By Fabio Vighi
Fabio Vighi, On Žižek's Dialectics: Surplus, Subtraction, Sublimation, Continuum, 2010, 189pp., $120.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780826464439.
Reviewed by means of Adrian Johnston, college of recent Mexico
With his On Žižek's Dialectics: Surplus, Subtraction, Sublimation, Fabio Vighi presents an attractive and suggestive addition to the speedily growing to be physique of literature at the the world over well known Slovenian thinker and psychoanalytic theorist Slavoj Žižek. even though Vighi's identify may possibly lead a possible reader at the start drawing close this booklet to count on a sustained dialogue of Žižek's Hegelianism in particular -- Hegel is an important resource of idea for Žižekian concept in all its quite a few dimensions (along with Kant, Schelling, Marx, Lacan, and Badiou) -- Vighi devotes the majority of his recognition to serious analyses of the Lacan-inflected points of Žižek's reflections on issues political. What distinguishes Vighi's intervention from different on hand remedies of politics à l. a. Žižek is his major thesis that the purported loss of a pragmatic application akin to Žižekian theorizations of assorted fresh and modern political phenomena is a advantage instead of a vice.
More accurately, Vighi, through his personal admission within the spirit if no longer regularly the letter of Žižek's writings, argues that the most important schedule to be pursued in mild of the target of reviving a demoralized and exhausted radical Left isn't the quick jump into another around of frenzied praxis (what Žižek, inverting a widely known word from renowned psychology, dubs "aggressive passivity") as impotent outbursts striving in useless to bridge perceived gaps among idea and perform. as a substitute, from Vighi's point of view, what's referred to as for these days is an intra-theoretical exertions of considering, a reflexive contemplative exam of political idea itself (conducted less than the tips of Lacan and Žižek particularly, with relatively briefer references to Alfred Sohn-Rethel and Kojin Karatani as well). Vighi contends that simply via a reinvention of our rules approximately politics, together with most significantly these of our subconscious fantasies buttressing the very constructions of social house and our relationships to it, will we even start to wish so as to envision paths of political perform with a true shot at reaching lasting, helpful change.
Vighi is at his most powerful while spelling out a few of the primary implications of psychoanalysis for political conception. With unique specialise in Lacan's musings from the interval instantly ahead of, in the course of, and after could '68 (i.e., the Lacan of the 16th [1968-1969] and 17th [1969-1970] seminars), he essentially and helpfully explains how Žižek's coupling of Marx avec Lacan calls for thorough-going adjustments with appreciate to (post-)Marxism: alienation isn't really a few transitory and surmountable socio-historical , yet "subjectivity's very of possibility" (p. 4); echoing not just Žižek, yet past twentieth-century Freudo-Marxism (à los angeles Marcuse et al) (p. 28), Marxist conception and perform is confronted with the problem of integrating psychoanalytic conceptions of the subconscious for you to have an opportunity of being actual and powerful (pp. 43-44, sixty seven, 70, seventy two, 79); in particular apropos Lacanian research, Marx's radical leftist heirs needs to take note of manifestations of what Lacan frequently has in view whilst conversing of "jouissance" ("enjoyment," particularly what the later Lacan, just about Marx's surplus-value, names "plus-de-jouir" ["surplus-enjoyment"]) (pp. 57-58). a method to place those issues is within the type of a normal declare to the impact powerful, strong critique of political economic system is constructible merely via taking into cautious attention the operations of the libidinal financial system -- and this being rather so within the period of world, digitalized patron capitalism with which Žižek famously wrestles many times. Vighi rightly attracts readers' awareness to subjects' socio-economically major investments in such things as commodities and careers on the libidinal degrees of wishes, drives, and fantasies either unsleeping and subconscious (pp. 27, 33-35, 64).
