Alireza Taheri: Spectre of Madness- A Presentation and Discussion

Updated: Jan 5


Webinar Link:

Hegelian-Lacanian Variations on Late Modernity: Spectre of Madness

Alireza Taheri Autumn 2021


Abstracts of Variations

Introduction: The Paradox of Self-Reflection

For Hegel, “nothing, either in heaven or on earth … exhibits the abstract ‘either-or’ as it is maintained by the understanding” (Hegel; 1991, 187). I define diremption as the understanding’s misrecognition of identity-in-difference as strict opposition. For Hegel, it is paradoxically by emptying or evacuating itself out into its Other that a given concept becomes what it is. Self-reflection, or “sublation”, involves an element’s entry into unity with its Other; this move paradoxically elevates it to the purity of its Notion. Herein lies the paradox of self-reflection; identity can only be reached through the positing of difference. The diremptive misrecognition of this paradox leads to deep contradictions defining the contemporary situation.

Variation 1: The Diremptive Remains

Every self-reflexive act of self-evacuating kenosis harbours a diremptive remain. The sublation of an element into its Other is never complete as something remains testifying to the fact that even the most thorough sublation is partial. A minimal diremption is a structural necessity of the dialectical process. Psychoanalysis deals precisely with those remnants that philosophy prefers to repress. More generally, the remnants of the self- reflexive process are what the psychoanalytic clinic testifies to and what the purity of theory veils over.

Variation 2: The Triumph of Dialectical “Lower” Terms

There is an asymmetry between the two elements of an opposition and this asymmetry, viewed from the standpoint of the understanding, could be misinterpreted as a hierarchical relation between a “higher” and “lower” term. According to psychoanalytic reason the “lower” term reveals itself as symptom (or “truth” of) the alleged “higher” term. The symptom testifies to an encroachment. The element that occupies this position impinges on the imagined self-identity of the “higher” term. The “higher” term faces the ethical decision of accepting or rejecting incorporation by the “lower” term. If the “higher” term resists-dirempts incorporation out of fear or conceit an unexpected triumph of the “lower” term occurs. In this case, both terms dwindle into an excessive form of the “lower”-profane element leading to tremendous suffering.

Variation 3: Speculative Topology

For Hegel