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The Neighbor

Three Inquiries in Political Theology, with a new Preface

Second Edition

The Neighbor

Three Inquiries in Political Theology, with a new Preface

Second Edition

In Civilization and Its Discontents, Freud made abundantly clear what he thought about the biblical injunction, first articulated in Leviticus 19:18 and then elaborated in Christian teachings, to love one’s neighbor as oneself. “Let us adopt a naive attitude towards it,” he proposed, “as though we were hearing it for the first time; we shall be unable then to suppress a feeling of surprise and bewilderment.” After the horrors of World War II, the Holocaust, and Stalinism, Leviticus 19:18 seems even less conceivable—but all the more urgent now—than Freud imagined.

In The Neighbor, three of the most significant intellectuals working in psychoanalysis and critical theory collaborate to show how this problem of neighbor-love opens questions that are fundamental to ethical inquiry and that suggest a new theological configuration of political theory. Their three extended essays explore today’s central historical problem: the persistence of the theological in the political. In “Toward a Political Theology of the Neighbor,” Kenneth Reinhard supplements Carl Schmitt’s political theology of the enemy and friend with a political theology of the neighbor based in psychoanalysis. In “Miracles Happen,” Eric L. Santner extends the book’s exploration of neighbor-love through a bracing reassessment of Benjamin and Rosenzweig. And in an impassioned plea for ethical violence, Slavoj Žižek’s “Neighbors and Other Monsters” reconsiders the idea of excess to rehabilitate a positive sense of the inhuman and challenge the influence of Levinas on contemporary ethical thought.

A rich and suggestive account of the interplay between love and hate, self and other, personal and political, The Neighbor has proven to be a touchstone across the humanities and a crucial text for understanding the persistence of political theology in secular modernity. This new edition contains a new preface by the authors.

200 pages | 6 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 2006, 2013


Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory

Philosophy: Ethics, Philosophy of Religion

Religion: Philosophy of Religion, Theology, and Ethics


“All three [essays] are important contributions to the development of new ways to think about sovereignty, otherness, materiality, and the political possibilities encased in the present. . . . Each unfolds through complex and nuanced engagements with key texts in political theology, psychoanalysis, ethics, and contemporary philosophy.”

Political Theory

"The Neighbor is a valuable intervention into our contemporary intellectual and political history. These three essays creatively marshal the resources of psychoanalytic theory to address some of today’s most challenging questions about individual identity, communal solidarity, and cultural conflict. In their neighborly thinking together, Žižek, Santner, and Reinhard constitute a powerful trio of advocates for reconceptualizing and redeploying neighbor-love to critique friend-enemy relations in national and global politics. This is a truly remarkable book."

Steven Mailloux, University of California, Irvine

Table of Contents


Toward a Political Theology of the Neighbor
Kenneth Reinhard

Miracles Happen: Benjamin, Rosenzweig, Freud, and the Matter of the Neighbor
Eric L. Santner

Neighbors and Other Monsters: A Plea for Ethical Violence
Slavoj Zizek

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