THE RELATION OF CLAUSEWITZ TO PSYCHOANALYSIS

The thesis that I would like to introduce in this text is that Clausewitz’s magnum opus On War is a text full of thoughts and observations that are of great value for psychoanalysis in theory and practice. In order to properly make use of them, it is necessary to do the work of making a mental translation of his thoughts to the object of individual and interpersonal mental life. The present text claims to offer, by setting a metaphorical relation between war and interpersonal mental life, a mental bridge through which this translation can succeed. Freud, who is known for his frequent use of metaphors, actually often used the metaphor of battle and thus already brought war into association with psychoanalytic thought. The presented metaphorical relation will allow to include Freud’s metaphorical use of battle and, so I hope, to bring his thought into a relation with Clausewitz’s thinking. In order to provide such metaphorical connection of war and interpersonal mental life, it is necessary to understand Clausewitz’s general understanding of the nature of war.

The Violence of Right: Rereading ‘Why War?’

In this contribution, the often neglected correspondence ‘Why War?’ (Freud, 1933b) is presented as the locus classicus of Freud’s account of ‘Right and Violence’. In the discussion with Freud, Einstein’s position appears in the light of Kant’s Toward Perpetual Peace. It is exemplary of the dominant liberal conception of international law as the ultimate means for world peace. This contribution problematizes the debate between Freud and Einstein by its confrontation with the legal philosophy of Hans Kelsen, who is renown as the ‘Einstein of Law’. It is argued that Freud subscribes to Einstein’s and Kelsen’s liberalism in order to radically criticize it. Based on his own conception of right as considered to be a temporary incantation of violence, Freud scrutinizes the liberal possibility of ‘peace through international law’.

‘Vergänglichkeit’ and Death: a Comment on some Freudian Texts

This article addresses the problem of the impossibility of a psychoanalytic Weltanschauung through a reading of Freud’s texts on war, death and transience and with reference to Freud’s membership of the B’nai B’rith. The link with clinical material leads the author to conclude that Freud’s insight into human nature, while enthusiastic, lacks optimism.

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