Furthermore, I wholeheartedly advise Vighi's prognosis of the Left's deadly failure to improve and set up a "politics of jouissance" (pp. 142, 153). As I placed it during this designated vein within the preface to Badiou, Žižek, and Political alterations, "A difficult, clumsy lack of ability to grasp the affect-laden aesthetics of mass-media politics is in simple terms one of the unhappy failings of today's Left. the place is its Leni Riefenstahl?" In different phrases, Vighi and that i, following in Žižek's footsteps, agree that utterly ceding emotive and visceral aestheticizations of politics to the best, swiftly deeming such a gestures as unacceptably "(proto-)fascist," is a grave mistake. An lack of ability to snatch humans by way of their guts, to place it crudely, and mobilize their strong emotions and impulses hobbles the publicly noticeable representatives of leftism within the late-capitalist universe; such representatives are caught many times reacting to right-wing routine, the latter having a monopoly on political momentum because of taking part in upon the obscene, violent, and unpleasant jouissance of racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, homophobic, and jingoistic passions, no matter if in simple terms in implicit, subliminal fashions. yet, as Vighi insightfully cautions, getting the juices flowing of a reinvented leftist enthusiasm (as passionate jouissance) isn't adequate on its own. His significant thesis in regards to the desire for intra-theoretical labors as earlier danger stipulations for quite transformative extra-theoretical (i.e., useful) courses is at once hooked up to this warning. one of many best possible strains in Vighi's publication warns, "before being enthusiastic about its politics, today's left has to reinvent a politics to be passionate about." (p. 15)
Partly within the curiosity of complete disclosure, it may be pointed out that Vighi and that i engaged in an past trade within the overseas magazine of Žižek Studies, an trade initiated via Vighi's evaluate of my most modern publication and orbiting round some of the matters on the middle of his ebook being reviewed the following. instead of recapitulate what was once at stake in that back-and-forth -- the reader is stated the articles stated within the previous sentence -- I intend in what follows to give new criticisms of Vighi's place I didn't define formerly (and, i believe that my responses to Vighi within the overseas magazine of Žižek stories additionally deal with Vighi's objections to my paintings as he articulates them in On Žižek's Dialectics [pp. one hundred thirty five, 175-176]).
I desire to start by means of voicing a grievance approximately Vighi's relative restrictedness of concentration. due to the fact Žižek is a philosopher who flourishes via references to a variety of figures and parts, serious engagements with Žižek demand digging into his favorite resources extensive. a quick look on the bibliography of On Žižek's Dialectics unearths a reliance upon a shockingly small variety of texts by means of such hugely appropriate authors as Hegel and Badiou. The parts of Lacan's corpus leaned upon are selectively restricted (again, the 16th and 17th seminars are seriously privileged), specifically in comparison with Žižek's multifaceted employments of the tremendous complete sweep of the Lacanian oeuvre. Kant, Fichte, and Schelling, philosophers an important for anyone's thoroughly trained knowing of Hegel, Marx, and dialectics -- either Žižek and Karatani underscore the foundational position of Kantianism of their endeavors -- are absent from the checklist of references. with regards to this, Vighi at one element refers in passing to "the philosophical cliché that there's no position for the individual's loose will in German idealism." (p. 108) contemplating the well known undeniable fact that Kant and the post-Kantian idealists see themselves because the German intellectual/cultural heirs of the French Revolution united, regardless of their transformations, within the venture of reconstructing everything of contemporary philosophy as a philosophy of freedom at the foundation of a deep appreciation of considerably independent subjectivity, it's uncertain what Vighi has in brain here.
Moreover, Vighi refrains from addressing a lot of the past literature on a variety of elements of Žižek's physique of labor. Todd McGowan's 2004 e-book the tip of Dissatisfaction?: Jacques Lacan and the rising Society of Enjoyment, Jodi Dean's 2006 publication Žižek's Politics, and Thomas Brockelman's 2008 e-book Žižek and Heidegger: The query bearing on Techno-Capitalism all hide huge parts of an analogous flooring mentioned in On Žižek's Dialectics (such as: the myriad new positive factors of post-industrial, overdue patron capitalism; the pervasive presence of jouissance in socio-political fields; the 20 th- and early-twenty-first-century historic shifts requiring differences of Marx's and Freud's principles; etc.). my very own 2008 examine of Žižek's dialectics as built at the foundation of his Lacanian appropriations of Kant, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel (Žižek's Ontology: A Transcendental Materialist thought of Subjectivity) likewise gets no point out whatever. except Vighi failing to recognize while others have made definite issues sooner than him, those significant omissions depart the reader already accustomed to Žižek scholarship pondering simply how big a contribution Vighi particularly bargains together with his personal book.
