On Silence

Holding the Voice Hostage

  • Ed Pluth
  • Cindy Zeiher

Part of the The Palgrave Lacan Series book series (PALS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Ed Pluth, Cindy Zeiher
    Pages 1-30
  3. Ed Pluth, Cindy Zeiher
    Pages 31-55
  4. Ed Pluth, Cindy Zeiher
    Pages 57-82
  5. Ed Pluth, Cindy Zeiher
    Pages 83-93
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 95-102

About this book


"Pluth and Zeiher’s On Silence demonstrates that silence, not external reality, is the real object around which words circulate. The book combines the highest conceptual stringency with a clear and witty style which makes it insanely readable. If On Silence will not become an instant classic, then it is better for us, philosophers and other thinkers, to just shut up."
- Slavoj Žižek, European Graduate School, Switzerland, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, New York University, USA and Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, UK

“This compact, lively book makes an invaluable case for silence as an essential concept linking philosophy and psychoanalysis. Without sacrificing an iota of rigor, the authors write in a clear and humorous way, leading the reader on an enjoyable journey through complex arguments that will be engaging for undergraduates as well as revelatory to specialists.  It is essential reading.” 
- Molly Anne Rothenberg, Professor of English, Tulane University, USA

“Ed Pluth and Cindy Zeiher take us on a stunning tour… tackling the essential relation between silence and language, offering us new readings of the philosophical tradition as well as of Beckett, Melville, Claudel, Cage … All this with a firm red thread in their hands, that of the psychoanalytic take on silence as the essential guideline of its theory and practice, and of Lacan’s intervention that doesn’t cease to surprise and inspire.
- Mladen Dolar, Professor at University of Ljubljana, Slovenia and Author of A Voice and Nothing More

This book promotes a Lacanian approach to silence, arguing that Lacanian psychoanalysis is distinctive for putting a high value on both silence and language. Unlike other disciplines and discourses the authors do not treat silence as a mystical-impossible beyond, at the cost of demoting the value of language and thought. Rather than treating silence with awe and wonder, this book puts silence to work, and it does so in order to deal with the inevitable alienation that comes with becoming speaking-beings. This illuminating book will be of great interest to scholars of Lacan and the psychosocial, as well as more broadly to philosophers and linguists alike.

Ed Pluth is professor and chair of the Department of Philosophy at California State University, Chico, USA. 

Cindy Zeiher is a lecturer in the School of Languages, Social and Political Sciences at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. 


Lacan The Other psychoanalysis psychology speech language unconscious Kojève apophatic discourse Jean-Claude Milner graph of desire literary silence Bartleby Descartes’ cogito study of silence philosophy of silence

Authors and affiliations

  • Ed Pluth
    • 1
  • Cindy Zeiher
    • 2
  1. 1.California State University, ChicoChicoUSA
  2. 2. University of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand

Bibliographic information