radical politics. This will include: the ethics of postmodern irony – Richard
Rorty; the ethics of psychoanalysis – Lacan and Zˇizˇek; and the ethics of the
Other – Levinas and Derrida.
Ethics and radical politics
The conditions of postmodernity are marked, as I have argued, not only by the
death of God, but also the breakdown of the Enlightenment moral metanarratives that were developed to fill His place. Kant formulated ethics as duty to a
universaliseable moral law which was suprasensible, and beyond empirical
observation and pathological considerations. Thus we had
formulation of predictions and a search for causal factors of explanation.
As with the industrial technologies that developed in conjunction with the
progress of the natural sciences, so there were policy-orientated and
therapeutic practices that developed from the social sciences. These ranged
from bureaucratised teacher training and mass education to social work and
psychoanalysis, as new ‘knowledges’ were conceptualised and
broad range of theoretical perspectives:
[ 11 ]
poststructuralism, psychoanalysis, deconstruction, post-Marxism, autonomism
– while others would not come under any of these categories. So it has to be
emphasised, firstly, that these thinkers are very different, despite a certain theoretical heritage that some might share. They engage with different political
questions in very different ways, some more obliquely than others. Moreover,
their differences are just as important, for the purposes of this study, as their
similarities. Indeed, it is
This book explores the political implications of violence and alterity (radical difference) for the practice of democracy, and reformulates the possibility of community that democracy is said to entail. Most significantly, contributors intervene in traditional democratic theory by contesting the widely held assumption that increased inclusion, tolerance and cultural recognition are democracy's sufficient conditions. Rather than simply inquiring how best to expand the ‘demos’, they investigate how claims to self-determination, identity and sovereignty are a problem for democracy, and how, paradoxically, alterity may be its greatest strength. Contributions include an appeal to the tension between fear and love in the face of anti-Semitism in Poland, injunctions to rethink the identity-difference binary and the ideal of ‘mutual recognition’ that dominate liberal-democratic thought, critiques of the canonical ‘we’ which constitutes the democratic community, and a call for an ethics and a politics of ‘dissensus’ in democratic struggles against racist and sexist oppression. The contributors mobilise some of the most powerful critical insights emerging across the social sciences and humanities—from anthropology, sociology, critical legal studies, Marxism, psychoanalysis, critical race theory and post-colonial studies—to reconsider the meaning and the possibility of ‘democracy’ in the face of its contemporary crisis.
The chapter juxtaposes quantum cosmology and Lacanian psychoanalysis in a
reading of Michael Frayn’s play Copenhagen, and discusses its staging and
the controversies it provoked. The play explores the visit of Werner
Heisenberg to Neils Bohr in Copenhagen during the Second World War and their
discussions about the feasibility of developing nuclear weapons. Did either
of them attempt, as experts, to stall the development of nuclear weapons? It
enacts three divergent scenarios of the meeting and shows how it is not
possible to determine which is the more accurate. Memory is unreliable, and,
more importantly, we cannot even know our own thoughts and motivations, let
alone those of others. The chapter points to the impossibility of either
physical security or intellectual certainty in a world of entanglements.
question of subjectivity within poststructuralist theory. These can be roughly
divided into two contrasting strategies. The first is the dispersal of the subject
into relations of power and desire, typified by thinkers such as Foucault and, to
a much greater extent, Deleuze, who, in his early collaborations with Felix
Guattari, sought to liberate desire from the centricity of the subject – particularly the subject described by psychoanalysis – thus dispersing the subject
amongst a multitude of ‘assemblages’ and ‘desiring machines’. The second
approach is one
London, claims to be inspired by William Tuke (Roberts and Wolfson,
2006, p. 19).
A more contemporary source of inspiration for recovery, though
no less ambiguous than Tuke’s moral treatment, is psychoanalysis.
While psychoanalysis originated as a therapy with strictly biomedical
aspirations that aimed to cure the patient of neurotic and psychotic
disorders, it came increasingly to foster ideas of self-determination. By
insisting on the active role of the patient in her care of going through
traumas and inducing transference, psychoanalysis has always relied
the same time, critiquing
the relevance of such a service or challenging the concept of ‘illness’ as a
necessary precondition to making political demands.
The Myth of Mental Illness was published against the background of the
dawning of the era of antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs, which saw
mental illness redefined in terms of neurochemical imbalances of the brain.
At the same time, psychoanalysis had already gained a strong foothold in
North American psychiatric training. The cleavage between psychoanalysis
and the so-called ‘organicists
insofar as it demonstrates – more than a term like ‘deconstruction’ (which might require a ‘deconstructor’) – the
automaticity of democracy’s self-destructiveness. Explaining
why he turned to this biological metaphor, Derrida says
that it allowed him not only to take into consideration the
distinction between life and death, but also to take ‘into
account within politics what psychoanalysis once called the
unconscious’ (Derrida, 2005: 109–10).
Yet, if psychoanalysis provides indispensable conceptual
resources for rethinking the political, it is also a symptom
be based on purely objective judgments, and
accordingly, inferiority was to be applied to someone who, in the view
of normal members of society, was of lower worth or socially inadequate
Promoting recovery in Denmark 117
(Brüel, 1930b, 1930c, 1930d). Dr Lis Jacobsen supported Brüel and
Rubow’s point. She blamed psychoanalysis for the inappropriate use
of inferiority as an emotional condition (Jacobsen, 1930, p. 1183) and
advocated for the term to express a medical diagnosis of the absence of a
particular quality (Jacobsen, 1930, p. 1184).