The narrowness of concentration isn't limited to the bibliography by myself. to take advantage of an adjectival word pricey to Hegel, On Žižek's Dialectics suffers from a few types of "one-sidedness." for example, first of all, Vighi appropriately explicates Žižek's makes use of of Lacan to spot and take factor with specific shortcomings plaguing Marx's innovations and arguments. yet he spends no time reading the opposite part of this, particularly, Žižek's complementary Marxist misgivings apropos particular positive factors of Lacan's teachings (including the latter's notorious and said ambivalence vis-à-vis could '68). Turning to a different instance, Vighi characterizes Žižek's Hegelian dialectics as emphasizing "that the floor on which we stand is usually corresponding to the proverbial floor of our nightmares, insofar because it opens up at the abyss. Dialectics re-instates the primacy of contradiction, the violence of negativity, as that which cuts throughout each ontology of balance." (p. ninety one) This makes Žižek sound just like the Mao of 1937's "On Contradiction," a Mao to whom Žižek without delay addresses a couple of objections. For Hegel and Žižek (as good as Badiou), negativity is one, and just one, size of dialectical dynamics. either Žižek and Badiou, quite with political dimensions in view and for a number of purposes, take nice care to emphasize that their theories of "acts" and "events" respectively aren't almost about explosive irruptions of destabilizing destructiveness. They either declare to be at the least as drawn to the chilly, sobering "morning after," the drawn-out struggles to build sturdy and lasting progressive methods of being and doing.
In truth, Vighi's tacit quasi-Maoist one-sidedness apropos dialectics isn't unrelated to the problems that almost all difficulty me approximately On Žižek's Dialectics. As acknowledged during this review's beginning paragraph, the book's novelty with reference to the remainder of Žižek scholarship is its plea for reconceiving of the field of intra-theoretical (as against sensible) task because the area in which a real Žižekian act is a true threat (thus privileging the negativity of subjective serious mirrored image over the positivity of aim praxis) (pp. 6-7, 112, 153). as well as how I've already answered to this thesis -- Vighi encouraged it in his evaluate of Badiou, Žižek, and Political Transformations -- i need the following to sign up an extra sequence of concerns.
Psychoanalysis evidently is indispensable to those conversations. And, analytic notions of the top of study, notions generative of a lot controversy and debate in medical circles from Freud up throughout the current (Lacanian ones included), demonstrate questions and issues of certain analogues in Vighi's dealing with of the theory-practice rapport. considered one of Freud's very past due texts is "Analysis Terminable and Interminable" (1937), an essay dedicated to contemplating what constitutes a passable concluding second while an research can and may be dropped at a detailed. when it comes to this kind of theoretical (rather than medical) analyses with which Vighi is occupied, one wonders approximately "theorizing terminable and interminable." As Freud is the 1st to recognize, any research may in precept proceed on indefinitely till loss of life because the subconscious is an ineliminable aspect of the psychical gear. within the absence of sincerely formulated standards stipulating what the top of political theorizing may perhaps appear like (in either senses of "end"), Vighi hazards sounding as if he's trying to justify an interminable technique of intra-theoretical mirrored image as an end-in-itself sans perform (or, in Žižekian parlance, a politics with out politics). even supposing he speaks to this fear (pp. 141-142, 149-151), he doesn't, in my view, prevail at satisfactorily addressing it and placing it to rest.
Admittedly, there surely is whatever to Vighi's finely-worded ultimate feedback approximately political thinkers wanting (in Lacanese) to "traverse their fantasies," thereby studying to place their theoretical unconsciouses to paintings within the carrier of envisioning new collective probabilities (pp. a hundred and fifty five, 158-159, 163-164). yet, as indicated instantly above, the ineliminability of the subconscious potential this intra-theoretical self-analysis may possibly pass on and on solipsistically with no ever resulting in whatever past itself (in phrases of extra-theoretical acts, activities, practice[s], etc.). additionally, an easy query must be posed during this context: If it have been easily an issue of pondering our method out of the previous and into the recent, then why hasn't this occurred but on condition that a plethora of significant minds (Žižek, for example) have committed and proceed to commit themselves to this activity of thinking?
