9.19.2021

My Current Research (on Philosophy and Poetry)

And Then There Was Nothing 

The Birth of (Post-)Modern French Philosophy From The Spirit of Poetry 

My current research is about poetry and philosophy, two fully linguistic domains of the human mind. Both poetry and philosophy expand language, change it, in an attempt to say what could not yet be said. Yet, more than philosophy, poetry is capable of stripping language of its comforting meaning in order to build a new language. Towards the end of the 19th century, at about the same time as Nietzsche's declaration of the death of God, the French poet Stéphane Mallarmé observed that the umbilical cord between man and meaning had been almost imperceptibly severed. Mallarmé's diagnosis heralded a transition from Romanticism to modernity, where meaning of belief, feeling and expression would give way to the disappearance of meaning: hence the title And Then There Was Nothing. Instead of escaping it, poets such as Charles Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud, also known together with Mallarmé as the 'poètes maudits' (accursed poets), tried to bring this nothingness to full clarity. These accursed poets turned against the hypocrisy of the bourgeois spirit that sought refuge in false securities and in the all-objectifying gaze of science. What they were left with was a universe of symbols that held the promise of true meaning in the tragic realisation that this true meaning had long since been lost. The poetry of the accursed poets was dominated by the naked origins of human existence. The poets were not so much looking for a solution, but for a radical demolition of the language with which society had until then understood itself. Much later, French philosophers from Jean-Paul Sartre to Julia Kristeva seized upon this poetry to initiate the re-creative power of language, a power that goes beyond the merely philosophical. In this research, modern and postmodern French philosophy is examined in the light of late-nineteenth-century French poetry. The research focuses on the work of among others Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, Stéphane Mallarmé, and the philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean Hyppolite, Jacques Lacan, Georges Bataille, and Julia Kristeva.

7.19.2021

Master course on Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, and Julia Kristeva

Although not a philosopher, the work of Sigmund Freud caused an earthquake in Western philosophy. If there's one thing that we should be suspicious of, it is the subject as conceived of in modern philosophy: in psychoanalysis, the subject is not what you think it is. During the course, we will study psychoanalysis, not that much as a therapeutic strategy, rather as a tool to deconstruct discourse on truth and to reframe experience. We will focus on three thinkers who destructed the modern idea of the ego: Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), Jacques Lacan (1901-1981), and Julia Kristeva (1941 - ). Freud was the first to lay stress on the subject as a narrative being. The subject speaks, but the meaning of the words is not the meaning that he attributes to. Instead, the subject uses language not to reveal the truth but, rather, to conceal it. In the work of psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, this is the leading thought. The unconscious is structured like a language and the subject is already a speaking subject. That is to say, a subject is a result of speaking and not an actor. In Freudian-Lacanian psychoanalysis, the subject has always been a speaking subject. Julia Kristeva rejects any understanding of the subject in a structuralist sense. Kristeva's focuses on the non-verbal affective layer of our consciousness. She impressively develops a psychoanalysis of the prelinguistic, as is expressed in human phenomena of abjection and depression and in the language of poetry. The course will start with the origins of psychoanalysis in the interpretation of dreams, trauma theories of hysteria, their apparent replacement by developmental models of sexuality, the theory of repetition-compulsion, the death drive, and Freud's associated analysis of the aesthetics of the Uncanny. Specific concepts to be examined include language and narrativity, desire, trauma and repression, phantasy and the unconscious, the pleasure principle, and the death drive. We will look at some very basic theoretical concepts of Lacan, by studying the famous 'Graph of Desire' and we will discuss the three registers of “The Imaginary, The Symbolic and The Real” which Lacan considered being major re-readings of Freud’s basic tenets. We will study the ideas of Julia Kristeva's critical interpretation of Lacan and close-read some of her texts. The goal of this course is to obtain a basic understanding of the theoretical contributions to the philosophy of subjectivity of Freud, Lacan and Kristeva. Attendance at the seminars is mandatory. Teached at Erasmus University Rotterdam, School of Philosophy; and Tilburg University - first semester 2022

7.13.2020

Sartre (Elementaire deeltjes)



Elementaire Deeltjes 74 – Sartre

Ruud Welten

Jean-Paul Sartre geldt als een van de belangrijkste en meest dwarse denkers van de twintigste eeuw. Zijn werk wordt gekenmerkt door één hoofdvraag: hoe kunnen we vrij zijn? Die vraag maakt zijn filosofie actueler dan ooit. Dit Elementaire Deeltje besteedt aandacht aan Sartres filosofie van de mens en zijn bewustzijn, maar ook aan zijn ideeën over politiek, geweld, engagement, literatuur, en zijn ‘existentiële psychoanalyse’.