The psychoanalytic context of the postmodernist anthropology

Study of the influence of the problem field of psychoanalysis on the development of French poststructuralism, in particular the psychoanalytic themes of destructive libido. Analysis of the system of social relations in the reproduction of social life.

Рубрика Философия
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Kyiv National University named after T. Shevchenko

The psychoanalytic context of the postmodernist anthropology

УДК: 159.964.26:316.4.063.6

Sajtarly I. PhD in philosophy, Associate professor at the Department of Philosophy

Ukraine, Kiev


The principal problem of this essay is to proof that postmodern philosophy is based on the two main approaches - psychoanalysis and structuralism, where the psychoanalysis plays a leading part, especially psychoanalytic concern to the human aggressiveness. The postmodern philosophy took from the structuralism a postulate about unbelievable role of the systems of social relationships and exchange in conserving social unity. In psychoanalysis the postmodernism has adopted an idea on relative nature of human's mental activity, that it is depended on cultural practices, for example Freud's doctrine of European romantic standard or his «familialism».

Key words: transgressive experience, libido, death instinct, malignant aggression, displacement, Schizanaliz

The becoming of new philosophical methods and appearance the controversial ideas during the twentieth century indicates that in the methodological and conceptual basis of the philosophy has taken significant changes, primarily due to the need to reconcile the philosophical studies with the recently created values. We have been observing a long process of destruction the classical discourse, which carried out under the slogan theoretical refutation or a radical review of methodological strategies in philosophy of previous centuries.

First, there is taking place the re-thinking of object's fields in of present-day Western philosophy in the sense of emphasizing the anthropological and social contexts in it, that, obviously, will be determine the profound transformation of philosophical strategies. Second, in my view, in the current postmodern thought there is occurring the «deconstruction» of the former philosophical doctrine about human being, when the existentialism for instance, which still have being related to the «spiritualism» of classical philosophy, is considered to be relative or false.

My primary intention is to proof that postmodern philosophy is based on the two main approaches - psychoanalysis and structuralism, where the psychoanalysis plays a leading part, especially psychoanalytic concern to the human aggressiveness. It's no accident the most postmodernist scientists are interested in researching the mental structure of human being and its social determinants.

It's well know that the postmodern philosophy took from the structuralism a postulate about unbelievable role of the systems of social relationships and exchange in conserving social unity. We are talking about «the role of fixed patterns of relations that allow us to identify and explain different related things» [2, 1]. In psychoanalysis the postmodernism has adopted an idea on relative nature of human's mental activity, that it is depended on cultural practices, for example Freud's doctrine of European romantic standard or his «familialism» (Gilles Deleuze). Besides, lately there is almost no area in socio-humanitarian knowledge or discourse in philosophy, which does not operate with categories of psychoanalysis at all. The philosophers- postmodernist's is not considering the human problem outside the issue of transgressive experience. I'm referring to the concepts or topics like libido, death instinct, malignant aggression, schizophrenia, phantasm, etc. The psychoanalytic theory about significant influence of culture on the becoming persona is main marker of relativism in philosophical anthropology.

Well-known too, that from the point of view of psychoanalysis, the needed determinant to strong «displacement» mainly is to an imperative of bodily abstinence, so that the inner displacement is primary condition to act of sublimation. However, as compared with the displacement, the sublimation is considered to be more perfectly mechanism of struggle against desire.

For instance, as in romantic love so and humorous culture, Freud had seen the typical examples of sublimation the desire. The romantic love is result of the strong influence of the ascetic standard or it is the product of the abstinence ethics, hence of the definite culture. In addition, from Freud's point of view the romantic love (courtesy) so and production some comic sense are impossible without so-called «economy of desire». It doesn't matter what desire have being talking about - the sexual or aggressiveness one.

Moreover, in romantic love the libido does not directed to physical possessing of its object, but to its idealization. Other words, in romantic love rather there is the desire to get the consciousness of the passion's «object», than his body. That is why Freud makes the difference between love itself and the passion. The so calling «passionate love» can be transforming into destructive or malignant aggression, for instance, death desire. Thus, if the love is considered to have its ethical components and concerned with evolution of the human affection, then the passion can turn into the desire to kill anyone, who is able to make the resistance.

