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Psychoanalysis and Philosophy conference

Psychoanalysis and Philosophy conference

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Event date: Friday 17th October, 1:00pm to Saturday 18th October, 6:00pm

Location: Chancellors Hall, Senate House, University of London

The dialogue between psychoanalysis and philosophy has been ongoing since the former’s beginnings. The critical disputes over the epistemology and methodology of psychoanalysis are perhaps most well known. Is psychoanalysis a science? Can it be regarded a distinct body of knowledge about the mind, and if so what kind of knowledge is this? But, especially in recent decades, philosophers and psychoanalysts have embarked on more constructive and focused enterprises.

Psychoanalysis developed and matured both theoretically and clinically over the course of the twentieth century. It offers a realistic, workable model, with central theses about unconscious motivation and phantasy, and an extended vocabulary of mental concepts, and has become well-grounded in experimental and clinical psychology. In part for this reason, philosophers have become increasingly interested in exploring the way psychoanalytic constructs can help resolve fundamental philosophical questions about self-knowledge, mental activity, aesthetic and religious experience, interpersonal relations and ethics.

Conversely, psychoanalysis has unmistakably been influenced by philosophy. Historically, the key psychoanalytic ideas of unconscious mentation and the interpersonal constitution of the subject owe a heavy debt to German idealist thinkers. More recently, psychoanalysts have benefited both from conceptual refinements offered by analytic philosophers and from social and historical theorising by philosophers working in continental traditions.

The goal of this conference is to reinforce this growing, constructive web of interactions, and to foster novel interchanges between psychoanalysis and philosophy. It brings together prominent scholars and practising analysts with overlapping concerns, whose work can advance our understanding of the ways philosophy and psychoanalysis may each be informed and enriched by the other.

Through five panels over two days, and a keynote address by Jonathan Lear, psychoanalysts and philosophers will consider issues in the empirical evidence base for psychoanalysis, religious experience, ethics, the mind, and aesthetics and emotion.

Key topics covered during the conference include:

  •           Psychoanalysis and Science
  •           Religious Experience
  •           Ethics
  •           The Mind
  •           Aesthetics and Emotion

Conference Programme

The full conference programme may be viewed below

Abstracts for Presentations

Abrstracts for the presentations may be downloaded here.

Speakers and Chairs  

Brief biographic details for the speakers and chairs are also available below.

Fees and Bookings

The conference fees are as follows:

Full fee: £120
Institute of Philosophy members: £60
Student/trainee: £30

To book your place, please contact Marjory Goodall via email at   or at:

The Institute of Psychoanalysis, Byron House, 112a  Shirland Road, London  W9 2BT

Conference Programme

Friday 17th October

13.00 Registration

14.00 Panel A: Psychoanalysis: the empirical evidence base
Morris Eagle, Adelphi University, NYU, Los Angeles Institute and Society for Psychoanalytic Studies (psychoanalyst): ‘The scientific status of psychoanalytic theory’
James Hopkins, King’s College London, UCL (philosopher): ‘Psychoanalysis, attachment and neuroscience: consilience over the first year of life’
Mary Target, UCL (psychoanalyst): ‘The empirical evidence base of psychoanalysis: oxymoron, fact or both?’
Chair:  Michael Lacewing, Heythrop College (philosopher)

15.45 Tea break

16.15 Panel B: Psychoanalysis, philosophy and religion
David Black, British Psychoanalytical Society (psychoanalyst): ‘Religion as the Affirmation of Values’
Beverley Clack, Oxford Brookes (philosopher): ‘Loss and Waste: Or the Value of Uncertainty’
John Cottingham, Heythrop College, Reading (philosopher): ‘The psychoanalytic and the religious quest: four parallels’
Chair: Denis Flynn, British Psychoanalytical Society (psychoanalyst)

18.00 Quick break

18.15 Public lecture: Jonathan Lear, Chicago (philosopher and psychoanalyst): 'The fundamental rule'
Chair: Louise Braddock, Cambridge (philosopher)

