Sergio Benvenuto (Naples, Italy, 1948) is an Italian psychoanalyst, philosopher and author. He is researcher for the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies (ISTC) of the Italian National Research Council (CNR) in Rome. He is Professor Emeritus in Psychoanalysis at the International Institute of Depth Psychology in Kiev. He founded and edited the European Journal of Psychoanalysis (since 2012 also published in Russian).
Benvenuto has addressed fields apparently very different from one another – social psychology, philosophy of language, political philosophy, psychoanalysis, political theory – in the nineties he began to structure a predominant project that touches upon all these fields: to replace the primacy of reflection on Truth (typical of Western culture) with a reflection that aims at the Real. In this way he seeks a third way between the two predominant and opposing Western cultures: positivist epistemology (concerned with the truth conditions of propositions) on the one hand, and hermeneutics (concerned with disclosing a Truth that unravels throughout human history) on the other. He adopts the concept of Real from Jacques Lacan, but broadens its meaning, including in it everything that remains external (origin and remainder) to every structure of sense, whether scientific, aesthetic, ethical and political. The Real is the background upon which every scientific theory, every artistic production, the psychoanalysis of each subject, every ethic arrangement, revolves and it is always in excess of all these “discourses”. Thus, the Real of every scientific theory is the Chaos that sets itself as the limit and background of every causative process. The Real in psychoanalysis is the background to the drives, the bodily, irreducibly individual background before which all interpretation stops. In particular (for example in La strategia freudiana [The Freudian Strategy] and in Perversionen [Perversions]) he has engaged in an original reinterpretation of Freudian theory and of psychoanalysis in general, as founded on a precise metaphysics of “the signifying flesh”. Freud’s interpretative and explicative tissue, however, also refers to something uninterpretable and inexplicable: the drive as an opaque non-signifying source of subjectivity.