Posts Tagged ‘psychoanalysis’

by Dr. Kevin Boileau, PhD, JD & Nazarita Goldhammer, scientists and psychoanalysts

We dedicate this prolegomenon to all the primates that human beings have savagely harmed, abused, neglected, and forced into servitude or imprisonment, both past and present. We hope that wiser humans will follow and support this prolegomenon with an actual primate rights bill that would become federal law in the United States, and that would influence similar laws around the planet Earth.

It is recognized that all primates, including human beings, have a common
evolutionary origin even though each primate group has differentiated itself from the others, and even though the human group has differentiated to the greatest extent.

It is recognized that all primates have similar nervous systems and capacities for autonomy and suffering.

It is recognized that all primates have complex sets of interests, needs, and preferences, and that the recognition of natural rights protects these. Therefore, all primates and all primate groups have natural rights.

It is recognized that the very existence of a primate group implies that it has the natural right to continue to live free from interference from this living by human primate groups.

It is recognized that the ignorance of disrespect for these natural rights causes serious harm to primate individuals and groups; to nature as a whole; and to human beings.

It is recognized that the respect for the natural rights of all primate groups is inextricably tied to the respect for the natural rights of all human primates.

Part 1

This prolegomenon applies to all beings who are in the class of primates.

We recognize that there has been a historical evolution in the conceptual and legal distinction between personhood and property. For example, we recognize people of certain race, color, age, who have long suffered invidious discrimination, including African Americans, women, children, the disabled, laboratory fetuses, and we recognize that non-human sentient animals such as primates have also been affected and harmed by this distinction.

For example, in some states, dogs are viewed as cash crops, treated no differently from oranges. We also recognize there is an analysis on the moral plane, in which non-human sentient animals have the same relevant, moral characteristics as human beings, but who have also been treated dissimilarly. For example, the class of beings called primates, which includes but which is not limited to orangutans, bonobos, monkeys, chimpanzees, who are individually autonomous, who are capable of suffering and who are aware of their suffering, are treated differently from human primates. There is a historical and analytic component to this understanding of a system of morality, which includes dimensions of the social, political and scientific that treats similar cases dissimilarly. This is the very definition of injustice.

This prolegomenon focuses on this injustice and this analytically illogical treatment and historically illogical treatment of non-human, sentient primates. Its various provisions both separate and collective, intends to correct this injustice by promulgating proto-federal law that protects the rights and the interests of all primates to be free from physical and psychological harm and, moreover, mandates an actual responsibility and requirement that human beings acknowledge, promote, and serve the best interest of all primates in the world today whether they are living in the wild, in a research facility, in any other government organization, in a private home, or in any other place.

It is important to point out that these natural and legal rights of primates do not depend on whether they are considered to be persons or not. The status of persons is based on a Kantian moral system in which rights and duties are considered to exist together, correlatively. This means that for a person to have rights he must also have duties. Given that primates do not have duties it is supposed that they cannot have rights. Therefore, they cannot be persons. However, in the bill that we promulgate here, the natural and legal rights of primates do not depend upon this system of correlative rights and duties. Instead, the foundation is that natural rights come from the faculty of autonomy, sentience, and the potential to suffer. This does not depend upon the assignment of the status of personhood.

It should be absolutely clear that we recognize both natural and legal rights of all primates, including but not limited to human beings because there are no morally relevant differences between one type of primate and any other type of primate given that they all are capable of autonomy, sentience and suffering.

Human rights declarations focus only on the natural rights of human beings, but they ignore the natural rights of other primates to be free from harm and to pursue a natural life pattern as part of a vital role in all eco-systems; to enjoy the common faculty of autonomy, choose life plans, and seek shelter, comfort, and adequate food; and to live amongst their own species in nature family groups. From these natural rights, which are no different from the natural rights of human beings—save the desire to form nation states and human laws—we hereby promulgate the following legal precepts that will protect, serve and foster the natural rights we hereby acknowledge. It is our goal to produce several successive iterations of this proto-law, with the intent that its principles eventually be promulgated as United States federal law.
Part 2

If we compare the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the Universal Declaration of Animal Rights we can see that they make assumptions that the beings to be protected have natural rights. According to the documents, these rights come from having certain characteristics and then are promulgated by fiat. The methods are exactly the same: certain characteristics lead to natural rights. In the case of human rights, non-human animals are ignored. In the case of animal rights, humans are ignored.

