Force, Drive, Desire

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ISBN 978-0-8101-4223-7

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ISBN 978-0-8101-4224-4

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ISBN 978-0-8101-3998-5
Publication Date
February 2020
Page Count
400 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

Force, Drive, Desire

A Philosophy of Psychoanalysis
Rudolf Bernet, Translated from the French by Sarah Allen

In Force, Drive, Desire, Rudolf Bernet develops a philosophical foundation of psychoanalysis focusing on human drives. Rather than simply drawing up a list of Freud’s borrowings from Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, or Lacan’s from Hegel and Sartre, Bernet orchestrates a dialogue between philosophy and psychoanalysis that goes far beyond what these eminent psychoanalysts knew about philosophy. By relating the writings of Freud, Lacan, and other psychoanalysts to those of Aristotle, Leibniz, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Husserl, Heidegger, and, more tacitly, Bergson and Deleuze, Bernet brings to light how psychoanalysis both prolongs and breaks with the history of Western metaphysics and philosophy of nature.
Rereading the long history of metaphysics (or at least a few of its key moments) in light of psychoanalytic inquiries into the nature and function of drive and desire also allows for a rewriting of the history of philosophy. Specifically, it allows Bernet to bring to light a different history of metaphysics, one centered less on Aristotelian substance (ousia) and more on the concept of dunamis—a power or potentiality for a realization toward which it strives with all its might. Relating human drives to metaphysical forces also bears fruit for a renewed philosophy of life and subjectivity.

About the Author

RUDOLF BERNET is a professor emeritus of philosophy at the University of Leuven in Belgium and former director of the Husserl Archives. He is the editor of Edmund Husserl’s Texte zur Phänomenologie des inneren Zeitbewusstseins (The Phenomenology of Internal Time-Consciousness) and Die Bernauer Manuskripte über das Zeitbewusstsein (The Bernau Manuscripts on Time-Consciousness), the coauthor of An Introduction to Husserlian Phenomenology, and the author of La vie du sujet: Recherches sur l’interprétation de Husserl dans la phénoménologie (The Life of the Subject: Investigations on the Interpretation of Husserl in Phenomenology) and Conscience et existence: Perspectives phénoménologiques (Consciousness and Existence: Phenomenological Perspectives). 

“Rudolf Bernet’s Force, Drive, Desire is a highly welcome contribution to contemporary philosophy. Bernet offers an impressive, multifaceted account of the fundamental forces that move human beings, individually and collectively. This is crucial not just to phenomenology and psychoanalysis but also to political philosophy, ontology, and metaphysics.” —Sara Heinämaa, author of Toward a Phenomenology of Sexual Difference

“Clear and erudite, challenging and exciting, this work is a literal tour de force. The aim of Rudolf Bernet’s Force, Drive, Desire is nothing less than a renewal of both philosophy and psychoanalysis by way of a powerful reconstruction of the concepts of drive and desire as fundamental to each.” —James Dodd, author of Phenomenology, Architecture, and the Built World

“This unique book is sure to be a classic. Bernet’s masterful study unearths remarkably deep connections between psychoanalytic concepts of drive and desire, and philosophical problems of force, movement, agency, negativity and passivity, offering extraordinary insights into what drives us in our relations to each other and nature.” —David Morris, author of Merleau-Ponty's Developmental Ontology

“Bernet's book makes for essential reading on the topic of the relationship between philosophy and psychoanalysis; many of the chapters are sure to become standard points of reference . . . This book does more than just shed new light on a much-debated question; it opens up a new area of research. Bernet has a truly impressive mastery of the texts of classical metaphysics which he expertly weaves into an alternative tradition. The book sometimes takes a circuitous route to approach its goal, but like drives themselves, this detour produces an abundant surplus not always connected to its object that nevertheless generates a pleasure all of its own.” —Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"Bernet brings psychoanalysis and philosophy into the kind of productive dialogue that has not been accomplished since Paul Ricoeur's Freud and Philosophy. . . . Bernet's reconstruction of drives and desire will have far-reaching implications for rethinking the future of both psychoanalysis and metaphysics as central to how to conduct a philosophy sensitive to human agency and existence itself. Essential." —Choice