On Frege’s Sinn, Bedeutung and Vorstellung in Lacan’s Work: A Reading of Seminars XVIII, XIX and XX

In the early 1970s Lacan regularly referred to Gottlob Frege’s concepts Sinn and Bedeutung. Using these concepts he defined two elements of the symptom and two dimensions of analytic discourse. In this paper the author discusses how Lacan uses both concepts, and he explores how the third dimension Frege distinguishes in the sign – Vorstellung – can be situated in Lacan’s work. This discussion is situated within the broader context of Lacan’s teaching from this period and also explores the concepts speaking being, non-rapport, sexual jouissance and phallus.

Introducing Lacan into Moral Philosophy via Antigone

According to Lacan, moral sensibility revolves around the tension between the social necessity to symbolize and resistance against this necessity. This article introduces Lacan’s moral view via Goethe’s understanding of a perplexing passage in Antigone. In a remarkable passage, Antigone explains to Creon why she would not have acted in the same way for a husband or for a child or even for another brother, if she had one. Her actions depends on the significance of her blood tie with Polineikes, who is her last brother. After his death, no one can pass on the name of the family. Her devotion to the blood tie is socially infertile and isolates her from the community. This passage illustrates four aspects of our moral sensibility for Lacan: (a) Things that matter deeply receive their value from a symbolic system and only human beings care about non-natural meanings; (b) Although their significance derives from a symbolic framework, we cannot explain why they should matter so much and their meaning remains opaque; (c) Every individual is deeply involved in things whose meaning cannot be explained, a personal involvement Lacan calls jouissance; and (d) Things of deep significance have the power to isolate the individual from their social context. Lacan is Kierkegaard without religion. This article demonstrates how Lacan debates with Aristotle and Kant.

Freud contra Laplanche: On Sadism and Masochism in “Instincts and their Viscissitudes”

This contribution focuses on Freud’s elaboration of the genesis of sadism and masochism in “Instincts and their Vicissitudes” (1915c). We first briefly recap the standard reading of this text by Jean Laplanche which relies on Freud’s concept of “anaclisis”. In our opinion, Laplanche’s reading implicitly presupposes that Freud’s discussion of sadism and masochism questions the sexualisation of an originally non-sexual aggressivity. In contrast, we argue that Freud’s argumentation starts from the question how the aggressivity that is inherent in sexuality relates to sadism and masochism qua perversion. The matrix of obsessional neurosis and the development of the ego discussed in the same context are of crucial importance for the systematic development of Freud’s answer to this last question.

Kant’s Essay “Beantwortung der Frage: was ist Aufklärung?” in Light of Lacan’s Big Other

Where the Enlightenment has claimed the space to answer its own questions, something new appears. In the German Republic of Letters between 1780-1790 a strident movement of thought advanced towards the borders of a true critique of Enlightenment. Mendelssohn, Reinhold, Wieland, Herder, Lessing and Schiller were central figures in German philosophy, questioning the nature and practice of the Enlightenment through resolute reflection on its limits. Kant’s essay, Beantwortung der Frage: was ist Aufklärung?, follows in their footsteps but also breaks away from this path. He leads us away from the obligatory content towards the courageous form of enlightened thinking: sapere aude! Those who can find the strength to think for themselves can be free from a self-imposed state of immaturity. However, a Self-Thinker never thinks alone according to Kant. His Aufklärungessay as well as his Kritik der Urteilskraft make it clear that thinking and judging for yourself are dynamic activities that always take the place of the other into account. They are exercises in freedom and effort is required to measure the universality of one’s own language to that of the other. Making public use of Reason is Kant’s ideal. Reason’s activity is only possible through speech and language, in a praxis and culture, through difference and debate. From a Lacanian point of view this is the place of the big Other, a universal field of signifiers circulating within our lacks, illuminating something of the desire of a subject. In this article the author addresses Kant’s idea of Enlightenment by relating it to Lacan’s notions of the big Other and the coming into being of the subject, in relation to this Other.

Time for the Unconscious: On the Organization of the Psychic Apparatus

Freud’s characterization of the psychic apparatus is profoundly ambiguous. On the one hand, it tends towards a reductionist framework that explains psychic phenomena largely in terms of mechanical processes in the energetic economy of the psyche. On the other, it points towards a framework that affirms the autonomy and holistic nature of the psychic and the radical contingency of psychic phenomena with respect to mechanical processes. In this text, an attempt is made to develop the latter conceptualization as the most fruitful aspect of psychoanalysis for current reflections on the psyche. This is done by via an alternative interpretation of the negative determinations of the unconscious in Freud’s works, in particular that of the timelessness of the unconscious. These determinations can be clarified by relating them to Freud’s theory of association from the study on aphasia. In this view, the timelessness does not refer to the theory of regression, grafted onto the naïve interpretation of trauma, but to non-linear processes of (self-) organization that produce the radical, creative singularity of that which is psychic.