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Re: Zizek's Inimitable Take on Mauvaise Foi

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  • Mary
    ... Jim, With this excerpt from Zizek (Less Than Nothing) we can see how his notions of madness relate to our discussion of Sartre s Being and Nothingness as
    Message 1 of 9 , Aug 22 8:21 AM
      --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Jim" <jjimstuart1@...> wrote:
      >
      > With regard to what you write about an internal connection (as opposites) between reason and madness, I am not sure what to say.

      Jim,

      With this excerpt from Zizek (Less Than Nothing) we can see how his notions of madness relate to our discussion of Sartre's Being and Nothingness as psychoanalytical existentialism.

      ~This, then, is the status of the Self: its self-awareness is, as it were, the actuality of its own possibility. Consequently, what "haunts" the subject is his inaccessible noumenal Self, the "Thing that thinks," an object in which the subject would fully "encounter himself."[47] Of course, for Kant, the same goes for every object of my experience which is always phenomenal, that is inaccessible in its noumenal dimension; however, with the Self, the impasse is accentuated: all other objects of experience are given to me phenomenally, but, in the case of the subject, I cannot even get a phenomenal experience of me—since I am dealing with "myself," in this unique case, phenomenal self-experience would equal noumenal access; that is, if I were to be able to experience "myself" as a phenomenal object, I would thereby eo ipso experience myself in my noumenal identity, as a Thing.

      The underlying problem here is the impossibility of the subject's objectivizing himself: the subject is singular *and* the universal frame of "his world," for every content he perceives is "his own"; so how can the subject include himself (count himself) in the series of his objects? The subject observes reality from an external position and is simultaneously part of this reality, without ever being able to attain an "objective" view of reality with himself included [in] it. The Thing that haunts the subject is *himself* in his objectal counterpoint, qua object. Hegel writes: "The subject finds itself in contradiction between the totality systematized in its consciousness, and the particular determination which, in itself, is not fluid and is not reduced to its proper place and rank. This is mental derangement [Verrücktheit]. [48] This has to be read in a very precise way. Hegel's point is not simply that madness signals a short-circuit between totality and one of its particular moments, a "fixation" of totality in this moment on account of the totality is deprived of its dialectical fluidity—although some of his formulations may appear to point in this direction.[49] The "particular determination which, in itself, is not fluid" and resists being "reduced to its proper place and rank" is *the subject himself*, or more precisely, the feature (signifier) that re-presents him (holds his place) within the structured ("systematized") totality; and since the subject cannot ever objectivize himself, the "contradiction" here is absolute.[50] With this gap, the possibility of madness emerges—and , as Hegel puts it in proto-Foucaldian terms, madness is not an accidental lapse, a distortion, or an "illness" of human spirit, but is inscribed into an individuals spirit's basic ontological constitution, for to be human means to be potentially mad...~Less Than Nothing, p. 348-9

      [47] Hume drew a lot of mileage—too much—out of this observation regarding how, upon introspection, all I perceive in myself are my particular ideas, sensations, emotion, never my "Self" itself.
      [48] As quoted in Malabou, The Future of Hegel, p. 35; translation modified from Hegel, Philosophy of Mind, §408.
      [49] Is not paranoid fixation such a short-circuit, in which the totality of my experience becomes non-dialectically "fixated" on a particular moment, the idea of my persecutor?
      [50] Upon a closer look, it becomes clear that the Hegelian notion of madness oscillates between the two extremes which one is tempted to call, with reference to Benjamin's notion of violence, constitutive and constituted madness. First, there is constitutive madness: the radical "contradiction" of the human condition itself, between the subject as "nothing," as the evanescent punctuality, and the subject as "all," as the horizon if its world. Then, there is "constituted" madness: the direct fixation upon, identification with, a particular feature as an attempt to resolve (or, rather, cut short) the contradiction. In a way homologous with the ambiguity of the Lacanian notion of the objet petit a, madness names at the same time the contradiction or void and the attempt to resolve it.

      Mary
    • Jim
      Mary, Thank you for your last two posts which, as usual, give me plenty to think about. I now realize that your use of the word `reason follows Hegel fairly
      Message 2 of 9 , Aug 23 1:11 PM
        Mary,

        Thank you for your last two posts which, as usual, give me plenty to think about.

        I now realize that your use of the word `reason' follows Hegel fairly closely: It is much more that the virtue of rationality; it is the forward movement of thought (particularly speculative thought) as it accommodates what has gone before and expands it into something new.

        Zizek on Sartre is an intoxicating mix. In some ways I think Zizek distorts Sartre, as Sartre was against the psychoanalytic approach (consider what he wrote in the `bad faith' section you gave the link to), whilst Zizek very much endorses the psychoanalytic approach of Lacan.

        Perhaps Sartre's idea of the fear of freedom was partly the idea of the fear that each of us is potentially a mad person, and the dividing line between being in control and being out of control is paper thin.

        Arguably we have moved on from Kant and his distinction between the empirical self and the noumenal self. I certainly have a more naturalistic account of the self than Kant. I think I am the human animal Jim Stuart who is both an object in the physical world and a subject of experience of that physical world.

        I agree I cannot take a fully objective view of reality. I cannot fully take up the "view from nowhere" as there is always a part of me, a blind spot, behind the lens. Thomas Nagel in his book "The View form Nowhere" offers a good account of the two poles of human experience – the objective point of view and the subjective point of view.

        Perhaps Sartre would say that by taking up a more naturalistic view of myself, I am just attempting to escape my radical freedom, and to think of myself as a human animal is to descend into a type of bad faith.

        However I hold on to Sartre's idea that I am radically free to choose my path through life and to choose the sort of person I become.

        Jim
      • Mary
        ... distorts Sartre, as Sartre was against the psychoanalytic approach (consider what he wrote in the `bad faith section you gave the link to), whilst Zizek
        Message 3 of 9 , Aug 26 12:35 PM
          --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Jim" <jjimstuart1@...> wrote:

          > Zizek on Sartre is an intoxicating mix. In some ways I think Zizek
          distorts Sartre, as Sartre was against the psychoanalytic approach
          (consider what he wrote in the `bad faith' section you gave the link
          to), whilst Zizek very much endorses the psychoanalytic approach of
          Lacan.

          Hello Jim,

          Zizek does seem to distort a particular philosopher's oeuvre but often offers a different perspective on some of that philosopher's specific ideas. He also interprets one philosopher through another thinker. For example he reads Hegel through Lacan. I wouldn't say Sartre is opposed to the psychoanalytic approach since in several places he describes B&N as a existential psychoanalysis. I see him more specifically opposed to Freudian structures of consciousness but not to a psychoanalytical approach in general.

          Mary
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