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Time Driven

Metapsychology and the Splitting of the Drive

Adrian Johnston Forweword by Slavoj Zizek

Publication Year: 2005

Elaborating the fundamental concept of Trieb, or drive, Freud outlines two basic types of conflict that at once disturb and organize mental life: the conflict between drives and reality; and the conflict between the drives themselves (as in amorous Eros against the aggressive death drive). In Time Driven, Adrian Johnston identifies a third distinct type of conflict overlooked by Freud: the conflict embedded within each and every drive. By bringing this critical type of conflict to light and explaining its sobering consequences for an understanding of the psyche, Johnston's book makes an essential theoretical contribution to Continental philosophy. His work offers a philosophical interpretation and reassessment of psychoanalysis that places it in relationship to the larger stream of ideas forming our world and, at the same time, clarifies its original contribution to our understanding of the human situation.

Published by: Northwestern University Press

Series: Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy


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pp. xi

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Foreword: A Parallax View on Drives

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pp. xiii-xvii

In Leonardo’sMona Lisa, there is a strange discrepancy between the figure of Mona Lisa and the complex, almost Gothic, background of trees, rocks, etc. It is as if, effectively, Mona Lisa stands in front of a painted background, not in a real environs: the painted background stands for the void which is filled in with painting. Does this same discrepancy not account ...

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Preface: The Unbearable Burden of Libidinal Liberation

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pp. xix-xxiv

In many minds, Sophocles’ tragedy Oedipus Rex encapsulates the essence of the Freudian discovery of the unconscious. For both Freud and his interpreters, the figure of Oedipus represents the position of the libidinal individual, an individual burdened with desires that run counter to both the conscious sense of self as well as the interdictions of social reality. According ...

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pp. xxv-xxvi

This volume started as a dissertation written between September 1999 and April 2000 in the philosophy department at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. So, I would like to begin by thanking the two co-directors of my dissertation, Edward S. Casey and Slavoj Žižek. Ed’s insights, support, and friendship have been invaluable to me. And, without Slavoj, this project simply wouldn’t be what it is—my very way of thinking ...

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Introduction: The Critique of Pure Enjoyment, or Jouissance Does Not Exist

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pp. xxvii-xxxviii

One of the most basic insights of psychoanalysis is that human beings say more than they know. Their various utterances and behaviors are significantly shaped by an unconscious dimension woven into the fabric of their awareness. Accordingly, the art of analysis doesn’t involve dogmatically disregarding the manifest features of quotidian existence in favor of groping ...

Part 1. Metapsychology, Temporality, and Structure

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1. The Temporal Repressed in Freudian Psychoanalysis

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pp. 5-22

A common portrayal of Freud in terms of his philosophical significance— and one which he himself encourages1—is as a psychological Copernicus. In postulating the existence of forces foreign to the territory of reflective consciousness—these forces, while lying outside the sphere of the ego, nonetheless dominate its activity—Freud inaugurates a mental decentering ...

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2. The Temporal Logic of Jacques Lacan

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pp. 23-57

Near the end of 1963, the barely decade-old organization Société Française de Psychanalyse—founded after the 1953 departures of Jacques Lacan, Françoise Dolto, and others from the Société Psychanalytique de Paris—received the conditions for its admission and recognition as a training program in the International Psychoanalytic Association. One ...

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3. Psychoanalysis and Modern Rationalism

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pp. 58-79

When speaking of Freud, philosophers are often fond of mentioning the story about his hidden stash of books by Nietzsche. Freud, who generally avoids mentioning philosophers and consistently distances himself from what he takes to be a field of undisciplined speculation, supposedly draws upon Nietzsche as a significant yet disavowed source of inspiration. As certain ...

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4. Kant and the Conditions of Possibility for the Psychoanalytic Subject

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pp. 79-120

In his Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View, the precritical Kant explores, among other things, the topic of human madness. Speaking of madness in general, Kant contrasts reason with “unreason.” As reason provides a matrix of regulative ideas through which the intuited world is rendered intelligible to the cognizing subject, so unreason frames the experiential ...

Part 2. The Splitting of the Drive

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5. The Fundamental Conflicts of Psychoanalysis

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pp. 123-155

Beyond the Pleasure Principle marks a profound shift in Freud’s thought, adding a remarkably novel twist to his continually invoked theme of the primacy of conflict within the psyche.1 The primary theoretical change announced in this text is well known: The human psyche is divided against itself in the struggle between life and death drives, a struggle over which ...

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6. The Unfolding of the Freudian Drive

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pp. 156-183

The word “drive” does not appear in the English translation of Freud’s Gesammelten Werken. Instead, “instinct” is used in its place. As numerous commentators have noted, Freud employs Trieb, and not Instinkt, to designate the psychoanalytic theory of those forces molding the motivations of the psychical apparatus. Is this really so important? Is Strachey’s translation that objectionable? If so, what is at stake in distinguishing drive ...

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7. The Lacanian Drive Topos

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pp. 184-217

The Borromean knot emphasizes the immanent co-implication of the Real, the Imaginary, and the Symbolic. It contains an implicit warning to anyone who wishes to exegetically untangle the various threads of Lacanian theory: As soon as one starts to speak about a particular facet of Lacan’s work, one must always–already have brought into play the other ...

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8 The Barred Trieb

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pp. 218-255

Within its very foundations, psychoanalysis is plagued by an unresolved antinomy. While advancing a model of the psyche in which a linear determinism serves as the basis for interpretation—a chronological, developmental model, in which the past shapes the present—analysis simultaneously posits the activity of a retroactive constructivism. The latter ...

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9 The Axis of Iteration (S–P)

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pp. 256-299

Despite his significant changes of mind regarding drive theory, Freud consistently maintains that drives ultimately derive from a somatic source. Although their objects are contingent and their aims subject to hindrances and alterations, drives manifest themselves as bodily demands impinging upon the psychical apparatus. Their somatic nature is responsible ...

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10 The Axis of Alteration (A–O)

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pp. 300-332

Despite the formidable size of his oeuvre, spanning a period from 1932 to 1980, Lacan is frequently summarized with reference to a single statement: “The unconscious is structured like a language.” Both critics and disciples of Lacanian thought usually assert that Lacan’s primary theoretical contribution consists of a linguistic turn wherein the energetic, libidinal ...

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Conclusion: The Uniquely Human Double Bind

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pp. 333-342

In his 1786 essay “Speculative Beginning of Human History,” Kant presents a hypothetical reconstruction of the historical emergence of reason. He describes the transformation of the human individual, replete with his/her instincts, desires, urges, and so on—everything Kant considers, from within the parameters of his metaphysics of morals, to be part of ...

Appendix A: The Drive Graph

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pp. 343-348

Appendix B: Post-Lacanian Theories of the Drive

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pp. 349-376


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pp. 377-392

Works Cited

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pp. 393-410


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pp. 411-421

E-ISBN-13: 9780810161894
Print-ISBN-13: 9780810122048

Page Count: 464
Publication Year: 2005

Edition: 1
Series Title: Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy