The latest summary for our reading group has been provided by Jeremy Ridenour who is a graduate student working in psychoanalysis and blogs on philosophy, religion and psychoanalysis at JRidenour. – APS
Zizek begins this section on the auto-poesis of the self by exploring the relationship between chaos and order. A major problem in evolutionary cognitivism is to explain how a distinct self-same organism emerges out of its environment. That is to say, how can we account for the cell’s membrane, which serves to delineate the boundaries between the cell and its surroundings? Zizek believes that this problem between the inside and the outside can only be explained when, “the One of an organism as a Whole retroactively ‘posits’ as its result, as that which it dominates and regulates, the set of its own causes” (106). Based on Hegel’s understanding of the infinite as self-limitation, Zizek concludes that the cell is thus true infinity insofar as it imposes its own boundary (i.e. membrane) and does not rely on its environment to set limits.
Next, Zizek outlines Hegel’s understanding of origin of human habits. “In his genealogy, Hegel conceives habit as the third, concluding, moment of the dialectical process of the Soul, whose structure follows the triad of notion – judgment – syllogism (107). The dialectic begins with the sentient self, which is simply an undifferentiated sensing object that Zizek compares to Freud’s notion of oceanic feeling. At this lowest level, the Soul lacks self-reflection. In judgment, the next movement, the Self has the ability to feel itself, which poses the unique problem of how it can serve as both the form and content of feeling. As Zizek puts it quite aptly, “the frame itself has to become part of the enframed content” (108). The exact problem is the self’s inability to grasp the frame itself since everything that is perceived is always already filtered through that frame. Zizek enlists Deleuze’s notion of the virtual (i.e. the actuality of the possible) to serve as a way out of this dilemma. According to Zizek, the self’s self-consciousness is in fact the actuality of its possibility. Within Kant’s philosophy we run up against a limit precisely when the self’s phenomenal experience of itself would suggest that the self could have access to the noumenal. Read the rest of this entry »