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On the Psychotheology of Everyday Life: Reflections on Freud and Rosenzweig [Hardcover]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   156
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.78" Width: 5.71" Height: 0.71"
Weight:   0.7 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   May 1, 2001
Publisher   University Of Chicago Press
ISBN  0226734870  
EAN  9780226734873  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
In "On the Psychotheology of Everyday Life, "Eric Santner puts Sigmund Freud in dialogue with his contemporary Franz Rosenzweig in the service of reimagining ethical and political life. By exploring the theological dimensions of Freud's writings and revealing unexpected psychoanalytic implications in the religious philosophy of Rosenzweig's masterwork, "The Star of Redemption, " Santner makes an original argument for understanding religions of revelation in therapeutic terms, and offers a penetrating look at how this understanding suggests fruitful ways of reconceiving political community.
Santner's crucial innovation in this new study is to bring the theological notion of revelation into a broadly psychoanalytic field, where it can be understood as a force that opens the self to everyday life and encourages accountability within the larger world. Revelation itself becomes redefined as an openness toward what is singular, enigmatic, even uncanny about the Other, whether neighbor or stranger, thereby linking a theory of drives and desire to a critical account of sociality. Santner illuminates what it means to be genuinely open to another human being or culture and to share and take responsibility for one's implication in the dilemmas of difference.
By bringing Freud and Rosenzweig together, Santner not only clarifies in new and surprising ways the profound connections between psychoanalysis and the Judeo-Christian tradition, he makes the resources of both available to contemporary efforts to rethink concepts of community and cross-cultural communication.

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More About Eric L. Santner

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Eric L. Santner is the Philip and Ida Romberg Professor in Modern Germanic Studies, professor of Germanic studies, and a member of the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Chicago. He is the author of several books, most recently On Creaturely Life: Rilke, Benjamin, Sebald, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

Eric L. Santner was born in 1955.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Monotheism and the Other  Dec 4, 2001
The aim of his book is a fascinating one: Recently many historians, such as Regina Schwartz or Jan Assmann claimed that monotheism was always linked to intolerance - in contrast to the polytheism it had replaced. Santner argues that, on the contrary, the Judeo-Christian legacy opens up a unique way of seeing and accepting the other as he or she really is.

The hero of this book is Franz Rosenzweig, a German-Jewish philosopher (1886-1929) who is best remembered for his enigmatic opus magnum "The Star of Redemption", which outlined a philosophy founded in Judaism, but which Rosenzweig refused to call religious. I doubt that anyone has ever claimed to have fully understood "The Star of Redemption"; Santner offers one way of coming to grips with this great work: He offers a Freudian reading of Rosenzweig and a Rosenzweigian reading of Freud, or he at least claims he does.

Rosenzweig refused the brilliant career of a conventional university professor of philosophy; he was looking for a different kind of rootedness, which he finally found in the Judaism he had been born into but had so far neglected: There an "ancient treasure chest whose existence he had never forgotten but which he had never fully explored was found to contain his most personal possessions, things inherited, not borrowed." He feels that now he does no longer step outside the flow of life, as he believes academic philosophy does, but can see things in their particularity and singleness even in their "everyday life".

Both Rosenzweig and Freud know that man can never know everything about himself; we feel and "excess of demand", but we cannot really explain why this is so and how it works - even with the help of Psychoanalysis. A real "encounter" with the other must be aware of this "surplus"; the other can only be accepted as a B=B, any attempt at categorizing in the manner of B=A will always be off the mark:"To put it most simply, the Other to whom I am answerable has an unconscious, is the bearer of an irreducible and internal otherness, a locus of animation that belongs to no form of life." This, according to Santner, creates the perspective of an "Ethics of Singularity".

Santners thesis culminates in the chapter "Responsiblity beyond the Superego". Rosenzweig feels that the capacity to say "I" "only becomes manifest (...) in and through the response to the passionate call of one's proper name". In my opinion there can be no doubt about it that for Rosenzweig this call is God's call, which in turn enables us to see others in a kind of "revelatory love" not as representatives of some kind of universal but as individuals.

In contrast to Martin Buber's vision of encounter as a meeting of perfect understanding, however, here the "paradox of revelatory love (...) is, thus that in some sense it reveals nothing."

This is exciting stuff, but I somehow feel the book lacks some kind of conclusion. Instead, Santner offers a discussion of the German poet Hölderlin, which may be due to the fact that Santner has worked extensively on Hölderlin.

My main qualm about this challenging book, however, is that in many parts it is very hard to read because of its somewhat clumsy language. Both Rosenzweig and Freud are masters of the German language, their style is always clear, Rosenzweig's often particularly elegant (which does not mean he is easy to understand). In contrast to them Santner is at least partly infected by a kind of postmodern academic sociolect which makes him write sentences like the following:
"The libidinal component of one's symbolic identity must be thought of as being "ibidinal" too: a largely unconscious citation of the authority guaranteeing one's rightful enjoyment of the predicates proper to it." If you think this is perfectly normal English you will enjoy the book even more than I did.


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