Schizoanalysis for Beginners

This course was delivered under the auspices of the Free University Brighton (FUB) in 2015.  I currently teach Philosophy at FUB where we run a two ‘freegree’ programs, one in Philosophy and one in Humanities and Social Sciences.

Course Outline (available here as a PDF  antioedipusFUBcourse1)

Schizoanalysis for beginners: an Introduction to Deleuze and Guattari’s ‘Anti-Oedipus’

Introduction:

Why do people do things that are ‘wrong’ even when they appear to know better?  Why are societies repressive?  How does fascism arise – is it, as some have argued, because people actually desire their own repression?  Is reason able to guide desires, to control them even – and should it?  How is a better world possible?  Such questions have been central to philosophy since the time of Plato and are often some of the most difficult to answer, whilst simultaneously being some of the most important.  In the early twentieth century new answers to such questions began to arise that drew on the work of Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud.  By the end of the twentieth century, however, such answers seemed to many to be not only wrong but dangerous.  Yet the questions remained, now even more perplexing than they were before.

In the book ‘Anti-Oedipus’ by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, a critique of psychoanalysis and marxism is made and a new theoretical model (called ‘schizoanalysis’) with which to understand and change society is offered.  The book, written in the early 1970’s and highly influenced by the political events of 1968, is often taken to be a key moment in twentieth century ‘critical thought’. (‘Critical thought’ is that form of philosophy which directly engages with questions arising from the political and social world, with its roots in the ideas of Marx and Freud.)   ‘Anti-Oedipus’ is, however, a very difficult text to understand, for numerous reasons, and often leaves readers baffled as to its meaning, purpose or reputation.  The aim of this course is: firstly, to demystify Anti-Oedipus and enable it to be read with a critical and questioning mind; secondly, to present and critically discuss some of the key concepts contained in the book.

Course Outline:

The course consists of six introductory lectures.  If the course is to be held ‘in person’ then each session would last about two hours and I would suggest two additional ‘open’ sessions are added in which specific issues can be addressed as a way of ‘testing out’ the schizoanalytic method.  Ideally the group would read through the book as we went through the sessions and the lectures are designed to follow the books structure in order to aid in this.

The session outline is as follows, although it is subject to adjustment if the group decides it wants to focus on different issues.  Session notes (and additional handouts for some sessions) are available in the Course Materials folder linked at the end of this post and the basic lecture notes are also available on my academia.edu page.

 

Session 1 – The Black horse and the White Horse – a brief outline of the relationship between desire and reason, from Plato to Freud

Session 2 –  The Unconscious is a Factory – the problem of desire and lack – Freud, Lacan and the ‘schizophrenia’ of Deleuze and Guattari

Session 3 – Desiring Machines Everywhere – the three syntheses of production and anti-production, a new model for ‘repression’

Session 4 – Oedipus the Colonist – the critique of the Freudian model of psychoanalysis

Session 5 – ‘All history is the history of desire in struggle’ – the critique of the Marxist model of historical materialism

Session 6 – The non-fascist life – the experimental model of schizoanalysis

 

Learning outcomes:

What will you get out of the course?  The intention is to provide the following:

  • an ability to understand the general outline of ‘Anti-Oedipus’
  • an ability to understand some of the basic concepts of ‘schizoanalysis’
  • an ability to read and critically engage with ‘Anti-oedipus’ and ‘schizoanalytic’ ideas
  • a general understanding of the philosophical problem of the relationship between reason and desire
  • a space to discuss and think about contemporary social and political problems and the possibilities of change

Reading and Additional resources

No long formal ‘reading list’ will be given, however a resources page will be established in conjunction with those who attend the course (and others) and will be linked from here as the course progresses.   As a starting point here are links to both books in the ‘Capitalism and Schizophrenia’ project.  Please note however, that it is NOT expected that you will need to read both these books for this course.  The idea is instead that this course will enable you to read these books, or read them better, if you wanted to do so.

Anti-Oedipus

A Thousand Plateaus

Course Materials

There will be various course materials available online in this Google drive folder.

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