The Agency Of The Letter In The Unconscious Or Reason Since Freud


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In "The Subversion of the Subject and the Dialectic of Desire in the Freudian Unconscious," written in , Lacan states that "it is not the law that bars the subject's access to jouissance but pleasure. The alternative seems ineluctable: either the Mother or the Father.

To choose the Mother means to be condemned to the dependency of demand, while the Father constitutes the access to desire, hence to salvation. If the Father must be preferred to the Mother, if the Father is the origin and the representative of culture and of the Law , it is because he possesses the phallus that he can give or refuse. The absolute primacy of the phallus - the single emblem of Man - has become a real doctrinal perhaps dogmatic basis of Lacanian theory: "The phallus is the signifier of signifiers, the privileged signifier of that mark in which the role of the logos is joined with the advent of desire," its function "touches on its most profound rapport: that in which the Ancients embodied the Nous, the Mind, and the Logos, discourse, reason.

Later, Lacan will assert that "there is no such thing as sexual rapport," il n'y a pas de rapport sexuel, in the sense of proportion or relation: one sex counts for both sexes. Thus the phallus can only appear as veiled. Desire, if the libido is its psychic energy, indicates the subject's dependency on the signifiers, which constitute the structure proper. This is what the cure, based on speech, must make clear beyond the analysand's demand. Lacan even asserts that "desire is its own interpretation. After Freud Lacan offers a new interpretation.

Hamlet is the tragedy of desire: this is why "we are in the midst of clinical experience. This tragedy shed light on the masculine drama of desire and on the anxiety of "To be or not to be," hopeless truth of modern man.

On the Father's side, the disappointment is beyond remedy: "There is no Other of the Other. The Other, the place of truth, does not contain the signifier that could be the guarantor of such truth. What if the masculine subject turns toward his mother to praise her woman's dignity? Then he comes up against what she manifests of her desire: "not desire, but a gluttony that is engulfing. Her character is fascinating because it embodies "the drama of the feminine object caught in the snare of masculine desire," but above all because she is at the same time the object and the touchstone of desire: objet a part object of desire and phallus present in Ophelia.

Against Jones, whose definition of aphanisis was an attempt to find in the fear of being deprived of one's desire a factor common to both sexes, Lacan maintains a radical asymmetry in the rapport to the phallic signifier. Man "is not without having it" and woman "is without having it. Slavoj Zizek notes that for Lacan the phallus is the pure signifier that stands for its own opposite, that it functions as the signifier of castration.

The transition from pre- symbolic antagonism the Real to the symbolic order where signifiers are related to meaning takes place by way of this pure signifier, without signified. The end of the cure is then the purification of desire. Lacan makes three statements: one is only guilty of "having given in on one's desire"; "the hero is the one who can be betrayed with impunity"; goods exist, but "there is no other good than the one that can pay the price of the access to desire," a desire that is only valid insofar as it is desire to know.

Lacan lauds Oedipus at Colonus who calls down curses before dying, and he associates him with Antigone, walled up alive, who has not given in at all. Both have rejected the right to live in order to enter the "in-between-two-deaths," - entre-deux-morts - that is immortality. Who is the Father?

Here is the terrible Father of the primal horde Freud's Totem and Taboo ; Luther's God with "his eternal hatred against men, a hatred that existed even before the world was born"; the father of the law who, as to Saint Paul, leads to temptation: "For me, the very commandment - Thou shall not covet - which should lead to life has proved to be death to me.

François Raffoul (Louisiana State University): Publications - PhilPeople

For sin, finding opportunity in the commandment, seduced me and by it killed me. It is the outside signifier and also the hostile outside signified: a mute reality prior to primal repression that puts in its place the pure signifying web without being able to hide it. It is the place of deadly jouissance sanctioned by the prohibition of incest. It is associated with the mother who represents it by her manifest carnality, and with woman who, idealized in courtly love, speaks the truth: "I am nothing but the emptiness which is in my cloaca.

Who am I? This father is a symbolic Father, he is all the more present for being absent, a Father without a body or the glorious body of signifiers, a father who can only be the object of an act of faith, for: there is no Other of the Other" to guarantee him. Sublimation is an attempt to confront the Thing: true love for one's neighbour consists in recognizing in him, as in oneself, the place and the wound of the Thing.

As for disbelief, by rejecting the Thing it makes it reappear in the Real, which is the Lacanian definition of psychosis. If ethical thought "is at the centre of our work as analysts," then, in the cure, ethics converges from two sides. On the side of the analysand is the problem of guilt and the pathogenic nature of civilised morality. Freud conceives of a basic conflict between the demands of civilised morality and the essentially amoral sexual drives of the patient. If morality takes the upper hand and the drives are too intense to be sublimated, sexuality is either expressed in perverse forms or repressed.

The Agency Of The Letter In The Unconscious Or Reason Since Freud

Freud further develops this idea in his theory of an unconscious sense of guilt and in his concept of the superego, that interior moral agency which becomes crueller to the extent that the ego submits to its demands. The analyst, on the other hand, has to deal with the pathogenic morality and unconscious guilt of the patient and with the ethical problems that arise in the cure. Lacan addresses the issue of how the analyst will respond to the patient's sense of guilt by arguing that he must take it seriously, for whenever the patient feels guilty it is because he has given way to his desire: "the only thing of which one can be guilty is of having given ground relative to one's desire.

