No such thing as authentic dialogue is possible, according to Žižek. In any debate, there are presuppositions held by the debaters that are nonnegotiable. When we reach these, the debate as such is over. What we have, then, is at most “an interaction of two monologues” or perhaps—for the Hegelian—the denial that the other debater’s position is a position at all.1 This position on debate is invigorating, at least when debate often is attributed a heavier load than it can bear in resolving disputes and reaching consensus. It is also consistent with Žižek’s Protestant emphasis on faith as a subjective, engaged and ultimately groundless decision. To Eagleton’s more Catholic perspective, faith and reason are not as diametrically opposed as Žižek occasionally has it, but rather more integrated in each other: faith is not unreasonable, and even if reason does not go all the way down, a faith without reason altogether would be blind. This position would consequently imply a different, less decisionistic view on the possibility of dialogue; dialogue as negotiation, where not everything is put to question at once, but where we, in time, are able to be persuaded by another’s arguments. Žižek would probably fault Eagleton for allowing too much common ground between differing perspectives, thus effectively denying the struggle for universality in presupposing a “third,” neutral sphere.
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Slavoj Žižek, “Dialectical Clarity versus the Misty Conceit of Paradox,” in The Monstrosity of Christ: Paradox or Dialectic, ed. Creston Davis (Cambridge/London: The MIT Press, 2009), 235.
Terry Eagleton, Trouble with Strangers: A Study of Ethics (Malden, Mass./Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), vi.
Eagleton, Trouble, 310; cf. Slavoj Žižek, “Neighbors and Other Monsters: A Plea for Ethical Violence,” in The Neighbor: Three Inquires in Political Theology, eds. Slavoj Žižek, Eric L. Santner, and Kenneth Reinhard (Chicago/London: The University of Chicago Press, 2005), 310.
Eagleton, Trouble, 296; cf. Slavoj Žižek, The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology (London/New York: Verso, 2000), 143.
Cf. Terry Eagleton, The Truth about the Irish (Dublin: New Island Books, 1999).
Slavoj Žižek, In Defense of Lost Causes (London/New York, 2008), 99.
Terry Eagleton, “Introduction” in Jesus Christ: The Gospels, ed. Giles Fraser (London/New York: Verso, 2007), xxif.
Slavoj Žižek, “The Fear of Four Words: A Modest Plea for the Hegelian Reading of Christianity,” in The Monstrosity of Christ: Paradox or Dialectic, ed. Creston Davis (Cambridge/London: The MIT Press, 2009), 74.
Ibid., 246; Terry Eagleton, Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), 32.
On psychoanalysis and neighborly love, see, for instance, Slavoj Žižek, Enjoy Your Symptom! Jacques Lacan in Hollywood and out, 2nd ed. (New York/London: Routledge, 2001), 7f.
Slavoj Žižek, Violence (London: Profile Books, 2008), 151.
Slavoj Žižek, Living in the End Times (London/New York: Verso, 2010), 117.
Eric Gregory, Politics and the Order of Love: An Augustinian Ethic of Democratic Citizenship (Chicago/London: The University of Chicago Press, 2010), 42.
Anders Nygren, Agape and Eros, trans. Philip S. Watson (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982).
For a more contemporary, and in my view more balanced, theological approach to love, see Werner G. Jeanrond, Theology of Love (London/New York: T&T Clark, 2010).
© 2012 Ola Sigurdson
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Sigurdson, O. (2012). An Arrested Dialogue: Eagleton and Žižek. In: Theology and Marxism in Eagleton and Žižek. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137103116_5
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