The Unconscious, i.e. Affectivity as a Matter


The problem of affect and affectivity plays a significant role in psychoanalysis, both at a theoretical and therapeutic level. In Freud’s first interpretation of hysterical symptoms affect is considered as a certain amount of energy, and this already mirrors its aporetic intertwining with the ‘reality’ of the unconscious. On the one side, it is true that, in his Metapsychology, Freud identifies the charge of affect with instinct and explains that only ideational representation, not the affection, is found at the unconscious level. This means that affectivity is something concerning the preconscious and conscious psychic life. However, on the other side, the existence of a ‘representative’ dimension within the unconscious opens the way of a dual or bifacial re-reading of it, beyond the biological-organic constitution Freud assigned to the Unbewusst. For Paul Ricœur, Freud’s psychoanalysis has a double, irreducible theoretical-procedural register, energetistic and hermeneutical; and his research about the unconscious reality reveals the significance and consequences of this double/dualistic approach. A combination of Husserl’s phenomenological and Ricœur’s hermeneutical approaches helps to find a “third, mediative way”, in which the unconscious can be reinterpreted as a “affective matter”, that is a mid-way reality placed between corporality and non-corporality, body and mind, natural causality and experiential/existential meaning.


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Author Biography

Vinicio Busacchi, Department of Pedagogy, Psychology, and PhilosophyUNIVERSITY OF CAGLIARI

Vinicio Busacchi is full professor of Theoretical Philosophy and a Member of the Doctoral Committee at the Department of Pedagogy, Psychology, and Philosophy at the University of Cagliari, Italy. He is a Member of the interdisciplinary research group on “Psychoanalysis, Hermeneutics and Phenomenology” in Rome. His research interests are focused in hermeneutics, epistemology of the social sciences, theory of psychoanalysis, historical knowledge. He has published various articles on the philosophy of psychoanalysis, neuroscience, anthropology, and the philosophy of history. His published books include Ricœur vs. Freud (Paris, 2011), Pour une herméneutique critique (Paris, 2013), The Recognition Principle: A Philosophical Perspective between Psychology, Sociology and Politics (Newcastle, 2015); Habermas and Ricoeur’s Depth Hermeneutics. From Psychoanalysis to a Critical Human Science (Cham, 2016).  



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How to Cite
Busacchi, V. (2023). The Unconscious, i.e. Affectivity as a Matter. Critical Hermeneutics, 6(2), 257-266.