The ethical position of the analyst is revealed by the way that he formulates the goal of the cure. Ego-psychology, for instance, proposes a normative ethics in the adaptation of the ego to reality.

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Lacan opposes this stance and devises an ethics relating action to desire: "Have you acted in conformity with the desire that is in you? Lacanian ethics see the Good as an obstacle in the path of desire, thus "a repudiation of the idea of Good is necessary. Traditional ethics tends to link the good to pleasure: moral thought has "developed along the paths of an hedonistic problematic.

Jouissance is the paradoxical satisfaction that the subject derives from his symptom, the suffering he derives from his satisfaction. Finally traditional ethics puts work and a safe, ordered existence before questions of desire by telling people to make their desires wait. Lacan forces the subject to confront the relation between his actions and his desire in the immediacy of the present.

Lacan introduces the notion of das Ding, the Thing, via the opposition between the pleasure principle and the principle of reality, this opposition, however, is deluding since the latter is but a modification of the former. Two are the contexts where das Ding operates. Firstly there is Freud's distinction between Wortvorstellungen, word- presentations, and Sachvorstellungen, thing-presentations.

The two types are bound together in the preconscious-conscious system, whereas in the unconscious only thing-presentations are found.

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This seems to contradict the linguistic nature of the unconscious. Lacan counters the objection by pointing out that there are two words in German for "thing": das Ding and die Sache. Freud employs the latter to refer to the thing-presentations in the unconscious, and if at one level Sachvorstellungen and Wortvorstellungen are opposed, on the symbolic level they go together. Die Sache is the representation of a thing in the symbolic, whereas das Ding is the thing in the real, which is "the beyond-of-the-signified.

It is the lost object which must be continually looked for, the unforgettable Other, the forbidden object of incestuous desire, the mother. He argues that in its imaginary aspect love and hate it acts as a resistance. He uses Plato's The Symposium to illustrate the rapport between analysand and analyst: Alcibiades compares Socrates to a box enclosing a precious object, agalma. Just as Alcibiades attributes a hidden treasure to Socrates, so too the patient sees his object of desire in the analyst.

Lacan articulates the objet a with agalma, the object of desire we seek in the other. Before, the emphasis was placed on repetition, now it is placed on transference love, amour de transfert: both are inseparable, but the perspective changes. To insist on repetition means to refuse to see in the analytic situation an intersubjective rapport to be dealt with here and now.

What speech constructed in the past can be deconstructed in the cure by speech: the cure is "pure symbolic experience. Thus, analysis is described as a particular experience of desire, on the side of sexuality. Speech has an effect only after transference. For Lacan "it is from the position that transference bestows the analyst with that he intervenes in transference itself," and "transference is interpreted on the basis of and with the aid of transference itself. Because in the cure one learns to talk instead of making love, in the end desire, which has been purified, is but the empty place where the barred subject accesses desire.

We should note that training analysis does not put the analyst beyond passion; to believe that it does would mean that all passions stem from the unconscious, a notion that Lacan rejects. The better analysed the analyst is, the more likely he is to be in love with, or be quite repulsed by, the analysand. In training-analysis there will be a mutation in the economy of desire in the analyst-to-be: desire will be restructured, so that it will be stronger than passions.

Lacan calls it the desire proper to the analyst. In The Symposium the analyst's position is identified with Socrates', while Alcibiades occupies the position of the analysand, who after Socrates will discover himself desiring. But Socrates refuses the position of loved object to assert himself as desiring.

For Lacan desire never occurs between two subjects but between a subject and an overvalorized being who has fallen to the state of an object. The only way to discover the other as subject is "to recognize that he speaks an articulated language and responds to ours with his own combinations; the other cannot fit into our calculations as someone who coheres like us.


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There is no rapport between what the one possesses and what the other lacks. The phallus, from being objet a, the imaginary object, emerges as the signifier of signifiers, as "the only signifier that deserves the role of symbol.

It designates the real presence that permits identification, the origin of the Ideal-of-the-Ego on the side of the Other. In the fable where female lack is confronted with male resources, the feminine first has an active role before the desirable masculine. The reversal occurs because in love one only gives what one does not have: the masculine, by shying away from the demand, is revealed as a subject of desire. Later, Lacan would make Socrates the model of hysterical discourse, but also of analytic discourse because he attains the knowledge, the episteme, of love.

The Agency Of The Letter In The Unconscious Or Reason Since Freud The Agency Of The Letter In The Unconscious Or Reason Since Freud
The Agency Of The Letter In The Unconscious Or Reason Since Freud The Agency Of The Letter In The Unconscious Or Reason Since Freud
The Agency Of The Letter In The Unconscious Or Reason Since Freud The Agency Of The Letter In The Unconscious Or Reason Since Freud
The Agency Of The Letter In The Unconscious Or Reason Since Freud The Agency Of The Letter In The Unconscious Or Reason Since Freud
The Agency Of The Letter In The Unconscious Or Reason Since Freud The Agency Of The Letter In The Unconscious Or Reason Since Freud
The Agency Of The Letter In The Unconscious Or Reason Since Freud The Agency Of The Letter In The Unconscious Or Reason Since Freud
The Agency Of The Letter In The Unconscious Or Reason Since Freud The Agency Of The Letter In The Unconscious Or Reason Since Freud

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