Conclusion: The Other as Face

Mari Ruti

in The Singularity of Being

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780823243143
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823243181 | DOI:

Series: Psychoanalytic Interventions

Conclusion: The Other as Face

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The conclusion focuses on the ethical implications of the fact that Lacan theorizes the other not only as a symbolic and imaginary “fellow human being” (or Nebenmench), but also as a terrifying, monstrous Thing. That is, Lacan sees the other not merely as a reassuring “face,” but also as what brings the subject to the (over)proximity of the unruly energies of the real. This raises the kinds of ethical complications that cannot easily be addressed by conventional ethical paradigms. Foremost among such complications is the question of how we are to respond to the absolute dehumanization of the other (of which Agamben's Muselmann is a frequently discussed example). The conclusion also seeks to move towards a universalist notion of ethics without at the same time entirely agreeing with the vehement critiques of multiculturalism launched by Badiou and Zizek. It argues that a genuinely universalist ethics would also be a genuinely multiculturalist ethics so that, in the end, there is no contradiction between the two.

Keywords: “fellow human being”; Nebenmench; monstrous Thing; dehumanization; Muselmann; universalist ethics; multiculturalism

Chapter.  11464 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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