Faculty Writing: Eros and the Death Drive

In the Los Angeles Review of Books, Suzanne Schneider reviews Oliver Roy’s Jihad and Death: the Global Appeal of Islamic State (Oxford). “No mention of Freud’s ‘death drive’ appears in [the book],” Schneider writes, “but it does seem to lurk in the corners.” According to Roy, modern jihad is “a nihilistic phenomenon in which death (of others, but also importantly, of the self) has become the central objective” — a fruitful formulation whose implications, Schneider argues, Roy shies from thoroughly examining.  “Just as an earlier generation of readers argued that the psyche Freud described was the product of a particular stage of capitalist development rather than an essential feature of human nature, the nihilism in Roy’s account comes from somewhere. The enduring frustration of Jihad and Death is that — perhaps due to his desire to shore up what is left of the liberal tradition — Roy seems unwilling to follow the trail of bloody crumbs back home.”

In Public Seminar, Samantha Hill, in a version of a talk originally given at January’s Night of Philosophy and Ideas, meditates on the question of “What is love?”, speaking, as it were, in the voices of “the various thinkers I love most dearly”: Rousseau, Marcuse, Fromm, Adorno, Benjamin, Bataille, and Arendt.

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