2022 Abstracts Stage 3

Adam, Eve, Freud

For my object I have chosen the story of humanity’s fall from grace found in the third chapter of Genesis. I will be investigating my object in the territories of theological anthropology and Psychoanalysis. In Saint Paul (1997), Alain Badiou notes a conceptual similarity between the apostle Paul’s description of sin as found in the book of Romans and the psychoanalytic concept of the substantive unconscious. The apostle laments; ‘I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate… so that it is no longer I who do it, but sin which dwells in me’ (Rom 7: 15-17). The subject or ‘I’ of the statement is decentred by ‘sin’ which now assumes the ‘seat of agency’ as kind of foreign object lodged in the heart of subjectivity (Badiou 1997, 79). ‘All kinds of covetousness’ (Rom 7:8) which once lay dead and inactive have become autonomous, occupying the place structurally appropriate to the living subject (who now lies in the place of the dead), giving rise to a new subjective configuration with respect to agency which can be called ‘sin’. With this structural understanding of sin, a topographic and economic picture of the Christian subject becomes possible, one subject to the demands and pressures of an impersonal primary process. However, it must be remembered that Badiou’s analysis concerns the book of Romans and not Genesis where the originality of the first sin would be at issue. A reading of sin as desire that is ‘revived’ and awoken into autonomy by the negative naming of the law (Badiou 1997, 80) lends itself easily enough to the story of Genesis where there is likewise a prohibition; ‘but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat.’ (Gen 2.17) However, a purely psychological reading of Genesis would neglect the metaphysical aspect of the first original sin, which for Saint Augustine is essential to a faithful interpretation of Genesis. Therefore Badiou’s insights, while helpful, must be built upon. I now turn to discuss my objectives in the investigation of my object.