We can see, however, that there is no relevant difference between human primates and other sentient beings who are classified as primates. Logically, this requires us, therefore, to include all sentient beings within an account of rights even though we have not yet done so historically. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the “UDHR,” calls attention to certain features of human beings, such as “inherent dignity,” “equal and inalienable rights,” a “right to life, liberty, and security,” a right not to be “subjected to torture or to cruel or degrading treatment or punishment,” and a “right to freedom of movement.” These speak of a high valuation of human beings that comes just from their identity as humans. It comes from our natural conceptions about human life and our recognition that we must protect important values and goods. In the case of humans, we simply agree that human life is valuable, attaching various positive terms to this valuation. It is a pronouncement by fiat.

In this process we ignore other sentient life, tacitly agreeing that other life is not important enough to include in various statements about natural rights. Historically, animals have not been thought to deserve inherent rights, only gaining value in terms of their instrumental value to humans (which, by the way, Immanuel Kant acknowledges). Yet this does not mean that animals do not have inherent dignity just like humans, or any of the other protections that are listed above. Let’s consider what could account for this.

Historically, we understand that the kind of self that we have created valorizes the development of the autonomous self in which each of us lives in the world in terms of his own mental categories. In this tradition we approach Others in terms of our own subjective interpretation of meaning and analyze Others relative to what we already know. It is an appetitive approach in which we consume Others by reducing them to the same cognitive categories of our own minds and experience.

This is an anthropological mistake that operates both between humans and also between humans and other sentient beings. More specifically, it operates between humans and other primates. We have seen how this anthropological mistake operates in an intra-human context. Now, let’s explain how it works when we consider other sentient beings. First, in a humanism of the “I,” this masterful, egocentric self tries to dominate everything in its path, which closes the natural capaciousness of consciousness into a direction that ends in destruction and horror. This is the consciousness that callously disregards the interests of all animals, most humans, and many primates. You see, just because we come to idolize the ideals of humanism we fall into a self-deception about the praxis. Upon inspection, we see that humans don’t actually do very well in meeting the demands set forth in a universal declaration of human rights because we don’t often protect the inherent and natural dignity of other humans. This is the state of consciousness that is selfish, egocentric, violent, and narcissistic. Yet, unfortunately, the discussion stops at the borders of the human and all consideration for other sentient beings is lost. It appears very clear that the structure of consciousness in egocentric narcissism by humans toward other humans, is exactly the same structure in behavior by humans toward animals. It is the very same egocentrism that causes a human to act violently toward another human that also causes him to preclude animals from a statement of natural rights and therefore, to give implied permission for their instrumental use and violent death. This is the psychological structure that we overcome in an interpretation of our human anthropology.

A secondary argument that accomplishes the same goal involves rationality. The argument has often been made that because animals cannot reason they are of lesser ontological worth than humans. However, this very type of consciousness bleeds back into intra-human affairs in which we subtly come to believe that the more “rational” one is the more he or she is worth. Thus, humans with severe birth defects in which their cognitive abilities are seriously impaired are implicitly viewed as having less value than those with normal or superior abilities (especially in a utilitarian moral system). The defective human (and this extends to those in prison, those who have menial jobs and the like) and the animal rate lower in value than those humans who have better rational capacities. It is a specious argument, and its consequences only serve to fuel the perennial “war of all against all” in our civilization. This is Thrasymachus’s position in the Republic, which Plato shows all too easily cannot serve as a foundation for justice. Moreover, in a derivative way, we can also see how this very same structure of consciousness is foundation to the neglect, abuse, and destruction of the environment. A trans-humanist foundation that treats like cases in like manner amongst the full spectrum of primates challenges this way of thinking.

For purposes of this bill, we will focus on humans and other sentient beings, and leave the environment in general to another day. We shall also leave to another day the definitions of sentient being, animal, and those creatures who/that do not achieve such a denomination. As far as the natural rights of humans go, we engage in a great deal of deception. It seems clear that the notion of [equal] human rights becomes more of something to say—to use in a manipulative way—than to actually practice. Perhaps this stems from a true lack of the ontological parity thesis, the result of which leads to violence toward any Other. In short, there is no basic ontological difference between humans and any other feeling animal that would lead to different moral treatment. We also believe that the exclusion of animals from a bill of natural rights comes from the same thinking that creates a bill of rights for humans but that does not actually respect it. There is also a third argument that does not have any convincing effect whatsoever. This is the argument that in order to have rights one must have duties, for this is what creates a reciprocal system. It is, instead, the case that there are many people who have rights but who are not capable of exercising duties. These people are the elderly and the mentally or physically infirm. Thus, it makes no sense to distinguish rights on this basis, and to conclude that because non-human animals cannot enter into the rights-duties system they don’t have rights. In effect, this continues the “might makes right” mentality and does not get us to a better position than the very narcissistic, egocentric state of mental development. Let us, therefore, leave this dimension and move to the phenomenological aspect that we can articulate through a discourse about solidarity. As a bridge to this discussion, however, we offer an idea about a new foundation for rights for both humans and animals that emerge from a common root. This is the root of life. This is vivantonomy, a new concept that expresses a new human anthropology and a new understanding of the place of humans on the planet Earth. This is a reconstituted humanism.

