Toward an Ethics of Singularity

Eric L. Santner

in On the Psychotheology of Everyday Life

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2001 | ISBN: 9780226734873
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226734897 | DOI:
Toward an Ethics of Singularity

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One of the “canonical” sites where we might fruitfully explore the intersection of psychoanalysis and theology are the memoirs of Daniel Paul Schreber, the Saxon Supreme Court judge made famous by Sigmund Freud who, in his case study, interpreted the judge's paranoid delusions as fantasmatic elaborations of a homosexual panic. This chapter argues that Schreber's experience of what he referred to as “soul murder” and the cosmic disaster associated with it was grounded in a fundamental impasse in his capacity to metabolize this performative magic, to be inducted into the normative space opened by it. What Schreber discovered is that symbolic investiture includes a kernel of invasiveness, that it can, at least under certain circumstances, introduce into the subject “too much reality.” Schreber's case provides a helpful backdrop for Franz Rosenzweig's The Star of Redemption. In the Star, Rosenzweig talks about death-driven singularity and emphasizes the temporality of the “self-conserving repetition” at the heart of sovereignty and the “performativity” proper to it.

Keywords: psychoanalysis; theology; Daniel Paul Schreber; Sigmund Freud; Franz Rosenzweig; The Star of Redemption; soul murder; death-driven singularity; sovereignty; performativity

Chapter.  16791 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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