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Cristian Bodea, Delia Popa (eds.) – Describing the Unconscious. Phenomenological Perspectives on the Subject of Psychoanalysis (Zeta Books, 2020)


This collective volume aims at contributing to an in depth understanding of the relationship between phenomenology and psychoanalysis, drawing on research that renews and complements the area of discussion opened by recent publications on this interdisciplinary approach. Coming from the field of phenomenology, the authors participating in this volume examine the various ways in which phenomenology has become interested in what psychoanalysis has to offer, both as a practice and as a theoretical perspective. While psychoanalysis provides an understanding of the unconscious which is derived directly from practice, the psychoanalytical practice itself appears to be a form of transcendental intersubjectivity put at work in such a way that it sheds light on the meaningful life of experience phenomenology strived so much to describe from Husserl to Henry and further on. The book is divided in three sections: “Phenomenological Approaches to the Concept of Unconscious”, “Phenomenological Ambiguities of the Psychoanalytic Subject” and “Phenomenological Resources from Husserl to Henry”. The first section begins by defining the multiple functions of the unconscious (Tamás Ullmann) and by situating the common ambition of phenomenology and psychoanalysis in the attempt to go from self-evidence to “the birthplace of meaning” (Dorothée Legrand). After revisiting the status of the “second phenomenology” generated within the psychoanalytical practice (Virgil Ciomoș), the specificity of the phenomenology’s contribution to the psychoanalytic practice is discussed (Gunnar Karlsson). The second section focuses on the problem of subjectivity as it emerges both from psychoanalytical theory and phenomenology, in relation to loss and melancholia (Delia Popa) and to nostalgia (Dylan Trigg), bringing it ultimately to a body that makes sense (Cristian Bodea) thanks to a transcendental transposition at work in our imagination (István Fazakas). The last section discusses the descriptive resources psychoanalysis can find in the field of phenomenology understood as descriptive psychology (László Komorjai), such as the theory of habits and passive synthesis in Husserl (Luciana Priolo), the theory of the illeity in Lévinas (Livia Dioșan), and the phenomenology of life in Henry (Max Schaefer).

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1. Phenomenological Approaches to the Concept of Unconscious

Tamás Ullmann: Les modèles de l’inconscient

Dorothée Legrand: Speaking and Hearing Infinite Unconsciousness

Virgil Ciomoș: Phénoménologie et psychanalyse. Pour une nouvelle architectonique du phénomène

Gunnar Karlsson: The Function of Phenomenology for Psychoanalysis

2. Phenomenological Ambiguities of the Psychoanalytic Subject

Delia Popa: Subjects of Desire. Time, Mourning, and Melancholia

Dylan Trigg: Phantoms in the Mirror. Nostalgia Between Phenomenology and Psychoanalysis

Cristian Bodea: The Body Makes Sense. A Phenomenology of Ego and I in Conjunction with Psychoanalysis

István Fazakas: Le Labyrinthe d’air. La structure des fantasmes dans l’anthropologie phénoménologique de Marc Richir

3. Phenomenological Resources from Husserl to Henry

László Komorjai: Phenomenology as Descriptive Psychology 

Luciana Priolo: Husserl’s Account of Habits: Between Primordial and Secondary Passivity

Livia Dioșan: Psychic Reality and the Name of the Father. Emmanuel Lévinas’s Phenomenology between Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan

Max Schaefer: A Psychoanalysis of Individuation: The Affective Heart of Repression in Michel Henry