1 Jul 2016

Psychoanalysis and Science

Contingency and Materialism
The workshop discusses the relation between psychoanalysis and science. The question is not whether psychoanalysis is a science, wants to be a science, or calls science into question, but what role scientific models play within psychoanalysis. Lacan famously insisted, in ‘Science and Truth’, that ‘the subject upon which we operate in psychoanalysis can only be the subject of science’. What, then, is this science that constitutes the subject and its suffering? Jean-Claude Milner has followed Lacan’s reference to Alexandre Koyré who stated that the paradigm of modern or Galilean science is a theory of technology and technology in turn a practical application of mathematized physics. Modern science thus materializes itself in technology and its machines. Does this assertion subscribe to a materialist doctrine and how would this materialism relate to other familiar kinds of materialism, for example, historical materialism or the more recent ‘new materialism’?

If, as Geneviève Morel asserts, both science and psychoanalysis search for knowledge in the Real, the question becomes, for Lacan: what is the Real? Mai Wegener recalls: ‘The Real is what one finds always at the same place. As soon as someone starts from the assumption that this Real stays in place or always returns in the same place without her doing, the possibility of science emerges. It exits from the magic relation to the Real in which the natural order is thought to depend on acts and rituals.’ As a consequence, psychoanalysis becomes interested in the ‘signification of chance’. As Lacan says in Seminar II: ‘We try to get the subject to make available to us, without any intention, his thoughts, as we say, his comments, his discourse, in other words that he should intentionally get as close as possible to chance.’

The workshop intends to address this emphasis on contingency both as clinical problem and in its relation to science.


ICI Berlin
(Click for further documentation)


Marcus Coelen
Monique David-Ménard
Michael Friedman
Kenneth Reinhard
Samo Tomšič
Michaela Wünsch

Organized by

Michaela Wünsch
An ICI Berlin event, co-organized by Marcus Coelen

In English

First published on:
Rights: © ICI Berlin
Cite as: Psychoanalysis and Science: Contingency and Materialism, workshop, ICI Berlin, 1 July 2016 <>