The Neighbor: Three Inquiries in Political Theology, with a new Preface

University of Chicago Press
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In Civilization and Its Discontents, Freud made abundantly clear what he thought about the biblical injunction, first articulated in Leviticus 19:18 and then elaborated in Christian teachings, to love one's neighbor as oneself. “Let us adopt a naive attitude towards it,” he proposed, “as though we were hearing it for the first time; we shall be unable then to suppress a feeling of surprise and bewilderment.” After the horrors of World War II, the Holocaust, and Stalinism, Leviticus 19:18 seems even less conceivable—but all the more urgent now—than Freud imagined.

In The Neighbor, three of the most significant intellectuals working in psychoanalysis and critical theory collaborate to show how this problem of neighbor-love opens questions that are fundamental to ethical inquiry and that suggest a new theological configuration of political theory. Their three extended essays explore today's central historical problem: the persistence of the theological in the political. In “Toward a Political Theology of the Neighbor,” Kenneth Reinhard supplements Carl Schmitt’s political theology of the enemy and friend with a political theology of the neighbor based in psychoanalysis. In “Miracles Happen,” Eric L. Santner extends the book's exploration of neighbor-love through a bracing reassessment of Benjamin and Rosenzweig. And in an impassioned plea for ethical violence, Slavoj Žižek’s “Neighbors and Other Monsters” reconsiders the idea of excess to rehabilitate a positive sense of the inhuman and challenge the influence of Levinas on contemporary ethical thought.

A rich and suggestive account of the interplay between love and hate, self and other, personal and political, The Neighbor has proven to be a touchstone across the humanities and a crucial text for understanding the persistence of political theology in secular modernity. This new edition contains a new preface by the authors.
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About the author

Slavoj Žižek is professor of philosophy at the University of Ljubljana. His numerous books include Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle and The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity. Eric L. Santner is the Philip and Ida Romberg Professor in Modern Germanic Studies, professor of Germanic studies, and a member of the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Chicago. He is the author of several books, including On Creaturely Life: Rilke, Benjamin, Sebald and The Royal Remains: The People’s Two Bodies and the Endgames of Sovereignty, both published by the University of Chicago Press. Kenneth Reinhard is associate professor of English and comparative literature at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he also directed the Center for Jewish Studies. He is coauthor of After Oedipus: Shakespeare in Psychoanalysis.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Jul 12, 2013
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Pages
216
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ISBN
9780226068510
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Religious
Religion / General
Religion / Theology
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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"The king is dead. Long live the king!" In early modern Europe, the king's body was literally sovereign—and the right to rule was immediately transferrable to the next monarch in line upon the king's death. In The Royal Remains, Eric L. Santner argues that the "carnal" dimension of the structures and dynamics of sovereignty hasn't disappeared from politics. Instead, it migrated to a new location—the life of the people—where something royal continues to linger in the way we obsessively track and measure the vicissitudes of our flesh.

Santner demonstrates the ways in which democratic societies have continued many of the rituals and practices associated with kingship in displaced, distorted, and usually, unrecognizable forms. He proposes that those strange mental activities Freud first lumped under the category of the unconscious—which often manifest themselves in peculiar physical ways—are really the uncanny second life of these "royal remains," now animated in the body politic of modern neurotic subjects. Pairing Freud with Kafka, Carl Schmitt with Hugo von Hofmannsthal,and Ernst Kantorowicz with Rainer Maria Rilke, Santner generates brilliant readings of multiple texts and traditions of thought en route to reconsidering the sovereign imaginary. Ultimately, The Royal Remains locates much of modernity—from biopolitical controversies to modernist literary experiments—in this transition from subjecthood to secular citizenship.

This major new work will make a bold and original contribution to discussions of politics, psychoanalysis, and modern art and literature.
In On the Psychotheology of Everyday Life, Eric Santner puts Sigmund Freud in dialogue with his contemporary Franz Rosenzweig in the service of reimagining ethical and political life. By exploring the theological dimensions of Freud's writings and revealing unexpected psychoanalytic implications in the religious philosophy of Rosenzweig's masterwork, The Star of Redemption, Santner makes an original argument for understanding religions of revelation in therapeutic terms, and offers a penetrating look at how this understanding suggests fruitful ways of reconceiving political community.

Santner's crucial innovation in this new study is to bring the theological notion of revelation into a broadly psychoanalytic field, where it can be understood as a force that opens the self to everyday life and encourages accountability within the larger world. Revelation itself becomes redefined as an openness toward what is singular, enigmatic, even uncanny about the Other, whether neighbor or stranger, thereby linking a theory of drives and desire to a critical account of sociality. Santner illuminates what it means to be genuinely open to another human being or culture and to share and take responsibility for one's implication in the dilemmas of difference.

By bringing Freud and Rosenzweig together, Santner not only clarifies in new and surprising ways the profound connections between psychoanalysis and the Judeo-Christian tradition, he makes the resources of both available to contemporary efforts to rethink concepts of community and cross-cultural communication.
In the space of barely more than five years, with the publication of four pathbreaking books, Slavoj Žižek has earned the reputation of being one of the most arresting, insightful, and scandalous thinkers in recent memory. Perhaps more than any other single author, his writings have constituted the most compelling evidence available for recognizing Jacques Lacan as the preemient philosopher of our time.

