Marx and Lacan: Surplus-Enjoyment, Surplus-Value, Surplus-Knowledge’ by Slavoj Žižek

Jacques Lacan locat­ed the orig­in of his key notion of plus-de-jouir (sur­plus-enjoy­ment) in Marx’s notion of sur­plus-val­ue, and it is worth explor­ing in detail the homol­o­gy of the two notions, adding a third one, that of sur­plus-knowl­edge, a pseudo-knowl­edge in the guise of which our igno­rance appears (“supre­me” knowl­edge of God and oth­er hid­den forces, con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, etc.). Such an analy­sis is cru­cial for resus­ci­tat­ing Marx’s cri­tique of polit­i­cal econ­o­my, as well as for prop­er­ly under­stand­ing today’s glob­al cap­i­tal­ism and its ide­o­log­i­cal effects, up to fun­da­men­tal­ist vio­lence.

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Stasis Journal: Art, Politics, Ideology: A Problematic Triangle

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Sta­sis is a peer-reviewed aca­d­e­mic jour­nal in social and polit­i­cal the­o­ry, which is joint­ly edit­ed by a group of influ­en­tial intel­lec­tu­als from East­ern, Cen­tral, and North­ern Europe. The Jour­nal is pub­lished by the Euro­pean Uni­ver­si­ty at Saint-Peters­burg. Sta­sis is a bilin­gual jour­nal that pub­lish­es arti­cles in Eng­lish and in Rus­sian. Sta­sis accepts for pub­li­ca­tion arti­cles both in Eng­lish and in the lan­guages of the region. In the case of accep­tance, the arti­cles orig­i­nal­ly writ­ten in oth­er lan­guages are trans­lat­ed into Eng­lish.

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The History of Continental Philosophy

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From Kant to Kierkegaard, from Hegel to Hei­deg­ger, con­ti­nen­tal philoso­phers have indeli­bly shaped the tra­jec­to­ry of West­ern thought since the eigh­teen­th cen­tu­ry. Although much has been writ­ten about the­se mon­u­men­tal thinkers, stu­dents and schol­ars lack a defin­i­tive guide to the entire scope of the con­ti­nen­tal tra­di­tion. The most com­pre­hen­sive ref­er­ence work to date, this eight-vol­ume His­to­ry of Con­ti­nen­tal Phi­los­o­phy will both encap­su­late the sub­ject and reori­ent our under­stand­ing of it. Begin­ning with an overview of Kant’s phi­los­o­phy and its ini­tial recep­tion, the His­to­ry traces the evo­lu­tion of con­ti­nen­tal phi­los­o­phy through major fig­ures as well as move­ments such as exis­ten­tial­ism, phe­nom­e­nol­o­gy, hermeneu­tics, and post­struc­tural­ism. The final vol­ume out­li­nes the cur­rent state of the field, bring­ing the work of both his­tor­i­cal and mod­ern thinkers to bear on such con­tem­po­rary top­ics as fem­i­nism, glob­al­iza­tion, and the envi­ron­ment. Through­out, the vol­umes exam­ine impor­tant philo­soph­i­cal fig­ures and devel­op­ments in their his­tor­i­cal, polit­i­cal, and cul­tur­al con­texts.

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Less Than Nothing: Hegel And The Shadow Of Dialectical Materialism’ by Slavoj Žižek

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For the last two cen­turies, West­ern phi­los­o­phy has devel­oped in the shad­ow of Hegel, an influ­ence each new thinker strug­gles to escape. As a con­se­quence, Hegel’s absolute ide­al­ism has become the bogey­man of phi­los­o­phy, obscur­ing the fact that he is the defin­ing philoso­pher of the his­tor­i­cal tran­si­tion to moder­ni­ty, a peri­od with which our own times share star­tling sim­i­lar­i­ties.

