Synopses & Reviews
In Civilization and Its Discontents
, Freud made abundantly clear what he thought about the biblical injunction, first articulated in Leviticus 19:18 and then elaborated in Christian teachings, to love one's neighbor as oneself. and#8220;Let us adopt a naive attitude towards it,and#8221; he proposed, and#8220;as though we were hearing it for the first time; we shall be unable then to suppress a feeling of surprise and bewilderment.and#8221; After the horrors of World War II, the Holocaust, and Stalinism, Leviticus 19:18 seems even less conceivableand#8212;but all the more urgent nowand#8212;than Freud imagined.
In The Neighbor, three of the most significant intellectuals working in psychoanalysis and critical theory collaborate to show how this problem of neighbor-love opens questions that are fundamental to ethical inquiry and that suggest a new theological configuration of political theory. Their three extended essays explore today's central historical problem: the persistence of the theological in the political. In and#8220;Toward a Political Theology of the Neighbor,and#8221; Kenneth Reinhard supplements Carl Schmittand#8217;s political theology of the enemy and friend with a political theology of the neighbor based in psychoanalysis. In and#8220;Miracles Happen,and#8221; Eric L. Santner extends the book's exploration of neighbor-love through a bracing reassessment of Benjamin and Rosenzweig. And in an impassioned plea for ethical violence, Slavoj and#381;iand#382;ekand#8217;s and#8220;Neighbors and Other Monstersand#8221; reconsiders the idea of excess to rehabilitate a positive sense of the inhuman and challenge the influence of Levinas on contemporary ethical thought.
A rich and suggestive account of the interplay between love and hate, self and other, personal and political, The Neighbor has proven to be a touchstone across the humanities and a crucial text for understanding the persistence of political theology in secular modernity. This new edition contains a new preface by the authors.
and#8220;All three [essays] are important contributions to the development of new ways to think about sovereignty, otherness, materiality, and the political possibilities encased in the present. . . .and#160;Each unfolds through complex and nuanced engagements with key texts in political theology, psychoanalysis, ethics, and contemporary philosophy.and#8221;
"The Neighbor is a valuable intervention into our contemporary intellectual and political history. These three essays creatively marshal the resources of psychoanalytic theory to address some of today's most challenging questions about individual identity, communal solidarity, and cultural conflict. In their neighborly thinking together, and#381;iand#382;ek, Santner, and Reinhard constitute a powerful trio of advocates for reconceptualizing and redeploying neighbor-love to critique friend-enemy relations in national and global politics. This is a truly remarkable book."
Two months after the attacks of 9/11, the Bush administration, in the midst of what it perceived to be a state of emergency, authorized the indefinite detention of noncitizens suspected of terrorist activities and their subsequent trials by a military commission. Here, distinguished Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben uses such circumstances to argue that this unusual extension of power, or "state of exception," has historically been an underexamined and powerful strategy that has the potential to transform democracies into totalitarian states.
The sequel to Agamben's Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, State of Exception is the first book to theorize the state of exception in historical and philosophical context. In Agamben's view, the majority of legal scholars and policymakers in Europe as well as the United States have wrongly rejected the necessity of such a theory, claiming instead that the state of exception is a pragmatic question. Agamben argues here that the state of exception, which was meant to be a provisional measure, became in the course of the twentieth century a working paradigm of government. Writing nothing less than the history of the state of exception in its various national contexts throughout Western Europe and the United States, Agamben uses the work of Carl Schmitt as a foil for his reflections as well as that of Derrida, Benjamin, and Arendt.
In 1900, art historians André Jolles and Aby Warburg constructed an experimental dialogue in which Jolles supposed he had fallen in love with the figure of a young woman in a painting: “A fantastic figure—shall I call her a servant girl, or rather a classical nymph?…what is the meaning of it all?…Who is the nymph? Where does she come from?” Warburg’s response: “in essence she is an elemental spirit, a pagan goddess in exile,” serves as the touchstone for this wide-ranging and theoretical exploration of female representation in iconography.
In Nymphs, the newest translation of Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben’s work, the author notes that academic research has lingered on the “pagan goddess,” while the concept of “elemental spirit,” ignored by scholars, is vital to the history of iconography. Tracing the genealogy of this idea, Agamben goes on to examine subjects as diverse as the aesthetic theories of choreographer Domineco da Piacenza, Friedrich Theodor Vischer’s essay on the “symbol,” Walter Benjamin’s concept of the dialectic image, and the bizarre discoveries of photographer Nathan Lerner in 1972. From these investigations, there emerges a startlingly original exploration of the ideas of time and the image.
Agamben is the rare writer whose ideas and works have a broad appeal across many fields, and Nymphs will engage not only the author’s devoted fans in philosophy, legal theory, sociology, and literary criticism, but his growing audience among art theorists and historians as well.
About the Author
Slavoj and#381;iand#382;ek is professor of philosophy at the University of Ljubljana. His numerous books include Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle and The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity. Eric L. Santner is the Philip and Ida Romberg Professor in Modern Germanic Studies, professor of Germanic studies, and a member of the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Chicago. He is the author of several books, including On Creaturely Life: Rilke, Benjamin, Sebald and The Royal Remains: The Peopleand#8217;s Two Bodies and the Endgames of Sovereignty, both published by the University of Chicago Press. Kenneth Reinhard is associate professor of English and comparative literature at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he also directed the Center for Jewish Studies. He is coauthor of After Oedipus: Shakespeare in Psychoanalysis.
Table of Contents
Toward a Political Theology of the NeighborKenneth Reinhard
Miracles Happen: Benjamin, Rosenzweig, Freud, and the Matter of the NeighborEric L. Santner
Neighbors and Other Monsters: A Plea for Ethical Violence