No matter how eloquently articulated it is in speech, thought is always enveloped within the confines of a Müttersprache even as it strives through an abundance of technical usages and neologisms to extend itself while confronting new experiences. One always thinks, that is, within a particular tradition with all the limitations of vocabulary and nuances that belong to the language and dialect in which the thought emerges. The truth that psychoanalysis discloses is not a series of independent facts that function as the basis of our understanding of the world. Rather it refers to a way of thinking, as well as to a clinic, that is embedded within already existing traditions and language uses. That is to say, it proceeds hermeneutically and is aimed at an illuminating disruption.

Indeed, from the very beginning psychoanalysis was inscribed within a tradition of absence (apophasis) both in relation to consciousness (the un-conscious) and to desire. Its concern being with all that is incomplete in man – his ambiguity, complexity and contradictions. At the same time Freud inaugurated the first of many shifts in direction within that tradition in relation to the cultivation of subjectivity. From this perspective psychoanalysis—particularly as it was later expounded in the oeuvre of Lacan—can be seen as a continuation of the tradition of the care of oneself (epimeleia heautou) as it emerged in antiquity.

We believe this provides a framework for thinking about the hermeneutics of the subject, characterised as it is by a climate of disquiet and a lack of resolution, that runs counter to the certainties found in many contemporary approaches and trainings.