In: KulturPoetik 2012, Heft 1


Sigrid Weigel


Jenseits des Todestriebs. Freuds Lebenswissenschaft an der Schwelle von Natur- und Kulturwissenschaft




In contrast to the attractiveness of the theory of memory and trauma discussed in the first part of Freud’s Jenseits des Lustprinzips (Beyond the Pleasure Principle), the second part, dedicated to Lebenstrieb and Todestrieb, still seems to confront its readers with considerable problems. The article analyses the way Freud arrived at his idea of the drive (Trieb) by considering contemporary thinking about biological inheritance (Hering) and the mortality of organisms based on cell theory (Weismann, Hartmann, Götte). Taking as his starting point the idea that the ›life‹ of an organism can be regarded as a ›detour to death‹, Freud developed the dynamic ›drive‹ as a counterpart to biological ideas. For Freud, 1) ›drive‹ was rooted in the physical body and thus preceded the pleasure principle of the psyche; and 2) Todestrieb and Eros were the result of a reconceptualisation in psychoanalytical terms of different energies of ›life‹ with opposite trajectories.