The Death-Drive Does Not Think

Robert Rowland Smith

in Death-Drive

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780748640393
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671601 | DOI:
The Death-Drive Does Not Think

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One of Freud's propositions concerning the death-drive is that it manifests itself in the human ‘compulsion to repeat’: he argues that because we haven't worked it through we tend to repeat what we don't understand, so in effect repetition acts as a kind of blocker to thinking. What does that say about our capacity to make conscious choices or indeed to think at all? Again we come up against a nexus between death and something other than reason, something at the darker limits of understanding. In this respect Freud's work clearly challenges Enlightenment ideals about reason and choice. This chapter sets his work in the context of two very different thinkers of the Enlightenment — the historian J. G. A. Pocock and the critical theorist Theodor Adorno — in order to draw out some implications.

Keywords: Freud; death-drive; repeat; J. G. A. Pocock; Theodor Adorno

Chapter.  8716 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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