Critical Freedom: Between Lacan and Deleuze and Guattari
Royal Holloway, University of London
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Mainstream political philosophy customarily understands freedom as the capacity of a subject with a determinate identity to pursue its interests. Recent theories of the subject have in turn undermined the agency of the subject by pointing to the ways in which the subject itself is subjected to power, the body and genetics and consequently not in control of its own agential capacity. By these accounts, the subject either possesses transparent and conscious agency or is determined by the structures that produce it. Theories of freedom are therefore left to choose between a voluntarist or determinist concept of the subject. My research will use the work of Jacques Lacan, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in order to elaborate a notion of 'critical freedom' that is able to advance discussions of freedom beyond this impasse. In doing so, it will not only produce a novel reading of the relationship between the agency of the subject and the structures that produce it, but will also revise the long-held view that Deleuze and Guattari's thought is fundamentally incompatible with Lacan's. This redresses an absence of serious consideration of how Deleuze, Guattari and Lacan can be aligned, and brings to light some of the most interesting and important but overlooked aspects of their exchanges. The concept of freedom this project develops will also be brought into conversation with liberal, Marxist, and anarchist notions of freedom to show how it can enhance more recent ideas offered by what has become known as ‘post-anarchist’ theory. This will make clear how post-anarchist theory can utilize poststructuralist resources more fully to advance its own conception of politics and the political.