In the Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Animal Rights it is stated “that Life is one, all living beings having a common origin and having diversified in the course of the evolution of the species”; “that all living beings possess natural rights”; [and further in the Preamble] “that the respect of humans for animals is inseparable from the respect of man for another man.” The declaration goes on to specifically delineate 14 articles that address the notion that animal rights and human rights come from the more primordial dimension of life itself. We have seen how humans have developed a declaration of human rights from the notion of natural rights, although animals and the environment are excluded. In this declaration for animal rights, we recognize a great diversity in living creatures, and specifically acknowledge that each of one has natural rights. These rights come from the sole fact of being alive, and participating in a wondrous, complex eco-system if you will, but more than that, representing a different facet of the interrelatedness of all living beings. We can see that a declaration of human rights that bases its strictures on notions of natural rights cannot escape the fact that natural rights also belong to other sentient beings. Our problem is that we have either neatly ignored or forgotten this fact. or we have callously disregarded it (both a product of the ego-centric mind). We have prepared the reader to overcome these limitations through the provisions of the bill.

Part 3

There are many species of beings that we humans will never see, and many that are in our daily ecosystems that we choose not to see. Yet, they are there—here—rather, constantly watching, looking, appealing—usually to us humans. We don’t see them because our own systems of value are informed by our narcissism: our egocentrism. This type of consciousness therefore closes itself in on itself, not seeing other life, other humans, and our very selves. This is the possessory, dominating subjectivity that instrumentalizes all others, and even in a system indoctrinated by rights and duties, fails to see the Other’s world on its own terms, as its unique manifestation. Here are the 6 axioms that underwrite an understanding of the principles of the natural and legal rights of primates:

First, we must dismiss the notion that humans are better, of more worth, or higher on a value scale. We must substitute it with a new axiom of ontological parity.

Second, we must agree that in principle that most of us have little knowledge about the whole: about how all beings, processes, and structures work together in an ecosystem. We substitute it with a new axiom of rigorous inquiry.

Third, we must accept a new Archimedean point. We cannot pretend to be at the center of the universe or the planet earth. This means that we must render an accounting of all life forms, including ours, holding that all living beings have equal interests and rights. We must, therefore, have an axiom that recognizes we play a part in the whole but are not the whole, and that we must mediate and weigh our interests relative to those of other life forms. If we do conclude that we are the center of the planet then we must reject our species narcissism and our hubris, and replace it with a strong sense of responsibility to all other life forms and to all other primates and primate groups.

Fourth, we must recognize that all life forms come from the same source. This leads us to the reconstituted notion of solidarity. This is a trans-human notion that includes all other life forms equally with the human.

Fifth, we must acknowledge and accept a new depth and breadth of our responsibility to others, including humans, other sentient life forms, additional life forms, and the environment in general.

Sixth, we must work diligently to formulate and articulate a new philosophical anthropology for human beings. This means we must strive for new meaning and understanding of the world and our place within it. This is neither the autonomous subject nor the heteronomous subject but it is a new human. This re-formulates the reality principle. Here are the 31 articles of this Prolegomenon, followed by a philosophical exegesis of their foundation.


Dr. Kevin Boileau & Nazarita Goldhammer

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Introduction to EPIS 2018 Conference:

“A Semiology of Capitalism &
the Pursuit of Reflection for a Future Psychoanalysis: Remarks

Kevin Boileau
June 2018
The theme of the EPIS conference this year involves the natural & indigenous roots of a progressive psychoanalysis, applied phenomenology, and anthropologically transformative critical theory. Some of our papers this summer address this directly; others indirectly, but all contribute to the whole.

While looking to past theories in psychoanalysis and phenomenology is important, this conference will focus on new, creative ideas, concepts, and theories. The goal is to produce presentations and papers that explore innovative work in psychoanalysis and phenomenology that refer to natural and indigenous roots of our civilization and cultures within it.

Our hope is to produce papers that explore alienated relationships between the living world, life, and the given, and our contemporary understanding of psychoanalysis and phenomenology. This involves, necessarily, critical theory, applied phenomenology, praxis, and potentials for transformative change, individually and collectively.

