ICI Projects
VERSUS @ van Eyck

Seminar 12
How can a subjet last

Friday, 21th Mai, 11am-2pm
Vhich are the temporal condition for a subject to appear? Is it identified with an evanescent moment of interruption or does it have a specific duration, built agains the present?IN order to answer this, Alain Badiou formulates a set of conditions under which we can think how a subject can last. We will approach these conditions by drawing upon specific artistic and political cases that Badiou analyses: the invention of serial music in the 20th century, and the political invention of the Paris Commune in 1871.

Seminar 11
The objective constitution of the collective subject

Friday, 16th April, 11am-2pm
Via Sartre’s Critique of Dialectical Reason we will analyze how on the one hand the objectivity of a situation is inseparable from the individual activities embedded in it, and how on the other hand a subjective change is possible only as collective moment that radically cuts with the individual freedoms, showing at the same time how these are the engine itself of the material necessities in which the subject is alienated.

Seminar 10
The proletariat as subject-object of history

Friday, 19th March, 11am-2pm
Via a close reading of György Lukács' History and Class Consciousness, we will analyze the idea of the standpoint of the proletariat as the point which enables both the knowability of the object of capitalism as a whole, and a direct qualitative upturning of this object: a dialectical synthesis of history where the knowledge of the object passes directly into the revolutionary transformation of human relations. 

Seminar 9
Reason as an objective process

Friday, January 22nd, 11am-2pm
The third instance in our venture through the object-subject dialectic will pass through the works of Gaston Bachelard and Michel Foucault, and namely, through their attempts to ‘objectify’ the concept of reason. With these two pivotal figures of the French tradition of ‘historical epistemology’, what we in fact witness is a displacement of both the givenness of the category of the object and of the strict metaphysical centre of the subject.

Seminar 8
Freud and Nietzsche: Subject to Force

Friday 11 December, 11am-2pm
In this seminar Aaron Schuster will present an inquiry around the concept of ‘force’ in the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche and in the psychoanalytic theory of Sigmund Freud. His presentation will specifically focus on how for the two authors the subject arises as a reaction to a material, objective set of forces.

Seminar 7
Marx's gegenständliche Tätigkeit

Friday, 13 November 2009, 11am - 1pm
We will start the 2009-2010 season with a reading of Marx’s 1845 "Theses on Feuerbach".
We will expore how Marx's postulation of the materialist primacy of the object rather than indicating a strict break with idealism, reincorporates some key elements of the idealist tradition, namely activity.

2008-2009 Seminar Summary

Excess and Subtraction (Seminars 1-6)

Seminar 6
Thought before and after the world
Friday, 15 May 2009, 11am - 2pm
In our sixth seminar, in order to combine the ontological perspectives of excess and subtraction, we will discuss two figures from the school of “speculative realism”, Quentin Meillassoux and Ray Brassier, and their attempt to refute the idea of finitude.

Seminar 5
Materialism of excess

Friday, 27 March 2009, 10am - 1pm
In our fifth meeting we will examine how the notion of excess unfolds in Alain Badiou, both from the perspective of the excess of a singularity over the situation to which it belongs, and from the point of view of the excess of a situation over its elements. Our aim is to explore together the complicated relation between these two aspects.

Seminar 4
Subtractive Object of Knowlege: Marx's Critique of Political Economy
Friday, 20 February 2009, 11am - 2pm
In the fourth seminar we examined Althusser's "symptomatic reading" of Marx's critique of political economy in order to reveal how subtraction is a key moment in the process of knowledge.

Seminar 3
Zero, Subject, Excess

Friday, 16 January 2009, 11am - 2pm
In our third inquiry into the concepts of excess and subtraction, we have invited Lorenzo Chiesa from the University of Kent to help us examine the complicated knotting between philosophy, mathematics and psychoanalys.

Seminar 2
From negation to excess: destruction, refusal, subtraction

Friday, 12 December 2008, 11am - 2pm
In the second seminar we will examine the themes of excess and subtraction at the specific points of encounter between philosophy and politics, points which enable us to see how concrete political events and sequences force philosophy to reshape its understanding of the moment of negativity.

Seminar 1
Art in excess and subtraction

November 2008, ICI Berlin
In this first seminar session we will focus on two texts that gravitate around cinema. Back to back we will use Alain Badiou's attempt to define cinema as the "plus-one" of the system of arts, and Gilles Deleuze's interest in subtraction and excess in Italian neo-realism.




Aaron Schuster Lecture : Freud and Nietzsche: Subject to Force

This seminar will examine the concept of “force” in the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche and the psychoanalytic theory of Sigmund Freud. It will specifically focus on how for the two authors the subject arises as a reaction to a material, objective set of forces.

Nietzsche's and Freud's work are notoriously close—Freud once famously remarked that he couldn't read Nietzsche because it was “too interesting”—yet, their notions of force are diametrically opposed. Put simply, whereas Nietzsche thinks force (the will-to-power) as excess and surplus vitality, perpetually overcoming its own limits and actively searching for obstacles to strengthen itself, Freud views force (the drives ruled by the pleasure principle, and later the ‘death drive’), in terms of inertia, sluggishness, a disinclination to activity, the shortest path to discharge. These contrasting definitions set up different theoretical problems that traverse their respective oeuvres: on the one hand, if the will is a positive surplus, how to account for phenomena of self-destruction and self-negation?; on the other, if the drives seek to void their own energies, how can one explain the positive enjoyment of tension and excitation?

We will examine how force is, for both thinkers, at once a physical (biological) and metaphysical concept, which is meant to encompass the driven character of human existence as well as the dynamism of nature. Our focus will be on Freud's short but crucial essay “The Economic Problem of Masochism,” as well as “Beyond the Pleasure Principle.” I intend to situate the problem historically, by briefly discussing different ideas of force and will in 19th century thought, in particular debates concerning the applicability of mechanical laws to the domains of biology and psychology.

Aaron Schuster is a philosopher and writer based in Brussels. He has published and lectured extensively on the relation between psychoanalysis and philosophy, as well as contemporary art and culture. In 2009 he was a recipient of an Art & Research grant from the Montehermoso Cultural Center, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, and is a visiting professor at the Fine Arts Academy in Ghent, Belgium.



Primary readings

Freud, “The Economic Problem of Masochism”

Freud, “Beyond the Pleasure Principle”

Friedrich Nietzsche, Writings from the Late Notebooks, ed. Rüdiger Bittner, transl. Kate Sturge (Cambridge: Cambridge, 2003)
6 short passages:

35[15] May-July 1885

5[64] Summer 1886 – Autumn 1887

7[18] End of 1886 – Spring 1887

14[121], 14 [173], 14 [174] Spring 1888

Supplementary readings

Kurt Goldstein, Human Nature in the Light of Psychopathology (New York: Schocken, 1940), pp. 138-149 (especially 140-143)

Jean-François Lyotard, “Anima Minima” in Moralités postmodernes (Paris: Galilée, 2005), pp. 199-210 (especially 205-206)

Guillaume Ferrero, “L’Inertie mentale et la loi du moindre effort” Revue philosophique vol. 37 (1894), pp. 169-182 (especially 176-177)