The relativistic attitude in the psychoanalytical anthropology will be essential enforced by means of sociologic and «psychogenetic» works of Norbert Elias. Postulated by Freud the transformation of man's mental structure in its direction to evolution of the human affectivity in Elias's research is called as «conditioning» or «modeling». Elias notes that the culture has so component, which is widely recognized as the most important marker of the civilizational development. He talks about the inherent the high culture the sensual and emotional standards, which exist in the forms some idiosyncrasies, for example, the feeling disgust and bodily shame. The feeling disgust and bodily shame are considered to be an inner mechanism for internalization of civilizational conduct rules, correspondending to imperative of «comme il faut». Elias emphasizes that most high culture of the sensual standards with its imperative of «comme il faut» was inherent to Western Institute of court society («monde»).

Generally, Elias in his works is keeping up the proposed by psychoanalysis and structuralism the institutional interpretation, but everywhere he emphasizes on main influence of two factors in Western's cultural evolution. First, he is talking about the institute of court society with its high standards of relationships. Second, he is pointing to significant role of so calling middle-class of bourgeoisie in becoming the Western's civilization. To his point of view, the development of merchant and especially financial capital is connected or accompanied by the evolution of industrial commodity production. However, Elias considers more in detail the revolutionary significance Centralized taxation system. To him, everything mentioned above have contributed to essential transformations of social structure. First of all, those transformations provided the strengthening of economic power of bourgeoisie. Elias was convinced of what is due to those transformations the medieval passion for violence was substituted the passion for accumulation, or as Deleuze will say later: “As we shall see, capitalism is the only social machines that it constructed on the basis decoded flows, substituting for intrinsic code an axiomatic of abstract quantities in the form of money» [1,140]. Yet Elias insists on the more effect of first reason. I'm referring to the factor of “court society», that as well-know, existed in form of system of tight relationships and interdependencies. This system promoted to maintain of the high standards in conduct's Western culture that was based on the high level of affective self-controlling, hence ensured the evolution of human sensuality, later called as “delicacy».

The strongest psychoanalytic influence to socio-humanitarian studies, we can find in postmodern project of Schizanaliz that was proposed by Deleuze and Guattari in their famous «Anti-Oedipus». The Shizanaliz's project is also concern to researching of the unconscious and may be interpreted as the product of development the psychoanalytic approach. Nevertheless, in spite of detailed exposition by Deleuze of his views, in the main the major matter of this project was formulated by Foucault. To Foucault this tractate talks about the fascist libido. Here is he writes in his Preface to «Anti-Oedipus»: «I would say that Anti-Oedipus (may its authors forgive me) is a book of ethics, the first book of ethics to be written in France in quite a long time (perhaps that explains why its success was not limited to a particular "readership": being anti-oedipal has become a life style, a way of thinking and living). How does one keep from being fascist, even (especially) when one believes oneself to be a revolutionary militant? How do we rid our speech and our acts, our hearts and our pleasures, of fascism? How do we ferret out the fascism that is ingrained in our behavior? The Christian moralists sought out the traces of the flesh lodged deep within the soul. Deleuze and Guattari, for their part, pursue the slightest traces of fascism in the body» [1, xiil]. Yet as well known, this problem is directly related to psychoanalysis, is its traditional area. In this regard, one can mention the psychoanalytic researches of Wilhelm Reich and Erich Fromm too.

In Freud's works on traditional culture, for example, he insists on its ambivalent essence. He says that from the one hand the culture fulfills the useful functions, because its main purpose consists in ennoblement of human nature. On the other hand, the culture, especially traditional one, actualizes the repressive aim to subjugate the desire, teaches to overcome or struggle against it that ostensibly makes the humankind deeply unhappy, but only this way to one can create the moral structure of the person.

However, within the framework of psychoanalytic philosophy there is opposite interpretation of past ascetic culture that is based on the proof the repressive essence of it. For instance, Wilhelm Reich considered that the religious institutes in the whole, contrary, destruction of human being. To his point of view, the brutal tyranny of the patriarchal institutes like a church and traditional family are the direct causes or source of the arising of sadistic character. Hence the discussed within the psychoanalytic studies widely the malignant aggression is the result of the strong social forcing. Reich was convinced that the violence produces only violence, especially the love to violence and didn't believe in formal ethics.