In short, phenomenology, psychoanalysis, and critical theory are useful discourses that can tell us who we are, who others are, and how we see self, other, and world. However, much of psychoanalysis has not fairly treated these larger structural factors, like capitalism, like the semiology of capitalism (and production). I am suggesting that this conference theme is to encourage good thinking and good papers on how we can DO phenomenology, psychoanalysis, and critical theory within a dominant metaphor or discourse – which is a semiology of capitalism. I think there is plenty of evidence that demonstrates we prioritize this metaphor over ALL others, including the value of life, culture, etc. I am suggesting that we need to pay close attention to how these STRUCTURAL factors, including dominant metaphors and dominant discourses, affect our very ability to DO psychoanalysis, phenomenology, and critical theory. That brings me to my questions concerning reflection in the introduction. I think the questions are important. By postulating a hermeneutics of suspicion in which we cannot fully trust what our mind thinks or how we reflect, we might be able to navigate to a truer level of reflection, a reflection that provides more truth or insight about the nature of humans beings. Humanism is in a mal-mentalized, chaotic tension right now. As such, humanism as we know it – in my view – must be transformed radically into something very different. This means we must transform our anthropology. I believe that we cannot do this and continue to be inebriated with what we think of as individualism or autonomy…for God’s sake, deep discourses provide the matrix of all practical thinking positions…our choices just a semblance of freedom…Thus, we must interrogate reflection. We must bracket what we think of as reflection — both you and I – and others – and re-think reflection in a way that sidesteps desire, which is at the very heart of classical and contemporary psychoanalysis….

We are concerned here with subjectivization – the topological cultural space within which we become selves. This necessarily triggers a dialectic between voluntarism and structuralism; our possibility for self-constitution; and the power exogenous forces have on this dynamic interplay. It seems clear that we are structuralized by semio-capitalism – that the overarching semiology concerns capitalism, accumulation, and commodification as the main hermeneutic allocation of value in our politics and culture. Within this hermeneutic, some examples of subjectivity include the faithful, the obscure, the reactive, the anxious, the violent, the complacent, the courageous, the responsible, the just, and those who seek solidarity. These terms, of course, transverse taxonomies such as the DSM, and therefore have the meaningful resources of several discourses and domains. But they all tangle with truth and goodness and are, therefore, subject to a psycho-analysis.

We see in this semio-space the potential further erosion of the fictions of autonomy and individualism given that choices and perceived freedom are already pre-structured. Thus, what appears as a set of free choices by a unique individual is already constrained by a homogenous-homologous structure that exists both unconsciously and consciously within the situation and context of these choices. Therefore, we must consider that the brain and the mind are plastic and can, therefore, be affected and shaped by the mental environment. This is the cultural, political, and social situation along with its domains such as the neuro-electric and the neuro-physical. These exogenous forces create neurological limits to the brain and derivatively, limits to the imagination.

In contemporary culture, we are seeing the profound structural and self-constituting effects of the violent penetration of capitalist exploitation into Internet technology, government, bureaucracy, corporations, multiple social and cultural domains, and individual bodies. It also affects the topology and matrices of self-structure that presence themselves in human communities. Currently, this onslaught of capitalist violence causes noospheric chaos, de-mentalizations, fragmentations, and splitting between emotion and cognition. In order to help us adjust to these conditions, psychiatry and psychopharmacology re-program and mollify the effects of this capitalist violence. This re-programming minimizes singularity, which is the uniqueness of each person, transforming it into the homogenous structure that prefigures what we perceive as individual and free. This, in turn, supports our neurotic subjectivizations and obsessions to capital and the ensuing neural exploitation. This is the submission of our minds to a semiology of capitalism.

Unfortunately, these capitalist formations disengage our existential experience from deeper cultural and social meaning, for example, by separating the humanities from science, the technical from the social, or the cultural from the natural. This distorts and narrows our noetic – our source of meaning – to one that that is circumscribed and mediated by accumulation and growth, possession and control. The acquisition of knowledge thus becomes a teleological enterprise of assimilating and learning capitalist ideologies and dogmas. In principle, if we do not understand these foundations then what we perceive as critical thinking and reflection is instead a mass manipulation through power and the way it utilizes language.

Because capitalism becomes the chief semiological fulcrum, we lose the authentic relation to the environment and all the life and being in it. This creates fragmentation and alienation most deeply experienced as a temporal dystonia because the way capital forces us into an experience of time distorts an originary, natural relation to it. This raises the issue of our human anthropology and our relation to the cosmos. Currently, we operate primarily from humanism, in which a) humans believe that they are more ontologically valuable than other life forms and b) humans compete with each other for important goods, and in so doing elevate capitalism and competition above all other values. This creates a valorization of autonomy, individualism, competition, evolution, acquisition, narcissism, and egocentrism, which becomes an unbridled violence contextualized in automation – – we have become automatons. This leads to an evental interrogation of the human anthropology and our most basic interpretational structures – our noetic – how we see the world. This opens transcendent space in which can choose to re-define ourselves and shift the source of meaning away from semio-capitalism and all that I have been discussing.

