Slavoj Žižek

Slavoj Žižek. 1998. “Four Discourses, Four Subjects.” Pp. 74-113 (Chapter 3) in Cogito and
the Unconsciousness. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
As the foremost spokesman of Lacanian neo-Freudianism, Žižek explains four psychological
dynamics in this reading. In brief, people embrace one of four types of discourse. First, the
Master’s discourse is to be accepted as an uncontested Master-Signifier within the larger
perspective (or big Other) through which the crowd’s gaze emerges. University discourse is to
be understood as simply describing (absent any motivation) the facts at hand. The Hysteric’s
discourse is from a subjectivity, that desires not to be an object (a.k.a. objet petit a, object a, little
other, object of desire) for the big Other. Finally, the Analyst’s discourse is from an objectivity
(object a) that itself lacks desire but is the unreflective expression of pure drive. Žižek uses the
characters Wynand, Toohey, Dominique, and Roark from Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead to
illustrate characters who participate in these four respective discourses. In each case,
individuals’ motivations are impossible by virtue (respectively) of either the Master-Signifier’s
excess beyond the Other’s general perspective, this general perspective’s incapacity to exhaust
the richness of sensory experience (a.k.a. the Real), the inability to exhaust one’s subjectivity via
objectification, or the destructive potential of drive in the absence of reflection.