Beyond Discontent: Sublimation from Goethe to Lacan (New Directions in German Studies)

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In chapter 2, I engage the philosophical conceptions of culture in Hegel and Nietzsche. I delineate three senses of culture: as customs, as Bildung, and as self-fathoming. Hegel and Nietzsche concur that customs represent an antiquated sense of culture that is at odds with individual self-expression, although Hegel is characteristically less vehement than Nietzsche on this subject. Hegel and Nietzsche regard Bildung as a necessary form of training which is directed to our subjective experience. They distinguish true and false versions of Bildung, endorsing the former in terms of fostering a dynamic kind of agency.

Yet both philosophers also express reservations about the ideal of Bildung. Self-fathoming denotes our particular plight in modernity where a disparity opens up between the objective space of customs and the subjective space of Bildung. This places a new and difficult burden on us. Self-fathoming is not a matter of looking within; it involves a more elaborate inquiry regarding how we have come to think of ourselves in the way we do.

In particular, self-fathoming requires that we face up to self-misunderstanding, self-deception, and self-thwarting. Self-fathoming is prompted by the wish to confront the dissatisfaction of modern culture and coincides with the philosophical challenge of embracing the psychology of knowledge.

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As they see it, Greek culture represents a contrast to modern culture in being healthy and providing satisfaction to its citizens. Yet neither Hegel nor Nietzsche is content with idealizing the Greeks. Both affirm that we can and should learn from the Greeks but warn against nostalgically looking to the past as a way to absolve ourselves from dealing with the present. Hegel sees tragedy as affirming the institutions of society, whereas Nietzsche views tragedy as affirming life in the face of the abyss of meaningless. For Hegel, the spectator is addressed qua citizen; for Nietzsche, the spectator is addressed qua human being.

Nonetheless, both Hegel and Nietzsche regard tragedy as the means by which Greek culture raised fundamental questions about itself. Tragedy is equally compelling for Hegel and Nietzsche; not only do both see it as a source for the psychology of knowledge and self-fathoming, but they incorporate it in their respective philosophical projects. I argue that there are some significant points of convergence between Hegel and Nietzsche in the analysis of what is wrong with modern culture: the failure to provide satisfaction is a result of a division in self-identity, and the corresponding premium that comes to be placed on subjectivity leads to the devaluing of what lies outside it.

Furthermore, Nietzsche follows Hegel in noting the ascension of usefulness as a dominant criterion of value in modern culture. For Nietzsche, though, usefulness is linked to the ascendance of science as a cultural ideal. This reminds us that any account of the differences between Hegel and Nietzsche must acknowledge changes that took place in their respective eras.

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Yet his despair must be contextualized. It is true that Nietzsche refrains from any global solution to the crisis of modern culture. His sense of disappointment is keener, and he is more insistent that we ought not avoid negative affects, such as anger and sadness, that are generated by modernity. Nietzsche assesses modern culture as hopeless, but he is not hopeless about agency as a means of resisting it.

Like Hegel, Nietzsche offers a rescription of agency as a way to overcome the dissatisfaction of modern culture. In part II of the book, Hegel and Nietzsche have more of an opportunity to speak without interruption. The main focus is on their respective understandings of human agency. The chapters in this part are shorter than those in part I. In chapter 5, I begin with some general reflections on the meaning of human agency. Recognition is conceived as specifying a bond that deepens the sense of connection among members of society and thereby heals the split between the individual and society.

Recognition harks back to the bond fostered by the polis, although it sustains rather than eclipses individuality. I distinguish the socio-political and epistemological functions of recognition, and I demonstrate, in particular, that recognition must be linked to the main theme of the Phenomenology of Spirit: self-knowledge.

Beyond Discontent: 'Sublimation' from Goethe to Lacan - Eckart Goebel - كتب Google

As I see it, it is crucial to appreciate that recognition includes self-recognition. Two specific aspects of self-recognition are distinguished: the self as socially constituted and the self as selfidentical. Borrowing psychoanalytic terms, one could say that human agency entails an integration of narcissism and relatedness. For Hegel, such an integrated sense of agency is a prerequisite for social integration.

In that chapter I also discuss the relation between recognition and several other basic Hegelian concepts: cognition, satisfaction, experience, and desire. Hegel revises philosophy in order to contend with the dissatisfaction he detects in modern culture; the project of recollecting the vicissitudes of agency culminates in an ameliorated sense of agency that is designed to foster satisfaction in the future.

In chapter 9, I explore Hegelian agency more broadly. Next I examine recent reinterpretations of Hegel in the works of Axel Honneth and Jessica Benjamin, both of whom recast recognition to emphasize the intersubjective basis of agency and introduce psychoanalysis in this connection. Finally, I offer my own reading, which is indebted to Honneth and Benjamin but which gives more expression to some of the tensions between narcissism and mutual recognition. A psychoanalytic reading of Hegel brings out the crucial intersubjective element in his conception of agency and helps us to discern what remains viable in his thinking about recognition.

I argue that his regarding agency as comprising multiple components does not negate the possibility of integration. I maintain that four factors delineate what Nietzsche means by integrated agency: accepting narcissism as the source of motivation, acknowledging the demands of the body especially instincts , avowing affects, and defining oneself in relation to the past. Ultimately, Nietzsche regards integrated agency as entailing coherence and determination, but not transparency or unity.

Since it is obviously controversial to ascribe to 10 Introduction Nietzsche a commitment to integrated agency, it will be important to acknowledge the limits he places on agency and to take due notice of comments that suggest a position of anti-agency. As I see it, Nietzsche is ambivalent but not necessarily inconsistent in the way he conceives of agency.

