Ethic 71

Ethic 71

The Ethics of Psychoanalysis

Jacques Lacan


On the moral law





What if we brought a simple soul into this lecture hall, set him down in the
front row, and asked him what Lacan means.


The simple soul will get up, go to the board and will give the following
explanation: “Since the beginning of the academic year Lacan has been talking
to us about das Ding in the following terms. He situates it at the heart of
a subjective world which is the one whose economy he has been describing
to us from a Freudian perspective for years. This subjective world is denned
by the fact that the signifier in man is already installed at the level of the
unconscious, and that it combines its points of reference with the means of
orientation that his functioning as a natural organism of a living being also
gives him.”


Simply by writing it on the board and putting das Ding at the center, with
the subjective world of the unconscious organized in a series of signifying
relations around it, you can see the difficulty of topographical representation.
The reason is that das Ding is at the center only in the sense that it is excluded.
That is to say, in reality das Ding has to be posited as exterior, as the prehistoric
Other that it is impossible to forget – the Other whose primacy of position
Freud affirms in the form of something entfremdet, something strange to
me, although it is at the heart of me, something that on the level of the
unconscious only a representation can represent.


I said “something that only a representation can represent.” Do not look
upon that as a simple pleonasm, for “represent” and “representation” here
are two different things, as the term Vorstellungsreprasentanz indicates. It is a
matter of that which in the unconscious represents, in the form of a sign,
representation as a function of apprehending – of the way in which every representation is represented insofar as it evokes the good that das Ding brings
with it.

我说,「 仅有符号再现能够代表的东西」。请不要将那个看着是一个简单的累赘词。因为「代表」与「符号再现」在此时两个不同的东西,如同Vorstellungsreprasentanz 这个术语所指示。这是一个在无意识代表的东西,用符号的形式,符号再现则是作为理解的功用,每个符号再现所被代表的方式,因为它召唤「物象」与之俱来的这个善行。

But to speak of “the good” is already a metaphor, an attribute. Everything
that qualifies representations in the order of the good is caught up in refraction,
in the atomized system that the structure of the unconscious facilitations
imposes, in the complex mechanism of a signifying system of elements. It is
only in that way that the subject relates to that which presents itself on the
horizon as his good. His good is already pointed out to him as the significant
result of a signifying composition that is called up at the unconscious level
or, in other words, at a level where he has no mastery over the system of
directions and investments that regulate his behavior in depth.


I will use a term here that only those who have present in their minds the
Kantian formulas of The Critique of Practical Reason will be able to appreciate.
I invite those who do not have them present in their minds or who have
not yet encountered what is, from more than one point of view, an extraordinary
book to make good their memories or their general knowledge.


It is impossible for us to make any progress in this seminar relative to the
questions posed by the ethics of psychoanalysis if you do not have this book
as a reference point.


So as to motivate you to look at it, let me emphasize that it is certainly
extraordinary from the point of view of its humor. To remain poised at the
limit of the most extreme conceptual necessity produces an effect of plenitude
and content as well as of vertigo, as a result of which you will not fail to sense
at some point in the text the abyss of the comic suddenly open up before you.
Thus I do not see why it is a door that you would refuse to open. We will in
any case see in a minute how we can open it here.


It is then, to be explicit, the Kantian term Wohl that I propose in order to
designate the good in question. It has to do with the comfort of the subject
insofar as, whenever he refers to das Ding as his horizon, it is the pleasure
principle that functions for him. And it does so in order to impose the law in
which a resolution of the tension occurs that is linked to something that,
using Freud’s phrase, we will call the successful lures – or, better yet, the
signs that reality may or may not honor. The sign here is very close to a
representative currency, and it suggests an expression that I incorporated
into one of my first lectures, that on physical causality, in a phrase that begins
one of its paragraphs, i.e., “more inaccessible to our eyes that are made for
the signs of the money changer.”

