“The unconscious is structured like a language” — with this famous aphorism, Jacques Lacan inscribed the signifier in the realm of the unconscious and the drives. “Returning to Freud,” Lacan gave rise to a new notion of language, extending to objects, images, media and even the new cybernetic machines that were already discussed in France as early as the 1950s. In contrast to Lacan and other structural semiotizations of the mind, Félix Guattari proposed a different (non-Freudian) notion of the unconscious. For Guattari the unconscious is structured like a machine of flows (production), in which logos (representation) would no longer be primary. The dispute between the circles of Lacan and Guattari was part of the much larger debate on structuralism and poststructuralism that unfolded in France post 1968 in philosophy, anthropology, linguistics, psychoanalysis and other disciplines. Departing from this controversy, the seminar intends to highlight alternative dimensions of language in minds, markets, and machines. The previous semester’s seminar “What is abstract labour?” discussed forms of abstraction other than thought, exploring social abstraction in the dimensions of capitalist commodity exchange and technological development. Similarly, this seminar investigates forms of language beyond linguistic formalisation in the disciplines of psychoanalysis, semiotics and political economy. 

A credit certificate (Schein) is possible with credit in Media Philosophy. Students can a) make a project or deliver a presentation in class and write a short essay of ca. 10 pages, or b) write an extensive essay of ca. 20 pages. All materials will be shared via Dropbox.

Prof. Dr. Matteo Pasquinelli
mpasquinelli [∂] hfg-karlsruhe.de

Prof. Dr. Sami Khatib
skhatib [∂] hfg-karlsruhe.de

Enrolment: via email or Moodle
Wednesdays, 10:00 – 13:00, weekly
Course start: 26 April 2023
Room: 115 and online
Language: English