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The Most Sublime Object of Ideology: Reworking Government's Sublime Object

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The source of governmental power is the Zizekian sublime object of ideology. This object is composed of demands that are enforced by a force that is vast and powerful beyond comprehension. It is the Lacanian Symbolic Order enforced by the

The source of governmental power is the Zizekian sublime object of ideology. This object is composed of demands that are enforced by a force that is vast and powerful beyond comprehension. It is the Lacanian Symbolic Order enforced by the fear of castration by the Other. The evolution of government is characterized by the use of more subversive power mechanisms. The more subversive these mechanisms, the more they resemble the Symbolic Order and the greater their effectiveness. Marx outlines a progression of governmental structures. At each point of change, there is great unrest amongst the population. In this way, unrest and protest are indicative of a need for the change i.e., protest is a symptom of a system in need of revolution. There is a growing sense of unrest, particularly in the United States, characterized by growing participation in protest movements. The government is oftentimes responding with violence, a sign that the rules of its sublime object are failing to do their job. Thus, there must be a substitution for the current sublime object. Existentialist humanism seems to be the best substitution available because it promotes the safe release of instinctual drives while still promoting social cohesion. Humanism values all parts of the human condition and recognizes that human shortcomings are simply a fact of life. Recognition of peoples' tendency to fail and to later overcome these failures is a failsafe built into the new sublime object, thus preserving civil society in a way that religion or neo-liberal ideas cannot.

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2014-05

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Moral disillusion: shattering moral illusions for the sake of taking responsibility

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I present in this dissertation a theory of moral disillusion. In chapter 1 I explain moral innocence and its loss. I show that becoming morally responsible requires shattering the illusion that one is not an appropriate candidate for the reactive

I present in this dissertation a theory of moral disillusion. In chapter 1 I explain moral innocence and its loss. I show that becoming morally responsible requires shattering the illusion that one is not an appropriate candidate for the reactive attitudes. The morally responsible individual must understand that she can be an agent of wrongdoing. In chapter 2 I explore the nature of the understanding that accompanies the different phases of disillusion. I show that moral disillusion is an ability, not to follow moral principles, but to question them. In chapter 3 I argue that another phase of disillusion involves an acquaintance with evil. One shatters the illusion that only malicious individuals can be evildoers. Morally good people can also bring about evil. I conclude that evil is the exploitation of the extremely vulnerable. In chapters 4 and 5, I analyze more complex phases of moral disillusion. These stages are characterized by an understanding that one can be an agent of unchosen evil, that one might bring about evil even when pursuing the morally best course of action, and that one can be morally responsible for doing so. In order to understand unchosen evil and the tragedy of inescapable moral wrongdoing, the individual sees that moral responsibility ought to track what we care about, rather than what we believe. In chapter 6 I show that Kierkegaard's conception of the self is a philosophy of moral disillusion. I argue that his prescription that we shatter moral illusions is congruent with Harry Frankfurt's prescription that we ought to care about some things and not others. From this discussion emerges the explicit distinction between moral disillusion and moral goodness. Moreover, I conclude that the morally disillusioned are morally accountable for more than those still harboring moral illusions. Although moral disillusion does not entail becoming morally good, by acquiring the ability to raise questions about moral principles and to affect the content of one's cares, one acquires the ability to take responsibility for, and potentially minimize, evil. To have and understand these abilities, but not to care about them, increases one's moral accountability.

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Date Created
2012

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Guantánamo: The Amen Temple of Empire

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Guantánamo: The Amen Temple of Empire connects the fetishization of the trauma of nine/eleven with the co-constitution of subjects at Guantánamo—that of the contained Muslim terrorist prisoner silhouetted against the ideal nationalistic military body—circulated as ‘afterimages’ that carry ideological narratives

Guantánamo: The Amen Temple of Empire connects the fetishization of the trauma of nine/eleven with the co-constitution of subjects at Guantánamo—that of the contained Muslim terrorist prisoner silhouetted against the ideal nationalistic military body—circulated as ‘afterimages’ that carry ideological narratives about U.S. Empire. These narratives in turn religiously and racially charge the new normative practices of the security state and its historically haunted symbolic order. As individuals with complex subjectivities, the prisoners and guards are, of course, not reducible to the standardizing imprimatur of the state or its narratives. Despite the circulation of these ‘afterimages’ as fixed currency, the prisoners and guards produce their own metanarratives, through their para-ethnographic accounts of containment and of self. From within the panopticon of the prison, they seek sight lines, and gaze back at the state. This dissertation is thus a meditation on US militarism, violence, torture, race, and carceral practices, revealed thematically through metaphors of hungry ghosts, nature, journey and death, liminality, time, space, community, and salvage. Based on a multi-sited, empirical and imaginary ethnography, as well as textual and discourse analysis, I draw on the writing and testimony of prisoners, and military and intelligence personnel, whom I consider insightful para-ethnographers of the haunting valence of this fetishized historical event.

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2018