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Cohabitation with other religious symbols: Our psychological impossibilities

Dipu Akter

‘That God does not exist, I cannot deny, That my whole being cries out for God I cannot forget’ – stated by an influential French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.
The core of this state is, Sartre’s sense of being is somehow revolving by the pain that emerges from the nonexistence of God; though from his logical understanding he abandoned the idea of god’s existence.
However, the question remain, is the God that he renounced and the God he missed same?
Undoubtedly the concept of God has been introduced by the religious avatars. From the very rational point of view, God stays at a distance from the human contact. We live our life without having any direct association with God, we just have symbolic tie with him. Each religion has its own way to express the union with the supreme (imaginary). The major function of that super figure is to keep human being within moral track through some guidelines. In psychoanalytic term, we could name it as ‘symbolic orders’ or ‘the Other’ (O with capital letter).
Religion is not simply a moral aspect, it’s embedded with our sense of togetherness and our capacity to acknowledge the dimension of difference as well. When any clash occurs on the ground of the religious differences, values, symbolic orders; however, they are convinced or justified its difference as enemies.
We ought to understand, what makes the other believers as rival based on the difference? In which ground we do announce war against other who possesses different values, symbolic orders?
I would like to address this issue from the psychoanalytic frame of reference.

When any kind of discussion, will power, mutual understanding has been failed to wipe out such kind of war of difference, it is indeed founded on the point of extimacy, according to Lacan.

The term ‘extimacy’ came from the French word ‘extimité’ which was introduced by Jacques Lacan (a French psychoanalyst) to define the existence of something ‘like a foreign body, parasite’, within the most intimate sphere of our own. Extimacy is not the opposite of intimacy. As Lacan said, ‘this other to whom I am more attached than to myself, since, at the heart of my assent to my identity to myself, it is he who stirs me.’ Here he expressed the dimension of the unconscious psychological distinction between our psychic exteriority and interiority. It lies within the boundaries of our inner space where the ‘I’ ends and the ‘other’ begins.
The question of extimacy leads us to ask the question of the alterity of the other, why the other is really an conflicting other. When any clash occurs based on religion and other differences, we basically renounce the Other (symbolic order) and/or other (disciples of that symbolic order) both, as the Other/other does not exist. But this de-valorization does not prevent the other from functioning, from following their own rituals; conflict commence. In such kind of conflicts, hatred feelings guide our acts towards the different on the ground of the other’s alterity.
It is inarguably true that I’m intolerant of other religion because it is not accepted by my religion. So I presume, it is my moral duty to be intolerant towards them.
Sigmund Freud analyzed a lot about religion. In Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (1921) he wrote, ‘a religion, even if it calls itself a religion of love, must be hard and unloving to those who does not belong to it.’ According to Freud, everyone has their own reasons to defend their values; it provides a version of reality in their symbolic universe and justification of their actions.
But, behind God’s order or symbolic order, who resides actually at our inside? Need to go back to Sartre to find this answer, which is vital to guard our hatred feeling towards other symbol.
Bangladesh is going through this problem on the ground of difference in last ten years. Islamic extremists have seen increasing their violent activities against bloggers, writers accused of anti-Islamic propagation etc. The latest battlefield for this hatred is a statue of Lady Justice in front of Supreme Court. The Islamists group demanded the removal of this statue.  According to their standpoint, this idol goes against Islam’s strictures. Their demand already executed on last Friday night.
We should not forget that to recognize and to be recognized is essential in social life. When the other does not make any sense, the symbolic sphere can’t hold the individual anymore. Clashes become inevitable between two symbolic worlds. We should keep in mind, if any possibilities of the argument have arisen, the opposition should not be the object of an attack, quarrel, demolish.
The state has to play a strong unbiased role in this regard, should ensure the space for cohabitation of all kinds of identities and differences. Therefore, there should be some arrangements in the state to contain aggression, instead of mutual agreement with any particular.

University of Strasbourg, France



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