因此,简明地说,我建议的康德的术语Wohl ,为了指明这个受到质疑的这个善行。它必须跟主体的舒适有关系。因为每当他提到物象,作为他展开领域,那是快乐原则替他发挥功用。它这样做,为了赋加紧张的疏解发生在那里的法则。它跟用弗洛依德的术语来说,我们所谓的成功的引诱的东西有关系。或是,更好的是,现实或许尊崇或或不尊崇的符号有关系。在此的这个符号非常靠近一个符号再现的流通。它暗示一种表达,我合并进入我最初的一次演讲。在物理的因果律,用其中一个段落的开始的词语,譬如,「我们的眼睛更加无法靠近,因为我们的眼睛天生是看金钱改变物的符号。」

Let me carry the image further. “The signs of the money changer” are
already present at the base of the structure which is regulated according to
the law of Lust and Unlust, according to the rule of the indestructible Wunsch
that pursues repetition, the repetition of signs. It is in that way that the
subject regulates his initial distance to das Ding, the source of all Wohl at the
level of the pleasure principle, and which at its heart already gives rise to
what we may call das Gut des Objekts, the good object – following the Kantian
example, as the practitioners of psychoanalysis have not failed to do.

让我将这个意象更加深入。「金钱改变物的符号」已经被呈现在结构的底端,它被规范,依照欲望与没有欲望的法则,依照无法毁灭的追求重复的Wunsch的法则,符号的重复的法则。以那种方式,主体规范他的最初跟物象的距离,所有Wohl 的来源,在快乐的原则的层面。在它的核心,它已经产生我们所谓的好的客体,遵照康德的例子,如同精神分析的实践者一定会这样做。

On the horizon, beyond the pleasure principle, there rises up the Gut, das
Ding, thus introducing at the level of the unconscious something that ought
to oblige us to ask once again the Kantian question of the causa noumenon.
Das Ding presents itself at the level of unconscious experience as that which
already makes the law. Although it is necessary to give this verbal phrase,
“makes the law,” the emphasis it receives in one of the most brutal games of
elementary society and that is evoked in a recent book by Roger Vailland. It
is a capricious and arbitrary law, the law of the oracle, the law of signs in
which the subject receives no guarantee from anywhere, the law in relation
to which he has no Sicherung, to use another Kantian term. That is also at
bottom the bad object that Kleinian theory is concerned with.

在展开领域,超越快乐原则,出现这个物象,因此在无意识的层面,介绍某件应该强迫我们再次询问康德的问题 causa noumenon.. 物象呈现它自己在无意识经验的层面,作为已经是「制作法则」的东西。虽然这是必要的,给予这个文词的词语「制作法则」,它接收的强调,在初级社会的最残酷的遊戏。在最近的一本书,由罗杰、维拉德引用。这是一个任性而随意的法则,预言的法则,符号的法则。在那里,主体没有从任何地方接收保证。相关于这个法则,它并没有拥有Sicherung,,使用康德的另外一个术语。那也是追根究底,是克来恩理论念兹在兹的坏客体。

Although it must be said that at this level das Ding is not distinguished as
bad. The subject makes no approach at all to the bad object, since he is
already maintaining his distance in relation to the good object. He cannot
stand the extreme good that das Ding may bring him, which is all the more
reason why he cannot locate himself in relation to the bad. However much
he groans, explodes, curses, he still does not understand; nothing is articulated
here even in the form of a metaphor. He produces symptoms, so to
speak, and these symptoms are at the origin of the symptoms of defense.


And how should we conceive of defense at this level? There is organic
defense. Here the ego defends itself by hurting itself as the crab gives up its
claw, revealing thereby the connection I developed between the motor system
and pain. Yet in what way does man defend himself that is different from an
animal practising self-mutilation? The difference is introduced here by means
of the signifying structuralization in the human unconscious. But the defense
or the mutilation that is proper to man does not occur only at the level of
substitution, displacement or metaphor – everything that structures its gravitation
with relation to the good object. Human defense takes place by means
of something that has a name, and which is, to be precise, lying about evil.

我们应该如何构想这个层次的防卫。有机体的防卫。在此,自我防卫它自己,凭借伤害它自己,如同螃蟹放弃它的脚爪,因此显露我发展的这个关联,处于这个动力的系统与痛苦之间的关联。可是,人用什么不同于动物的实践自我切除的方式防卫他自己? 在此被介绍的差异,凭借能指化的结构主义化,在人类的无意识。但是这种防卫,或人本体的切除,并没有发生在替换,代换或隐喻的层次。每样架构它的引力的东西,相对于这个善的客体。人类的防卫发生,凭借某件具有名字的东西,确实地说,那就是对于邪恶说谎。

At the level of the unconscious, the subject lies. And this lying is his way
of telling the truth of the matter. The ορθός λόγος of the unconscious at this
level – as Freud indicates clearly in the Entwurf in relation to hysteria – is
expressed as πρώτον ψεύδος, the first he.

