College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

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ideology, repression, disavowal, race, prisons


In the spirit of Kantian critique this dissertation pursues the enlightenment project of examining the limits of reason and its political ramifications. Beginning from the claim that psychoanalysis is the inheritor of the Kantian project, this dissertation argues the limits of political reason lie beyond the concepts of overcoming and mastery. While traditionally this conversation has been occupied with the concept of ideology, this dissertation draws on the Freudian concept of self-deception. It contends the concept of ideology contains the seeds of its own overcoming, and thus cannot represent the limits of political reason. In contrast to ideology, this dissertation claims the Freudian concept of disavowal indicates the limits of not only rationality, but also political rationality. As such, the political ramifications of a critique focused on the limits of rationality must grapple with the phenomenon of disavowal, a phenomenon that blatantly defies the logic of non-contradiction. This dissertation concludes that this form of critique would demand turning political thought toward historical manifestations that continue to exist but are not recognized, such as the relationship between slavery and prisons as articulated in the 13th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.