The Eternal Jouissance of the Community: Phantasm, Imagination, and 'Natural Man' in Hobbes

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Abstract
The paper considers the part of Thomas Hobbes's 'natural man' in the construction of a culturally shared fantasy regarding pre-social humanity (conceived of as outside obligation), and the marginalization of 'excluded' citizens who are seen in various ways to approximate that fantasy. While Hobbes did not valorize his hypothetical 'natural man,' I argue that his particularly dark elaboration of it lent an ambivalence to this ideal, which thereby enables it to function as a fantasy. With the aid of psychoanalytic theory, the paper explores the relation of Hobbes's psychology of perception to his political philosophy; with particular attention to the resonances between Hobbes's account of the imagination and emotion, and the psychoanalytic notion of fantasy. The fantasy of the pre-contract natural man is then drawn upon to illustrate some concrete social relations which marginalize certain kinds of subject, understood as both 'innocent' and a threat to the community.
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Faulkner, Joanne
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2009
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Journal Article
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