Let us now consider some other dimensions of this problem – what we see that is happening. As we recall, it was not so long ago that the western culture viewed humans as mechanisms. In this schema, we are products of nature, live in space-time interpreted as calculable motion, are embodied, and are controlled by the laws of nature. This is, as I have discussed elsewhere, the borrowing of principles of physics and applying them to human beings. This tends to squeeze out the historical, and the self-constituting aspect in our humanity. What is left is a different sort of temporality that is less based on cultural and social meaning that is free from technology, and that is more based on a de-humanized evolutionary approach that prioritizes power, competition, and other values that emanate from a mechanistic type of humanism.

Thus, the perception of time also shifts in semio-capitalism. Consider that humans have a deep existential capacity for temporality with past, present, and future ekstases. We then layer our historical, cultural, social, and personal interpretations of time on this deep existential structure and ontological faculty. This involves the relation between the ontological and the ontic, but it is important to note that these interpretations structure our thinking and our lives from a deep place. However, if we de-prioritize life, then the historical, cultural, social, and personal are thereby distorted. Instead of temporality being governed by important cultural factors, it is now largely governed by time interpreted as efficiency, productivity, and capitalism. It shifts from the lifeworld to automation; or another way of articulating this is to say that the lifeworld is now completely dominated by semio-capitalism.

Because of our assumptions of neuro-plasticity and neuro-totalitarianism, we can safely become concerned that our structure of temporality has its foundation in a semiology of capitalism. This can conflict with natural life rhythms, historical processes, and human integration with the rest of the Earth. Because these structures are both unconscious and conscious, they affect our very perceptions of them. One concern I have is whether we have any transcendental space left within which to imagine other time-worlds – other interpretations of temporality. Without this critical space, we lack an important thinking dimension of our relationship with the rest of existence – other life forms and the resources of the Earth. Another concern is that with an interpretation of time based on mechanism and automation, we lose the idea of duration. We lose the richness of a life that understands the difference between past, present, and future, and the temporal ekstases of retention, intention, and protention, which allow us a deeper level of introspection and moral consciousness.

Furthermore, in a mechanistic interpretation of temporality, in which time is viewed as motion and space, we prioritize operational thinking which also suppresses deeper thinking about the construction of meaning. In addition, with time being compressed by the need for productivity and efficiency, there is less time to consider transcendence and change. Thus, there is less capacity for deeper thinking and the consideration of meaning formation.

Let’s take stock. We are facing the issues of time, the nature of our human anthropology or authenticity, thinking, meaning, and a topology of the self, separable concepts, to be sure, but all highly inter-related in psychoanalysis, phenomenology, and critical theory. Now that we have mentioned both temporality and the nature of the human anthropology, let’s focus on authenticity, self-structure, and the origin of meaning. Currently, our anthropology is centered on an egology, narcissism, and the possessory self of the Western Enlightenment, which I have written about extensively. In this introduction, however, I want to tie it to an apprehension and experience of the Other and of the given – the given Other. Let’s discuss that self because it is present at these three disciplines that we study and utilize at the Existential Psychoanalytic Institute & Society.

In a civilization that is governed by a semiology of capitalism, consumption, and desire – historically contextualized with a valorization of the fictions of individualism and autonomy – the self is an alienated, isolated structure. To be sure, it is inter-relationally constituted, but in its hubris, it forgets how essential the Other is to its very self-constitution. In this way of being, it sees the world only in terms of its own mental categories; thus, everything is a projection. What it perceives comes from its own mind and therefore not from the world as it is given. Unfortunately, we lose apprehension, experience, and understanding of the Other – who is a radical Other.

We can see that semio-capitalism is a derivative of a metaphysics that attempts to quantify nature then hypostatize it into what we consider to be original reality. In this worldview, even the subject of the subject-object split is reified into a thing – which then becomes subject to an anthropology of mechanism, as I have explained. Modern science fails to inquire into the mode of being of its objects. Here, their meaning is constricted to a picture of the facts, i.e, to no effective meaning at all. Further, there is no meaning in general; it is always meaning for [someone]. Thus, the question of meaning is a study in reflection, which leads us to an examination of reflection itself.

