Logic of Phantasy 100 Jacques Lacan

Logic of Phantasy 100
Jacques Lacan
雅克 拉康

Lacan Seminar 14:
The Logic of Fantasy 21

Seminar 21: Wednesday, May 31, 1967

I am only highlighting again in passing the problem posed, posed and left gaping wide, by the Hegelian deduction about the society of masters. How can they get on with one another? And then, good God, the simple reference to what is involved, namely, that the slave, in order to make a slave of him, is not dead! That the result of (7) the fight to the death is something that did not bring death into play. That the master has only the right to kill him, but that precisely, and that is why he is called Servus, the master servat, saves him. And that it is starting from there that the real question is put: what does the master save in the slave? We are brought back to the question of the primordial law, of what the rules of the game establish, namely, one can kill the one who is defeated, and if one does not kill him, at what price will it be?
At what price? It is indeed here that we re-enter the register of significance. What is involved, in the position of the master, is the following: the consequences – always – of the introduction of the subject into the real.


To measure what is involved concerning the effects of jouissance, one has to pose, at the level of this term, a certain number of principles. Namely, that if we have introduced jouissance, it is in the logical mode of what Aristotle calls an ousia, a substance. Namely, something very precisely which cannot be – this is how he expresses himself in his book of Categories – which can neither be attributed to a subject nor put into any subject.


It is something that is not susceptible to being greater or lesser, which is not introduced into any comparative, into any greater or lesser sign, indeed any lesser or equal.


Jouissance is this something in which the pleasure principle marks its traits and its limits. But it is something substantial and which, precisely, is important to produce, to produce in the form that I am going to articulate in the name of a new principle: There is no jouissance except that of the body (il n’y a de jouissance que du corps).


Allow me to say that I consider that the maintenance of this principle, its affirmation as being absolutely essential, appears to me to have a greater ethical import than that of materialism. I mean that this formula has exactly the import, the relief, that the affirmation that there is only matter introduces into the field of knowledge. For after all, you have only to see, with the evolution of science, that this matter, when all is said and done, is confused so well with the interplay of elements into which it is resolved, that it becomes at the limit almost indistinguishable to know what is being played out before us, whether it is these elements (stoicheia), these final signifying elements, or those of the atom. Namely, what they themselves contain that is quasi-indistinguishable from the progress of your mind, the operation of your research. But what is involved in it in the final analysis is a structure that you can no longer refer in any way to what you have as a common experience of matter.


But to say that there is no jouissance except that of the body and, specifically, that this refuses you the eternal jouissances, is what is at stake in what I called the ethical value of materialism. Which consists, namely, in asking what happens in your everyday life seriously, and if there is a question of jouissance, to look it straight in the face and not reject it into the uncertain future…


(8) There is no jouissance except that of the body. This corresponds very precisely to the truth requirement in Freudianism.


So here we are, then, leaving entirely to its wanderings the question of whether what is at stake is to be or not to be. Whether it is a matter of being a man or woman in an act that is supposed to be the sexual act. And if this is what dominates the whole suspense of jouissance, it is also what, ethically, we have to take seriously. Something in connection with which there arises this something that we could call our right of inspection.


Oedipus is not a philosopher. He is the model of what is at stake as regards the relation of what is involved in a knowledge and the knowledge that he proves to have, this is indicated to us, at least, in the form of the riddle, is a knowledge about what is involved in the body. Through this he breaks the power of ferocious jouissance, that of the Sphinx, which very strangely is offered to us in the form of a vaguely feminine figure, let us say semi-bestial, semi-feminine. What he accedes to after that – which does not make him, as you know, any more triumphant for all that – is undoubtedly a jouissance. The moment that he enters it, he is already in the trap. I mean that this jouissance is what marks him, already and in advance, with the sign of guilt.


Oedipus did not know what he was enjoying. I posed the question of whether Jocasta, for her part, knew it. And even, why not, did Jocasta enjoy letting Oedipus remain in ignorance of it? Let us say: what part of Jocasta’s jouissance corresponds to the fact that she left Oedipus in ignorance of it?


It is at this level that, thanks to Freud, there are posed henceforth serious questions about what is involved in the truth.



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