From an other to the Other 46

From an other to the Other 46

Jacques Lacan
雅克 拉康
Seminar 7: Wednesday 15 January 1969
(83) I announced the last time that I would talk about Pascal’s wager.
It is a responsibility. I even learned that there were people who
changed their timetable, who came to Paris one more time than they
had planned. This is to tell you how heavy such an announcement is to
bear. In any case it is certain that I cannot set out here to bring you, to
give an exhaustive discourse about everything that has been stated
about Pascal’s wager. I am obliged then to suppose that you have a
certain rough knowledge of what is involved in Pascal’s wager.


I cannot properly speaking enunciate it again because, as I told you the
last time, it is not properly speaking a statement that holds up. This is
even what has astonished people: that someone who one is sure is
capable of some rigour should have proposed something so untenable.
I think that I introduced sufficiently, just about sufficiently, the last
time what justifies in general the use that we are going to make of it.
But in any case let us not lose time in recalling it, you are going to see
what this use is.


It is not the first time moreover for me to speak about it. On a certain
day of February 1966,1 believe, I already brought in this wager, and
very precisely in connection with the o-object; you will see that today
we are going to remain around this object.


Already those who
remember – perhaps there are some of them, I am even sure of it –
what I said at that time can clearly see what is at stake. It happens that
I was asked to go to speak about it again in October 1967 at Yale. And
I was so busy with the people who motivate this effort o f teaching,
namely, the psychoanalysts, that I missed the opportunity of speaking
to the people at Yale; I did not know until much later that this created a
little scandal. It is true, it was not very polite. We are going to try
today to say what I could have said over there, without there being
moreover any preparation at all to hear it.


15.1.69 VII 2

But, let us begin right at the ground level, as if we were at Yale. What
is at stake? In general, you must have heard tell of something that is
stated and that is written several times in the text of what has been
collected under the title of Pensees, Pascal’s Pensees, and that at the
start there is something rather risky in the use that is made of what is
called the wager itself. As you know, these Pensees, were notes taken
(84) for a major work. Only this work was never done, so it was done
in his place.


First of all a work was created – this is the edition of the
Messieurs de Port-Royal – it is not at all a work that is badly done.
They were pals, and as someone called Filleau de la Chaise who is not
properly speaking a luminary but who is very readable testifies, Pascal
had very carefully explained to them what he wanted to do and they
did what Pascal had indicated. It nevertheless remains that this left out
a lot of things in the statements that were written out in notes for the
purposes of the construction of this work.


So then others ventured on a
different reconstruction. And then others said: “Since in short as our
culture advances, we perceive that the discourse, is not so simple a
thing as that and that in putting it together, well, there is some loss” so
then people set about making editions that were called critical, but that
take on a completely different import when what is involved is a
collection of notes. There again there was some difficulty. We have
several editions, several ways of grouping these bundles as they say;
that of Tourneur, that of Lafuma, that of X, that of Z. This does not
simplify things, but be assured, it certainly clarifies them.

15.1.69 VII 3
As regards the wager, it is quite separate. It is a little piece of paper
folded in four. That was the interest of what I recommended to you, it
was for you to grasp this. Since, in this book there is a reproduction of
the piece of paper folded in four and then a certain number of


Because this too posed a problem given that they are
notes, written freehand, with different divisions, a lot of things crossed
out, whole paragraphs written between the lines of other paragraphs,
and then a utilisation of the margins with references. All of this
moreover is rather precise and gives ample material for examination
and for discourse. But there is one thing that we can take as certain, it
is that Pascal never claimed that he made his wager stand up.


little paper must all the same have been close to his heart since
everything indicates that he had it in his pocket, in the same place that
I have here this device, this microphone, this absolutely useless thing.
In general, you have heard tell of something that sounds like to
renounce pleasures. This thing which is said in the plural is also
repeated in the plural. And moreover everyone knows that this act is
supposed to be at the source of something that might be called the
Christian life. It is the background noise.


Through everything that
Pascal and others around him tell us in terms of an ethics, this can be
heard in the distance like the sound of a bell. What we have to know is
whether it is a knell. In fact, it is not all that much of a knelL From
time to time it has a gayer aspect. I would like to make you sense that
it is the very principle on which there is installed a certain morality that
one can qualify as modern morality.


To make understood what I am in the process of putting forward, I am
going to give a few reminders of what is effectively involved. The
(85) reinvestment, as they say, of profits, which is fundamental, this
again is what is called enterprise, the capitalist enterprise, to designate
it in its proper terms, does not put the means of production at the
service of pleasure.


Things have even got to the stage that a whole
aspect of something that is manifested in the margins is, for example,
an effort, a quite timid effort that does not at all imagine sailing
towards success but rather casts doubt on what can be called our style
of life. We will call this an effort to rehabilitate spending, and
someone called Georges Bataille, a thinker in the margin of what is
involved in our affairs, has thought out and produced on this point
some quite readable works that are not for all that dedicated to



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