Today, as glob­al cap­i­tal­ism comes apart at the seams, we are enter­ing a new peri­od of tran­si­tion. In Less Than Noth­ing, the pro­duct of a career-long focus on the part of its author, Slavoj Žižek argues it is imper­a­tive we not sim­ply return to Hegel but that we repeat and exceed his tri­umphs, over­com­ing his lim­i­ta­tions by being even more Hegelian than the mas­ter him­self. Such an approach not only enables Žižek to diag­nose our present con­di­tion, but also to engage in a crit­i­cal dia­logue with the key strands of con­tem­po­rary thought—Heidegger, Badiou, spec­u­la­tive real­ism, quan­tum physics, and cog­ni­tive sci­ences. Moder­ni­ty will begin and end with Hegel.

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It Was Dur­ing the Hor­ror of a Pro­found Night.” by Alain Badiou

On Novem­ber 9th, Don­ald Trump was elect­ed as the 45th Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca. Alain Badiou respond­ed in a talk at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Los Ange­les, co-spon­sored by the pro­gram in Exper­i­ment­al Crit­ic­al The­ory and the Cen­ter for Euro­pean and Rus­si­an Stud­ies.

Tran­script

I was think­ing about French poet­ry, which is in a play of Racine, in fact. It’s a beau­ti­ful, beau­ti­ful sen­tence. In French: “C’était pen­dant l’horreur d’une pro­fonde nuit.” In Eng­lish: “It was dur­ing the hor­ror of a pro­found night.” May­be Racine was think­ing of the elec­tion of Trump. It was dur­ing the hor­ror of a pro­found night. And so, it was like an oblig­a­tion for me to speak, to dis­cuss, that sort of event, in a neg­at­ive sense, because it’s impos­si­ble for me to be here in front of you and to speak of some­thing very inter­est­ing in aca­dem­ic terms. I think it’s a neces­sity to think, to dis­cuss, what hap­pens dur­ing the hor­ror of the pro­found night, just yes­ter­day. You know, for me, but I think for many peo­ple, it has been, in some sense, a sort of sur­prise. And we are often, in that sort of sur­prise, under the law of affects: fear, depres­sion, anger, pan­ic, and so on. But we know that philo­soph­ic­ally, all the­se affects are not real­ly a good reac­tion, because in some sense, it’s too much affect in front of the ene­my. And so, I think it’s a neces­sity to think bey­ond the affect, bey­ond fear, depres­sion , and so on — to think the situ­ation of today, the situ­ation of the world today, where some­thing like that is pos­sible, that some­body like Trump becomes the pres­id­ent of the Unit­ed States. And so, my goal this even­ing is to present, not exact­ly an explan­a­tion, but some­thing like a cla­ri­fic­a­tion of the pos­sib­il­ity of some­thing like that, and also some indic­a­tions, sub­mit­ted to dis­cus­sion, con­cern­ing what we must do after that; what we must do, which is not pre­cisely to be under the law of affect, of neg­at­ive affect, but at the lev­el of think­ing, action, polit­ic­al determ­in­a­tion, and so on.

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The Parallax View’ by Slavoj Žižek

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The Par­al­lax View is one of Slavoj Žižek’s most sub­stan­tial the­o­ret­i­cal works; Žižek him­self once described it as his mag­num opus. Par­al­lax can be defined as the appar­ent dis­place­ment of an object, caused by a change in obser­va­tion­al posi­tion. Žižek is inter­est­ed in the “par­al­lax gap” sep­a­rat­ing two points between which no syn­the­sis or medi­a­tion is pos­si­ble, linked by an “impos­si­ble short cir­cuit” of lev­els that can nev­er meet. From this con­sid­er­a­tion of par­al­lax, Žižek begins a reha­bil­i­ta­tion of dialec­ti­cal mate­ri­al­ism.

