differing in its non-stop construction, but on the contrary is dissolving, in its perpetual de-construction. In Jacques Derrida’s new paradigm we manage to get primordially to the deference itself of difference, its cause and presupposition-the famous differance itself-, to that point, that is, in the latter which causes in fact the former, there where the field primarily folds before its production , in its primary scission between the inside and the outside , before sameness and otherness, similarity and dissimilarity, difference and repetition. And this is by no means viewed still as a Moebius tape , continuous in its discontinuity, transparent in its non-transparency, as is by Jacques Lacan, but more so as a spatial “Chora”, a sliding “blank Space” indeed, which gives birth itself to difference, producing thus also its Time. It is this archi-difference that’s here in eternal delay, relentlessly deconstructing whatever stands in its own way. But this is also the reason why it gets self-negated, since it recurs eternally -even if what repeats itself is now a “moving hole”-. And although now here the finite’s thought is indeed much more refined, since it avoids requiring Lacan’s and Deleuze’s contents, -obj.a or the simulacra-, it doesn’t avoid its suicide through its non-stop recurrence. So could we after all, eventually, conceive of a new thought’s form, in its granting this “delay” a “telos” , vindicating anew the Limit, without returning blindly to a traditional metaphysics, bringing phenomenology up to its utmost limits? Putting an end irreducibly to the eternal return of Difference in all its above variations, (obj.a, difference, differance), leading to our New Holocaust? The Holocaust of the Multiple? The Holocaust per se of Difference? Behind neo-capitalistic crises?
In order to wholly summarize what has till now preceded, one could here say the following: Although indeed the Unconscious came to support initially the Kantian finite limit, giving a new-born background to new philosophical theories, enriching and expanding crucially what we consider knowledge, supporting in this way philosophy to live up to its ownmost challenge, as death’s primordial study, embracing therefore substantially our human per se condition, with new, unprecedented data, in terms of its finite mystery, it failed this goal fundamentally. Its ownmost way of dying, though, -positively or even negatively -, in the course of its brief history, highlighted wholly different paths that need to be now taken, untraced by the “old philosophy” or even by psychoanalysis, pushing us to an uncharted ground, which doesn’t give newborn contents –in this way of course negating it- to the notion per se of Limit, through its return eternally, thematic or non-thematic, via a sur-reality, or via an expanded ego. But how is it really possible to think from our thought’s limit, defining anew the unconscious? Ηοw can our thought intuit through its most finite limit, on the cusp of our Ego’s Death? Because it is true indeed that someone or something thinks behind our almighty Cogito, thinking there on a Hole. But what would this now here signify? A “Vacuum” –to say the least- “cogitans”? How can our thought per se think through its own unconceivable? It may be that on the contrary to Hamlet’s most famous monologue, there after all exists an instrument for the unknown. A death’s so called intuition. Preceding presence or absence, as a presupposition of their condition. Leading to the production of the “Thing in Itself” per se, opening, with the subject’s will, to our Thought’s ownmost Shadow, a consciously produced Unconscious, presupposition of every Limit, vindicating it as irreducible. Herein should now enter the era of our new philosophy. To a New Thought of the Absolute Limit. To a Thought of the Hole per se, as “Thing in Itself” throughout ourselves, but also, that is, on cost of them. Could this “Hole” now here signify another relation to the Ego, as subject or even as object, or of the Ego towards its object, beyond Sameness, that is, and Otherness, exceeding but containing both, in a radical Nearness/Farness, in a way till now unconceivable by psychoanalysis or poststructuralism? On the basis of which exact concept would this new Subject burst? Forming our new Loing-pres , a Farnearness, that is, per se, beyond “Clearing”, “Chiasm” or “Differe/a/nce, -all of the infinite paradigm- vindicating a fatally wounded Thought which bleeds on its fatal Limit? Revealing thus a New Epoch of the understanding of being per se? Exploding right there exactly? On the edge of this sharpest interval? Featuring as our new Cogito? Not seeing the “Other” latently as a complementary ex contrario “Object”, that is in its alterity, in its mutation or deconstruction, or after all its “jouissance”, complementary through its resistance , mutation or impossibility or even by its deconstruction , but being complemented fatally through its ownmost Massacre , its ownmost non completion? Could this be now a “Wound” ? A “Vulnus” to say the least, “Cogitans”, opening to a Death’s new ontology? Seeing being per se from the “other side of the mirror”, from the side, that is, of Death? Not seeing Death exoterically, in the last instance totally ignoring it, but bringing Death irreducibly inside the ontological game, without escaping him totally ex contrario? Via its resurrection? Because this is our only Hope against totalitarianism, in all its camouflaged faces. Against the capitalistic Paradigm in all its rich variations, which vindicates only Life per se, -phantasmatic, actual, virtual-, in its power’s non-stop becoming, and its always exorcising Death via dying non stop, incessantly, ignoring its Fatal Entropy. This is perhaps our only Hope against the fascism of the Multiple. Against the occurrence per se of Wars . Leading to a re-invention of our World again from scratch. Out Science. Our God. Our Art.

To a Cogito per se of Love .


  1. Your mеthod of tellіng all in this piece of
    writing is in fact pleasant, aall can effortlessly understand it,
    Thanks a lot.

  2. dsdrolias says:

    Thank you for the careful reading.