Thus, the same over a certain period within the framework of so calling sciences of Spirit many researchers have admitted the need to investigate the institutional determinates in their principal influence on human mind. The Freud's idea about ambivalent essence of the traditional (ascetic) culture, that it enables to formation the person, is widely accepted by a lot of philosophes. Nevertheless, according to some authors the modern culture, in particularly the postmodern is more repressive, then its traditional formation. They are referring to the power of the economic forcing totally that deal with the tyranny of production and consumption relations. Some of them say about death of the traditional culture, which related to «death» of its morality. Other words the consumerism as a leading ideology of postmodern's culture has repressive meaning. Its main aim is to forcing to consume of any things or «ideas» including the consumption any sorts of violence; hence, the culture of postmodern is turning into consumer or exchange value.

There is no secret the at first profound institutional explanation, mentioned above, was offered by Nietzsche, who was convinced that the moral duty, for example, is connected with Ancient Debt Law and has its origins in the person's fear of cruel punishment. Nietzsche stated that it is probable the truth nature of any kind person is the hate, or «resentment». That is why he reached the conclusion that kindness per se is the simulation. Other words, morality is a result the severity of the «culture». It follows from this that dysfunction of institution culture, mainly the dysfunction of institutional control and repression can led to the moral atrophy, or ethics duty would be not arise at all. Later Freud will accept this view and complete it in the doctrine of the Oedipus (castration) complex. Deleuze and Guattari have adopted this theory of culture too. For example, they are claiming that cruelty has nothing to do with some ill-defined or natural violent, «that might be commissioned to explain the history of mankind; cruelty is the movement of culture that is realized in bodies and inscribed on them, belaboring them. That is what cruelty means» [1, 145]. However, it's scarcely the culture of postmodern may be called to the «cruel» or a «system of cruelty», «blooded» with «most dreadful sacrifices». It's also impossible to call this culture the mechanism of «conditioning» or «modeling» in sense of ennoblement of human nature.

Mentioned above Elias, for instance, was convinced that only by means of the tough social dependency each other the humankind are ability to keep up and reconstruction the field of moral standards. Nevertheless, today we have gotten society with high level of social alienation. We can observe the economic annihilation both as moral culture and the conduct culture of «comme il faut», hence any fixed standards of relations. There is lack of the tight social connections and relationships. Thus, there are no strong determinants that to contribute to the formation of the moral person.

Indeed, in economically undeveloped societies the authorities cultivated of “blooded shows» and institutional violence to accustom everybody to Father's law and honor him as God, hence to accustom to the social order, which was probably connected with it. It is enough to remember that for a long time the murder of the father was seen as heaviest evil, for which a painful punishment was provided.

The numerous “inscriptions along naked flesh», or when the torture that are desired and liked there are more common in barbarian's societies, than in modern one. In era of rise of industrial capital or growing commodity production, the power's control has changed in the sense it occurs by means of economic enforcing. The old institute of the father's or familial control, generally, it is longer designates nothing. The repression role of father is substituting for an impersonal commodity production. The main purpose of new formation to accustom to labor, and hence to consumption. That is why the analysis "group of men's solidarity", proposed by Levi-Strauss was substituted for researching of other institutes, for example, the family in the context of the Oedipus complex (as Deleuze and Guattari claimed: "familial crazy") or the economic corporations. This is the logic of the structural development of Western society and philosophical thought is to be follow it.

Thus, the collapse of patriarchal family is being explained by the totalitarianism of economic social mode, mainly evolution of the economic sanctions system and rewards. The modern Western society is showing a high level of the social mobility and disintegration, and economic independence of its members has been providing the emancipation from any moral in relationships and emotional links, which displaced by the wayside. The absolutization of economic values creates a different mental structure of person, even transforms the structure of unconscious. It's no accident the psychoanalysis is being substituted for «Schizanaliz», and personal Oedipus is being replaced for impersonal «Desiring-Production»: «Our society produces schizos the same way it produces Prell shampoo or Fords cars, the only difference that the schizos are not salable» [1, 244].

Indeed, the modern sociologists and psychologists have found out that there is another anthropological type of person - «Schizoid», who does not feel the need for destructive impulses. Moreover, the growth of the so-called practices of violence in the modern world testifies that the criticism of a traditional (ascetic) culture that models a religious, therefore, embittered consciousness, has turned out to be erroneous. We are talking not only about multiplicity xenophobic and sexist conflicts in our everyday life, but also about the malignant aggression of the of fascistic libido, the need for it is inherent both the consumer's society and the societies with low level of the development. The striking examples of such aggression mainly is taking place in a teenage space and that is not surprising. After all, modern youth is like that social category, who does not want to understand the rhetoric of taboos at all. It follows from this that economic dominance has a serious weakness. In spite of expositions that was offered by Deleuze, it's not enable to causes the «desiring -production» of the «schizoid unconscious» in everyone. Just like traditional culture, the economic enforcing is helpless in the fight against the sadistic components of libido, even to the symbolic one or exercised through power.

