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Lacan

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  • Jim
    I decided to suspend my reading of Zizek s Lost Causes and try to get some knowledge and understanding of the French philosopher and psychoanalyst Jacques
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 30, 2010
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      I decided to suspend my reading of Zizek's "Lost Causes" and try to get some knowledge and understanding of the French philosopher and psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan.

      Zizek uses Lacan's ideas and terminology a lot, so I figured that unless I had some understanding of Lacan, my understanding of Zizek himself would be found wanting.

      Rather than trying to tackle Lacan's books directly, I chose to read Malcolm Bowie's shortish introduction to Lacan.

      I thoroughly recommend Bowie's book as a way into Lacan's thought, as Bowie writes clearly and with some style and performs the difficult task of outlining the main strands in Lacan's thought whilst offering some balanced criticism.

      Lacan's project was to present Sigmund Freud's central ideas to a new audience. So in a sense to fully understand Lacan, the reader needs to fully understand Freud. (This going back to a previous writer could go on for ever!)

      It is a debatable issue as to what extent Lacan is being faithful to Freud's essential ideas and to what extent he is rejecting essential components of the Freudian system.

      In place of Freud's trinity of id, ego, superego, Lacan gives us the Symbolic, the Imaginary and the Real – three interacting orders which the analyst and patient seek to rearrange in a more balanced way for the benefit of the patient.

      To a large extent, I think a reader is likely to value Lacan's thought to the extent that she already values Freud's thought.

      The main differences between Freud and Lacan that I picked up on are these. First, whereas Freud argued that the unconscious is a non-linguistic realm where biological drives produce their effects in our conscious lives, for Lacan, the unconscious is a linguistic realm – "The Symbolic is the order of the unconscious". Second, whereas Freud presented his ideas as a scientific theory which had claims to some sort of universal truth, Lacan is very suspicious of any idea of a once-and-for-all-time true theory of the human being, or anything else for that matter.

      This is where I found Lacan most interesting and most challenging – his idea that the human desire for a fixed, unalterable truth was itself a sign of lack of mental health (whether psychotic or just neurotic). Lacan's idea of therapy seems to involve helping the patient "move on" because he/she has become stuck or fixated for some reason.

      Human life is transient and we should not attempt to stop the flux of existence by clinging to some idea or theory as something permanent, eternal, even. Lacan seems to share the same idea of truth as Nietzsche when he wrote that truth was a moving army of metaphors.

      I wonder if any of you have studied Lacan, or have formed an opinion about his ideas, and would like to respond to what I have written here.

      Jim
    • eupraxis@aol.com
      Jim, You might find this video helpful. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdpudWL5i68 Wil ... From: Jim To: existlist
      Message 2 of 2 , Jan 1, 2011
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        Jim,

        You might find this video helpful.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdpudWL5i68

        Wil






        -----Original Message-----
        From: Jim <jjimstuart1@...>
        To: existlist <existlist@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Thu, Dec 30, 2010 7:01 pm
        Subject: [existlist] Lacan





        I decided to suspend my reading of Zizek's "Lost Causes" and try to get some knowledge and understanding of the French philosopher and psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan.

        Zizek uses Lacan's ideas and terminology a lot, so I figured that unless I had some understanding of Lacan, my understanding of Zizek himself would be found wanting.

        Rather than trying to tackle Lacan's books directly, I chose to read Malcolm Bowie's shortish introduction to Lacan.

        I thoroughly recommend Bowie's book as a way into Lacan's thought, as Bowie writes clearly and with some style and performs the difficult task of outlining the main strands in Lacan's thought whilst offering some balanced criticism.

        Lacan's project was to present Sigmund Freud's central ideas to a new audience. So in a sense to fully understand Lacan, the reader needs to fully understand Freud. (This going back to a previous writer could go on for ever!)

        It is a debatable issue as to what extent Lacan is being faithful to Freud's essential ideas and to what extent he is rejecting essential components of the Freudian system.

        In place of Freud's trinity of id, ego, superego, Lacan gives us the Symbolic, the Imaginary and the Real – three interacting orders which the analyst and patient seek to rearrange in a more balanced way for the benefit of the patient.

        To a large extent, I think a reader is likely to value Lacan's thought to the extent that she already values Freud's thought.

        The main differences between Freud and Lacan that I picked up on are these. First, whereas Freud argued that the unconscious is a non-linguistic realm where biological drives produce their effects in our conscious lives, for Lacan, the unconscious is a linguistic realm – "The Symbolic is the order of the unconscious". Second, whereas Freud presented his ideas as a scientific theory which had claims to some sort of universal truth, Lacan is very suspicious of any idea of a once-and-for-all-time true theory of the human being, or anything else for that matter.

        This is where I found Lacan most interesting and most challenging – his idea that the human desire for a fixed, unalterable truth was itself a sign of lack of mental health (whether psychotic or just neurotic). Lacan's idea of therapy seems to involve helping the patient "move on" because he/she has become stuck or fixated for some reason.

        Human life is transient and we should not attempt to stop the flux of existence by clinging to some idea or theory as something permanent, eternal, even. Lacan seems to share the same idea of truth as Nietzsche when he wrote that truth was a moving army of metaphors.

        I wonder if any of you have studied Lacan, or have formed an opinion about his ideas, and would like to respond to what I have written here.

        Jim









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