The Phantasmatic Subject of Technology: Slavoj Zizek, Techne, and the Abyss

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Mandalios, John
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Ellison, David
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2009
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Abstract

This critique of technology takes up the thought of Slavoj Žižek to engage in a psychoanalytic and philosophical exploration, critique, and redemption of the human subject under the sway of post-modernity’s politic of technophilia. By first establishing the persistence of the subject as an aporia in the discourse of knowledge-production, this discussion unravels the philosophical, political, and psychoanalytic difficulties hidden by the fetishisation of technology and the globalised lie of its vulgar materialism that entraps the subject in a technological phantasia coordinated by the ‘metaphysics’ of technology: technicity. Interrogating this phantasia of technology, we will intervene in the overdetermination of the ontology of the subject by the perverse social order of a mystical deadlock between the ‘treatment’ of the subject’s existence by the perverse order of technical rationalisation through its annihilation and fabrication of the embodiment of the subject. This intervention aims to reveal the dark contingency at the core of the subject, and to develop this Cause as the site of a rupture and reordering of the symbolic universe maintained by the ideology of technological over-determination. This Cause will be shown through techne, the jettisoned ontological element of technology, and herein this demonstration will unveil the possibility for redeeming the subject from the overdetermination of the technological through the ideology-critique of the phantasia of knowledge-production that covers over the importance of ontology to the self-conception of the human subject. The moment of redemption will be shown to begin from the subject who emerges in and through the university discourse of knowledge-production that Žižek has criticised as the epochal mode of post-modernity.

In attending to this thesis the dissertation engages with Žižek’s critique against the tide of post-modern critique that paralyses the critical gaze of the subject, especially in the consideration of the critical role fantasy plays in maintaining the perverse psychosocial order of knowledge-production that leads to the structuring of the phantasmagoria of technicity. Here the critique with which this dissertation is engaged demonstrates that the fetishisation of knowledge maintaining the ‘lie’ of this phantasmagoria betrays its overdetermination of the subject through the vulgar materialism and the repressed metaphysical mania of annihilation and fabrication that allows technicity to substitute its raison d’étre for the Cause at the core of the subject. By attending to the return of the repressed techne alongside the subject who has been substituted by technicity and excluded from the Symbolic and exiled to the Abyss of the Real, this dissertation will propose the rupture and rearrangement of the authorial order maintained through technicity’s binary of annihilation and fabrication. And to this end the dissertation aims to show how the ontological emergence of the subject at the heart of the dialectical materialist tussle with philosophical idealism can serve to be given a voice in a techne phantasmagoria of open possibility that is not reduced to mere ‘virtuality’ by technicity’s spurious presentism and anti-metaphysical prejudice.

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Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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School of Arts
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The author owns the copyright in this thesis, unless stated otherwise.
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Subject
technology
Slavoj Zizek
techne
technicity
post-modernism
ontology
psychoanalysis
nihilism
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