可能不是类似 217

可能不是類似 217

On a Discourse that might not be a semblance


Jacques Lacan
雅克 拉康

Seminar 4: Wednesday 17 February 1971

[Before the seminar Lacan writes on the board a quotation from Meng-Tzu: probably the following.]


“Everywhere under the heavens, when one speaks about nature, what is meant are natural effects”



– This is the name of the author of this little formula…

– Louder!

– This is the name of the author of this little formula!

– Thank you.

– this little formula to which, despite the fact that it was written around 250BC, in China as you see, in chapter 2 of Book IV, the second part, sometimes it is classified in a different way, so that in that case it would be part VIII, of Book IV, the second part of paragraph 26 of Meng-Tzu, whom the Jesuits called Mencius, because they are the ones who took a step forward, well before the epoch when there were sinologists, namely, at the beginning of the 19th Century.


I had the pleasure of acquiring the first book on which there are found conjointly a plaque of Chinese printing, it is not quite the same thing as the first book in which there were at the same time Chinese characters and European characters, it is the first book in which there was a Chinese printing plate with things written, with
things printed, from our part of the world. It is a translation of Aesop‟s fables.


This appeared in 1840, and it prides itself, quite rightly in being the first book in which this conjunction was realised. (56) 1840, you can say that it is more or less, precisely, the notice of the moment when sinologists came on the scene. The Jesuits were in China for a very long time, as perhaps some of you may remember.


They almost made the connection between China and what they represented as missionaries. Only they allowed themselves to be a little, a little bit impressed by the Chinese rites, and as you know perhaps, in the middle of the 18th Century, that created some difficulties for them with Rome, which did not show on this occasion particular political acuity. That happens sometimes in Rome.


Anyway in Voltaire, if you read Voltaire, but of course no one reads Voltaire anymore, you are making a great mistake, it is full of all kinds of things. In Voltaire, there is, very exactly in Le Siècle de Louis XIV, an appendix, I think that it forms a particular lampoon, a long elaboration about this Quarrel of the Rites, of which many things in history now find themselves in a position of filiation.


In any case then, we are talking about Mencius, and Mencius wrote this – because I wrote it on the board….to begin with that does not form properly speaking a part of my discourse today, that is why I finished it before the exact hour of 12.30 – I will tell you, or I am going to try to make you sense what it means, and then this will get us into the swing of what, properly speaking, is the object of what I want to state today, it is namely that….in what preoccupies us, what is the function of writing (l‟écriture).


Since writing, exists in China since…time immemorial, I mean that well before we have to properly speak of works, writing already existed for an extremely long time, and one cannot evaluate how long it did exist.


This writing has, in China, an altogether pivotal role, in a certain number of things that happened, and it is rather…it is quite illuminating as regards what we may think about the function of writing.


It is certain that writing has played a quite decisive role in supporting something, something to which we have… this particular access and no other, namely, a type of social structure that was sustained for a very long time and from which, until a recent epoch, one could conclude that there was a completely different filiation as regards what was supported in China, than what was engendered among us, and specifically by one of these phyla that interest us particularly, namely, the philosophical phylum in so far as, I highlighted it last year, it is nodal to understand what is at stake as
regards the discourse of the Master.


(57) So then this is how this exergue is stated. As I showed you on the board the last time this designates the heavens, it is called tien. T‟ien hsia, is under the heavens, everything that is under the heavens.


Here there is a determinative tchih, what is at stake is something that is beneath the heavens; what is beneath the heavens, is what comes afterwards. What you see there is nothing other than the designation of the word that on this occasion we will state as yen. Yen hsing, I already put it on the board the last time, in signalling to you that this
hsing, was precisely one of the elements that will preoccupy us this year, in so far as the term that gets closest to it is nature.



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