Agents of the Father's law in a society of brothers: A philosophic and psychoanalytic perspective on legitimate use of violence

Efrat Even-tzur, Uri Hadar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper explores subjective processes of “Agents of Law” – individuals who the state grants the authority to use violence – and the dissonance stemming from the contradictory demands posed on them as legitimate users of violence despite the societal taboo against violence. A conceptual model will be offered based on two theoretical legs, Lacanian psychoanalysis and political theories of legitimacy. Specifically, psychoanalytic ideas would serve to examine unconscious processes, subject position and various identifications related to the question of “self-legitimacy” of Agents of Law. A central link between psychoanalysis and political thought is found in the image of the father and in the triad ruler-God-Father, which calls for an oedipal analysis. A psychoanalytic reading of two philosophical schools that elaborated on the question of legitimacy will be presented, and yield two analytic poles of a model for the understanding of possible subject positions of agents of Law: identification with a “Living Father” vs. identification with a “Dead Father”. The psychoanalytic reading will shed light on the limitations of the philosophical perspectives in reflecting on the various (im)possible psychological positions of agents of Law. Finally, then, it will be shown how psychoanalysis helps finding words to characterize different nuances in the coping of agents of Law with the contradictory demands posed on them in an age in which God is dead, the father was murdered and the king was beheaded.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-32
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Law and Psychiatry
Volume51
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2017

Keywords

  • Agents of law
  • Lacan
  • Legitimacy
  • The father
  • Violence

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