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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Our path through the history of the concept of matter in German thought has put us on the trail of longing. We are finding that matter, in its long history in philosophy, is not the inert stuff out of which bodies, corpuscula, things, objects, are made – rather it is the drive, longing, urge, the […]

The wish to smash things “Even the child, forced to be well-behaved, hardly felt at ease. An urge to destroy exists, as a small child Goethe brought it into play. It impelled the boy, one fine afternoon when all in the house was quiet, to keep throwing crockery on to the road because it “shattered […]

Meister Eckhart met a beautiful naked boy. He asked him where he came from. He said: “I come from God.” Where did you leave him? “In virtuous hearts.” Where are you going? “To God.” Where do you find him? “Where I part with all creatures.” Who are you? “A king.” Where is your kingdom? “In […]

How does spirit arise out of matter? The dialectical materialist refuses this question – matter and spirit are, if anything, two moments of a dialectical relation, which can perhaps only properly be said to be a relation in being itself. But – and this is the point we made on Monday – ‘being’ is not […]