This volume argues that feminist theory can provide distinctive and potent resources to confront and take on post-truth. By ‘post-truth’, we refer to a variety of discourses and practices that subvert the sense that we share a common world. Because post-truth undermines the norms and conditions that make possible shared political practices and institutions, post-truth politics is fundamentally anti-democratic. The most common response to post-truth has, however, come from those who call for reinstating truth and rationality, with special emphasis on (...) returning to the facts and fact-checking. From a feminist perspective, this approach is worrisome as it risks idealizing the connection between democracy and truth, disowning the tensions within and between them, and suppressing contestation tout court. Diagnosing the post-truth moment we face two challenges: on the one hand, there is too much contestation (of the post-truth variety); on the other hand, there is too much depoliticization (of the technocratic or rationalist variety). This binary effectively limits the space within which critiques of post-truth can meaningfully intervene. Feminist takes on post-truth must take seriously this dual challenge at the crossroads of depoliticization and hyper-politicization, acknowledging the anti-democratic dangers of post-truth while keeping open the possibility and necessity of contestation. Our gambit is that effective rejoinders to post-truth can be found in practices that affirm rather than repudiate a plural world. Rather than simply condemning or dismissing post-truth as mad or irrational, the feminist theorists in this volume move closer to what we’re up against in order to see how encounters with reality provide opportunities to radicalize and politicize our relation to it in ways that do not undermine the conditions for others to do the same. This volume is an attempt to open new, and emphasize existing, feminist modes of response that might break the deadlock in the post-truth discourse. (shrink)
This chapter looks at how Beauvoir appropriates Lacan's account of the family complexes in The Second Sex, and in particular how Lacan's conception of infantile prematurity and instinctual (vital) insufficiency illuminates a conceptual conundrum in The Second Sex, namely the tension between the value of independence, autonomy, and active agency and the suspicion of its origin in familial life, an origin that also provides the foundations for hierarchical sexual difference. The complexities of the cultural/biological interplay in Lacan's Family Complexes essay (...) clarify Beauvoir's appropriation of the psychoanalytic concept of narcissism and its implications for the limits of independence and agency. Lacan's essay reveals ambiguities in Beauvoir's thinking about the ambiguity of freedom. (shrink)
The first-ever compilation of articles that highlights the intersection of Derridean and feminist theories--a work that represents the extensive and diverse response feminist theorists have had to Derrida, particularly to the issues of gender, identity, and the construction of the subject.
: By clarifying the psychoanalytic notion of sexual difference (and contrasting it with a feminist analysis of gender as social reality), I argue that the symbolic dimension of psychical life cannot be discarded in developing political accounts of identity formation and the status of women in the public sphere. I discuss various bridges between social reality and symbolic structure, bridges such as body, language, law, and family. I conclude that feminist attention must be redirected to the unconscious since the political (...) cannot be localized in, or segregated to, the sphere of social reality; sexual difference is an indispensable concept for a feminist politics. (shrink)
ABSTRACT This article returns to Freud’s 1927 The Future of an Illusion in order to explore and elaborate the relations among identity, belief, and affect. Reading the competing authorial and opponent voices in the text, I ask whether realism about illusion is consistent with a belief in the ultimate victory of reason in human civilization. I return to Future of an Illusion for two reasons: first, we can see in this work the ambiguous and tumultuous intersection between “group psychology” and (...) “political epistemology,” the way that the formation of community is bound up with the formation of epistemic anchors for belief; and second, the text offers a demonstration of the complex relations among science, scientism, and the critique of scientism that is itself worth engaging with, given the ways that epistemic and political authority are bound together, and both are bound to the variable authority of reason that post-truth seemingly puts under question. (shrink)
By clarifying the psychoanalytic notion of sexual difference, I argue that the symbolic dimension of psychical life cannot be discarded in developing political accounts of identity formation and the status of women in the public sphere. I discuss various bridges between social reality and symbolic structure, bridges such as body, language, law, and family. I conclude that feminist attention must be redirected to the unconscious since the political cannot be localized in, or segregated to, the sphere of social reality; sexual (...) difference is an indispensable concept for a feminist politics. (shrink)
Between the Psyche and the Social is the first collection that specifically features the field of psychoanalytic social theory emerging in and between psychoanalysis, feminism, postcolonial studies, and queer theory, and across the disciplines of philosophy, literary, film, and cultural studies. This collection of essays takes the psychoanalytic study of social oppression in some new directions by engaging—indeed, stirring up—unconscious fantasies and ethical tensions at the heart of social subjectivity.
This dissertation develops a psychoanalytic model of ideology which accounts for the formation of sexual difference. I attempt to distinguish both the origin of sexually differentiated identity and the necessity of a political force at work in founding that origin. With Lacan, I locate the origin in the subjects's psychical accession to the Law of the Father, an accession that is linked to the individual establishment of a relation to the phallus as transcendental signifier. I advance a critique of Lacan (...) through an inquiry into the coming-to-be of the Father's Law as origin, an analysis which is shaped through readings of Althusser, Irigaray, and Derrida. My readings are an attempt to politicize the phallus, or to defend the thesis that 'the psychical is political,' through revealing the dynamics at play in establishing an origin that only ever appears as given. If subject-formation is organized and established around sexual difference through the function of the phallus, then an understanding of this ideological 'contract' reveals subjectivity and sexual difference to be intertwined in the psychic and political development of individuals, a coalition that endures through the lawful 'interpellation' of sexual identity. Conditions of emergence are also, potentially, conditions of transformation because these conditions expose the limits of any order or organization of sexual difference, the limits of its founding principle. If the limits of the phallus are disclosed, if we can reveal the energy that founds the phallus as or at the origin, then we can begin to conceptualize other founding acts. If, in other words, the law of sexual difference functions ideologically, then it is subject to vicissitudes of force. Thus origin can be reclaimed by other significations. In particular, it might be possible to conceptualize an origin that is rooted in a feminine genealogy and that doesn't require the intervention of the Father's Name. Such a genealogy would challenge the economy that maintains patriarchy, and hence its creation might make possible a feminine subjectivity. (shrink)
ExcerptIn “Thoughts for the Times on War and Death,” Freud defines nations as “the collective individuals of mankind” and suggests that their development recapitulates individual development.1 Like individuals, nations provide a structure for the internal organization of the passions, and, also like individuals, each nation has ideals that exhort, order, and orient its constitution and forces, imparting an image of unity that establishes borders, delimits hostilities, and guards equilibrium. In this essay, I read Freud and Schmitt through the existential concerns (...) and insights of the other in order to draw out the convergence between the energetic constitution of the ego…. (shrink)
ABSTRACT This article argues that Hannah Arendt provides an illuminating perspective on the “crisis” of education. The meaning and purpose of education, in Arendt's view, its fundamental role in civilization, is to impart an old world to new beings, preparing children for “renewing a common world” by establishing an active bond to the past that does not just encumber but enables agency. Because her work does not cohere with either contemporary liberal or contemporary conservative criticisms or justifications of higher education, (...) or with either moral or vocational promises about its merit, Arendt's understanding of education appears less as a competing approach than as simply an eclipsed perspective. By focusing on the meanings and values of the public world we ineluctably inherit, Arendt's reflections on education illuminate the temporal precarity intrinsic to the human condition. (shrink)
Responding to Gil Anidjar's “Jesus and Monotheism” and its posing of the “Christian Question,” in this paper I return to Freud's Moses and Monotheism and its narrative of Jewish self-division. In highlighting the retroactive formation of identity, I note both its temporal dimension and the force of exclusivity it generates. This reading suggests a contrast between such theo-political communities, with their legacies of affiliation, and Christian self-absolution (the refusal of constitutive self-division) with its image of a new man. I take (...) a brief detour through Marx and Schmitt to examine the founding structures of secular modernity and the entanglement of liberalism with Christianity. Pursuing a hint offered by Anidjar that Christianity is not quite a tradition, I conclude that for Freud, the “Christian question” emerges as a kind of enigma: the dream of a community divorced from human modes of transmission, unbound by legacies of filiation to the past, and replacing the collective memory of a people with the end of human collectivity. (shrink)
ABSTRACT This article argues that there is an elemental confluence between the moral ideal of cosmopolitanism and the economic and commercial practices of globalization. By looking at Foucault's and Arendt's readings of Kant, I show that the cosmopolitan premise of humanity is bound to an eschatological vision of the end of politics. In aligning Foucault's discussion of state-phobia with Arendt's discussion of world alienation, I argue that the eclipse of the public realm is intrinsic to the liberal conception of progress. (...) While critics have viewed Arendt's social/political distinction with suspicion, less attention has been paid to the parallel contrast between intimacy and privacy in her work and to the ways in which her critique of intimacy's worldlessness converges with her depiction of the crisis of modernity. In Arendt's account, the social swallows up and depoliticizes the public realm and spits out intimacy as the consolation for this loss. (shrink)