Freud and Heidegger on the 'Origins' of Sexuality Articles uri icon



publication date

  • August 2019


  • 4


  • 42

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0163-8548

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1572-851X


  • While Freud and Heidegger were antipathetic towards one another's ideas, a number of commentators have argued that the Freud&-Heidegger relation is actually quite complementary. This paper contributes to this position by engaging with the relationship through the mediation of their respective views on the "origins" of sexuality a topic that is implicit to Freudian psychoanalytic theory and which is often taken to be absent from Heidegger's, with the consequence that it has been ignored when bringing them into conversation. Having shown that in the 1928 lecture course The Metaphysical Foundations of Logic, Heidegger does in fact address the question of sexuality in relation to the neutrality of Dasein outlined in the previous year's Being and Time, I (1) bring Freud and Heidegger into conversation on the question of the 'origins' of sexuality to suggest that there is a strong affinity between the two on this issue, insofar as both (2) argue against any form of sexual essentialism by depending upon a processual (rather than substantial) ontology and affirming an originary sexual indeterminateness, which in the case of Freud takes the form of an initial bisexuality and in the case of Heidegger an ontological sexual neutrality, before (3) concluding that, while Freud's initial bisexuality forecloses sexuality within a binary framework, Heidegger's notion of an ontological sexual neutrality does not, and so goes furthest in laying the ground for a rethinking of sexuality in non-essentialist, non-binary terms.


  • essentialism; freud; heidegger; ontology; sexuality