As noted above, the postmodern society is the society of depersonalization, the human relationships here are extremely weak, and this, as it turns out, only helps to replace the love with hatred. Postmodernist's philosophers state, that this is mainly Narcissisms society - the society of the «actors», which are not able to affective-diffuse connections. This society is rather the favorable environment for the formation of a sadistic character. The close people are not needed here. The children in such a society are not emotionally involved to anyone. If they are neurotic, then for entirely different reasons.

Thus here, in spite of the Freud's conclusions about the importance of displacement's act, the renascence of patriarchal family in the role of the harsh, frustrating father will rather provoke to arise of the destructive aggression, i.e. sadistic persona, but in no way a moral consciousness with a developed sense of duty or guilty. Although a destructive libido is being effectively formed and without his participation.

A sadist or a fascist, that is essentially the same thing, does not just enjoy the violence. He constantly feels the deficiency or the inferiority, and therefore he hates. It does not matter for what reason. He constantly slips out of the social system that generates him. He does not correspond to it just by virtue of the antiproduction attitude. There is only one thing in general that he produces and consumes. This is a violence. He doesn't care about work or persons. He loves to subjugate or dominate, take pleasure in destruction. He doesn't understand and accept another meaning of being.

Probably, postmodernist's philosophers are right, when they states that the problem of the destructive aggression is very complicated, and that it has almost dialectic nature in the sense of its social meaning. On the one hand, the society ostensibly needs the sadism because it's always interested in to frustrate and subjugate the some social group - children, women, aliens and etc., on another hand, the sadistic character is subject to social ostracism. The danger of this situation consists in that the intensification of sadism in common consciousness is unlimited. As immediate part or element of the group unconsciousness, the sadist acts everywhere - in the streets, in the families, in the corporations. It is arising up in the «one-dimensional space» not in the sense of materialized consciousness (as Marcuse said), but as the flow of the sublimated and non- sublimated violence, ecstatic hate and destructiveness as essential elements in society that is encouraged by the competition for dominating. That is why it can't be exterminated.

Many thinkers define the postmodern culture as Baudrillard defines it - as an «orgiastic» one, hence it is hardly worth talking about sexual suppression or frustration as the only reason for the need for violence. The Nietzsche and later Reich, for example, denied the traditional values, because they were convinced that a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or spite and hatred, like the need for religious faith and God, were caused by suppressed consciousness.

If there is «spite and hatred» behind the depth of religious faith in God, then what is there behind the real cruelty and atrocities that people practice to in relation to each other outside of religious belief - goodheartedness? Of course, this is nonsense. That is why, adepts of the critical social theory, for instance, appeal to economic arguments, seeing a much greater danger not in religious experience, but in the annihilation of the «desiring-production». Subsequently the industrial area and connected with it Puritan ethic demonstrated, that the not suppressive enforcing, but the «libidinal investment» and, mainly, «libidinal labor» are able to transform of human energy, hence its aggressiveness.

However, within framework of that system there is a dangerous tendency. The thing is that it can turns the desire only into the «desiring-production» or the «desiring-consumption», then the «conjunction» between the postindustrial capitalism and connected with it hedonistic culture is seen to be even fatal. The culture no longer need the restriction or suppression of the desire. On the contrary, the postmodern culture constantly cultivates and produces it, in this case, any desire. One need that all this will makes the profits or the surplus value. The essence transformation of the capitalism, its postmodern mode that was defined as an «esthetic», caused of arising the new metaphysic like the mentioned above tractate on schizophrenia. social psychoanalytic poststructuralism

The key word of that metaphysic is the «desiring-production». Moreover, this project reflects the process of transferring the desire into the power of the «body without organs», that dissolution its natural basis. Deleuze stated, that today we have got a society of the schizos and the celibate machines. It's in the best case. In fact, the «body without organs» significates to death: «The body without organs is the model of death. As the authors of horror stories have understood so well, it is not death that serves as the model for catatonia, it is catatonic schizophrenia that gives its model to death. Zero intensity. The death model appears when the body without organs repels the organs and lays them aside: no mouth, no tongue, no teeth - to the point of self-mutilation, to the point of suicide» [1, 329].