在无意识的层面,,主体说谎。这个谎言是他道出事情的真理的方式。在这个层面,无意识的ορθός λόγος被表达,作为第一个他,如同弗洛依德在有关歇斯底里症的「大纲」清楚指示灯。

Given the amount of time I have been discussing the Entwurf withyou, do
I need to remind you of the example that he gives of a female patient called
Emma, whom he doesn’t mention elsewhere and who is not the Emma of the
Stuthes on Hysteria? It is the case of a woman who has a phobia about going
into stores by herself because she is afraid people will make fun of her on
account of her clothes.


Everything is related to an early memory. At the age of twelve she went
into a store and the shop assistants apparently laughed at her clothes. One of
them attracted her and even stirred her in some strange way in her emerging
puberty. Behind that we find a causal memory, that of an act of aggression
she suffered in a shop at the hands of a Greis. The French translation, modeled
on the English, which was itself particularly careless, says “shopkeeper”
– but an old fogey is involved, an elderly man, who pinched her somewhere
under her dress in a very direct manner. This memory thus echoes the idea
of a sexual attraction experienced in the other.


All that remains in the symptom is attached to clothes, to the mockery of
her clothes. But the path of truth is suggested in a masked form, in the
deceiving Vorstellung of her clothes. In an opaque way, there is an allusion to
something that did not happen on the occasion of the first memory, but on
the second. Something that wasn’t apprehended in the beginning is apprehended
retroactively, by means of the deceitful transformation – proton pseudos.
Thus in that way we have confirmation of the fact that the relationship
of the subject to das Ding is marked as bad – but the subject can only formulate
this fact through the symptom.

在这个病征一切剩余的东西都跟衣服联系一块,跟她的衣服的嘲讽联系一块。但是真理的途径以一个被遮蔽的方式暗示,用她的衣服的欺骗的表象Vorstellung。用一个模糊的方式,提到某件并不是发生在第一次记忆的场合的事情,而是在第二次记忆。起初某件事情并没有被理解,现在反弹地被理解,凭借欺骗性的转变proton pseudos.。 因此以那种方式,我们拥有这个事实的证词:主体跟物象的关系被标记为不好,但是主体仅能够说明这个事实,经由这个病征。

That is what the experience of the unconscious has forced us to add to our
premises when we take up again the question of ethics as it has been posed
over the centuries, and as it has been bequeathed us in Kantian ethics, insofar
as the latter remains, in our thought if not in our experience, the point to
which these questions have been brought.


The way in which ethical principles are formulated when they impose
themselves on consciousness or when about to emerge from preconsciousness,
as commandments, has the closest relationship to the second principle
introduced by Freud, namely, the reality principle.


The reality principle is the dialectical correlative of the pleasure principle.
One is not simply, as one at first imagines, the application of the consequence
of the other; each one is really the correlative of the other. Withiout this
neither one would make any sense. Once again we are led to deepen the
reality principle in a way I suggested in connection with the experience of


As I have already told you, the reality principle isn’t simply the same as it
appears in the Entwurf, the testing that sometimes takes place at the level of
the ω system or the Wahmehmungsbevmsstsein system. It doesn’t function only
on the level of that system in which the subject, probing in reality that which
communicates the sign of a present reality, is able to adjust correctly the
deceptive emergence of the Vorstellung as it is provoked by repetition at the
level of the pleasure principle. It is something more. Reality faces man – and
that is what interests him in it – both as having already been structured and
as being that which presents itself in his experience as something that always
returns to the same place.

