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Definitions of humanism as educational movement, philosophical concept or existential 'life stance' have evolved over the centuries as the term has been.
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This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Tony Davies offers a clear introduction to the many uses of this influential yet complex concept, and this second edition extends his discussion to include: a wide-ranging history of the development of the term and its influences the implications of debates around humanism and post-humanism for political, religious and environmental activism discussion of the key figures in humanist debate from Erasmus and Milton to Heidegger, Foucault and Chomsky "synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

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Customers who bought this item also bought. Jewish supremacy would thus be abolished. Sometimes it is a fearful price. He died in London in , in the month the war started. If he had lived, I do not think he would have been surprised by anything that happened in the period — Everybody sees the same world but from the whole field of vision everybody notices different things.

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Reality is there, no doubt about it, but we each experience it for ourselves. Is it only reality and reason which determine the decisions we make? Why, for example, do people choose the jobs they do?


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The ego and its choices have a rational component but are not just rational. The mirror stage Each of us arrives into human culture from the outside, though we come equipped with a genetic programme that allows us to learn any human language there is. How is it that within five or six years the newly arrived little animal you bring home with you from the hospital has become a person, who speaks your language, shares your assumptions, can go off to school and answer its own name when the teacher calls it out?

Why do people born in England generally grow up to be English rather than Nepalese? Here it is worth keeping in mind that for Lacan people need language not to transmit messages, to say something to someone, but in the first place because they want to be someone for somebody. The mirror stage, however, predates language. What the young child experiences in a mirror is a unified image of its own body, a Gestalt or organised pattern. It must seem to a small child that its various bits—feet, knees, hands, elbows, head—have a will of their own and keep painfully running into things.

Dry-mouthed terror at the possibility of your body coming to bits is fundamental to human experience. Surely this is a dazzling insight? If as Freud argues the fear of death is only the anticipated shadow of castration, then death for each of us, we know, can only happen if the body first comes to pieces.

Even then, just as much as in the earlier mirror stage, identity is acquired from the Other, a form of fantasy and misrecognition. Hollywood from way back has mounted a good line of impassive, rock-like heroes such as John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. Recently that idea has come to be represented by the cyborg, such as the one in RoboCop or the replicants of Blade Runner Terminator 2 has two cyborgs, one good Arnold Schwarzenegger , one bad.

Through its unbelievable capacity to survive, the cyborg represents the permanence of the ego. In Terminator 2 the cyborgs pass through fire, fall from a height, get thrown from a fast car, walk through walls, are gassed, pierced with iron bars, blown up, and shot endlessly. All with impunity damaged they repair themselves.

At one point the bad one walks into a cloud of liquid nitrogen until he freezes solid and his feet break off. These fall to the floor where they are melted by the heat of a nearby furnace. Drops run together and coagulate like mercury until from the silver pool a phallic figure rises, spectacularly reconstituted.

What gives away the fact that the cyborg attracts the same identification as the bodily image in the mirror stage is not its physical unity, control and mastery. The point is cyborgs have no feelings. The ego is threatened by all forms of drive but not the cyborg because it has no unconscious and no desire. The adult ego, which seems so absolutely sure of itself, comes about by impersonating early models until the mask becomes a face almost. For Lacan the ideal ego is defined in the way the subject projects itself onto objects, moves out into identification with them.

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The ego ideal, on the other hand, develops when external objects are taken in or introjected. In the story of Narcissus in Ovid the youth at first loves his own image in the water, projecting himself onto it, but later, realising that he is this image, takes it in as a version of himself. And both—the whole ego in fact—is for Lacan a source of delusion, leading us to believe in our own fantasies, our own importance, our imagined control of the world around us.

Everybody, to a greater or lesser extent, trusts in and lives out their own ego ideal. If we were to cast this in moralising terms, then we might think of it simply as hypocrisy or self-deception. A woman congratulates herself because she is such a dedicated teacher and spends so much time helping students—she is in fact a dull teacher and messes up the students she counsels.

And, no doubt, people who write books about the unconscious are sure they know enough to tell other people all about it. It is fatally easy to see how the ego ideal affects other people, but seeing it in oneself is blocked by repression. It is well known that prisons contain only people who have been wrongfully imprisoned after a miscarriage of justice—this is the work of the ego ideal, which also seems to dictate that people who have committed atrocities cannot admit it. Recently, in South Africa, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which has been trying to establish the facts of what went on under Apartheid, took evidence from a group of very able scientists and medical men who had worked for the previous regime in a biological warfare unit.

