Sigmund Freud Lecture

The Sigmund Freud Foundation invites to the annual Sigmund Freud Lecture on the occasion of Sigmund Freud's birthday on 6 May.


XLII. Sigmund Freud Lecture

Slavoj Zizek:

Theology, Negativity, And the Death-Drive

Wednesday, 6 May 2015, 4:00 p.m.

Burgtheater Wien, Universitätsring 2, 1010 Wien

Tickets (8 EUR) available via and at all Bundestheater ticket offices

Introduction: Victor Mazin

Welcome notes by Monika Pessler (Sigmund Freud Museum) and Karin Bergmann (Burgtheater Wien)

Rowan Williams located the root of religious experience into our (human) “capacity for perversity, addictions, self-sacrifice, self-destruction and a whole range of ‘rationally’ indefensible behaviors” – that is, the very dimension of irreducible self-sabotaging, of the “pursuit of unhappiness” –,  and does this capacity not belong into the domain of the death-drive, of the weird overlapping between negativity and inertia that we encounter in a paradigmatic way in Hamlet? Hamlet doesn't kill Claudius when he sees him praying since if he were to do it at that moment, he would not strike at more than what is here, at that X that makes Claudius a king. This is also a problem – maybe even the problem - of revolutionaries: how not only to overturn power, but strike at what is more than mere power as a fact, and thus preventing that the ancient regime will return in a new guise? It is this uncertainty which propels Hamlet to procrastinate the act (of revenge), i.e., to use Hegel’s term, to tarry with the negative. Negativity is usually thought of as a dynamic entity consisting of struggles, cuts, and other modes of negation, but, as Andrew Cutrofello pointed out, what makes Hamlet a unique figure is that it stands for tarrying with the negative: Hamlet treats negativity itself as an expression of the melancholic inertia of being. Perhaps, then, the first move of what one can call “materialist theology” should be to discern this dimension of death-drive in divinity itself.

Slavoj Zizek

In Co-operation with the Burgtheater Wien

Partner of the Sigmund Freud Lecture 2015



XLI. Sigmund Freud Lecture

Judith Butler:

The Politics of the Deathdrive. The Case of the Death Penalty

Tuesday, 6 May 2014, 7:00 p.m.

Vienna University, Audimax, Universitätsring 1, 1010 Wien

Freud’s reflections on the death drive offer an opportunity to reconsider forms of legal violence, including the death penalty, in a new way. Toward the end of Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Freud offers several ways to understand how the death drive becomes interconnected with the pleasure principle, offering a framework for understanding the compulsive character of human destructiveness. His theory can help us understand what Nietzsche called “the festival of cruelty” instituted by certain legal regimes, the social institutionalization of sadistic pleasure and its rationalization through legal and moral language. At stake is a way of thinking about forms of destructiveness that no longer rationalized by self-defense, and which become institutionalized in forms of death dealing, such as the death penalty. Drawing on Derrida’s recent work, this lecture will consider how Freud’s writings on the death drive can help clarify our understanding of legal violence and its way of establishing a category of "indefensible lives."

Judith Butler

In Co-operation with the University of Vienna (Department of Philosophy and Department of German Studies)




XL. Sigmund Freud Lecture

Joseph Kosuth

Freud, Beckett, and the Uncanny

 --Some thoughts on Art as Installation

Monday, 6 May 2013, 7:30 p.m.

Sigmund Freud Museum, Berggasse 19, 1090 Wien

in English

Presentation: Peter Pakesch, Intendant Universalmuseums Joanneum (Graz)

Welcome: Inge Scholz-Strasser, Chairwoman Sigmund Freud Foundation


limited seating capcity, registration obligatory:


We kindly ask to arrive in time since we cannot make personal reservations

 Joseph Kosuth is philosopher and artist and is renowned as one of the founders of coneptual art. Since 1995, he is consulting the Sigmund Freud Museum and has realised various art projects on site. Togehter with Peter Pakesch and Inge Scholz-Strasser, he founded the art collection  The Sigmund Freud Museum Contemporary Art Collection. From 1955 to 1962, he stuied at Toledo Museum School of Arts, 1963/1964 at Cleveland Art Institute and from 1965 to 1967 at School of Visual Arts, New York. He founded and directed the Museum of Normal Art. From 1971 to 1972, Kosuth studied Anthropology and Philosophy at New School for Social Research, New York. He edited numerous publication, currently Kosuth lives and works in London.


Peter Pakesch, born 1955 in Graz, has served as Intendant of Universalmuseum Joanneum, Graz, since 2003. From 1996 to 2003, he was director of Kunsthalle Basel, from 1981 to 1993, he ran the Galerie Peter Pakesch in Vienna. Since 1989, Pakesch has taken part in various exhibition projects in contect of the Sigmund Freud Museum. In 1985, he founded the Grazer Kunstverein (Graz Arts' association), from 1976 to 1991, he worked as a curator for Forum Stadtpark, steirischer herbst and Grazer Kunstverein. From 1973 to 1980, hestudied architecture at TU Graz.


XXXIX. Sigmund Freud Lecture

Peter Bieri

Selbsterkenntnis durch Erzählungen (in German)

Sunday, May 6, 2012, 6 p.m.

Billrothhaus, Frankgasse 8, 1090 Vienna





XXXVIII. Sigmund Freud Lecture

Siri Hustvedt

Freud's Playground: Some Thoughts on the Art and Science of Subjectivity and Intersubjectivity

video of the talk at youtube

Friday, 6 May 2011, 6 p.m.

Oesterreichische Nationalbank, Kassensaal

Otto-Wagner-Platz 3, 1090 Vienna

In English

Moderator: Andrea Bronner

Admission free

Places are limited, registration obligatory:



Siri Hustvedt was born in 1955 in Northfield, Minnesota. She studied Literature at the Columbia University and wrote her dissertation on Charles Dickens. She lives in Brooklyn and is married to the novelist Paul Auster with whom she has a daughter. Hustvedt became known through her novels The Blindfold, The Enchantment of Lily Dahl and most of all with her international bestsellers What I Loved, The Sorrows of an American and The Shaking Woman or A History of my Nerves.





XXXVII. Sigmund Freud Lecture

Moshe Zuckermann

Freuds Weltsicht und die Theorie vom "Autoritären Charakter"

zur Aktualität der Freudschen Kategorien für die gegenwärtige Gesellschaftsanalyse

Thursday, 6 May 2010, 7 p.m.

Sigmund Freud Museum, Berggasse 19, 1090 Vienna



Carlo Ginzburg
Dantes Blind Spot
Wednesday, May 6, 2009, 7.30 p.m.
Gesellschaft der Aerzte Wien, Billrothhaus, Frankgasse 8, 1090 Vienna


Jessica Benjamin

Injury and Acknowledgement [PDF]


Mark Solms

Freud's Dream Theory Today [PDF]


Leon Botstein

Freud und Wittgenstein [PDF]


Michel Tort

Der Vater in der Psychoanalyse: Ende eines Dogmas [PDF]


Leo Bersani

Psychoanalysis and the Aesthetic Subject [PDF]


Juliet Mitchell

A matter of life or death: siblinghood and the unconscious [PDF]


Sherry Turkle

Why psychoanalysis in the digital age? [PDF]

Sigmund Freud Lectures Overview 1970 – 2000 [PDF]