Consciousness Thought

The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political by Slavoj Zizek

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By Slavoj Zizek

A spectre is haunting Western academia, the spectre of the Cartesian subject.The Ticklish topic confronts Deconstructionists and Habermasians, cognitive scientists and Heideggerians, feminists and New Age obscurantists by way of unearthing a subversive center to this elusive spectre, and discovering during this middle the vital philosophical element of reference of any certainly emancipatory politics.

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Shadow i t s e l f , w i t h i m a g i n a t i o n as a k i n d o f c a s t r e t r o a c t i v e l y by u n d e r s t a n d i n g on to the lower level o f i n t u i t i o n - o r , t o p u t it i n H e g e l e s e , is t h e s y n t h e s i s o f i m a g i n a t i o n underdeveloped •Understanding? 'In-itself T h e point of a force posited as s u c h ' , o f Heidegger's reading 'for i t s e l f , is t h a t o n e the in should d e t e r m i n e t h e s y n t h e s i s o f i m a g i n a t i o n as t h e f u n d a m e n t a l d i m e n s i o n at v the r o o t o f discursive understanding, which should thus be analysed independently o f the categories o f Understanding - Kant recoiled from - this r a d i c a l s t e p , a n d vbetween the pure reduced sensuous imagination manifold to a m e r e m e d i a t i n g o f intuition and the force cognitive ^ s y n t h e t i c activity o f U n d e r s t a n d i n g .

C o n t r a r y to this p r e d o m i n a n t cliche, incor­ r e c t l y s u s t a i n e d by L e n i n h i m s e l f , K a n t ' s ' m a t e r i a l i s m ' c o n s i s t s , r a t h e r , i n asserting the primacy of mathematical antinomy, a n d in c o n c e i v i n g d y n a m i c a n t i n o m y as s e c o n d a r y , as a n a t t e m p t t o 'save p h e n o m e n a ' through the h o u m e n a l L a w as t h e i r c o n s t i t u t i v e e x c e p t i o n . I n o t h e r w o r d s , it is o n l y t o o e a s y t o l o c a t e t h e g r e a t e s t e f f o r t a n d s c o p e o f i m a g i n a t i o n - a n d , s i m u l t a n e o u s l y , its u l t i m a t e f a i l u r e - in its i n a b i l i t y to m a k e the n o u m e n a l d i m e n s i o n p r e s e n t ( t h e r e i n lies the lesson o f the Sublime: the attempt between to r e p r e s e n t the n o u m e n a l and the n o u m e n a l - i .

B e c a u s e o f t h i s ' u n r u l i n e s s ' t h e human a n i m a l n e e d s a M a s t e r to discipline h i m : discipline targets this 'unruli­ n e s s ' , n o t the a n i m a l n a t u r e in m a n : It is discipline which prevents man from being t u r n e d aside by his animal impulses from humanity, his a p p o i n t e d end. Discipline, for instance, must restrain him from venturing wildly a n d rashly into danger. Discipline, thus, is merely negative, its action b e i n g to c o u n t e r a c t man's natural unrulincss.

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