On the Drive-like Status of Knowledge

The first part of this paper investigates the status of knowledge. Starting from the general question of whether knowledge can prevent Evil, it is argued that in the particular case of Martin Heidegger reason was powerless against hatred. Next, the question posed by Einstein to Freud in 1932 (whether or not psychoanalysis is capable of diffusing hatred), is addressed. This historical correspondence leads the author to characterise knowledge as having a drive-like status: Not only is the epistemological drive a substitute for infantile sexual curiosity, it is first and foremost a drive to overpower (Bemächtigungstrieb). Finally, Foucault’s Il faut défendre la société (1997) teaches that the ideal of “The” science attributes the status of power to knowledge, an ideal that also holds for psychoanalysis, notwithstanding that the latter does not meet scientific criteria. In the second part of the paper, the way in which the relation between knowledge and power can manifest itself in the psychoanalytical cure is illustrated with the case of Guillaume.