If a semiology of capitalism is based on a subjectivity of desire, it follows that the kind of reflection this sort of subject is capable of would be conditioned by that very desire, or self-interest. Thus, the very topology or structure of the self operates as a set of world parameters within which reflection occurs. More strongly, reflection tends toward self-interest at this level. I argue that self-interest often brings closure to availability and closure to deeper and broader reflection. Thus, when personal interest conflicts with reflection in some way, reflection is at risk for being suppressed or distorted. This is true, of course, unless there is a different kind of reflection, one that is more radical in that it interrogates the attachment we have to our self-interest. Therefore, is it not the case that the reflective self takes its own interest to task? That it thinks against itself? Doesn’t the virtue of responsibility require us to place full attention on the task of reflection itself? Doesn’t this full attention require us to bracket our very own interests and desires as we probe into the transcendent field from which they arise? Without this deeper level of reflection, we cannot be sure that any sort of reflection outstrips self- interest.

This countermove of reflection exposes our capacity for freedom and derivatively for moral autonomy and choice. Being able to step back from a purely egologically-formed self-structure exposes our capacity for transcendence, transformation, and change. Sartre spoke of this as “pure reflection” – pure because it exposes the self-deception involved in usual ego structure. More clearly, we often close ourselves to things and others by not engaging in this purifying thought process and by staying within our “desirous reflections.” Unfortunately, this means that we create an opaque relationship to reality and do not see or experience things as they really are. One can easily see the moral, epistemological, and other ramifications of this distortive process. The countermove trends toward a different kind of reflection – and truth. This countermove tends toward truth because it opens to the world of others and to things, instead of closing itself to them.

Let us go further in asking about the purpose of reflection. Is it not to correct the distortions and falsities of what appears? For example, I might consider that the way I see things is, in principle, distorted because of my self-interest. Conversely, isn’t it true that reflection gives us an opportunity to see past the distortions to reach what is given? This is not being as such; rather, it is what is given in a way that transcends our personal desires. Doesn’t this possibility require a responsibility to transcend our personal interests, as Patocka suggests? Doesn’t this also require is to live in and entertain the realm of the possible, such realm the future ekstases of a conscious, aware human being? Doesn’t this therefore require us to consider all temporal ekstases and how they relate to one another as source of meaning and context for future choice? Let’s take stock. We have on one hand a self that splits its own being into subject and object, mediated by its own interests and desires; on the other, we have a self that opens itself to the world in an originary way, separate and apart from its own desire. These are two self- structures that have radically different topological-metaphysical structures. One is authentic and consonant with the reality of givenness; the other is self-deceptive and guided by self-interest.

The kind of radical reflection we seek involves this radical opening of ourselves in the first instance. Perhaps this is through Socratic ignorance; perhaps it is through a choice of availability in experience that includes the epistemological. This is a kind of self-choice that is interested in the given. This is the givenness of beings present in situation. Morally and psychologically, this is experience without fear and anxiety; existentially, it is experience without temporality, which includes an understanding of the multiple-worlds thesis, and a presence at the seat of the formation of worlds and time. It simply means to be fully present in the lifeworld – to the given – and most importantly, to be without self-interest. Let’s clarify. What this means is that we can methodically attain an experience in consciousness that overcomes an alienation between the human and the world. We do this by correcting the subject-object dichotomy, and by purifying ourselves of the distortions and self-deceptions of our ego. This requires us to distance ourselves from our ego, while simultaneously creating proximity with the given. This offers us a new Archimedean point, which I will address shortly,
which discloses our inter-relationship with all things; and which opens a greater disclosure of the phenomenological field. This is phenomenology.

A problem emerges, however. In completely-purified reflection, we may lose the self as center and locus of moral autonomy and responsibility. As Patocka argues, reflection is dialectical, which attempts to mediate between two extremes. On the one hand, if we are totally alienated from nature because of a possessory, dominating self, then we surely miss the given. On the other, if we are totally merged with nature then we lose the integrity of the self, and therefore our ability to engage in critical thought. This is the critical thought about nature and our place within it; about the transcendental regime that determines how nature is given to us; about other worlds from which the given presences; about the way we allow such presencing in a way that transcends our personal desire and interest. This involves the relation between how we understand the given and how we understand our very self. In this understanding – which is subjective reflection – we attempt to understand ourselves, which is our search for authentic self. At the same time, we attempt to understand the Other in his being. This means we acknowledge the difference. Thus, to the extent we do not understand our essential nature, our human anthropology, we do not understand the Other except in distorted ways, which are often a product of anxiety, fear, and violence.

