Lorenzo Chiesa

Lorenzo Chiesa is Director of the Genoa School of Humanities and the author of Subjectivity and Otherness: A Philosophical Reading of Lacan and The Not-Two: Logic and God in Lacan, both published by the MIT Press.

  • The Not-Two

    The Not-Two

    Logic and God in Lacan

    Lorenzo Chiesa

    A philosophical examination of the treatment of logic and God in Lacan's later psychoanalytic theory.

    In The Not-Two, Lorenzo Chiesa examines the treatment of logic and God in Lacan's later work. Chiesa draws for the most part from Lacan's Seminars of the early 1970s, as they revolve around the axiom “There is no sexual relationship.” Chiesa provides both a close reading of Lacan's effort to formalize sexual difference as incompleteness and an assessment of its broader implications for philosophical realism and materialism.

    Chiesa argues that “There is no sexual relationship” is for Lacan empirically and historically circumscribed by psychoanalysis, yet self-evident in our everyday lives. Lacan believed that we have sex because we love, and that love is a desire to be One in face of the absence of the sexual relationship. Love presupposes a real “not-two.” The not-two condenses the idea that our love and sex lives are dictated by the impossibility of fusing man's contradictory being with the heteros of woman as a fundamentally uncountable Other. Sexual liaisons are sustained by a transcendental logic, the so-called phallic function that attempts to overcome this impossibility.

    Chiesa also focuses on Lacan's critical dialogue with modern science and formal logic, as well as his dismantling of sexuality as considered by mainstream biological discourse. Developing a new logic of sexuation based on incompleteness requires the relinquishing of any alleged logos of life and any teleological evolution.

    For Lacan, the truth of incompleteness as approached psychoanalytically through sexuality would allow us to go further in debunking traditional onto-theology and replace it with a “para-ontology” yet to be developed. Given the truth of incompleteness, Chiesa asks, can we think such a truth in itself without turning incompleteness into another truth about truth, that is, into yet another figure of God as absolute being?

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  • Subjectivity and Otherness

    Subjectivity and Otherness

    A Philosophical Reading of Lacan

    Lorenzo Chiesa

    The evolution of the concept of subjectivity in the works of Jacques Lacan.

    Countering the call by some “pro-Lacanians” for an end to the exegesis of Lacan's work—and the dismissal by “anti-Lacanians” of Lacan as impossibly impenetrable—Subjectivity and Otherness argues for Lacan as a “paradoxically systematic” thinker, and for the necessity of a close analysis of his texts. Lorenzo Chiesa examines, from a philosophical perspective, the evolution of the concept of subjectivity in Lacan's work, carrying out a detailed reading of the Lacanian subject in its necessary relation to otherness according to Lacan's orders of the Imaginary, the Symbolic, and the Real. Chiesa emphasizes the continuity underlying apparently incompatible phases of Lacan's examination of the subject, describing Lacan's theory as a consistent philosophical system—but one that is constantly revised and therefore problematic. Chiesa analyzes each “old” theory of the subject within the framework of a “new” elaboration and reassesses its fundamental tenets from the perspective of a general psychoanalytic discourse that becomes increasingly complex. From the 1960s on, writes Chiesa, the Lacanian subject amounts to an irreducible lack that must be actively confronted and assumed; this “subjectivized lack,” Chiesa argues further, offers an escape from the contemporary impasse between the “death of the subject” alleged by postmodernism and a return to a traditional “substantialist” notion of the subject. An original treatment of psychoanalytic issues, Subjectivity and Otherness fills a significant gap in the existing literature on Lacan, taking seriously the need for a philosophical investigation of Lacanian concepts.

    • Paperback $30.00

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  • Convention and Materialism

    Uniqueness without Aura

    Paolo Virno

    The first English translation of the book that established Paolo Virno as one of the most influential Italian thinkers of his generation.

    With the 1986 publication of this book in Italy, Paolo Virno established himself as one of the most influential Italian thinkers of his generation. Astonishingly, this crucial work has never before been published in an English translation. This MIT Press edition, translated by Italian philosopher and Insubordinations series editor Lorenzo Chiesa, is its first English-language version. Virno here engages, in an innovative and iconoclastic way, with some classical questions of philosophy, including experience, singularity, and the relation between ethics and language, while also offering a profoundly transformative political perspective that revolves around the Marxian notion of the “general intellect.”

    Virno reconsiders Walter Benjamin's idea of a “loss of the aura” (brought on, Benjamin argued, by technical reproducibility), and postulates instead the existence of a new experience of uniqueness that, although deprived of every metaphysical aura, resides in the very process of late-capitalist serial reproduction. Writing after the defeat of contemporary leftist revolutionary movements in the West, Virno argues for the possibility of a “good life” originating immanently from existential and political crises. With speculative detours through the thought of philosophers ranging from Aquinas and Berkeley to Heidegger and Wittgenstein, with a specific focus on Kant and Hegel, Virno shows how a renewed reflection on basic theoretical problems helps us to better grasp what is happening now. This edition features a preface written by Virno in 2011.

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  • The Monopoly of Man

    Anna Kuliscioff

    A key text by a leading figure in Italian socialist feminism that remains relevant today, addressing the exploitation of women in the workplace and at home.

    Anna Kuliscioff (c. 1854–1925) was a prominent figure in the revolutionary politics of her era, advocating for socialism and feminism. One of the founding members of the Italian Socialist Party, she actively contributed to the late-nineteenth-century flourishing of the Socialist International and the emergence of Italian socialism. For the last decades of her life, Kuliscioff's public militancy revolved around the “woman question.” She viewed feminism through the lens of class struggle, addressing the double exploitation of women—in the workplace and at home. Kuliscioff fought a twofold battle: as a socialist, she unmasked the sexism of her colleagues; as a feminist, she criticized liberal-bourgeois feminism. In this key text, she makes her case for a socialist feminism.

    Originating as a lecture Kuliscioff delivered in April 1890 at the Milan Philological Circle (which denied membership to women), The Monopoly of Man explicitly links feminism to labor. Kuliscioff argues that labor frees women from the prison of the household and potentially fosters their emancipation; she advances the principle of equal pay for equal work. She declares that woman is enslaved by both her husband and by capital, calls marriage a form of women's servitude, and demands that motherhood be better appreciated as work. It is only when woman is economically independent and resists capitalism, she argues, that she will achieve freedom, dignity, and the respect of the other sex.

    The Monopoly of Man is the inaugural title in a new series, Insubordinations: Italian Radical Thought, edited by Lorenzo Chiesa.

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  • The Adventure

    The Adventure

    Giorgio Agamben

    Agamben charts a journey that ranges from poems of chivalry to philosophy, from Yvain to Hegel, from Beatrice to Heidegger.

    An ancient legend identifies Demon, Chance, Love, and Necessity as the four gods who preside over the birth of every human being. We must all pay tribute to these deities and should not try to elude or dupe them. To accept them, Giorgio Agamben suggests, is to live one's life as an adventure—not in the trivial sense of the term, with lightness and disenchantment, but with the understanding that adventure, as a specific way of being, is the most profound experience in our human existence. In this pithy, poetic, and compelling book, Agamben maps a journey from poems of chivalry to philosophy, from Yvain to Hegel, from Beatrice to Heidegger. The four gods of legend are joined at the end by a goddess, the most elusive and mysterious of all: Elpis, Hope. In Greek mythology, Hope remains in Pandora's box, not because it postpones its fulfillment to an invisible beyond but because somehow it has always been already satisfied. Here, Agamben presents Hope as the ultimate gift of the human adventure on Earth.

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