This essay is intended as a scholarly contribution to the construction of a detailed biography of Lacan’s 1966 Écrits, which is conceived here as a living entity whose influence continues to radiate around the world, within as well as outside psychoanalytic circles. Documenting and re-evaluating the historical circumstances presiding over the book’s gestation, birth and coming of age, the essay first argues that, despite the multiplicity inscribed in its title, Lacan’s volume constitutes an integrated unity rather than a mere collection of disparate papers written over a period of thirty-odd years, albeit a unity that is fundamentally incomplete. Subsequent to this, it is proposed that Lacan’s choice of title (Écrits, writings) occasioned the crystallisation of his own theory of the letter, writing and (knowledge) transmission. Even though this theory was already contained in statu nascendi in two of the papers collected in Écrits, it was only through a process of deferred action that Lacan came to appreciate its significance. Aligning writing with the object a, as cause of desire, Lacan’s theory both underpinned his opposition to Jacques Derrida’s deconstruction of logocentrism (and his concurrent promotion of writing as a primordial trace), and informed his own protracted consideration of the transmission of psychoanalytic knowledge during the 1970s via a series of (mathematical and topological) writings.
In an attempt to account for the end (the goal, the direction) of the psychoanalytic treatment, Jacques Lacan has formulated quite a few principles and ideas over the course of his seminars and writings. Amongst these principles, the notion of the ‘traversal of the fantasy’ has come to occupy a priviliged position, despite the fact that it is effectively a hapax in Lacan’s works. This paper offers a succinct study of an alternative principle, which is rarely recognised in the context of discussions on the end of analysis, notably the principle of the signifier of the barred Other S(Ⱥ). The study of this principle generates the thesis that the end of analysis may be conceptualised as the analysis of the end, which constitutes the point where knowledge becomes ignorance, and the point where the symbolic order becomes ‘de-phallicised’. In the discourse of the analyst, the analysis of the end re-appears in the place of the product, where the master signifier symbolises the function of loss. For the knowledge of the psychoanalyst, this implies that a knowledge in the place of truth can only be maintained as a gay science, in the Nietzschean sense of a poetic, joyful and amusing knowledge.
This article discusses the influence of Koyré’s epistemology on Lacan’s conception of the real and more broadly on his critical examination of the relation between science and psychoanalysis. The discussion necessitates a systematic return to Koyré, whose visibility in contemporary philosophical and psychoanalytical debates is rather marginal despite his major contribution to the development of epistemology, philosophy and structural psychoanalysis in 20th century France and beyond. The article embeds Lacan’s teaching in a broader intellectual movement of French philosophy of science, which already recognised the necessity of a materialist epistemology. Following this current, Lacan openly associated his take on structuralism with dialectical materialism. Or, this positioning of psychoanalysis can hardly be understood in its overall complexity without re-examining Koyré’s philosophical and epistemological polemics and the influence of his historical examination of the foundations of modern science on mid-20th century structuralism. The latter, one could argue, repeats the modern astronomical revolution in the field of human objects (language, thought, society). Lacan’s structural psychoanalysis was undoubtedly the most radicalised version of this repetition – but precisely this would not have been possible without Koyré’s historical epistemology.
Compared to the major impact Jacques Lacan’s theory of psychoanalysis has had on the widest range of disciplines in the arts and humanities, and in the social sciences, its reception in organizational studies has been relatively slow. This is often explained with reference to the fact that Lacan’s writings are difficult, and that he himself was never concerned with the study of organizations. In this paper, it is demonstrated that Lacan did have a profound interest in organizational life, and that it prompted him to formulate a number of key principles for establishing an “alternative” organizational structure, in which hierarchical authority is balanced against a communal, libertarian and solidaristic system of exchange. It is shown how these principles are indebted to Bion’s work with leaderless groups, and to Bion’s “first Northfield experiment” from the early 1940s. During the 1960s Lacan endeavoured to integrate these ideas in what he designated as a “circular organization”, which would operate on the basis of a series of small working groups called cartels, and on positions of “suspended authority”. It is also argued that Lacan’s eventual dissolution of his own School may not have constituted a simple case of organizational failure, but a necessary act of transformational change and permutation. The essay concludes with the proposition that a proper appreciation of Lacan’s significance for organizational studies should start with a critical analysis of his own contributions to the study of organizational life.
This article provides a theoretical clarification of “the symbolic” in Kleinian and Lacanian psychoanalysis and argues for further conceptual research into its implications for psychoanalytic theory and clinical practice. What is striking about the Kleinian and Lacanian models is that they are diametrically opposed in the way they conceptualize the subject’s development of the capacity to form symbols: while for Klein the experience of concrete objects exists from the very beginning of life and the symbol is a product of “object-relating”, for Lacan, on the contrary, the experience of objects is an effect of the symbolic order. In Klein we start with the object/object-relation and work through different stages of symbolism eventually ending up with language, so that linguistic thought develops from the experience of the primal object. In Lacan, on the other hand, integration into the world of language produces lack/absence, which, in turn, is the necessary condition for conceptualizing objects: the experience of objects develops as an effect of language/symbolization. The article begins with an account of Freud’s two main theories of the symbolic – one based on images, the other on language or “word-presentations” – and traces the Klein-Lacan divergence to this theoretical duality. It then argues that a Klein-Lacan dialogue on the symbolic can open new directions for theoretical development by examining how different theories can accurately correspond to empirical observations of psychic functioning, as well as effective clinical interventions.