One can value integration without achieving it in a perfect sense, and one might enjoy being released from agency without being prepared to abandon it entirely. In chapter 11, I consider the will to power. Siding with neither the proponents of mastery nor those of domination, I argue that, for better or worse, there is evidence for both points of view. I then take account of his numerous reflections about friendship.

I conclude that, though Nietzsche fails to acknowledge basic aspects of human relationships, such as mutuality, he is far from indifferent to considering our relation to others. In chapter 13, I branch out to look at current perspectives that can be understood as outgrowths of Nietzschean agency.

I begin with Jacques Derrida, emphasizing the influence of Emmanuel Levinas on his thought. I also introduce Jacques Lacan, who is not directly influenced by Nietzsche but whose psychoanalytic theory expounds the notion of decentered agency in a way that constitutes one vision of Nietzschean agency.

Derrida, Lacan, and Butler all extend Nietzschean agency by resorting, at least in part, to psychoanalysis. In the final section of chapter 13, I offer my own version of Nietzschean agency, stressing the importance of affects— an aspect of his philosophy not taken up by Derrida, Lacan, or Butler. In the epilogue, I summarize the conclusions of my study of the relationship between Hegel and Nietzsche.

My attempt to work through their relationship is meant to exemplify their shared commitment to working through all allegedly opposing concepts, to thinking beyond what is easy to take for granted. Insofar as I bring Hegel and Nietzsche together, I am seeking to disburden us from an outmoded and useless antinomy. To fix a contrast between these two thinkers without acknowledging the changes that occurred during the nineteenth century is tantamount to refusing to accept precisely what Hegel and Nietzsche claim about the relationship between philosophy and culture. My reading of Hegel, which highlights the ideal of satisfied agency and his overall attention to psychology, brings him closer to Nietzsche.

Thus, it is evident that I am partial to the anthropological reading of Hegel. Although the ontological reading preserves what has primacy for Hegel himself, it is corrupted by his grandiose and self-serving fantasy about the fulfillment of Geist within his own culture. At the same time, there are Hegelian reasons that might justify the choice to dwell on anthropology rather than ontology. To be sure, it is important not to obscure what Hegel believed and to try to understand Hegel within his context, but this not does not require presentday philosophers to disregard what is pressing to them.

Yet, as I see recognition, it is not only a socio-political vision that promotes our sense of connection to others; it also contains a notion of agency that demonstrates how constitutive others are in the formation of identity.

There are good reasons to be suspicious about the seamless web of selfrecognition, recognition of others, and social reconciliation that Hegel offers. However, this ought not hinder our appreciation of his insights into agency, which are developed in an illuminating way in the theory and the practice of psychoanalysis.

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Hegel shows us that a theory of agency must account for both narcissism and relatedness, and also for their interrelation. Hegel is not the philosopher of totality any more than Nietzsche is the philosopher of exploitation. Paying attention to Hegel as a psychologist deepens our appreciation of the uniqueness of his philosophy. In his depiction of the live drama of modern agency, Hegel shows a psychological astuteness that is not matched by Kant, Fichte, or Schelling. Perhaps the current tendency is not as neutral a scholarly development as it might seem.

I raise this point not in the name of advocating an older and better Hegel, but as a reminder of the complex interaction of culture and memory that contributes to the construction of the Hegel of our own time. If my reading of Hegel brings him closer to Nietzsche, it is also the case that my reading of Nietzsche brings him into closer proximity to Hegel.

My reading of Nietzsche emphasizes his psychological approach to modernity and agency. I think that it is one-sided to view him exclusively as an advocate of self-invention. While I appreciate how Nietzsche anticipates postmodernism, I also think it is important not to ignore that his focus on the quest for individual self-realization 13 Introduction through integrated agency and his aesthetic elitism particularly his disdain for popular culture situate him within modernist thinking.

Nietzsche departs from Hegel in registering despair about modernity; yet this despair is best understood as a radicalization of the alienation that Hegel describes. Dionysian experience, however compelling, can occupy us for only part of our lives. Nietzsche was well aware that it does not offer a complete vision of a satisfied life. This can be frustrating, especially in comparison to Hegel. Yet, as I see it, this is also what makes Nietzsche an extraordinarily honest and realistic thinker.

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His appreciation of the limits of agency is also important; it anticipates and is fully consistent with psychoanalytic notions of decentered agency. Intersubjectivity and decentering can be understood as complementary as long as one does not imagine that this automatically dissolves the deep and abiding tensions between the will to power and recognition. My title, Beyond Hegel and Nietzsche, indicates that we can now see through the artificiality of demands that we choose between what these two thinkers offer.

The same limitation holds for us as it did for Nietzsche and Hegel, with one additional factor; namely, that perhaps the compass of our thinking does not even have the essentiality—and certainly not the greatness—of the questions posed by these thinkers. In order to address it properly, one would have to steer a path between overestimating or underestimating its significance. One ought to refrain, for instance, from assuming that the content and validity of philosophy can be reduced to the ideas of a culture.

As we will see in this chapter, Hegel and Nietzsche uphold the view that there is a profound relationship between philosophy and culture, and they do so in a way that is neither reductive nor trivial. Philosophy is a product of culture, according to Hegel and Nietzsche, and this means that we should be attentive to how philosophy bears the influence of the culture in which it originates.

Yet 18 Chapter 1 Hegel and Nietzsche also defend a stronger thesis: that philosophy bears the obligation to observe culture and also to respond to culture. They regard it as a challenge, therefore, for philosophers to take account of their relation to culture, particularly during times of cultural crisis.

Hegel and Nietzsche suppose that it is beneficial to understand our own beliefs as being mediated by culture. They presume that the nature of our beliefs can be clarified further, and that this contributes to the possibility of enhancing our lives. My intention is less to assert that philosophy is a culture than to maintain that it has some features that make it like a culture, and that it is illuminating to think from such a perspective.