Encountering with the real: a critical reading of the works of Lacan, Laclau, Žižek and Badiou

Yazıcı, Savaş
Lacan is an influential figure of 20th Century thought. Being a psychoanalyst, a linguist and at the same time a philosopher, in his theory he combines all three of these disciplines. Even in his later works, he tried to combine his theory with mathematical formalization. His theory influenced three important political thinkers: Laclau, Žižek and Badiou. The purpose of this dissertation is mainly to examine Lacan’s thought and its impasses which could be found especially in the political applications of his theory. First I start with a critical reading of Lacan’s own works. I try to figure out the idealizations, presuppositions and blind spots hidden in his work. I develop my critical reading by focusing on the works of Laclau, Žižek and Badiou. The main argument of this dissertation is, such a critical reading of these philosophers will lead us to a general questioning of Lacan’s theory and the legitimacy of its applications. Lacan’s use of the impossibility as a founding principle and his passion for formalization cause several idealizations, like the idealization of the neutrality of the signifier, the idealization of the non-represented and so on. These problems are extended and transformed into other ones in his disciples’ works. For Laclau, the problem is transformed into a purely content-free understanding of elements of democracy which ends up with paradoxical results. For Žižek and Badiou, because of their insistence on a political theory based on the impossible real, their subversive theories end up with a theory which take the form of messianic discourses. What I propose is a reconsideration of the role of the theory on the understanding of human reality: in principle every theory excludes some portions of the richness of human life-world, therefore every theory must have a retrospective and critical stance against its own founding principles. This cannot be done by formalized theories which keep the formal structure of itself untouchable.
Citation Formats
S. Yazıcı, “Encountering with the real: a critical reading of the works of Lacan, Laclau, Žižek and Badiou,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2007.