如同我已经告诉你们,现实原则不仅跟它出现在「大纲」相同,这个测试有时发生在Wahmehmungsbevmsstsein 的系统的ω 系统的层面。在那个系统,主体在现实中探测沟沟一个目前现实的符号的东西,它能够正确地调整Vorstellung

I pointed it out when I was discussing the case of President Schreber. The
function of the stars in the delirious system of that exemplary subject shows
us, just like a compass, the polar star of the relation of man to the real. The
history of science makes something similar seem plausible. Isn’t it strange,
paradoxical even, that it was the observations of shepherds and Mediterranean
sailors of the return to the same place of an object which might seem to
interest human experience least, namely, a star, that revealed to the farmer
when he should sow his seeds? Think of the important role that the Pleiades
played for Mediterranean navigators. Isn’t it remarkable that it was the
observation of the return of the stars to the very same places that, repeated
over the centuries, led to the structuralization of reality by physics, which is
what we mean by science? The fruitful laws involved came down to earth
from the sky, to Galileo from the physics of the peripatetic philosophers.
However, from that earth, where the laws of the heavens had been rediscovered,
Galilean physics returned to the sky by demonstrating that the stars are
by no means what we had believed them to be, that they are not incorruptible,
that they are subject to the same laws as the terrestrial globe.


Furthermore, if a decisive step in the history of science was already taken
by Nicolas of Cuse, who was one of the first to formulate the idea that the
stars were not incorruptible, we know something else, we know that they
might not be in the same place.


Thus that first demand that made us explore the structuralization of the
real down through history in order to produce a supremely efficient and
supremely deceptive science, that first demand is the demand of das Ding –
it seeks whatever is repeated, whatever returns, and guarantees that it will
always return, to the same place – and it has driven us to the extreme position
in which we find ourselves, a position where we can cast doubt on all places,
and where nothing in that reality which we have learned to disrupt so admirably
responds to that call for the security of a return.


Yet it is to this search for something that always returns to the same place
that what is known as ethics has attached itself over the centuries. Ethics is
not simply concerned with the fact that there are obligations, that there is a
bond that binds, orders, and makes the social law. There is also something
that we have frequently referred to here by the term “the elementary structures
of kinship” – the elementary structures of property and of the exchange
of goods as well. And it is as a result of these structures that man transforms
himself into a sign, unit, or object of a regulated exchange in a way that
Claude Levi-Strauss has shown to be fixed in its relative unconsciousness.、
That which over generations has presided over this new supernatural order
of the structures is exactly that which has brought about the submission of
man to the law of the unconscious. But ethics begins beyond that point.


It begins at the moment when the subject poses the question of that good
he had unconsciously sought in the social structures. And it is at that moment,
too, that he is led to discover the deep relationship as a result of which that
which presents itself as a law is closely tied to the very structure of desire. If
he doesn’t discover right away the final desire that Freudian inquiry has discovered
as the desire of incest, he discovers that which articulates his conduct
so that the object of his desire is always maintained at a certain distance. But
this distance is not complete; it is a distance that is called proximity, which
is not identical to the subject, which is literally close to it, in the way that one
can say that the Nebenmensch that Freud speaks of as the foundation of the
thing is his neighbor.

它开始于当主体提出那个善的问题,他曾经无意识地在社会的结构里寻求。就在那个时刻,他也被引导去发现那个深度关系。由于那个结果,呈现它自己作为法则的东西,跟欲望的结构息息相关。假如他没有立刻发现这个最后的欲望,弗洛依德的研究曾经发现的最后的欲望,作为是乱伦的欲望。他发现,那个清楚表达他的行为的东西,他的欲望的客体总是被维持在某个距离。但是这个距离并不完整,这是一个所谓的邻近的距离。它跟几乎靠近它的主体并不相同。这种方式,我们能够说,弗洛依德提到的这个Nebenmensch ,作为是这个物象的基础,那就是他的邻人。

If at the summit of the ethical imperative something ends up being articulated
in a way that is as strange or even scandalous for some people as “Thou
shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” this is because it is the law of the relation
of the subject to himself that he make himself his own neighbor, as far as his
relationship to his desire is concerned.


My thesis is that the moral law is articulated with relation to the real as
such, to the real insofar as it can be the guarantee of the Thing. That is why
I invite you to take an interest in what I have called the high point of the
crisis in ethics, and that I have designated from the beginning as linked to
the moment when The Critique of Practical Reason appeared.

我的主题是, 道德法则被表达,跟实在界本身的关系,跟实在界,因为它会是物象的保证。那就是为什么我邀请你们感到興趣,对于我所谓的论理学的危机的高点。我从一开始就指明它,作为是跟这个时刻息息相关,当「实践理性的批判」出现时。


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