Psychoanalysis presents a solution to this query: Self-analysis through a silent highbrow internal monologue is doomed to critical inadequacy and ineffectiveness. regardless of his repeated recourse to the analytic notion of the subconscious, Vighi's valuable argumentative line is at risk of getting to depend on an implicit and intensely un-psychoanalytic voluntarism based on which reflexive theoretical self-consciousness on its own is prepared and ready to pinpoint and triumph over its personal blind spots. simply as analytic treatment depends a dialectic among subjectivity and objectivity -- the latter comprises the voicing aloud via free-associational speech of one's subjective soliloquy to a different addressee in addition to the continued residing of one's existence off the sofa and outdoors the consulting room -- so too needs to an efficacious leftist politics carry its subconscious dimensions to gentle via an interweaving of the taking into account the theoretical and the appearing of the sensible. The intra-theoretical with out the simultaneous extra-theoretical isn't prone to get very a ways; storming the mind with out storming the gates has its limits. Or, as Trotsky expresses it, "one learns to experience on horseback in basic terms whilst sitting at the horse."
 Adrian Johnston, Badiou, Žižek, and Political variations: The Cadence of swap, Evanston: Northwestern collage Press, 2009, p. xiv.
 Johnston, Badiou, Žižek, and Political differences, pp. xiv, 172-173; Vighi, On Žižek's Dialectics, pp. 15, 115.
 Fabio Vighi, "On working towards idea: a few comments on Adrian Johnston's Badiou, Žižek, and Political Transformations," and Adrian Johnston, "Meta-Dialectics and the Balancing Acts of Žižekianism: A reaction to Fabio Vighi," overseas magazine of Žižek reviews, vol. four, no. 1, 2010.
 Todd McGowan, the tip of Dissatisfaction?: Jacques Lacan and the rising Society of pleasure, Albany: country college of recent York Press, 2004; cf. Adrian Johnston, "Unable to take pleasure in: A overview of Todd McGowan's the top of Dissatisfaction?," South Atlantic evaluate, vol. 70, no. 1, wintry weather 2005, pp. 165-169.
 Jodi Dean, Žižek's Politics, big apple: Routledge, 2006.
 Thomas Brockelman, Žižek and Heidegger: The query bearing on Techno-Capitalism, London: Continuum, 2008.
 Adrian Johnston, Žižek's Ontology: A Transcendental Materialist idea of Subjectivity, Evanston: Northwestern collage Press, 2008.
 Johnston, Žižek's Ontology, pp. 264-268.
 Johnston, "Meta-Dialectics and the Balancing Acts of Žižekianism."
 Vighi, "On practising Theory."
 Leon Trotsky, Terrorism and Communism: A respond to Karl Kautsky (ed. Slavoj Žižek]), London: Verso, 2007, p. 97.
Copyright © 2004 Notre Dame Philosophical reports
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Extra info for On Žižek's Dialectics: Surplus, Subtraction, Sublimation (Continuum Studies in Continental Philosophy)
As Benjamin suggests in passages such as the following, children and slum-dwellers share the same potentiality (surplusjouissance) lost to those immersed in realm of value: ‘I never slept on the street in Berlin. Only those for whom poverty and vice turn the city into a landscape in which they stray from dark till sunrise know it in a way denied to me’ (Benjamin 1968: 27). Destroying experience, capitalism turns the “nothing” of truth – the objective entropic waste, indivisible remainder of all signifying operations – into a commodity, an anodyne form of otherness to be profited from.
That is what makes it the greatest promoter of liberalism and of all kinds of liberties and rights (especially the right to be different), and the greatest deactivator of any real liberating or subversive potential of these differences. (Zupancˇicˇ 2006: 174) In this respect, we should unashamedly introduce a hiatus between true and false otherness. To use Alain Badiou’s terms, the objective status of truths – of truths which therefore appear in the world – depends on the fact that 46 On Žižek’s Dialectics ‘a truth is an exception to what there is’ (Badiou 2009a: 6).
Here is an emblematic passage from Michael Hardt: What is perhaps most attractive about these Italian theorists and the movements they grow out of is their joyful character. [. ] Here [. ] the collective pursuit of pleasures is always in the forefront – revolution is a desiring-machine. Perhaps this is why, although these authors follow many aspects of Marx’s work, they seldom develop either the critique of the commodity or the critique of ideology as a major theme. Although certainly important projects, both of these analyses run the risk of falling into a kind of asceticism that would predicate revolutionary struggle on a denial of the pleasures offered by capitalist society.
On Žižek's Dialectics: Surplus, Subtraction, Sublimation (Continuum Studies in Continental Philosophy) by Fabio Vighi