This means that we must seek a form of resoluteness and responsibility to our own self-understanding and moral development, coincidental with our inter-relationship to all Others. The search of an authentic self lies in that dialectical process of inter-relationship but not just with other humans. It must be with all Others, human and non-human, in order to move beyond our egocentrism and our anthro-centrism. Further, this means that the quest must not just be an outward study of the objective; instead, it must focus inward, on our very noetic structure and our own consciousness of how and to what extent we are presencing in this world, in this situation. It this author’s view that the primary semiological signifier is capitalism, along with its self-topological structure. It is this primary signifier that must be overcome and transcended and replaced by a signifier of life and its presencing. Methodologies toward this goal include phenomenology, psychoanalysis, and critical theory – purified from a semiology of capitalism and a noetic architecture of the possessory, acquisitive self. This is the self that pursues a fiction of autonomy and individualism at the ontic level, while not understanding that her choices have been pre-determined by that very noetic and semiological structure. Thus, it is an opportunity for radical reflection, free form both personal desire and interest, and from a semiology that pre-structures what counts as valuable and good.

This brings us to an important intersection in this thinking as it addresses that most important distinction between description and understanding. Is it possible to arrive at an un-interpreted apprehension or experience of the common world of things and Others? If not originary, is it possible to make approximations of this region of awareness through dialectical bracketing procedures? Keep in mind this would require an imaginary process of moving between a scientific view and a purified, translucent consciousness in which this very view is held in suspension, so it can be examined. Let’s now take a case in which we can employ this thinking.

Years ago, I wrote a book entitled VIvantonomy: A Trans-Humanist Phenomenology of the Self which is a good example of this bracketing process, in which we set aside a particular worldview – in this case a deep worldview – in order to examine it and consider other options. In this case, I bracket and challenge western humanism, with its unique anthropology that is structure by capitalism and competition, which serves and supports a self-structure that is possessory and acquisitive, dominating, and egocentric. This can be articulated in the languages of critical theory, psychoanalysis, and phenomenology each with its own lexicon. For our immediate quest, we want to know what lies at the bottom of the worldviews of autonomy, heteronomy, and vivantonomy, each an inter-relational position with respect to the Other. Both heteronomy and vivantonomy (which is the prioritization of life over purely humanist, self-centered approaches we see in individualism) challenge competition, individualism, capitalism as primary values, and substitute in others that support the Other. In the case of heteronomy, this is the other human. In the case of vivantonomy, this is all sentient Others, both human and non-human. The idea of trans-humanism means to transcend only the interests of humans, and instead, treat equally with ontological equity, all living sentient beings, and all life in general.

The general principles in Vivantonomy that challenge humanism are: 1) that we must not perceive the ontological worth of non-humans to be lower than that of the worth of humans; 2) that we must take responsibility for much deeper an integrated knowledge about the whole of all ecosystems; 3) that we choose a new Archimedean point in which we do not believe that we are at the center of the earth or any universe and that all beings have equal interests and rights that must always be considered; 4) that we recognize all life comes from the same source and that we must commit to solidarity with all life; 5) that we deepen our responsibility and commitment to all Others both human and non-human, and the life environment; and 6) that we work diligently to develop a new human anthropology, source of meaning and noetic, and reality principle. This is the work of psychoanalysis, critical theory, and phenomenology.

We can see that this new view – with the individual and collective foci of vivantonomy and trans-humanism – challenges a semiology of capitalism and its correlates like autonomy, individualism, competition, power over others, possessory and acquisitive programs – all these indicia of western individualism and humanism. By its very nature this view challenges a primary semiology of capitalism. By framing an exploration into the natural & indigenous roots of a progressive psychoanalysis, applied phenomenology, and anthropologically transformative critical theory we thereby create that dialectical space that challenges the current mainstream framework of these disciplines, especially but not only in a clinical sense.

Our hope is to generate ideas that explore those relationships between the living world, life, and the given that are attributable to a semiology of capitalism, through our contemporary understanding of psychoanalysis, critical theory, and phenomenology, as mediated by their indigenous and natural roots. This is not naturalism per se, but involves the question of how we frame an understanding of nature and the natural in terms of these discourses and substantive orientations. This involves, necessarily, praxis, and potentials for transformative change, individually and collectively.

Ultimately, we are in pursuit of the relationship between the self and its projection of the objective – as subject. This is the phenomenon of subjectivization, which can be known psychoanalytically and phenomenologically,
even with an over-arching semio-capitalism.

Kevin Boileau
Writing in Missoula, Montana
June 2018

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You Have An MA or PhD in Psychology And Want Advanced Training in psychoanalysis, existential phenomenology, or critical theory.  You are done with your school, maybe teach a class or two, and have an internship of some sort in a clinic but want more.  Where do you go to get advanced training in recondite theory and practice that will facilitate your growth as a psychotherapist or psychoanalyst?

