Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Gaus I 47
Political theory/Lacan/Bennett: Différance, the virtual, non-identity, etc. name, on the one hand, the remainder left out of any theoretical account, and, on the other hand, the creative energy within existing forms out of which new things (identities, rights, social movements) emerge. That creative process is understood as ever ongoing: any given being is seen – if one places it in the appropriate period of duration – as in the process of becoming, i.e. becoming otherwise than it is. Lacan/Bennett: A contribution of Lacanian theory to postmodern political theory consists in its identification of these moments of becoming as political moments. In contrast to ‘politics’, or the established, institutional
Gaus I 48
means for organizing collective life, the ‘political’ here refers to those irruptive events that reveal ‘politics’ to be a masking of the restless and stubbornly diverse quality of ‘the real’ or that which always exceeds actuality and eludes symbolic expression. The event of the political provides a glimpse into this real, thus revealing the fantasmic character of the image of society as a harmonious whole (Stavrakakis, 1999)(1). >World/Postmodernism.
World/Lacan: Lacanian political theory, whose relationship to postmodernism is in other ways more complicated, also rejects the desire for fullness discernible in much of political theory (Laclau and Mouffe, 1985)(3). It seeks a democratic polity based not on the vision of a harmonious social whole but upon ‘the recognition of the impossibility and the catastrophic consequences of such a dream’.(2)


1. Stavrakakis, Yannis (1999) Lacan and the Political. New York: Routledge.
2. Ibid. 111
3.Laclau, E & Mouffe, Ch. 1985. Hegemony and Socialist Strategy. London: Verso.


Jane Bennett, 2004. „Postmodern Approaches to Political Theory“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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