As in our human rights, it is also
As seen in Badiou’s critique of Kant that it is imperative to recognize the Good in our human rights, it is also important to identify the foreignness in ourselves when pinpointing the differences in other people. Coming back to Kristeva’s recourse on Kant and moving onto her recourse of Freud, the notion of the Other comes into play as it a continuation in the elaboration of the differences that are key to Kant’s universalism. When identifying the differences of other people, Kristeva argues that we must also find the foreign part of ourselves, the Other. Grounded on Freud’s psychoanalytic ideas, Kristeva states that “with the Freudian notion of the unconscious the involution of the strange in the psyche loses its pathological aspect and integrates within the assume unity of human beings and otherness that is both biological and symbolic and becomes an integral part of the same” (Kristeva 181). This same implies that despite the fundamental differences between other people (the foreigners), there is an otherness in ourselves, a foreigner inside of us, so we are all the same since we are also foreigners to ourselves: “The foreigner is within me, hence we are all foreigners. If I am a foreigner, there are no foreigners.” (Kristeva 192). Furthermore, Kristeva poses the question, “How could one tolerate a foreigner if one did not know one was a stranger to oneself?,” and this goes on to say that we must first internalize our Other self before consolidating the differences of other people.
Continuing Kristeva’s psychoanalytic rhetoric, Freud’s idea of the Uncanny Strangeness further illuminates the notion of the Other. The Uncanny Strangeness can be thought of as something familiar yet strange and unknown: “the uncanny is that class of the frightening which leads back to what is known old and long familiar” (Kristeva 183). This notion of familiarity and strangeness occurring simultaneously in one’s mind leads to the idea of repression, in which something that recurs in our minds and that brings anxiety is repressed or subdued (Kristeva 184). When what is repressed, the thought that “ought to have remained secret” reappears in our mind, Kristeva says it “produces a feeling of uncanny strangeness” (Kristeva 184). This Uncanny Strangeness can be observe in our relationship with death. We usually have anxieties and fears about our own impending death and we repress the thought of us dying someday. The ambiguities or our immortality after death and the mourning of our families once we have died furthers our paranormal beliefs, which trigger the Uncanny Strangeness. The Uncanny Strangeness is therefore manifested in our minds when we relapse to thinking about the image of death and its supernatural mythologies. We ultimately know that death is part of our lives but we are scared of its arrival, so we put this thought aside in our minds and ignore it. In this sense, the Other haunts us – the strangeness in ourselves that we want to repress.
Continuing the notion of the Other, in this case, the Other from Levinas’ ethics, Badiou also finds problematic elements in the Levinas’ ethics, just like he did in the Kantian conception of ethics. Badiou states that Levinas’ “ethics of difference” or “ethics of the other” essentially wanted to diverge from a Greek tradition to a Jewish tradition to find a different way of thinking, to reach a phenomenological experience ultimately connected to religious tenets. Badiou argues that this experience illustrates a notion of transcendence since it wants to turn away from the Greek tradition, and since this such phenomenological experience cannot guarantee an ethical experience where the Other is truly identified. Therefore, Badiou claims that Levinas’ ethics is a “category of pious discourse,” in which “the principle of thought and action is essentially religious” (Badiou 23). Just as in Kant’s inconsistency of identifying the Evil instead of the Good, Levinas’ religious discourse is centralized on the recognition of the Other and not on the recognition of the Same.
The emphasis on recognizing the Other leads Badiou to formulate his proposition to solely focus on finding the Same. Badiou says that the Same is “not what is (i.e. the multiplicity of difference) but what comes to be, the truth. (Badiou 27). The Same is a truth, and “only a truth is, as such, indifferent to differences,” meaning that the differences in people, whether they are differences of language or of religion, like in the case of Kant, or whether they are multicultural differences, are irrelevant because we are distinct by nature. Badiou states that these differences “amount to nothing more than the infinite and self-evident multiplicity of human-kind” (Badiou 26). He says that it is just the way we are, that “no light is shed on the recognition of the other” (Badiou 27). Therefore, Badiou argues that we must look past these ‘insignificant’ differences and focus on reaching truth, the Same, because “a truth is the same for all.” (Badiou 27). Truth should be equal to everyone, it is ultimately universal.
The truth that Badiou so strongly vouches for is constantly present throughout Kristeva’s recourse to Kant’s ethics and Freud’s psychoanalysis. The notions of universalism and of the Other triggers Badiou’s attacks on the Kantian concept of human rights and Levinas’ ethics of the Other, and his denouncing rhetoric draws clear connections to Kristeva’s rhetoric. Both Kristeva and Badiou focus on the ethical and psychoanalytic issues that depict the more specific topic of the differences between people. Badiou’s critiques and Kristeva’s analyses are developed from the discussion of the differences between people, and it is these differences that ultimately drive Badiou’s and Kristeva’s philosophical ideas.