What is an object? What is a thing?

Amanda Holmes
Art Sciences and Art Education, Philosophy
2020W, scientific seminar (SEW), 4.0 ECTS, 2.0 semester hours, course number S03588

Description

  There is an intriguing anecdote that Lacan offers in the midst of his Seventh Seminar which illuminates the distinction between an object and a thing. He tells the story of seeing a collection of match boxes while visiting a friend in the late 1940s:

"It was the kind of collection that it was easy to afford at that time; it was perhaps the only kind of collection possible. Only the match boxes appeared as follows: they were all the same and were laid out in an extremely agreeable way that involved each one being so close to the one next to it that the little drawer was slightly displaced. As a result, they were all threaded together so as to form a continuous ribbon that ran along the mantelpiece, climbed the wall, extended to the molding, and climbed down again next to a door. I don’t say that it went on to infinity, but it was extremely satisfying from an ornamental point of view."

Lacan tells this anecdote to describe the distinction between an object and a thing. For Lacan, the matchbox in this case was not simply an object but because it had “the form of an Erscheinung, as it appeared in its truly imposing multiplicity” it was a Thing. The distinction between a thing and an object has a long history and is important in both psychoanalytic theory and in philosophy. This course will provide a survey of the distinct concepts of the thing and the object in both the philosophical and psychoanalytic traditions. The notion of the object as the correlate to the subject has been a cornerstone concept in both modern philosophy and psychoanalytic theory. The notion of the thing, whether as the Kantian “Ding an sich,” or the Freudian “das Ding” poses metaphysical and existential questions. In the course of the semester, we will consider the development and distinction of these concepts of the Thing and the Object in the thinking of Kant, Heidegger, Freud, Klein, and Lacan. Beginning with Kant’s tripartite distinction between Ding, Objekt, and Gegenstand in the Critique of Pure Reason, we will establish the philosophical stakes of the distinction between the thing and the object. We will then work our way through Heidegger’s Die Frage nach dem Ding to pose the philosophical problem of the Thing. We will then turn to the history of psychoanalysis to examine the problem of the Thing and the Object. To this end, we will read excerpts from Freud’s Entwurf einer Psychologie and various essays by Melanie Klein on the “object relation.” Finally we will end the semester with a study of Jacques Lacan’s formulations of das Ding and the objet petit a. The overall aim of this course is to pose the philosophical problem of the distinction between the thing and the object. By taking up this specific question across various discourses and disciplines, students will be able to reflect on the critical history of these concepts that are of immense philosophical relevance. 

Examination Modalities

Exam option:  

 

Students will have the option to either give a class presentation of 20-30 minutes, explicating a text or to write a paper of 8-10 pages. 

Key Words

Theories of the Object, Psychoanalysis, Philosophy of the Thing

Dates

15 October 2020, 16:00–18:00 Seminar Room 20
22 October 2020, 16:00–18:00 Seminar Room 20
29 October 2020, 16:00–18:00 Seminar Room 20
05 November 2020, 16:00–18:00 Distance Learning (details as described)
12 November 2020, 16:00–18:00 Distance Learning (details as described)
19 November 2020, 16:00–18:00 Distance Learning (details as described)
26 November 2020, 16:00–18:00 Distance Learning (details as described)
03 December 2020, 16:00–18:00 Seminar Room 20
17 December 2020, 16:00–18:00 Seminar Room 20
14 January 2021, 16:00–18:00 Seminar Room 20
21 January 2021, 16:00–18:00 Seminar Room 20
28 January 2021, 16:00–18:00 Seminar Room 20

Course Enrolment

From 10 August 2020, 13:14 to 17 November 2020, 14:34
Via online registration

co-registration: possible

Art Education: subject kkp (Bachelor): FOR: Lehrveranstaltungen nach Wahl aus Wissenschaftliche Praxis

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Art Education: subject kkp (Enhancements study): FOR: Lehrveranstaltungen nach Wahl aus Wissenschaftliche Praxis

Art Education: subject tex (Bachelor): FOR: Lehrveranstaltungen nach Wahl aus Wissenschaftliche Praxis

Art Education: subject tex (Bachelor): IT: Bachelorseminar Wissenschaftliche Praxis

Art Education: subject tex (Master): Lehrveranstaltung nach Wahl aus wissenschaftlicher Praxis, SE

Art Education: subject tex (Enhancements study): FOR: Seminar aus dem Bereich Kunst- und Kulturwissenschaften

Art Education: subject tex (Enhancements study): FOR: Lehrveranstaltungen nach Wahl aus Wissenschaftliche Praxis

Art Education: subject dae (Bachelor): FOR: Lehrveranstaltungen nach Wahl aus Wissenschaftliche Praxis

Art Education: subject dae (Bachelor): IT: Bachelorseminar Wissenschaftliche Praxis

Art Education: subject dae (Master): Lehrveranstaltung nach Wahl aus wissenschaftlicher Praxis, SE

Art Education: subject dae (Enhancements study): FOR: Seminar aus dem Bereich Kunst- und Kulturwissenschaften

Art Education: subject dae (Enhancements study): FOR: Lehrveranstaltungen nach Wahl aus Wissenschaftliche Praxis

Art Education: subject dex (Bachelor): FOR: Lehrveranstaltungen nach Wahl aus Wissenschaftliche Praxis

Art Education: subject dex (Bachelor): IT: Bachelorseminar Wissenschaftliche Praxis

Art Education: subject dex (Master): Lehrveranstaltung nach Wahl aus wissenschaftlicher Praxis, SE

Art Education: subject dex (Enhancements study): FOR: Seminar aus dem Bereich Kunst- und Kulturwissenschaften

Art Education: subject dex (Enhancements study): FOR: Lehrveranstaltungen nach Wahl aus Wissenschaftliche Praxis

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