In this new paperback edition, Calum Neill explores the ideas of Jacques Lacan to present a powerful argument for an approach to ethics which is neither rooted in a traditional morality nor reduced to a relativism, an ethics, that is, which is without ground. However we conceive of ethics, whether by appeal to an exterior or traditional notion of right and wrong, or by appeal to some form of individual virtue or responsibility, it implies some form of agency. Where there is an ethical act, there must be someone acting ethically.
Working from this simple premise, this book argues that the manner in which we conceive that 'someone' is the condition of possibility for our conception of ethics and, consequently, our ethical potential. Against the commonplace conception of the modern individual as self-identical, self-aware and self-governing, the author presents a detailed introduction to the Lacanian subject, a conception of the self as anything but self-identical, self-aware and self-governing. The book goes on to show how such a rethinking of the subject necessitates a rethinking of our relation to law, tradition and morality, as well as a rethinking of ethics.