The divorce of a love affair that lasted more than a hundred years
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In a recent lecture at Unisa the philosopher Fanie de Beer remarked that we are still too much in love with our own identities. The image we project of ourselves in the mirrors of philosophy and psychology still shows us as an intact identity, as a thing that has substance, a thing that has a self, a subject that looks out at the world in which it has a certain locus and a sure foundation of existence, a self we can gather in our own arms and hold and love till death do us part in body and in soul. But this love affair with our own identities runs against the entire project of the 20th century. For at least a hundred years psychology, mathematics, physics, philosophy and economics have been raising voices in resistence to this narcissistic love affair. The impossibility of objectification and the lack at the heart of identity have been a major theme throughout the nineteen-hundreds. Yet, despite these cracks and in the face of the inevitable we have chosen to maintain the pretense of the happy union in our identity. The aim of this paper is to describe the divorce of this love affair. We have to give up the pretense of our union. We have to recognise the lack that exists at the heart of our existence. We have to accept a separation, and move on into a very different world.
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