Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Next Seminar in the Psychoanalysis and Liberation Series

Impossible Spaces Johan Siebers (Middlesex University) 

This seminar explores the requirements for critical theory - a form of theory, as Horkheimer says, that aims to liberate people from forces that enslave them - in the present geopolitical constellation. Freud observed that there are three impossible professions: government, education and psychoanalysis, "in which one can be sure beforehand of achieving unsatisfying results". But each of these has to do with the aim of critical theory: liberation. Government's utopian goal is the free society; education's goal is the enlightened, autonomous person, in control of their own thought process; the goal of psychoanalysis is "where id was, the ego shall be". What, then, makes the professionalisation of liberation impossible? Is this impossibility total or is there a different path to freedom, or perhaps a freedom in becoming aware of the nature of the impossible? What would it be to create a possibility for utopia, the non-space that is a good space (Thomas More), in other words, for impossible spaces? What can politics, education and psychoanalysis learn from each other, as possible ways of doing what is impossible? The seminar will explore ways of thinking about these questions by contrasting Freud's theory of the no-longer-conscious with Bloch's theory of the not-yet-conscious, and by indicating the centrality of hope borne out of the encounter with the darkness of the lived moment.

Johan Siebers is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Middlesex University and Associate Fellow and Director of the Ernst Bloch Center for German Thought at the Institute of Modern Languages Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London. His research and publication interests are in metaphysics, critical theory and the philosophy of communication. He is founding editor of Empedocles: European Journal for the Philosophy of Communication.

Venue: Room C205, College Building, Middlesex University, Hendon, London


Contact: Maaike Engelen (

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