Towards the Limits of Freudian Thinking

Critical Edition and Readings of Beyond the Pleasure Principle

Herman Westerink (Editor), Jenny Willner (Editor), Philippe Van Haute (Editor),

Series: Figures of the Unconscious

Category: Psychoanalysis

Language: English

ISBN: 9789462704091

Publication date: August 16, 2024

€64.00 (including 6% VAT)

Available to pre-order two weeks before date of publication.

Number of pages: 320

Size: 234 x 156 x mm

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A critical edition of one of the key texts in psychoanalysis.

Sigmund Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle stands as a foundational text in psychoanalysis, delving into profound questions about life, death, pleasure and pain. Through a combination of contextualising and philosophical contributions, this critical edition and commentary sheds new light on Freud’s text. In a series of contributions spanning approaches from historical exegesis to philosophical reflections on key concepts and ideas presented in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, the evolution and inconsistencies found in the various versions of the text are highlighted. Particular emphasis is placed on the conceptualisation of the death and life drives. These commentaries also provide context for the work, examining its position within the Freudian corpus, its role in the collaborative project with Sándor Ferenczi in speculative bioanalysis, and its clinical insights into war neuroses, trauma, bonding and aggression in post-World War I society.

By critically examining diverse interpretations of Freud’s work, Towards the Limits of Freudian Thinking re-actualises this classic text in contemporary philosophy and psychoanalysis, rendering it accessible to both specialised and broader audiences.

Contributors: Ulrike May (Berlin), Herman Westerink (Radboud University Nijmegen), Philippe Van Haute (Radboud University Nijmegen), Ulrike Kistner (University of Pretoria), Jenny Willner (LMU Munich), Jakob Staberg (Södertörn University Stockholm)

This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).

This book will be made open access within three years of publication thanks to Path to Open, a program developed in partnership between JSTOR, the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), University of Michigan Press, and The University of North Carolina Press to bring about equitable access and impact for the entire scholarly community, including authors, researchers, libraries, and university presses around the world. Learn more at

Herman Westerink

Herman Westerink is endowed and associate professor at the Center for Contemporary Philosophy, Radboud University Nijmegen.

Jenny Willner

Jenny Willner is assistant professor at the department for comparative literature, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.

Philippe Van Haute

Philippe Van Haute (†) was professor of philosophical anthropology at the Radboud University Nijmegen, a practising psychoanalyst at the Belgian School for Psychoanalysis and extraordinary professor at the University of Pretoria.

This volume opens the way not only to re-read Freud´s famous writing Beyond the Pleasure Principle anew. It also changes our understanding of the development of Freud´s concept of drives after WW I. It shows the contradictions and difficulties of such a theory in a framework that could be called a bio-philosophy. - Wolfgang Müller-Funk, Universität Wien

This book is a major intellectual event. It sheds new light on the genesis and the interpretation of one of the most difficult and most studied—but least well understood—cornerstones of psychoanalytic theory, Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle. The archival research is meticulous and impressive, and the scholarship is first-rate. The specific focus on the role played by theories of biology makes this book especially timely as it raises provocative questions about the very definition of life and death and resonates with current discussions about biology and psychic life. This important book will undoubtedly spark many important debates. It should be essential reading for anyone interested in psychoanalysis, science studies, and philosophy. - Elissa Marder, Emory University

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