The Contradiction About Contradiction — Işık Barış Fidaner

In Emancipation After Hegel, Todd McGowan opposes contradictions to oppositions:

Ideology transforms contradictions into oppositions in order to give us an enemy on which to direct the aggression stemming from our own failure. Contradictions undermine positions from within and reveal how they fail to attain self-identity through their own logic. Oppositions provide the subject with the image of a stable self-identity that obscures this failure. They are much easier to manage and much less threatening to the subject considering them than contradictions are. Oppositions, such as the opposition between thesis and antithesis, divide the world into friends and enemies. Hegel’s philosophy represents a thoroughgoing rejection of the opposition between friend and enemy insofar as it interprets opposition not as genuine opposition but merely as a form that contradiction takes on. Opposition expresses contradiction while obfuscating its self-destructiveness. Though opposition might require one to go to war, it provides an external enemy to fight and a coherent sense of identity for oneself, which is its most important ideological function.

But what is he doing here? Why not apply his reasoning to the very form of his thought? According to his own logic, isn’t he mobilizing the opposition “constradiction vs. opposition” in order to ensure the identity of the concept of contradiction through maintaining its opposition to the identity of the concept of opposition, thereby obscuring the inherent contradiction about contradiction itself? Now we can discern two sides of contradiction:

C1) Contradiction in its opposition to opposition.

C2) Contradiction as contradicting itself (self-contradiction).

Let us call C1, the truth of contradiction, and C2, the real of contradiction. The truth of contradiction C1 is what McGowan embraces with love as the value of universality that he redefines as “the lack in every particular” (Universality and Identity Politics). This truth marks the desirable aspect of contradiction [1]. But McGowan’s desire and love about the truth of universality obscures the real of contradiction, C2, which is the aspect of drive and repetition, self-referentiality and reflexivity. This repetitive drive inevitably causes aversion, disgust and hate. Feminine masquerade obfuscates the real of this irritant repetitive drive by unleashing a desire for truth in its stead; it covers the hate of the real with a love for the truth [2].

The contradiction between the truth of contradiction C1 and the real of contradiction C2 is only resolved through the semblance of contradiction C3 (these correspond to S(Ⱥ), Φ, a in Lacan’s triangular schema from Encore, see [2]), which is the basis for the passion of ignorance, the third passion among Lacan’s ‘three fundamental passions’ after love and hate:

C3) Contradiction as a semblance that embodies a specific ignorance.

This is why Žižek defines Absolute Knowing as the assumption of one’s ignorance simultaneously as the ignorance of the big Other [3]. I define this as a virtue called Görce [4].

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] Truth is what deserves desire. See “True-False : Right-Wrong = Desire : Intention”

[2] See “Masculine and Feminine: Truth, Reality and Semblances”

[3] See the relevant passages in Sex and the Failed Absolute: “Özgürlük bilmezliğin öbür yüzüdür” Slavoj Žižek

[4] About Görce, see “The Void, The Hole Void, Nothing But The Void”


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