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Can We Love Our Neighbour?: Enjoyment, Ideology, and the Monstrosity of the Other
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for Housing and Urban Research.
2011 (English)Conference paper (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the notion of the Neighbour in the works of the Slovenian philosopher and sociologist Slavoj Žižek in relationship to his theoretisation of enjoyment as a political factor. This is done in order to show how political communities have to be seen as inherently antagonistic and how this kind of fundamental antagonisms are interlinked with the ideological fantasies of the individual subjects. The notion of the Neighbour is perhaps first and foremost associated with a theological-ethical context, but questions regarding how the distinction between us and our Neighbour(s), how we relate to the one(s) defined as our Neighbour(s), and how we think we should behave towards him, her, or them, concerns more than just the ethical imperative of ”love your neighbour as yourself”. Our love for our Neighbour, and the Neighbour's love for us, is not about a sharing of particular features, a sharing which not seldom equals mere narcissism, but concerns an acceptance and recognition of one another's inhumanity and destitution. The love for our Neighbour is not about sympathy, neither about universal philantrophy, but about a recognition of the fact that what makes him or her so exceedingly unlovable is also present in ourselves. Here we approach one of the main points of the text: a discussion about Žižek's view of the Neighbour as a traumatic Thing. Žižek does not reduce the Other, the Neighbour, to someone who in the end is nothing but similar to ourselves, neither to a medium for our own self-realization. Instead the Neighbour may be seen as something impenetrable, something enigmatic, that hystericizes us. The focus is here on the desire of the Other, the never-ending question of ”Che vuoi?” – ”What is it that the Other wants?”, ”What is it that the Other desires?”. The text here focus upon Žižek's discussion of the Neighbour as an example par excellence of the ”Other supposed to enjoy”, that is, as an ideological spectre, as an ideological fantasy, showing how our loss of enjoyment gets projected onto the Other(s) who are supposed to thieve our enjoyment. The understanding of enjoyment as a political factor is crucial in order to understand how political ideologies work and how political antagonisms are constituted. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
The Neighbour, enjoyment, desire, ideology, psychoanalysis, Slavoj Zizek, Jacques Lacan
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Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-171477OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-171477DiVA: diva2:511070
IMER-förbundet, konferens 2011: "Motstånd och särskiljandets praktik - rasism och antirasism då och nu", 17-18 november 2011, Arbetets museum, Norrköping
Available from: 2012-03-19 Created: 2012-03-19 Last updated: 2012-09-13Bibliographically approved

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Räterlinck, Lennart Eric Henry
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