Resistance between Psychoanalysis and Historical Materialism: A student-led talk

Christina Batrouni and Hadi Afif

Proofreader & Senior Staff Writer


The Philosophy Student Society held a talk discussing the resistance between psychoanalysis and historical materialism on Monday, March 27 in Nicely 210.

The talk was led by graduate students Mark Hayek and Raed Khelifi, as an initiative by the Philosophy Student Society to provide a platform for philosophy students to present their work. Previous discussions were only given by professors, making this the first of which students lead themselves.

The students presented Hegel’s letter to Niethammer, in which he explains two important notions: the one of resistance and the one of the wound, relating them to issues of consciousness that are dealt with in the section of the Geist.

The two students explained how they shouldn’t deny the meaning of resistance in terms of psychoanalytic and historical materialism, also introducing two types of resistance based on two points of repetition: compulsive non-conscious repetition, which is characterised as reactionary resistance, and transformative repetition, based on the concept of reintegration and conscious realisation that everything that is othered or posited in order to be resisted must always be reintegrated into the self.

The talk proved how such resistance was actually acknowledged in psychoanalysis after Freud had first neglected it. It showed oscillation between the conscious and unconscious, in relation to his text “The Interpretation of Dreams.”

Since one of the resistance types is tied to the unconscious, the distortion that is resistance manifests the unconscious and thus psychoanalysis is an analysis of resistance.

In addition, they refuted historicism and the point that the past is only a flash, which is brought up and then dumped, through a relation to Hegel’s wound, healing, and trauma.

“This is the first time we deal with such a topic, which is why many people were interested in attending; however, the topic was very specialised and was given in relation to a course,” President of the Philosophy Student Society, Jana Kasab told Outlook.  

As opposed to previous talks hosted by the society, this one required presupposed background on the subject being presented.

She then went on to describe the importance of such a student-led event.

“Why I was very excited about this was because we always get advanced academics and professors to give such talks. it’s nice to give students a platform to present their work and get feedback on it,” Kasab said.

This event was the society’s second this semester, after a movie screening of “The Music Room.”

When asked about future events, Kasab told Outlook about an upcoming Skype talk with well-known philosopher and public figure Peter Singer. Despite his busy schedule, Singer will chat with attendees on Wednesday, April 5.

It seems that this talk is one of many exciting events to come, including a talk on the aesthetic of football with Mahmoud Rasmi, which is going to be in spirit of the Big Game between the Faculty of Engineering and others, and a student organised two-day conference for graduate students to present their papers.

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