The Right to Narcissism: A Case for an Im-possible Self-love argues for a rethinking of the concept of narcissism and aims to wrest it from its common and pejorative meanings, egoism and vanity, by revealing the complexity and importance of this notion. In a time when philosophers, cultural theorists, and literary scholars have emphasized the problematic disregard for the other, is it not sheer hubris or folly to make a case for a right to narcissism? Yet, this is precisely what Jacques Derrida does in the Right to Inspection, in which he boldly calls for the rehabilitation of this much maligned concept and experience. Inspired by Derrida's provocation, this book undertakes the work of rehabilitating "narcissism" by patiently reexamining the terms and figures that have been associated with it. It does so by taking up the innovative and surprising treatments of narcissism in the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Julia Kristeva, and Jacques Derrida.
It is true that these thinkers are known for incisively exposing a certain (traditional) narcissism that has been operative in Western thought and culture and for revealing the violence it has wrought--from the dangers of amour-propre and the pathology of a collective "one's own" to the phantasm of the sovereign One. Nonetheless, each of these thinkers denounces the naÔve denunciation of "narcissism," as the dangers of a non-negotiation with narcissism are more perilous. By reconfiguring "narcissism" as a complex structure of self-relation through the other, these thinkers reveal the necessity of an im-possible self-love. Taking up themes such as pitiť, transference, mourning, and imagination, this book finds new resources and figures for other narcissisms, which are no stranger to love, creativity, and sociality.
Pleshette DeArmitt is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Memphis.