From nature in love: The problem of subjectivity in Adorno and Freudian psychoanalysis [Book Review]

Continental Philosophy Review 40 (4):365-387 (2007)
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This paper investigates the potential of the concept of sublimation for thinking subjectivity at the intersection of psychoanalysis and critical theory. I first rehearse a recent argument by Whitebook that Freud’s notion of sublimation presents a nonviolent integration and expansion of the ego, which can mediate the modern dichotomy between the rational subject and nonrational impulse and desire. On this view, sublimation turns subjectivity into a site of possibility in the context of modern, rationalized thought and society. I then argue that the concept of sublimation offered to critical theory in this form is insufficiently developed. Both Freud and Adorno analyze a deep-seated destructiveness of the modern subject, which turns up right at the heart of attempts to mediate the dichotomies of rationalized modernity. What is needed to counter this problem is a theory of love in which love is not separated from, but, rather, correlated with drive and desire, and can thereby get on a level with the unconscious or unacknowledged, impulsive nature of death-bearing subjectivity in enlightened modernity. A central conception in Kristeva’s development of Freudian psychoanalysis, the idea of transference love, delivers such a theory and thereby develops the concept of sublimation in the way that is needed at the intersection of psychoanalysis and critical theory



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Sara Beardsworth
Southern Illinois University - Carbondale

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Critique of practical reason.Immanuel Kant - 1788 - Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books. Edited by Mary J. Gregor.
Critique of Pure Reason.I. Kant - 1787/1998 - Philosophy 59 (230):555-557.
Negative dialectics.Theodor W. Adorno - 1973 - New York: Continuum.
Critique of pure reason.Immanuel Kant - 1781/1998 - In Elizabeth Schmidt Radcliffe, Richard McCarty, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya (eds.), Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. Blackwell. pp. 449-451.

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