19.15 Wine reception

Saturday 18 October 2014

9.30 Panel C: Ethics
Michael Lacewing, Heythrop College (philosopher): ‘The virtues of self-knowledge’
Margaret Rustin, British Psychoanalytical Society, Tavistock (psychoanalyst): ‘Psychoanalytic reflections on Aristotle’s virtues’
Bennett Simon, Harvard, Boston Psychoanalytic Society (psychoanalyst): ‘Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Sexual Fantasy: A Contribution to the Ethics of “Using the other person as a means and not an end in
and of herself/himself.”’
Chair: Edward Harcourt, Oxford (philosopher)

11.15 Coffee break

11.45 Panel D: Mind and self-knowledge
Katalin Farkas, Central European University (philosopher): ‘Dreams and philosophers’ dreams’
Adam Leite, Indiana (philosopher): ‘Moore’s paradox, working through, and the first-person perspective’
Edna O’Shaughnessy, British Psychoanalytical Society, Tavistock (psychoanalyst): ‘Known by another Mind’
Chair: David Bell, British Psychoanalytical Society, Tavistock (psychoanalyst)

1.30 Lunch

2.30 Panel E: Art and Aesthetics
Jenefer Robinson, Cincinnati (philosopher): ‘Art and emotion’
Francis Grier, British Psychoanalytical Society (psychoanalyst): ‘Musical creativity, meaning, and trauma’
Jeremy Lewison, British Psychoanalytical Society (freelance curator): ‘Picasso, eroticism and old age’
Chair: John Lawrence, British Psychoanalytical Society (psychoanalyst)

4.15 Tea break

4.45 Plenary discussion

6.00 End

Speakers and Chairs  

David Bell BSc (Hons), MB. FRCPsych, Psychoanalyst, Training Analyst, Fellow and past President British Psychoanalytical Society, Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy Tavistock Clinic, founder co-convenor of London Philosophy-Psychoanalysis Group, interested in philosophy of mind, culture, ethics and politics. (Chair)

David Black MA, Psychoanalyst, Fellow and former Hon Sec of the British Psychoanalytical Society. Editor of Psychoanalysis and Religion in the 21st Century: competitors or collaborators? (Routledge New Library of Psychoanalysis, 2006) and author of Why Things Matter: the place of values in science, psychoanalysis and religion (Routledge 2011). (Speaker)

Louise Braddock, MA, PhD, MB, MRCPsych, Philosopher and Psychiatrist, Girton College, Cambridge, founder and current co-convenor of London Philosophy-Psychoanalysis Group, interested in philosophy of psychoanalysis and ethics. (Chair)

Beverley Clack, Ph.D, M.Sc., Professor in Philosophy of Religion, Oxford Brookes University. Research interests in the philosophy of religion, particularly concerned with the way feminist and psychoanalytic theories can inform the approach and content of this discipline. (Speaker)

John Cottingham, D.Phil, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, University of Reading, Professorial Research Fellow, Heythrop College, University of London, Honorary Fellow of St John’s College, Oxford. Fomrer editor of Ratio: the International Journal of Analytic Philosophy. Principal research interests are in early-modern philosophy (especially Descartes), moral philosophy, and the philosophy of religion. (Speaker)

Morris N. Eagle, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies, Adelphi University; Distinguished Educator-in-Residence, California Lutheran University; faculty at the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, and the Los Angeles Institute and Society for Psychoanalytic Studies. Former president of the American Psychological Association’s division of psychoanalysis. His most recent book is Attachment and Psychoanalysis: Theory, Research, and Clinical Implications (Karnac 2013). (Speaker)

Katalin Farkas, Ph.D., D.Sc., Professor of Philosophy, Central European University, Budapest. Author of The Subject's Point of View (OUP 2008). Research interests: philosophy of mind, internalism, perception, scepticism, extended cognition. (Speaker)

Denis Flynn BA (Hons) MSc, Psychoanalyst, Training Analyst, Fellow and Child Analyst British Psychoanalytical Society, Child Psychotherapist (Tavistock Clinic), co-convenor London Philosophy-Psychoanalysis Group, interested in theory of mind in relation to emotional disturbance. (Chair)

