Ethic 228

Ethic 228

The Ethics of Psychoanalysis
Jacques Lacan

XVII 第17章

The function of the good


We have now reached the crossroads of utilitarianism.


Jeremy Bentham’s thought is not the simple continuation of that gnoseology
to which a whole tradition tirelessly devoted itself in order to reduce the
transcendental or supernatural dimension of the progress of knowledge that
supposedly needed elucidating. Bentham, as that work of his which has recently
drawn some attention, The Theory of Fictions, shows, is the man who approaches
the question at the level of the signifier.


With relation to institutions in their fictive or, in other words, fundamentally
verbal dimension, his search has involved not attempting to reduce to
nothing all the multiple, incoherent, contradictory rights of which English
jurisprudence furnishes an example, but, on the contrary, observing on the
basis of the symbolic artifice of these terms, which are themselves also creators
of texts, what there is there that may be used to some purpose, that is to
say, become, in effect, the object of a division. The long historical development
of the problem of the good is in the end centered on the notion of how
goods are created, insofar as they are organized not on the basis of so-called
natural and predetermined needs, but insofar as they furnish the material of
a distribution; and it is in relation to this that the dialectic of the good is
articulated to the degree that it takes on effective meaning for man.


Man’s needs find their home on the level of utility, which involves that
portion of the symbolic text that may be of some use. At this stage there is
no problem; the greatest utility for the greatest number – such indeed is the
law in the light of which the problem of the function of goods is organized.
At this level we find ourselves, in effect, prior to the moment when the subject
puts his head through the holes in the cloth. The cloth is so made that
the greatest number of subjects possible may put their heads and their limbs
through it.


Yet all this talk wouldn’t mean anything if things didn’t start functioning
differently. Now in this thing, whether it be rare or not, but in any case a
made thing, in all this wealth finally – whatever its correlative in poverty –
there is from the beginning something other than use value. There is its
jouissance use.


As a result, the good is articulated in a wholly different way. The good is
not at the level of the use of the cloth. The good is at the level where a subject
may have it at his disposal.


The domain of the good is the birth of power. The notion of control of the
good is essential, and if one foregrounds this, everything is revealed concerning
the meaning of the claim made by man, at a certain point in his history,
once he has managed to achieve control of himself.


It was Freud, not me, who took upon himself the task of unmasking what
this has effectively meant historically. To exercise control over one’s goods,
as everyone knows, entails a certain disorder, that reveals its true nature,
i.e., to exercise control over one’s goods is to have the right to deprive others
of them.


There is, I think, no point in making you sense the fact that historical
destiny is played out around such a situation. The whole question concerns
the moment when one can consider that this process has come to an end. For
this function of the good engenders, of course, a dialectic. I mean that the
power to deprive others is a very solid link from which will emerge the other
as such.


Remember what I once told you concerning privation, which has subsequently
caused a problem for some of you. You will see clearly in this connection
that I don’t say anything by chance.


Opposing privation to frustration and castration, I said that it was a function
instituted as such in the symbolic order, to the extent that nothing is
deprived of nothing – which doesn’t prevent the good one is deprived of from
being wholly real. The important thing is to recognize that the depriving
agent is an imaginary function. It is the little other, one’s fellow man, he who
is given in the relationship that is half rooted in naturalness of the mirror
stage, but such as he appears to us there where things are articulated at the
level of the symbolic.


There is a fact observed in experience that one always
has to remember in analysis, namely, what is meant by defending one’s goods
is one and the same thing as forbidding3 oneself from enjoying them.
The sphere of the good erects a strong wall across the path of our desire.
It is, in fact, at every moment and always, the first barrier that we have to
deal with.

在精神分析经验,我们观察到一个事实: 在精神分析,我们总是必须记得,换句话说,替自己的善辩护的意义,同时也是禁止自己去享受那些善。善的领域竖立起一道坚固的墙壁,跨越我们欲望的途径。事实上,就在每个时刻,这总是我们必须要处理的第一道障碍。


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