Technique and Understanding: Paul Ricoeur on Freud and the Analytic Experience


  • Eoin Carney Dundee University



Psychoanalysis, Technique, Practice, Recursivity, Hermeneutics


For Ricœur any study of Freud, or of psychoanalysis more generally, needs to take into account the crucial dimension of the analytic experience itself. Psychoanalysis, as a “mixed discourse,” aims to anticipate questions of meaning and explication alongside technical questions of energies, repression, displacement, and so on. The analytic experience is one which is practical and intersubjective, but which is also guided by various techniques or methods. These techniques, I will argue, should be understood as a type of techne, one which is less concerned with hermeneutic questions of meaning than with quasi-scientific questions of force, feedback, struggle, and process. The practice of psychoanalysis, on the other hand, deals with the ways in which these forces or drives become meaningful for a particular subject, and within a singular context or history. This article will aim to draw out both the interrelationship between techniques and practical understanding, and also the productive incommensurability between the two.

Author Biography

Eoin Carney, Dundee University

PhD student at the University of Dundee (Department of Philosophy). My thesis addresses questions of techniques, interpretation and practical technologies through the work of Paul Ricoeur.