Francis Grier MA, Training Analyst and Fellow of the British Psychoanalytic Society, Couple Psychotherapist. Also a composer, pianist and organist. Interested in aesthetics and religion, thinking about creativity and music, especially opera (has written on Rigoletto and La Traviata for the International Journal of Psychoanalysis).  His new Vespers setting has just been premiered by the choir of King’s College, Cambridge. (Speaker)

Edward Harcourt, D. Phil, University Lecturer (CUF) in Philosophy and Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy, Keble College, Oxford. Organiser Meaning and Mindedness series at Tavistock Centre. Research interests in moral psychology, neo-Aristotelianism and child development, ethical dimensions of psychoanalysis, meta-ethics; Nietzsche's ethics; literature and philosophy; Wittgenstein (Chair)

Jim Hopkins, Ph.D, Reader Emeritus in Philosophy at King's College and Visiting Professor in the Psychoanalysis Unit at University College London. He was Kohut Visiting Professor of Social Thought at the University of Chicago for 2008. His main work has been on psychoanalysis, interpretation, consciousness, and the philosophy of Wittgenstein. (Speaker)

Dr Michael Lacewing , Ph.D, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy and Director of Research, Heythrop College, University of London, and Honorary Senior Lecturer, UCL Psychoanalysis Unit. Research interests in metaethics, empirically-informed moral psychology, and the philosophy of psychoanalysis. (Speaker)

John Lawrence BA (Hons), Psychoanalyst, Member British Psychoanalytical Society, Member London Philosophy-Psychoanalysis Group, interested in European Renaissance and 20th century art. (Chair)

Jonathan Lear, Ph.D, is Professor of Philosophy and a member of the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. He is also a trained psychoanalyst and serves on the faculty of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis and the Western New England Institute. A second edition of his book Freud will be published soon. (Speaker)

Adam Leite, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Philosophy, Indiana University, Bloomington, recipient of the Mellon New Directions Fellowship for research in psychoanalysis. Research interests in epistemology (including skepticism, testimony, and epistemic normativity), self-knowledge and moral psychology broadly construed (especially interpersonal phenomena and love). (Speaker)

Jeremy Lewison, MA, Independent Curator, Writer and Art Historian; Associate, British Psychoanalytical Society; Curator of recent Turner Monet Twombly: Later Paintings exhibition; former Director of Collections, Tate Gallery, Trustee of Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol and Tricycle Theatre, London. Interested in modern and contemporary art and its relationship to psychology and psychoanalysis, specifically what motivates artists in old age. (Speaker)

Edna O'Shaughnessy, Edna O’Shaughnessy was born in 1924 in Johannesburg, South Africa. She studied Philosophy , first at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and later at Oxford in England. In the 1950’s she began an analysis with Roger Money-Kyrle in London and trained as a Child Psychotherapist at the Tavistock Clinic. In the 1960’s she trained as an analyst of adults at the BPAS of which she is now a Distinguished Fellow, Training Analyst and Child Analyst. She works also in the Fitzjohn’s Unit of the Tavistock Clinic. (Speaker)

Jenefer Robinson, Ph.D, Professor of Philosophy, University of Cincinnati. Former president of the American Society for Aesthetics. Leverhulme Visiting Professor, University of Nottingham 2008-2009. Research interests in aesthetics and philosophical psychology, especially the theory of emotion. (Speaker)

Margaret Rustin  BA (Hons), Child Psychotherapist, Tavistock Clinic; Child Analyst and Associate, British Psychoanalytical Society, interested in forms of moral thinking. (Speaker)

Bennett Simon, MD, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Emeritus, Harvard Medical School, Boston; Teaching Faculty, Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge; Training Analyst, Boston Psychoanalytic Society. Interested in the interface of psychoanalysis with the humanities and the social sciences. Current work includes the relationship between psychoanalysis and ethics and sexuality. (Speaker)

Mary Target MSc, PhD, Psychoanalyst, Fellow British Psychoanalytical Society, Professor of Psychoanalysis and Director Psychoanalysis Unit, University College London, interested in the evidential base of psychoanalysis.  (Speaker)

Contact Name: Marjory Goodall
Contact Telephone: 020 7563 5016