EPIS–The Existential Psychoanalytic Institute & Society provides psychoanalytic training, both theoretical and clinical, for individuals who want to practice psychoanalysis clinically or who want to utilize its theoretical machinery academically or culturally.  Our professors and members have a range of backgrounds, including doctorates in philosophy, psychology, and related fields; most of us have several years of post-doctoral training in psychoanalysis, phenomenology, and critical theory.  As such, we provide an intellectually and creatively rich learning environment with plenty of professional opportunities for advancement and growth.


Headquarters in Missoula, Montana

Learning Centers across North America and the UK

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If you are a clinician, academic, theorist, or person interested in existential phenomenology, psychoanalysis, or critical theory, please consider joining the intellectual community at EPIS Psychoanalytic Institute. We have seminars, an academic press, a journal, a radio show, and an annual conference.

EPIS Worldwide —  a psychoanalytic institute
Offices Across North America
Headquarters: 31 Fort Missoula Road, Suite 4
Missoula, Montana 59804 USA
kbradref@gmail.com for information

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EPIS Seminars in Phenomenology, Psychoanalysis, Critical Theory

December 6 & 7 (Friday, 4-8 p.m.)

Phenomenological Process:
Same reading as Session 1. Finish all texts. Bring either one clinical case study
or one significant social encounter to share.

Existential Phenomenology:
The Levinas Reader (Read (3) “Time and the Other” and (4) “Martin Buber and the Theory of Knowledge”)

Psychoanalysis & Philosophy: (Saturday, 10-2 p.m.)
The Lacanian Subject (Read Part Two: “The Lacanian Subject”)

Cultural Criticism & Psychoanalysis:
The Hermeneutics of the Subject (Lectures 3 & 4)

EPIS Education: The Existential Psychoanalytic Institute & Society


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EPIS–The Existential Psychoanalytic Institute & Society–serves graduate students, professionals, professors, and independent theorists through its education, training, networking, and related activities. We are proud to say that we now have an academic press, two academic journals, an annual conference, a radio show, quarterly seminars, a sister institute in mediation studies, and plans for a foundation and international think tank in peaceful conflict resolution study.

Call, email, or Skype. Let’s talk about your professional goals and how EPIS can provide a strong foundation for your academic and/or clinical growth. Professional dues are only $150 annually.

EPIS Membership & Programs
31 Fort Missoula Road, Suite 4
Missoula, Montana 59804 USA

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EPIS programs are revolutionizing education in existential analysis, psychoanalysis, critical theory, and phenomenology. Both clinical and academic, these post-graduate programs are theoretically intense, demanding, and life-altering in ways that promote radically critical thinking and the Good for humanity. Students are drawn internationally, the diversity of which eschews dogmatism; our sameness, solidarity. Every one of our programs promotes human interests and the evolution of our potentials to live with genuine reciprocity and mutuality. Every one of our graduates has an open invitation to join the training, education, and research faculty upon graduation.

EPIS Education & Training
31 Fort Missoula Road, Suite 4
Missoula, Montana 59804 USA

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The Existential Psychoanalytic (& Phenomenological) Institute is now accepting post-graduate students from Europe into its advanced diploma programs. These educational diploma programs are post-MA and post-PhD, and focus on Critical Theory, Applied Phenomenology, and Existential Psychoanalysis (which includes semiology, discourse analysis, gender studies, deconstruction, and cultural studies).

Come to beautiful Missoula, Montana USA through Skype. All programs can be accomplished online, but students may come to town to work at our institute headquarters. episworldwide.com

The Existential Psychoanalytic Institute
31 Fort Missoula Road, Suite 4
Missoula, Montana 59804 USA

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The Existential Psychoanalytic Institute makes this Call for Papers for its new series entitled Parrhesia: Incandescent. Each year our editors will accept 12-14 papers in Critical Theory, Phenomenology, and Psychoanalysis, focusing on innovative and new theory/praxis. Refer to episjournal.com for submission guidelines. The papers will be edited and published as a book.

Parrhesia: Incandescent
EPIS Journals
The Existential Psychoanalytic Institute & Society
31 Fort Missoula Road, Suite 4, Missoula, MT 59804 USA

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The first seminar meeting of the Lacanian Studies Seminar Group meets tonight, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., 31 Fort Missoula Road, Suite 4, Missoula, Montana, 59804. Please come early for introductions. We will formulate a curriculum, decide the question of the frequency of meetings, and make a plan for readings (From Ecrits and Ragland-Sullivan’s text, Jacques-Lacan and the Philosophy of Psychoanalysis).

Professor Kevin Boileau, Ph.D., J.D.
31 Fort Missoula Road, Suite 4
Missoula, Montana 59804

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