Four Degrees of Acceptance and Rejection — Işık Barış Fidaner

Lacan defines a symbolic order thus: A signifier represents the subject for another signifier. I paraphrase this thus: An authority represents a will for a system [1]. There is also a fourth term, objet a, which I call a body. Based on these four terms, let me define four degrees of acceptance and rejection, beginning from zero:

The zeroth degree of acceptance or rejection is when you face immediate affinity or aversion at a visceral level. It’s basically a non-verbal like or dislike, which can also be expressed in words. This is the level of the body. It can be a direct effect of your physical body, like being pretty or ugly, or an effect of the symbolic body of your words, as in political correctness, when people are called anti-Semitic or transphobic etc. due to an expression they use. This is the zeroth degree of expectation, which is a legitimation that’s automatically imposed by the context of being, whose existence relies on a certain interpretation. The interpretation of the context decides which embodiments of free will are (il)legitimate. This decision by a context of being is linked to transference in the analytic discourse.

The first degree of acceptance or rejection is when someone says “You are right!” or “You are wrong!” This is the level of will and desire. Since this is a verbal level that is mediated by language, you have the chance to respond and defend yourself relying on your free will. You can also rely on a general will involving other people or even The People. This is the first degree of expectation, in which there is an assumption of a common ground of willful communication between legitimate bodies, which also includes its accidental disruptions by desire. The ground of (mis)communication decides which will is “right” and has the right to be represented by an authority. This decision of rights by willful and desirous (mis)communication is linked to the hysteric’s discourse.

The second degree of acceptance or rejection is when someone says “You are normal!” or “You are abnormal!” This is the level of the authority. It has the power of a judgement that distinguishes good representations from bad representations. Normalization is about the moral validation of a particular life style by declaring its universal dominance, which is inevitably accompanied by several layers of denial about “invalid” life styles. This is a moral bomb, because normalization and denial are caught up in the vicious cycle of a positive feedback loop [2]. It carries a sense of superiority and inferiority. This is the second degree of expectation, which involves a confrontation between the authority and its other. The confrontation decides which authority will get systematized. This normative assertion of authority is linked to the Master’s discourse.

The third degree of acceptance or rejection is when someone says “You are typical!” or “You are atypical!” This is the level of the system. It’s based on establishing objective relationships by doublespeak, as in the statistical (state-istical) use of the words “normal”, “dominant”, “expectation” which disguise normative authorization by referring to frequencies, averages and probability distributions. It is the practice of stigmatizing people as “impaired” because they don’t obey your expectations. This is the third degree of expectation, which conceals its hegemonic force by referring to the third party: the gaze of an innocent bystander. This level is mainly about counting bodies to found the objectivity of a system, and is linked to the University discourse. It crushes its others by relying on the mere amplitude of high numbers, instead of the normative force of a superiority. It mobilizes the explosive force of the moral bomb while concealing its normative origin.


Işık Barış Fidaner is a computer scientist with a PhD from Boğaziçi University, İstanbul. Admin of Yersiz Şeyler, Editor of Žižekian Analysis, Curator of Görce Writings. Twitter: @BarisFidaner


[1] See “What Makes a Symbolic Order?”

[2] See “Refusing and Defusing The Moral Bomb”


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