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The Subject of Liberation: Žižek, Politics, Psychoanalysis
Charles Wells
Bloomsbury Academic / Softcover / Jan 2016
9781501317316 (ISBN-10: 1501317318)
Lacan / Psychoanalysis and Philosophy
price: $62.95
256 pages
In Stock (Ships within one business day)

The book shares Žižek's central problem of how to revitalize the radical political left through theory. It initially follows the argument developed in The Ticklish Subject that contemporary leftist thought is divided by antagonism between a Marxist revolutionary politics founded on Enlightenment philosophy and a politics of identity founded on post-modern post-structuralism.

How Žižek used Lacan's theory of character structures is examined here to describe this theoretical deadlock and explain how the dominant contemporary ideologies of liberal tolerant multiculturalism and reactionary "pseudo-fundamentalism" compete to mobilize the individual subject's unconscious drive to enjoyment. The book thus emphasizes the moments in which Žižek hints that Lacanian theory may describe a practice that facilitates the resolution of antagonisms that placate radical leftist politics. It challenges prevalent interpretations of Lacanian ends of analysis, to ultimately connect the psychoanalytic cure to the leftist project of social and political liberation.

The Subject of Liberation argues that if Lacan is to be useful to leftist politics, then the left has to develop its own definitions of the post-analytic subject, and proposes one such definition developed out of Lacanian and Žižekian theory.


"In this quixotic reading of Žižek's The Ticklish Subject Charles Wells provides a refreshingly personal yet political plea for revisiting the subject of liberation. Wells takes his readers to a journey that traces the path of leftist politics to a subject whose liberation requires as much imagination as courage. He bids his readers to begin right here." - Engin Isin, The Open University, UK

"In this thought-provoking and eminently readable book, Wells manages to unpack some of the densest passages in Žižek's 'theory of liberation' by distilling their political core. This is no small achievement." - Fabio Vighi, Cardiff University, UK, and author of On Žižek's Dialectics (2010)

Table of Contents:

Introduction: The Subject of Liberation

1. How to Read the Ticklish Subject
2. Leftist Philosophy and Lacan's Theory of Character Structures

3. The Žižekian Universal Subject
4. Ideology: The Big Other, The Symbolic Mandate, and The Social Superego
5. Freedom and Responsibility: The Liberatory Promise of Lacanian Psychoanalysis

6. The Problem of Postmodernity: A Life of Pleasures
7. The Postmodern Social Superego: Reflexive Sadomasochism
8. The Unholy Conspiracy: Postmodern Ideology and (Pseudo-)Fundamentalism

9. Antagonism in the Real
10. The Theory of the Four Fundamental Discourses
11. The Deadlock of Lacanian Ethics and the Analytic Moment

12. The Post-Analytic Subject 1: The Analyst
13. The Post-Analytic Subject 2: The Lover
14. Post-Analytic Philosophies

15. Liberated Societies 1: A Universal Right to Psychoanalysis and the Antagonistic Society
16. Liberated Societies 2: A Society of Analysts
Conclusion: Go, Bid the Soldiers Shoot!


About the Author:

Charles Wells is Assistant Professor of Contemporary Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, Brantford, Canada.

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