Violence - Trauma - History

In Freudian thought violence is inherently related to trauma. Freud did not focus on the immediate impact of experiences of violence, but on the delayed traumatizing effects in either repetition or recollection of a ‘primal scene’. In Moses and Monotheism, Freud uses this model of the psychic temporality of (sexual) trauma to analyze repetition, repression and remembering in the history of a people ‘traumatized’ by repressed, inaccessible past scenes of violence. His thoughts gave impetus to contemporary philosophical reflections on collective trauma through past experiences of violence. But his ideas also provoke the speculative question what current ‘violent’ acts have the potential of traumatizing the humanoids that will walk the earth in a future hundreds or thousands years from now. What is the ‘history we make’ for future generations? Does it consist of the ‘events’ we – narcissistically – identify as ‘historical’? In an age of climate change, extinction of species, pollution and the production of junk this is an important question.

Herman Westerink is Endowed Professor and Associate Professor for philosophy of religion at the Center for Contemporary European Philosophy, Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands. He did his PhD at the University of Groningen and wrote his professorial dissertation (Habilitation) at the University of Vienna. He has published many books and articles on Freudian psychoanalysis, sexuality, subjectivity and religion. Amongst others he published a monograph on Freud’s theories of the sense of guilt (2009), a monograph on and text editions of the first edition of Freud's Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (2016, 2021, with Philippe Van Haute). Also, he published a monograph on Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality (2019). Recently he published a monograph on Freud’s metaphysics of trauma (2022, with Philippe Van Haute). He is co-editor of the book series “Sigmund Freuds Werke: Wiener Interdisziplinäre Kommentare” (Vienna UP) and of the book series “Figures of the Unconscious” (Leuven University Press). He is member of the International Society for Psychoanalysis and Philosophy (ISPP/SIPP) and its Freud Research Group.