Guardian, 15 July The unit also considered ways to put cholera in the water supply of black neighbourhoods and how to breed a version of anthrax immune to penicillin. The ego ideal leads us to collaborate with the fantasy that people are fundamentally good-hearted and do the best they can in a world which is bright, transparent, harmonious and getting better, a utopian vision endlessly repeated to us by the media.

People cling to what they like to think others think of them. There is a broad contrast here between Freud and Lacan. While Freud takes the view that unhappiness is caused essentially by repression, Lacan believes the damage is caused by the power with which we live out the ego ideal. But for Lacan it is better if you can accept your fantasies as fantasies and not as the real thing, ways of representing yourself, not life itself.

He writes of being the dummy hand at bridge, the one whose cards are all laid face up on the table—you just sit there while the others play them for you. Or, to return to the example of Hamlet. Throughout most of the play Hamlet has been wholly embroiled in fantasy—mourning his father, hating his mother, expressing horror and contempt for Ophelia. Lacan singles out the moment after Hamlet has come back from his sea-voyage, with a new sense of irony and selfdetachment and proceeds to carry out his mission. At the end Laertes challenges Hamlet to a duel, but the fight is fixed: Hamlet responds to this necessity only on a disinterested level, that of the tournament.

He commits himself in what we might call a formal, or even a fictive way. He is, in truth, entering the most serious of games, without knowing it. In that game he will lose his life—in spite of himself. He is going out—again, without knowing it—to meet his act and his death, which, but for an interval of a few moments, will coincide. Everything that he saw in the aggressive relationship was only a sham, a mirage. What does that mean? It means that he has entered into the game without, shall we say, his phallus…He does enter into the game, nevertheless.

Sanity does not mean trying to be yourself but accepting instead that you can only be for others. Most people would think of love, dyadic love between the sexes, or in a samesex relationship, as sexual. Both Freud and Lacan regard being in love as an expression of narcissism, not love for the other but selflove, self-deception.

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Freud discusses being in love in relation to melancholy. In melancholy the lost object is put in the place of the ego and the ego ideal is active in judging the ego. In love, by contrast, the object becomes identified with the ego ideal. Being in love happens if a loved one, rather than being lost, simply cannot be obtained and desire satisfied.

It is not something you can do for yourself because it depends on another to see you as you would like to be seen—or rather, imagining such an other. The romantic love tradition claims that each sees and responds to the other in a perfectly reciprocal relation. But the metaphor is a deception because me seeing you can never coincide with you seeing me.

This needs a little unpacking. For Lacan, love involves a series of fantasy identifications in which the object is taken up into the self. First, the Other as a whole is misrecognised and appropriated as a single point. This is further misrecognised as the eyes of the beloved. These are treated like a mirror in the mirror stage, reflecting the lover in a more perfect form. In this look the lover is seen not as they are but as they want to imagine themselves to be: the perfect lover, the ideal self.

When one is a woman, likewise. Love is impossible because, as far as Lacan is concerned, the sexes are completely asymmetrical in their desires, something we shall discuss in more detail later. When Tristan and Iseult are found together in the woods they have a sword laid between them; Denis de Rougemont argues that in the courtly love tradition love is imagined as an impossible transcendence which can only be maintained if sexual feeling is not fulfilled. And that tradition continues into Romantic love where the stories everyone remembers are those in which love is tragically not fulfilled because something prevents it the warring families in Romeo and Juliet, unhappy marriage in Anna Karenina, age difference in Lolita.

What is masked by the obstacle is the absence itself. From this somewhat disabused analysis of love we can turn to what psychoanalysis actually has to say about sexuality. Freud —86, vol For most of the history of Christendom small children were considered to be dirty, demanding animals, who suddenly, when they began to talk sensibly, turned into small, incompetent adults.

It is hard to exaggerate the severity handed out to children; babies were sent to wet-nurses if their parents were rich and to anyone who would feed them if they were poor. Regarded as irrational and unregenerate children were beaten without mercy. If that attitude has now changed in the West, it is largely due to one man, Benjamin Spock.

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His book, Baby and Child Care, published in , with tact, modesty and supreme authority, told parents that what young children needed above all was love, from start to finish. Spock derived this idea from Freud. It is possible that this is the reason the language of sexual intimacy so often takes the form of baby talk.

And it is certainly not surprising that in battle, wounded soldiers, brave or not, cry for their mothers. One reason why the human infant is thrown so violently into that early dyadic relation, a reason put forward by both Freud and Lacan, is that we are born too soon.