In Tarrying with the Negative, Žižek challenges the contemporary critique of ideology, and in doing so opens the way for a new understanding of social conflict, particularly the recent outbursts of nationalism and ethnic struggle. Are we, Žižek asks, confined to a postmodern universe in which truth is reduced to the contingent effect of various discursive practices and where our subjectivity is dispersed through a multitude of ideological positions? No is his answer, and the way out is a return to philosophy. This revisit to German Idealism allows Žižek to recast the critique of ideology as a tool for disclosing the dynamic of our society, a crucial aspect of which is the debate over nationalism, particularly as it has developed in the Balkans—Žižek's home. He brings the debate over nationalism into the sphere of contemporary cultural politics, breaking the impasse centered on nationalisms simultaneously fascistic and anticolonial aspirations. Provocatively, Žižek argues that what drives nationalistic and ethnic antagonism is a collectively driven refusal of our own enjoyment.

Using examples from popular culture and high theory to illuminate each other—opera, film noir, capitalist universalism, religious and ethnic fundamentalism—this work testifies to the fact that, far more radically than the postmodern sophists, Kant and Hegel are our contemporaries.
"The king is dead. Long live the king!" In early modern Europe, the king's body was literally sovereign—and the right to rule was immediately transferrable to the next monarch in line upon the king's death. In The Royal Remains, Eric L. Santner argues that the "carnal" dimension of the structures and dynamics of sovereignty hasn't disappeared from politics. Instead, it migrated to a new location—the life of the people—where something royal continues to linger in the way we obsessively track and measure the vicissitudes of our flesh.

Santner demonstrates the ways in which democratic societies have continued many of the rituals and practices associated with kingship in displaced, distorted, and usually, unrecognizable forms. He proposes that those strange mental activities Freud first lumped under the category of the unconscious—which often manifest themselves in peculiar physical ways—are really the uncanny second life of these "royal remains," now animated in the body politic of modern neurotic subjects. Pairing Freud with Kafka, Carl Schmitt with Hugo von Hofmannsthal,and Ernst Kantorowicz with Rainer Maria Rilke, Santner generates brilliant readings of multiple texts and traditions of thought en route to reconsidering the sovereign imaginary. Ultimately, The Royal Remains locates much of modernity—from biopolitical controversies to modernist literary experiments—in this transition from subjecthood to secular citizenship.

This major new work will make a bold and original contribution to discussions of politics, psychoanalysis, and modern art and literature.
Eleven conversations taken from as many issues of Fata Morgana. Eleven conversations which synthesize the project behind the journal which was born in spring 2006. At the time it was decided against having an editorial comment because of the conviction that if the journal was going to succeed it would speak for itself. However, the time has come to say a few words. A journal is first and foremost a collective gesture whose outline creates a field. The gesture made by Fata Morgana, which at the beginning was only an intuition and then it slowly developed, is the same one that makes cinema a place and an opportunity to think about contemporaneity. It is not simply about what happens around us; it is what emerges from within the events which gather around a concept: from the concept of Bíos (issue No. 0) to the concept of the Sacred (issue No. 10). In this perspective, cinema needs to be interpreted and understood as having its own un-specific specificity. It needs to be interpreted and understood in its principal form where it is capable of categorizing its un-specificity, in other words, its autonomous form where it can categorize its heteronomy. This means thinking about a concept starting from cinema, and thinking about cinema starting from the concept. Thus, cinema becomes a special place and an opportunity to think about the universality of the concept (as a marker of contemporaneity) and the concept becomes the perspective from which to conceive cinema. By avoiding the double edged sword of a sterile specificity or of a self serving un-specificity cinema becomes the quintessential way of thinking about modernity where autonomy of aesthetical form is affirmed in its heteronomy, and its individuation imposes itself as a dis-individuation.
The “formidably brilliant” Žižek considers sexuality, ontology, subjectivity, and Marxian critiques of political economy by way of Lacanian psychoanalysis.

If the most interesting theoretical interventions emerge today from the interspaces between fields, then the foremost interspaceman is Slavoj Žižek. In Incontinence of the Void (the title is inspired by a sentence in Samuel Beckett's late masterpiece Ill Seen Ill Said), Žižek explores the empty spaces between philosophy, psychoanalysis, and the critique of political economy. He proceeds from the universal dimension of philosophy to the particular dimension of sexuality to the singular dimension of the critique of political economy. The passage from one dimension to another is immanent: the ontological void is accessible only through the impasses of sexuation and the ongoing prospect of the abolition of sexuality, which is itself opened up by the technoscientific progress of global capitalism, in turn leading to the critique of political economy.

Responding to his colleague and fellow Short Circuits author Alenka Zupancic's What Is Sex?, Žižek examines the notion of an excessive element in ontology that gives body to radical negativity, which becomes the antagonism of sexual difference. From the economico-philosophical perspective, Žižek extrapolates from ontological excess to Marxian surplus value to Lacan's surplus enjoyment. In true Žižekian fashion, Incontinence of the Void focuses on eternal topics while detouring freely into contemporary issuesfrom the Internet of Things to Danish TV series.

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