The Cartesian cogito—the principle articulated by Descartes that "I think, therefore I am"—is often hailed as the precursor of modern science. At the same time, the cogito's agent, the ego, is sometimes feared as the agency of manipulative domination responsible for all present woes, from patriarchal oppression to ecological catastrophes. Without psychoanalyzing philosophy, Cogito and the Unconscious explores the vicissitudes of the cogito and shows that psychoanalyses can render visible a constitutive madness within modern philosophy, the point at which "I think, therefore I am" becomes obsessional neurosis characterized by "If I stop thinking, I will cease to exist."
Noting that for Lacan the Cartesian construct is the same as the Freudian "subject of the unconscious," the contributors follow Lacan's plea for a psychoanalytic return to the cogito. Along the path of this return, they examine the ethical attitude that befits modern subjectivity, the inherent sexualization of modern subjectivity, the impasse in which the Cartesian project becomes involved given the enigmatic status of the human body, and the Cartesian subject's confrontation with its modern critics, including Althusser, Bataille, and Dennett. In a style that has become familiar to Žižek's readers, these essays bring together a strict conceptual analysis and an approach to a wide range of cultural and ideological phenomena—from the sadist paradoxes of Kant's moral philosophy to the universe of Ayn Rand's novels, from the question "Which, if any, is the sex of the cogito?" to the defense of the cogito against the onslaught of cognitive sciences.
Challenging us to reconsider fundamental notions of human consciousness and modern subjectivity, this is a book whose very Lacanian orthodoxy makes it irreverently transgressive of predominant theoretical paradigms. Cogito and the Unconscious will appeal to readers interested in philosophy, psychoanalysis, cultural studies, and theories of ideology.
Contributors. Miran Bozovic, Mladen Dolar, Alain Grosrichard, Marc de Kessel, Robert Pfaller, Renata Salecl, Slavoj Žižek, Alenka Zupancic
Gregor Moder’s Hegel and Spinoza: Substance and Negativity is a lively entry into current debates concerning Hegel, Spinoza, and their relation. Hegel and Spinoza are two of the most influential philosophers of the modern era, and the traditions of thought they inaugurated have been in continuous dialogue and conflict ever since Hegel first criticized Spinoza. Notably, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century German Idealists aimed to overcome the determinism of Spinoza’s system by securing a place for the freedom of the subject within it, and twentieth-century French materialists such as Althusser and Deleuze rallied behind Spinoza as the ultimate champion of anti-Hegelian materialism. This conflict, or mutual rejection, lives on today in recent discussions about materialism. Contemporary thinkers either make a Hegelian case for the productiveness of concepts of the negative, nothingness, and death, or in a way that is inspired by Spinoza they abolish the concepts of the subject and negation and argue for pure affirmation and the vitalistic production of differences.
Hegel and Spinoza traces the historical roots of these alternatives and shows how contemporary discussions between Heideggerians and Althusserians, Lacanians and Deleuzians are a variation of the disagreement between Hegel and Spinoza. Throughout, Moder persuasively demonstrates that the best way to read Hegel and Spinoza is not in opposition or contrast but together: as Hegel and Spinoza.
Responding to the ongoing “objectal turn” throughout contemporary humanities and social sciences, the eleven essays in Subject Lessons present a sustained case for the continued importance—indeed, the indispensability—of the category of the subject for the future of materialist thought.
Various neovitalist materialisms and realisms currently en vogue across a number of academic disciplines (from New Materialism and actor-network theory to speculative realism and object-oriented ontology) advocate a flat, horizontal ontology that renders the subject just another object amid a “democracy of objects.” By contrast, the dialectical materialism presented throughout Subject Lessons maintains that subjectivity is crucial to grasping matter’s “vibrancy” and continual “becoming” in the first place. Approaching matters through the frame of Hegel and Lacan, the contributors to this volume—many of whom stand at the forefront of contemporary Hegel and Lacan scholarship—agree with neovitalist thinkers that material reality is ontologically incomplete, in a state of perpetual becoming, yet they do so with one crucial difference: they maintain that this is the case not in spite of but rather because of the subject.
Incorporating elements of philosophy, psychoanalysis, and literary and cultural studies, Subject Lessons contests the movement to dismiss the subject, arguing that there can be no truly robust materialism without accounting for the little piece of the Real that is the subject.
In the contemporary world, voices are caught up in fundamentally different realms of discourse, practice, and culture: between sounding and nonsounding, material and nonmaterial, literal and metaphorical. In The Voice as Something More, Martha Feldman and Judith T. Zeitlin tackle these paradoxes with a bold and rigorous collection of essays that look at voice as both object of desire and material object.
Using Mladen Dolar’s influential A Voice and Nothing More as a reference point, The Voice as Something More reorients Dolar’s psychoanalytic analysis around the material dimensions of voices—their physicality and timbre, the fleshiness of their mechanisms, the veils that hide them, and the devices that enhance and distort them. Throughout, the essays put the body back in voice. Ending with a new essay by Dolar that offers reflections on these vocal aesthetics and paradoxes, this authoritative, multidisciplinary collection, ranging from Europe and the Americas to East Asia, from classics and music to film and literature, will serve as an essential entry point for scholars and students who are thinking toward materiality.