Monthly Archives: October 2014

The impossible professions and the vanishing mediator

Freud famously said (paraphrasing what he calls a “bon mot”) that psychoanalysis, education and government are the “impossible professions”. His explanation focuses on our narcissistic resistance to what these professions have to say about us and to us. Freud ads that philosophy, in taking the contents of conscious experience as the transparent reality it works […]

Walter Benjamin on Bertolt Brecht’s Lao Tzu

The poem offers an occasion to discuss the special role which the quality of friendliness plays in the author’s imagination. Brecht allocates an important place to this quality. If we visualize the legend he is telling, we see, on one side, the wisdom of Lao Tzu (who, by the way, is not referred to by […]

The three principles of dialectical thinking

In the run-up to this year’s seminar series, I met with Harm Boukema, a wonderful philosopher who taught for many years at the University of Nijmegen and whom I was fortunate enough to have as a teacher. We discussed the nature of dialectical thinking. Harm comes from a Hegelian background but has relinquished the elaborate […]