In the Name of Love: Let's Remember Desire

Anders Bojesen, Sara Louise Muhr

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Most current Human Resource Management discourse stresses coaching, developing and empowering in order to do ‘good' and care for the ‘well-being' of the employees (Steyaert & Janssens, 1999). Legge (1999) symbolizes HRM discourse by the employee being a family member subordinated to paternal love and control. According to Steyaert & Janssens (1999) HRM in this way attempts to move away from seeing people as costs, but falls into the trap of seeing them as resources instead. As Kaulingfreks (2005:38) argues "there has never been so much evil as that which is done in name of goodness for mankind - in the name of care for the other", and Zizek (2003:23) in a similar matter when he points out that "the ultimate source of evil is compassion itself". Butler (2005) refers to ethical violence when she describes the rigid ethical standards set out to be what Kaulingfreks calls the ‘keeper of the right way'. Care for the other is argued for as a social responsibility, but rather becomes a sign of mistrust and assimilation. The love shown from the organization becomes assimilation - it wants to own you; absorb you - all in the name of love. The paradox according to Legge (1999) is therefore that the more we value an employee as a resource, the more it leads to its consumption rather than its development.

Following Levinas, this paper argues that this assimilating need to know and control the other, to illuminate or manipulate is not ethical at all; it has nothing to do with our original experience of the other as a person. To be ethical is instead to recognize the other's infinite difference (Levinas, 1961). To be ethical is to leave room for differences, undecidability, absurdity and play. To be ethical is to define the other by the very desire for the future; "that is what is not grasped, what befalls us and lays hold of us" (Levinas, 1987:77). Following Lindstead (2005), we will bring in the notion on desire, which raises the question of relational ethics and generosity instead of self-identity; learning instead of domination. Desire should, following Levinas, be a desire to know the infinity of the other. The infinity of the other importantly implies that desire consists in thinking more than is thought, where the other's status as ungraspable is maintained (Levinas, 2003). The ethical, thereby, consist of realizing the limits to the acknowledgement of the other as he is always other and different from me; the future.

Based on this view this paper argues that in order not to be assimilating, love and care for the other must also be understood as a playful desire. This paper will try to explain how by rethinking desire into love. In doing this, we will rest on Bataille's notions on love and desire, where love makes you want to preserve the moment, whereas desire is "the opposite of normal conduct (...) anything that suggests erotic excess always implies disorder" (Bataille, 1986:170).

In the name of love, let's remember desire!
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2007
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2007
EventThe 25th Standing Conference on Organizational Symbolism. SCOS 2007 - Ljubljana, Slovenia
Duration: 1 Jul 20074 Jul 2007
Conference number: 25


ConferenceThe 25th Standing Conference on Organizational Symbolism. SCOS 2007

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