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Jacques Lacan: A Beginner’s Guide’ by Lionel Bailly

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Jacques Lacan was one of the most impor­tant psy­cho­an­a­lysts ever to have lived. Build­ing upon the work of Sig­mund Freud, he sought to refine Freudi­an insights with the use of lin­guis­tics, argu­ing that “the struc­ture of uncon­scious is like a lan­guage”. Con­tro­ver­sial through­out his life­time both for adopt­ing math­e­mat­i­cal con­cepts in his psy­cho­an­a­lyt­ic frame­work and for advo­cat­ing ther­a­py ses­sions of vary­ing length, he is wide­ly mis­un­der­stood and often unfair­ly dis­missed as impen­e­tra­ble. In this clear, wide-rang­ing primer, Lionel Bail­ly demon­strates how Lacan’s ideas are still vital­ly rel­e­vant to con­tem­po­rary issues of men­tal health treat­ment. Defend­ing Lacan from his numer­ous detrac­tors, past and present, Bail­ly guides the read­er through Lacan’s canon, from “l’objet petit a” to “The Mir­ror Stage” and beyond. Includ­ing cov­er­age of devel­op­ments in Laca­ni­an psy­cho­analy­sis since his death, this is the per­fect intro­duc­tion to the great mod­ern the­o­rist.

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Transcritique: On Kant and Marx’ by Kojin Karatani

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Kojin Karatani’s Tran­s­cri­tique intro­duces a star­tling­ly new dimen­sion to Immanuel Kant’s tran­scen­den­tal cri­tique by using Kant to read Karl Marx and Marx to read Kant. In a direct chal­lenge to stan­dard aca­d­e­mic approach­es to both thinkers, Karatani’s tran­s­crit­i­cal read­ings dis­cov­er the eth­i­cal roots of social­ism in Kant’s Cri­tique of Pure Rea­son and a Kan­tian cri­tique of mon­ey in Marx’s Cap­i­tal.

Karatani reads Kant as a philoso­pher who sought to wrest meta­physics from the dis­cred­it­ed realm of the­o­ret­i­cal dog­ma in order to restore it to its prop­er place in the sphere of ethics and prax­is. With this as his own crit­i­cal mod­el, he then presents a read­ing of Marx that attempts to lib­er­ate Marx­ism from long­stand­ing Marx­ist and social­ist pre­sup­po­si­tions in order to locate a solid the­o­ret­i­cal basis for a pos­i­tive activism capa­ble of grad­u­al­ly super­sed­ing the trin­i­ty of Cap­i­tal-Nation-State.

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Sex and Nothing: Bridges from Psychoanalysis to Philosophy’ by Alejandro Cerda-Rueda

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From its ety­mo­log­i­cal roots, sex is relat­ed to a scis­sion, Lat­in for sec­tus, secare, mean­ing “to divide or cut.” There­fore, regard­less of the var­i­ous stud­ies applied to defin­ing sex as inscribed by dis­cur­sive acts, i.e. mere­ly a ‘per­for­ma­tive­ly enact­ed sig­ni­fi­ca­tion,’ there is some­thing more to sex than just a social con­struc­tion or an apri­or­is­tic sub­stance. Sex is irre­ducible to mean­ing or knowl­edge.

This is why psy­cho­analy­sis can­not be for­mu­lat­ed as an ero­tol­ogy nor a sci­ence of sex (sci­en­tia sex­u­al­is). Fol­low­ing this argu­men­ta­tion, in the final class of his eleven­th sem­i­nar, Lacan asserts that psy­cho­analy­sis has proven to be uncre­ative in the realm of sex­u­al­i­ty. Hence­forth, sex does not engrave itself with­in the sym­bol­ic: only the fail­ure of its inscrip­tion is marked in the sym­bol­ic. In this mat­ter, sex escapes the sym­bol­ic restraints of lan­guage; how­ev­er, it is through its fail­ure that it man­i­fests itself through the sym­bol­ic, e.g. symp­toms or dream life. So, what is sex? Sex and Noth­ing embarks upon a dia­logue between col­leagues and friends inter­est­ed in bridg­ing psy­cho­analy­sis and phi­los­o­phy, link­ing sex and thought, where what emerges is a greater aware­ness of the irre­du­cu­cibil­i­ty of sex to the dis­course of knowl­edge and mean­ing: in oth­er words, sex and noth­ing.

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