Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Slavoj Zizek argues that, if Althusser was an adamant structuralist who reduced subject to a mere function of ideology, Lacan was a genuine critic of such a position, who showed how the subject can separate itself from the symbolic structure of ideology. Zizek's portrayal of the debate, however, is not only based on a misapprehension of Lacan's own theory but also fails to notice that, when the two theorists collided on the question of structuralism in the late 1960s, the issue was not the separation, but how ideology as a social practice is to be situated in relation to other social practices. In this debate, it was actually Lacan who upheld structuralism.
Based on this rectified picture of the debate, I argue that Althusser may better assist us in understanding the logic of politics of emancipation. I maintain that the difficulty Althusser faced in his theorization of ideological revolt did not arise from his refusal of Lacan's idea of the subject of the unconscious located "beyond interpellation" but from his non-critical acceptance of a proposition of classical Marxism which tautologically defines the dominant ideology as the ideology of the dominant class.
My dissertation, however, does not dismiss Lacan's problematic; quite the contrary, it proposes to regard him as a theorist of civility who tried to tackle the issue of extreme violence. Moreover, I demonstrate that Althusser himself was drawn near such a theoretical motif of Lacan's in some of his posthumously published texts on Machiavelli. I examine convergences and divergences in their attempts to theorize a politics of civility.
Choi, Won, "A Structuralist Controversy: Althusser and Lacan on Ideology" (2012). Dissertations. 297.
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Copyright © 2011 Won Choi