An Utterly Dark Spot: Gaze and Body in Early Modern Philosophy (The Body, In Theory: Histories of Cultural Materialism)

An Utterly Dark Spot: Gaze and Body in Early Modern Philosophy (The Body, In Theory: Histories of Cultural Materialism)

Language: English

Pages: 152

ISBN: 047211140X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Slovenian philosopher Miran Bozovic's An Utterly Dark Spot examines the elusive status of the body in early modern European philosophy by examining its various encounters with the gaze. Its range is impressive, moving from the Greek philosophers and theorists of the body (Aristotle, Plato, Hippocratic medical writers) to early modern thinkers (Spinoza, Leibniz, Malebranche, Descartes, Bentham) to modern figures including Jon Elster, Lacan, Althusser, Alfred Hitchcock, Stephen J. Gould, and others. Bozovic provides startling glimpses into various foreign mentalities haunted by problems of divinity, immortality, creation, nature, and desire, provoking insights that invert familiar assumptions about the relationship between mind and body.
The perspective is Lacanian, but Bozovic explores the idiosyncrasies of his material (e.g., the bodies of the Scythians, the transvestites transformed and disguised for the gaze of God; or Adam's body, which remained unseen as long as it was the only one in existence) with an attention to detail that is exceptional among Lacanian theorists. The approach makes for engaging reading, as Bozovic stages imagined encounters between leading thinkers, allowing them to converse about subjects that each explored, but in a different time and place. While its focus is on a particular problem in the history of philosophy, An Utterly Dark Spot will appeal to those interested in cultural studies, semiotics, theology, the history of religion, and political philosophy as well.
Miran Bozovic is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. He is the author of Der grosse Andere: Gotteskonzepte in der Philosophie der Neuzeit (Vienna: Verlag Turia & Kant, 1993) and editor of The Panopticon Writings by Jeremy Bentham (London: Verso, 1995).

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transformations of one and the same eternally living body that always preserves the same soul, is a being that is already alive before birth and that continues living beyond death. In order to demonstrate that there is no birth in the strict sense, Leibniz refers to the microscopical observations of Swammerdam, Malpighi, and Leeuwenhoek, which undoubtedly prove the preexistence of life, that is, the presence of life before birth. 21 What they prove is that there is no "first birth" or "entirely

the affect of joy.) From the Lacanian-Freudian perspective, however, the true object of love, that is, the object that contains the cause of love within itself, is originally lost. (The only object loved for its own sake might be God.) An object containing the inherent cause for love is never encountered in reality-every finite object we love is loved for some accidental, partial resemblance that it bears to the originally lost object. This lost object, which is never encountered in reality, but

Contingent upon an exception to, and suspension of, the laws of nature, occasionalism is thus possible only in paradise-it is a philosophical reflection on an anomalous world. Whereas prelapsarian physiology made Adam's belief in the causal efficacy of God possible, that is, his love of God, postlapsarian physiology, in contrast, necessarily engenders and sustains belief in the causal efficacy of bodies, that is, the love of bodies. What is more, it was only as a result of the postlapsarian

the lantern there is enough light for the inspector to keep the books, yet he is-despite his partial visibility-no less invisible than he would be if he were spying on the prisoners, hidden in the depths of a completely dark lodge. In neither case can the prisoners determine with certainty that they are not being watched at any particular moment; the only difference is that, in the former case, they 108 An Utterly Dark Spot are led to believe that the inspector is watching them from the

Therefore, the inspector disguises his absence (he leaves the lantern surreptitiously: he lets himself out through a trapdoor in the floor and descends through the interior of the central tower) by placing "any opaque object,,38 in the lantern. The difference between an inanimate object, constantly at rest, and the inspector's body, occasionally in motion, would not be discernible, according to Bentham, because the apertures in the lantern are so small. At this point, what constitutes the spot

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