Aron Dunlap: Living in the Age of Anxiety; Jacques Lacan in Dialogue with Paul Tillich and Hannah Arendt

source: Shimer College Chicago   2015年4月8日
Public Lecture by Dr. Aron Dunlap, Asst. Prof. of the Liberal Arts at Shimer College, delivered at the Seminary Co-op Bookstore
In the years following WWII there seemed to be a general consensus among intellectuals in the West that if there was a pathological underbelly to any psychological health we might presume to own, it was anxiety. This was, they agreed, the Age of Anxiety, which was the title of a long poem by W.H. Auden that functioned as the inspiration for Leonard Bernstein’s 2nd symphony. The phrase made its way into common parlance and we see it forming the nucleus of concern in theologian Paul Tillich’s tremendously popular work, The Courage to Be. In this work, Tillich agreed with existentialists such as Sartre that, while fear has an object, the problem with anxiety was that it had none. For these thinkers, anxiety was part and parcel of human life, and one had to learn to take responsibility for a life that would never be free of the awe(ful) dread of living and the certainty of death. For Freud, the neurotic anxiety issuing from the castration complex was a kind of “bedrock” beyond which psychoanalysis could not venture. In his wake, Jacques Lacan re-interpreted this aspect of his master’s thought while also challenging the existentialists by claiming that anxiety, in fact, is “not without its object,” namely, objet a, the object cause of desire, which stands in the confluence of Lacan’s three registers of the Symbolic, Imaginary and Real, and which is an entirely dependable “signal” of the Real. While Hannah Arendt uses a radically different vocabulary, there is, in her political thought, something that, like objet a, falls away. In the American political experience what falls away is enjoyment in politics. What takes its places is the inevitable duality (right, left; conservative, liberal) that settles down in the place vacated by the object cause of desire.

For more of Dr. Dunlap on Jacques Lacan, be sure to check out his YouTube lecture "The Borromean Knot of Jaques Lacan; Or, How to Beat Your Death Drive."
About Shimer College:
Located minutes from the Loop in Chicago, Shimer College is an independent, four-year liberal arts college that enrolls approximately 150 students. Founded in 1853 as the Mount Carroll Seminary, Shimer today provides a comprehensive, regularly-reviewed core curriculum that brings foundational books of the liberal arts to bear on the pressing problems of our time. Shimer College is committed to a primary-source, textbook-free curriculum, seminars of twelve or fewer students, and an ethos of community and service within a diverse group of students, teachers, scholars, and staff. Shimer offers traditional four-year degrees as well as early entrance and transfer pathways. To learn more about Shimer or to schedule a visit, check out our website at www.shimer.edu .

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