Grand Hotel Abyss

Desire, Recognition and the Restoration of the Subject

Vladimir Safatle

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Monograph - paperback

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Long-expected translation of the Portuguese academic bestseller Grande Hotel Abismo
In the last two decades recognition - arguably one of the most central notions of the dialectical tradition since Hegel - has once again become a crucial philosophical theme. Nevertheless, the new theories of recognition fail to provide room for reflection on transformation processes in politics and morality.

This book aims to recover the disruptive nature of the dialectical tradition by means of a severe critique of the dominance of an anthropology of the individual identity in contemporary theories of recognition. This critique implies a thorough rethinking of basic concepts such as desire, negativity, will and drive, with Hegel, Lacan and Adorno being our main guides.

The Marxist philosopher György Lukács said that the Frankfurt School (Horkheimer, Adorno, etc.) left us with nothing but negativity towards the state of the world. Their work failed to open up a concrete possibility of practical engagement in this world. All too eager to describe the impasses of reason, the Frankfurt philosphers remained trapped in a metaphorical Grand Hotel Abyss (Grand Hotel Abgrund). It was as living and being guardian of lettered civilization in a beautiful and melancholy grand hotel, of which the balconies face a gaping abyss.

But perhaps in this way Lukács gave – and no doubt without realizing it himself – a perfect definition of contemporary philosophy, namely to confront chaos, to peer into what appears to a certain rationality as an abyss and to feel good about it. Touching Hegelian dialectics, critical theory and psychoanalysis, Grand Hotel Abyss gives a new meaning to the notion of negativity as the first essential step for rethinking political and moral engagement. 

This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).
Introduction. An indistinct picture

I. Desire
Chapter I. Love is colder than death
Chapter II. On how law becomes freedom
Chapter III. Not all things are destined for transience

II. Drive and fantasy
Chapter IV. The coupling of sex and death is not exclusive to decadent romantics
Chapter V. An impulse toward lawlessness
Chapter VI. Below zero: the “negativity deficit” in Axel Honneth

III. Action
Chapter VII. Our time unlocks a multiplicity in each desire
Chapter VIII. On the political power of the inhuman
Chapter IX. Towards an anti-predicative concept of recognition


Name index
Subject index

Format: Monograph - paperback

Size: 240 × 160 mm

ISBN: 9789462700628

Publication: February 03, 2016

Series: Figures of the Unconscious 15

Languages: English

Stock item number: 106827

Vladimir Safatle is professor of Philosophy and Psychology at the University of São Paulo, Brazil. -

He is responsible for the Portuguese edition of 'Theodor Adorno's Complete Work' and coordinator of the Laboratory of Social Theory, Philosophy and Psychoanalysis. He was invited-professor at the universities of Paris VII, Paris VIII, Toulouse, Louvain, responsible for seminars at the Collège International de Philosophy and fellow of the Stellenbosch Intitute of Advanced Studies (South Africa). He is the author of 'La passion du négatif: Lacan et la dialectique (Georg Olms, 2010)' and several books in Portuguese and Spanish about critical theory, psychoanalysis, politics and philosophy of music.

He has a weekly column in the newspaper 'Folha de São Paulo' -