Monday, February 21, 2011

Nietzsche (Foucault) and Freud - Morals and Melancholia

The parallels between Nietzsche and Freud, particularly between, on the one hand, the second essay of On the Genealogy of Morals and the section on "The Religious Nature" in Beyond Good and Evil, and on the other hand, the essays "Mourning and Melancholia," "The Uncanny," and later books, such as Beyond the Pleasure Principle, The Ego and the Id and Civilization and its Discontents, are so obvious as to be at once a trivial observation and at the same time sufficient evidence to suggest a relationship of influence.

Tangent: After the death of Paul Rée, Lou Salome then married Friedrich Andreas (who was cool with her liberated ways (she'd simply call herself "polyamorous" today) and never consummated the marriage), and while married had affairs with Rilke and quite possibly Freud (at very least they corresponded extensively). This took place between 1900-1937, so she was a bit of a cougar. Of her lovers, only Freud was her elder - by five years.

To my knowledge, Freud does not mention Nietzsche until at least the time of Beyond The Pleasure Principle - the first name-drop I can think of comes four years later in a footnote to The Ego and the Id. The text to which the note is attached reads:

"Georg Groddeck, who... [insists] that what we call our ego behaves essentially passively in life, and that... we are 'lived' by unknown and uncontrollable forces.. I propose to take it into account by calling the entity which starts out from the system Pcpt. and begins by being Pcs. the 'ego', and by following Groddeck in calling the other part of the mind, into which this entity extens and which behaves as though it were Ucs, the 'id.' (12)

(12) Groddeck himself no doubt followed the example of Nietzsche, who habitually used this grammatical term for whatever in our nature is impersonal and, so to speak, subject to natural law." (Standard Edition, pg. 17)
It appears that Freud was evidently quite familiar with Nietzsche by this point, and had from an early date a great interest in philosophy. While I have yet to verify the cited texts, the wikipedia article on Freud claims that: 
"Freud read Friedrich Nietzsche as a young student, and bought his collected works in 1900, the year of Nietzsche's death; Freud told Fliess that he hoped to find in Nietzsche "the words for much that remains mute in me." According to Peter Gay, however, Freud treated Nietzsche's writings "as texts to be resisted far more than to be studied"; immediately after reporting to Fliess that he had bought Nietzsche's works, Freud added that he had not yet opened them."
Not so fast. I think that's a bit of a stretch. Doubtless to support the subsequent claim that "students of Freud began to point out analogies between his work and that of Nietzsche almost as soon as he developed a following.[8]" --- The problem is not that there are no analogies of note, but rather a simple matter of intellectual history: only twelve of the nineteen volumes to appear by 1913 of the first collected edition of Nietzsche's Werke had been published by then. That abomination known as "The Will To Power" did not appear until the following year (which was considered legitimate during Freud's lifetime by most (Bataille excepted), and Ecce Homo finally appeared in 1908 (held back for fear of being attributed to madness; both The Antichrist and the public edition of the  fourth volume of Zarathustra were held back until 1895 and 1894 respectively (written 1888 and 1884). While Freud could have had all the volumes extant at the time, the fact remains that he'd have been best served to wait, which I believe he did.

Nevertheless, a relationship of influence is likely in spite of the common cultural/linguistic milieu and Freud's background in  philosophy and his denials. In the first place, Freud's "discussion of the Kantian theorem that time and space are 'necessary forms of thought.'  ...unconscious mental processes are in themselves 'timeless.' This means... that they are not ordered temporally, that time does not change them in any way and that the idea of time cannot be applied to them." (SE 18, pg. 32).

Before I go, let me highlight a couple striking correspondences from the beginning of the second essay of the Genealogy (yeah, I got too into the details).

First - "Inpsychation," memory, conscience, responsibility, etc. call to mind the superego and the process by which it arises in Freud's theory of psychological development.

Second - This quote: "The man in whom this apparatus of repression is damaged and ceases to function properly may be compared with a dyspeptic - he cannot 'have done' with anything.'" Dyspeptic in this usage is very nearly synonymous to "melancholic," and this IS almost verbatim the Freudian theory of melancholia.

What is the nature of Freud's relationship to Kant and Nietzsche's critique? At least from the passage cited.

At last: has anyone read Discipline and Punish before? Doesn't it absolutely REEK of the influence of the Genealogy? (Foucault did write an essay, "Nietzsche Marx Freud")


1 comment:

  1. I have read a portion of D+P, while reading the Genealogy--especially the second essay, I certainly noticed that trace.