In spite of the fatalism of this postmodern philosophy, one can state that today we have not only the triumph of the schizophrenia. One can reach the conclusion that today the moral «duty» generally has transferred into economic space, hence has lost its moral sense and meaning. In fact, it is the end of morality or even, probably, of society, as Baudrillard wrote, «the end of social». I wonder how long the social formation and its culture will be exist, where people only care to get pleasure, hence the formation that exists outside of the morality or any fixed patterns of relations, or will be occur profound structural transformation in it.


1. Deleuze G. Guattari F. Anti-Oedipus. Capitalism and Schizophrenia. / Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari: [Translated by Robert Hurley, Seem Mark, and Helen R. Lane], 1983. - 400 p.

2. Williams J. Gilles Deleuze's Logic of Sense. A Critical Introduction and Guide /James Williams. - Edinburgh University Press Ltd, 2008. - 220 p.


САИТАРЛЫ И.А. доктор философских наук, профессор кафедры философии гуманитарных наук Киевского национального университета им. Тараса Шевченко (г. Киев, Украина)

Психоаналитический контекст постмодернистской антропологии

Актуальность статьи обусловлена недостаточным изучением влияния проблемного поля психоанализа на развитие французского постструктурализма, в частности психоаналитической тематики деструктивного либидо, которая уже почти столетие является предметом пристального интереса со стороны многих исследователей. В статье также рассмотрен вопрос о значимости системы социальных связей и взаимозависимостей в воспроизводстве общественного бытия - базисная структуралистская идея, которую особенно поддержит Жан Бодрийяр. Именно на её основе осуществляется предпринятая представителями французского постмодернизма критика традиционной культуры, которая, согласно «ортодоксальному психоанализу», является фундаментальной детерминантой формирования морального субъекта, т.е. индивида, способного к аффективной сдержанности (нейтральности) и самоконтролю.

В данной исследовательской работе раскрывается логика становления теорий злокачественной агрессии, где психоаналитическая гипотеза о факторе мощного сексуального подавления подлежит детальному пересмотру. Во-первых, существенному пересмотру подлежит «ортодоксальная» теория садизма, согласно которой садистическое либидо есть следствие давления аскетического идеала (этики воздержания). Некоторые постмодернисты подчёркивают полное забвение, отсюда невероятное бессилие патриархально-аскетической традиции в условиях современного триумфа плоти и наслаждения, следовательно, обнаруживают несостоятельность психоаналитической теории агрессии. Во-вторых, психоаналитическая концепция развития личности вытесняется альтернативными постструктуралистскими проектами постмодернизма, например, стратегией «шизанализа».

Авторы этой стратегии настаивают на том, что в условиях гедонистический культуры постмодерна едва стоит говорить о сексуальном подавлении как единственной причине потребности в насилии. Невротическому субъекту Фрейда Ф. Гваттари и Ж. Делёз, например, противопоставляют менее разрушительный, но, вместе с тем, ещё более безумный антропологический тип - «шизика», которым они отчасти нивелируют проблему агрессивного либидо. Однако, при более глубоком анализе данного проекта выясняется, что существенным маркером шизоидного субъекта является «тело без органов», которое фактически символизирует смерть или влечение к смерти. Таким образом, обнаруженные философским постмодернизмом тенденции в развитии современного западного общества, и его культуры вселяют слабый оптимизм.

Ключевые слова: трансгрессивный опыт, либидо, инстинкт смерти, злокачественная агрессия, смещение, шизанализ.


САИТАРЛИ І.А. доктор філософ. наук, проф. кафедри філософії гуманітарних наук Київського національного університету ім. Тараса Шевченка (м. Київ, Украина)

Психоаналітичний контекст постмодерної антропології

Основна проблема цього есе - довести, що постмодерна філософія ґрунтується на двох основних підходах, а саме на психоаналізі та структуралізмі, де психоаналіз відіграє провідну роль, особливо психоаналітичний інтерес до проблеми людської агресивності. Постмодерністська філософія запозичила у структуралізмі постулат про неймовірну роль системи соціальних взаємозв'язків та обміну щодо збереження соціальної єдності. З психоаналізу постмодернізм взяв ідею про відносну природу психічної діяльності людини, що вона залежить від культурних практик, наприклад, фройдівське вчення про європейський романтичний стандарт та його «фаміліалізм».

Ключові слова: трансгресивний досвід, лібідо, інстинкт смерті, злоякісна агресія, витіснення, шизаналіз.

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