Lacan 401

Lacan 401

The Subversion of the subject and the dialectic of desire in the Freudian unconscious


The praxis that we call psychoanalysis is constituted by a structure. An audience like the one here today—an audience that we presume to be aware of philosophical problems—cannot ignore this structure.


The notion that to be a philosopher means being interested in what everyone is interested in without knowing it has the interesting peculiarity that its pertinence does not imply that it can be verified. For it can be put to the test only by everyone becoming a philosopher.


I say its philosophical pertinence, for ushc, in the last resort, is the schema that hegel gave us of History in The Phenomenology of Mind.


Summarizing it in this way is to provide us with a mediation that facilitates the situating of the subject—namely, in relation to knowledge.


It is also easy to demonstrate the ambiguity of such a relation.


The same ambiguity is manifested in the effects of science in the world today.


The scientists, too, is a subject, and one particularly qualified in his constitution, as is shown by the fact that science did not come into the world o is own accord ( its birth was not without its vicissitudes, and it was preceded by a number of failures—by abortion or premature birth).


Now this subject who must know what he is doing, or so one presumes, does not know aht, in the effects of science, is already, in fact, where everyone finds himself at the same level as the scientist as far as ignorance on this point is concerned.


This fact alone justifies us in speaking of a subject of science—a notion to which an epistemology that can be said to display more promise than success hopes to be equal.


Hence, let it be noted, my entirely didactic reference to Hegel, by which I wished to say something, for the purposes of the training that I have in mind, about the question of the subject, in so far as that question is properly subverted y psychoanalysis.


What qualifies me to proceed in this direction is obviously my experience of this praxis. What has decided me to do so, those who follow my teaching will bear this out, is a theoretical nullity coupled with abuses in the way in which it is passed on, which, while presenting no danger to the praxis itself, result, in either case, in a total absence of scientific status. To pose the question of the minimum conditions required for such a status was not perhaps a dishonest departure. This departure has taken us a long way.


I am not dealing here with anything so broad in scope as a radical questioning of social bases; I do not intend, in particular, to dwell on the conclusions that I have been forced to draw about the notorious deviations in analytic praxis that are perpetrated in the name of psychoanalysis in Britain and America.


What I will try to define is subversion proper, and I apologize to this gathering, whose quality I have already acknowledged, for being unable to do more in its presence than in its absence, that is, to take it as the very pivot of my demonstration, even though it is up to me to justify this attitude with regard to it.


Yet I shall use it in order to take as given the fact that empiricism cannot constitute the foundations for a science.


At a second stage, we encounter what has already been constituted, by virtue of a scientific label, under the name of psychology.


A label that I would reject—precisely because, as I will show, the function of the subject, as it is established in Freudian experience, disqualifies from the outset what, under cover of the term ‘ psychology’, however one dresses up its premises, merely perpetuates an academic framework.


Its criterion is the unity of the subject, which is one of the presuppositions of this sort of psychology, it being even taken as symptomatic that its theme is always more emphatically isolated, as if it were a question of the return of a certain subject of knowledge ( connaissance), or as if the psychical had to obtain its credentials as a double of the physical organism.


We must take as our standard here the idea in which a whole body of traditional thought comes together to validate a term, ‘ state of knowledge’ ( etat de la connaissance), that is not without foundation. Whether it is a question of the states of enthusiasm described by Plato, the Buddhist degrees of Samadhi, or the Erlenis, the experience obtained under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs, it is necessary to know how much of these is authenticated by any theory.


Authenticated in the register of the connaturality implied in knowledge ( connaissance).



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