Ethics 11

Ethics 11
The Ethics of Psychoanalysis
Jacques Lacan
雅克 拉康

Outline of the seminar


So as to emphasize what today’s premises are leading us toward, I will simply
note that although the topics on which I have attempted to open up different
perspectives are varied, I will try next time to start from a radical position.
In order to point out the originality of the Freuthan position in ethical matters,
I must underline a slippage or a change of attitude relative to the question
of morality as such.


In Aristotle the problem is that of a good, of a Sovereign Good. We will
have to consider why he emphasized the problem of pleasure, its function in
the mental economy of ethics from the beginning. It is something that we
cannot avoid, not least because it is the reference point of the Freuthan theory
concerning the two systems φ and ψ, the two psychical agencies that he called
the primary and secondary processes.

在亚里斯多德,这个难题是善的难题,统辖的善的难题。我们将必须考虑为什么从一开始,弗洛依德就强调快乐的难题,快乐的功能,在伦理学的精神的活力里。快乐是某将我们无法避免的东西。倒不是因为快乐是弗洛依德的理论的指称点,关于φ 与 ψ,的两个系统,这两个心灵的代理者,他称之为原初与次级的过程。

Is the same pleasure function at work in both of these articulations? It is
almost impossible to isolate this difference if we do not realize what took
place in the interval. Even if it is not my role and if the place I occupy here
doesn’t seem to make it obligatory, I will not, in fact, be able to avoid a
certain inquiry into historical progress.

相同的快乐发挥功能,运作在φ 与 ψ的这两个表达吗?我们几乎无法将这个差异孤立出来,假如我们并没有体会到在中间发生的事情。即使这并不是我的角色,即使我在此佔据的位置似乎并没有让它成为义务,事实上,我将不能够避免某种的探索,对于历史的进展。

It is at this point that I must refer to those guiding terms, those terms of
reference which I use, namely, the symbolic, the imaginary, and the real.
More than once at the time when I was discussing the symbolic and the
imaginary and their reciprocal interaction, some of you wondered what after
all was “the real.” Well, as odd as it may seem to that superficial opinion
which assumes any inquiry into ethics must concern the field of the ideal, if
not of the unreal, I, on the contrary, will proceed instead from the other
direction by going more deeply into the notion of the real. Insofar as Freud’s
position constitutes progress here, the question of ethics is to be articulated
from the point of view of the location of man in relation to the real. To
appreciate this, one has to look at what occurred in the interval between
Aristotle and Freud.


At the beginning of the nineteenth century, there was the utilitarian conversion
or reversion. We can define this moment – one that was no doubt
fully conditioned historically – in terms of a radical decline of the function
of the master, a function that obviously governs all of Aristosle’s thought and
determines its persistence over the centuries. It is in Hegel that we find
expressed an extreme devalorization of the position of the master, since Hegel
turns him into the great dupe, the magnificent cuckold of historical development,
given that the virtue of progress passes by way of the vanquished,
which is to say, of the slave, and his work. Originally, when he existed in his
plenitude in Aristotle’s time, the master was something very different from
the Hegelian fiction, which is nothing more than his obverse, his negation,
the sign of his disappearance. It is shortly before that terminal moment that
in the wake of a certain revolution affecting interhuman relations, so-called
utilitarian thought arose, and it is far from being made up of the pure and
simple platitudes one imagines.


It is not just a matter of a thought that asks which goods are available on
the market to be distributed and the best way to effect the distribution. One
finds there an investigation of something of which Mr. Jakobson, who is here
today, first found the key, the little latch, in a hint he gave me concerning
the interest of a work of Jeremy Bentham’s that is ordinarily neglected in the
summary of his contribution traditionally given.

这不仅是思想的事情,这个思想询问有怎样的善在市场上可使用,能够被分配,以及从事这种分配的最佳方法。我们在那里发现某件东西的研究,杰克森先生今天在现场,他首先发现这个东西的解答,这个小小的门闩。在他给予我们的暗示,关于杰瑞米 边沁的著作感到興趣。边沁的著作通常被忽略,当总结传统给予他的贡献的评价。

This personage is far from meriting the discredit, indeed the ridicule, which
a certain critical philosophy might formulate concerning his role in the history
of the development of ethics. We will see that it is in relation to a critical
philosophy or, more properly, a linguistic one that his thought is developed.
It is impossible to measure so well anywhere else the emphasis given in the
course of this revolution to the term real, which in his thought is placed in
opposition to the English term “fictitious.”3


“Fictitious” does not mean illusory or decepdve as such. It is far from
being translatable into French by “ficdf,” although this is something that the
man who was the key to his success on the continent, Etienne Dumont, did
not fail to do – he was also responsible for popularizing Bentham’s thought.
“Ficddous” means “ficdf” but, as I have already explained to you, in the
sense that every truth has the structure of fiction.

“想像”并不意味着幻觉或欺骗的本身。“想像”根本就无法被翻译成为法文的“”ficdf”。虽然这是阿提尼 杜曼一定会这样翻译。他在欧洲大陆获得成功的这个人。他也负责让边沁的思想受到通俗欢迎。”Ficddous” 的意思是 “ficdf”,如同我已经跟你们解释的。从这个意义而言,每个真理都具有想像的结构。

Bentham’s effort is located in the dialectic of the relationship of language
to the real so as to situate the good – pleasure in this case, which, as we will
see, he articulates in a manner that is very different from Aristotle – on the
side of the real. And it is within this opposition between fiction and reality
that is to be found the rocking motion of Freuthan experience.


Once the separation between the fictitious and the real has been effected,
things are no longer situated where one might expect. In Freud the characteristic
of pleasure, as that dimension which binds man, is to be found on the
side of the fictitious. The fictitious is not, in effect, in its essence that which
deceives, but is precisely what I call the symbolic.


That the unconscious is structured as a function of the symbolic, that it is
the return of a sign that the pleasure principle makes man seek out, that the
pleasurable element in that which directs man in his behavior without his
knowledge (namely, that which gives him pleasure, because it is a form of
euphony), that that which one seeks and finds again is the trace rather than
the trail – one has to appreciate the great importance of all of this in Freud’s
thought, if one is to understand the function of reality.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: