Infinitely Demanding: Ethics of Commitment, Politics of Resistance (Radical Thinkers)

Infinitely Demanding: Ethics of Commitment, Politics of Resistance (Radical Thinkers)

Simon Critchley

Language: English

Pages: 176

ISBN: 1781680175

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The clearest, boldest and most systematic statement of Simon Critchley’s influential views on philosophy, ethics, and politics, Infinitely Demanding identifies a massive political disappointment at the heart of liberal democracy. Arguing that what is called for is an ethics of commitment that can inform a radical politics, Critchley considers the possibility of political subjectivity and action after Marx and Marxism, taking in the work of Kant, Levinas, Badiou and Lacan. Infinitely Demanding culminates in an argument for anarchism as an ethical practice and a remotivating means of political organization.





















'super-ego II' is the comforting parent. Or better still, 'super-ego II' is the child that has become the p arent: wiser, wittier and slightly wizened. It is the super-ego that saves the 84 I N F I NITELY D E M AND I N G human being from tragic hubris, from the Promethean fantasy of believing oneself omnipotent, autarkic and authentic, and it does this through humour. I think that 'super-ego II' inds something of an anticipation in the fascinating reformulation of the super-ego in Loewald's

excessively demanding work. On my account, conscience is the location of the ethical demand, a demand that is impossibly demanding, a demand to be infinitely responsible, a demand that divides us, that sunders us. It is indeed true, as Nietzsche would claim, that without the experience of sublimation, conscience cruelly vivisects the subject, it pulls us apart. This is why we require the less heroic but possibly more tragic form of sublimation that I have tried to describe in this chapter. The

G illegal immigrants i n Paris, the sans-papiers, is the attempt to create an interstitial distance whose political demand - 'if one works in France, one is French' - invokes the principle of equality at the basis of the French republic. One works within the state against the state in a political articulation that attempts to open a space of opposition. Perhaps it is at this intensely situational, indeed local level that the atomizing, expropriating force of neo-liberal globalization is to be

anarchists understand it) . Anarchy, unlike arche: cannot be sovereign. It can only disturb, albeit in a radical way, the State, prompting isolated moments of negation without any affirmation. The State, then, cannot set itself up as a Whole . 54 Anarchy should not seek to mirror the archic sovereignty that it undermines. That is, it should not seek to set itself up as the new hegemonic principle of political organization, but remain the negation of totality and not the affirmation of a new

position in Did Someone Sqy Totalitarian­ ism? (London: Verso, 2002), pp.82-3 & pp. 1 56-62. 18 See my 'Enigma Variations - An Interpretation of Heidegger's Sein und Zeit', in Ratio, Vol.XV, No.2 (2002), pp. 1 54-75. 19 See Charles Taylor, 77ze Ethics ofAutlzenticity (Cambridge Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1 992); and Charles Guignon, On Being Authentic (Lon­ don and New York: Routledge, 2004). 20 The following few pages borrow heavily from the final chapter of my On Humour (London and New

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