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September 30, 2006, 2:30 PM

The Place of Agency and Norms in Psychoanalysis

Participants: Jorge L. Ahumada, Akeel Bilgrami (moderator), Arnold M. Cooper, Garrett Deckel, Peter D. Kramer, Bernard Reginster

Agency and freedom are notions that we employ frequently in speaking of human behavior and the human mind. How do these notions help us understand the causes of behavior, in particular the unconscious causes? How do human values relate to the causal aspects of behavior? Is the human mind only to be thought of in terms of causal tendencies -- conscious and unconscious -- that we invoke in causal explanations of human behavior, or does it have a normative dimension as well? Finally, what, if any, is the implicit place of value or norm and of agency in the psychoanalytic process? This roundtable focuses on these and other related ideas.

Jorge L. Ahumada is the author of Logics of the Mind: A Clinical View and a contributor to Psychoanalysis: From Practice to Theory. He is a member of the Argentine Psychoanalytic Association, an honorary member of the British Psychoanalytic Society, and the recipient of a 2006 Konex Merit Diploma for Humanitites.

Akeel Bilgrami is Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University and the author of Belief and Meaning, Self-Knowledge and Intentionality, and Politics and the Moral Psychology of Identity.

Arnold M. Cooper is the Stephen P. Tobin and Dr. Arnold M. Cooper Professor Emeritus in Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry at Weill-Cornell Medical Center, and Training and Supervising Psychoanalyst at Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. He is the author of The Quiet Revolution in American Psychoanalysis.

Garrett Deckel is a former Professor of Philosophy at New York University, author of Internal Freedom, and currently in the residency program at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry.

Peter D. Kramer is the host of the national weekly public radio series, The Infinite Mind. He is the best-selling author of Listening to Prozac, Should You Leave?, Spectacular Happiness, Moments of Engagement, and Against Depression. His biography, Freud: Inventor of the Modern Mind, will be published by HarperCollins/Atlas Books in November.

Bernard Reginster is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Brown University and the author of numerous articles on Nietzsche and 19th century ethics and the book The Affirmation of Life: Nietzsche on Overcoming Nihilism.


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