Less than nothing

Slavoj Zizek


Lacan as a Reader of Hegel


[The] question of the termination of an analysis is that of the moment at which the subject’s satisfaction is achievable in the satisfaction of all—that is, of all those it involves in a human undertaking. Of all the undertakings that have been proposed in this century, the psychoanalyst’s is perhaps the loftiest, because it mediates in our time between the care‐ridden man and the subject of absolute knowledge.1


This passage from Rapport de Rome contains in nuce Lacan’s program of the early
1950s—a program that every professional philosopher would undoubtedly dismiss as nonsense: namely, to bring together Heidegger (who defines “care” as the fundamental feature of finite Dasein) and Hegel (the philosopher of infinite Absolute Knowledge in which the Universal and the Particular are fully mediated).2


The Lacanian analyst as a figure of Absolute Knowing? Is not this thesis restricted to a specific historical moment (the early 1950s), when Hegel’s influence on Lacan (mediated by Alexandre Kojève and Jean Hyppolite) was at its peak? Did not Lacan soon move from Hegel to Kant, insisting on the
inaccessible (“impossible”) character of the Real that forever resists symbolization, on the subject’s unsurpassable separation from the cause of its desire?


Is not the best description of Lacan’s central project that of a critique of pure desire, where the term “critique” is to be understood in its precise Kantian sense: maintaining the gap that forever separates every empirical (“pathological”) object of desire from its “impossible” object‐cause whose place has to remain empty?


And is not what Lacan calls “symbolic castration” this very gap which
renders every empirical object unsatisfactory? Indeed, in the following paragraphs of the Rapport de Rome itself, Lacan already outlines the “limits within which it is impossible for our teaching to ignore the structuring moments of Hegel’s phenomenology”:


But if there is still something prophetic in Hegel’s insistence on the fundamental
identity of the particular and the universal, an insistence that reveals the extent of his genius, it is certainly psychoanalysis that provides it with its paradigm by revealing the structure in which this identity is realized as disjunctive of the subject, and without appealing to the future.


Let me simply say that this, in my view, constitutes an objection to any reference to totality in the individual, since the subject introduces division therein, as well as in the collectivity that is the equivalent of the individual. Psychoanalysis is what clearly relegates both the one and the other to the status of mirages.3


We are thereby back in familiar waters: Hegelian self‐consciousness, the subject of absolute notional self‐mediation which supersedes or devours every alterity, versus the Lacanian divided subject of the unconscious, by definition separated from its Cause.


It is not enough, however, to reduce Hegel to his grand formulae (the Absolute not only as Substance but also as Subject; the actuality of the rational; Absolute Knowing; the self‐canceling force of negativity; etc.) and then to quickly reject him as the most extreme expression of the modern delirium of the total subjective‐notional mediation or appropriation of all reality. One should display, apropos Hegel himself, what the author of one of the best books on Hegel, Gérard Lebrun, called the “patience of the notion” (La patience du concept, the book’s title): to read Hegel’s theoretical practice en détail, in miniature, following all his dialectical cuts and turns.

可是,光是将黑格尔还原成为他的的伟大的公式,并不足够 (这个绝对知识不仅作为物质,而且作为主体,理性的实际表现。这个绝对知识,负面的取消自性的力量,等等),然后很快地拒绝他,作为这个现代的谵妄的最极端的表达,主体在观念上整体性地中介与佔用所有的现实界。关于黑格尔本身,我们应该展示,雷布伦所谓的「观念的耐心」,他是研究黑格尔的论著的其中一位作者。详细地阅读黑格尔的理论的实践,遵照他所有的辩证法的切割与转折。

The wager of such an operation is double: it can ground the (only serious) critique of Hegel, the immanent critique that measures him by his own standards, analyzing how he realizes his own program; but it can also serve as a means to redeem Hegel, to unearth the actual meaning of his great programmatic maxims as opposed to the standard understanding of them.



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