Subjectivity, Irony and Belief


February 11, 2004 (Wednesday) / 5:00 pm6:30 pm

200 College Hall

Subjectivity, Irony and Belief

Jonathan Lear

John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor
Committee on Social Thought, Philosophy
University of Chicago

How can conversation bring about fundamental change in the human psyche? We’re not talking here about a mere change of belief that emerges out of conversation, or even massive changes of belief. No, the issue for Jonathan Lear—philosopher, psychoanalyst, and critic—is rather the need to recover a vibrant sense of irony.

Why is irony so important to the human psyche, so therapeutic? Feigning no ignorance, we urge you to come hear for yourself. Jonathan Lear’s talk is based on his recent book Therapeutic Action: An Earnest Plea for Irony, in which he reassesses and reaffirms the value of psychoanalysis.

Jonathan Lear, whose work at the intersection of philosophy and psychoanalysis has helped renew Freud's reputation as a philosopher, graduated from Yale, studied at University of Cambridge in England, and earned his PhD from Rockefeller University before training as an analyst at Western New England Institute for Psychoanalysis.  Before joining the University of Chicago faculty in 1996, Lear was the Kingman Brewster Professor of the Humanities at Yale University.

Lear is a three-time winner of the Gradiva Award from the National Association for Psychoanalysis for his books Happiness, Death and the Remainder of Life (2000), and Open Minded: Working Out the Logic of the Soul (1998), and for his article "The shrink is in" (The New Republic, December 25, 1995).

Other works include Love and its Place in Nature (1990), Aristotle: The Desire to Understand (1988), Aristotle and Logical Theory (1980), and numerous articles on psychoanalysis and philosophy. He is currently writing a book on Freud to be published as part of the Routledge Philosophers Series.