DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.8279432

Which unconscious for which politics? Notes on the ways of understanding a multiform concept

by Fabio Molinari

This paper intends to show how the unconscious has been thought before, within and beyond psychoanalytical theories and how these different ways of thinking the unconscious lead to different political effects. Through examples ranging from the modern philosophical thought, Freudian theory and cognitive sciences, one discovers how the way in which the unconscious is theoretically determined is more important than its mere statement. By means of lexical and conceptual changes, the unconscious mutates its deeper meaning depending on the theoretical framework within which it is analysed; if some philosophical accounts represent the unconscious in a metaphysical manner as a substance underlying consciousness and reality, psychoanalysis introduces the essential category of repression, favouring the relational character of the unconscious. Finally, the processual character of the cognitive unconscious mainly deals with perceptual mechanisms, envisioning this concept as an adaptive tool. Their comparative analysis allows us to grasp how certain regulative ideas about social action can be drawn from this concept.

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