Summary: The first section of this paper traces, in brief, a conceptual evolution of psychoanalysis from its Freudian foundation in 19th century empirical science to Lacan’s reformulation of psychoanalytic method, based in part on mid-20th century structural linguistics, as one that is not, strictly speaking, scientific. Throughout this movement, the therapeutic aim and the medium of speech remain at the center of psychoanalytic praxis. The author, therefore, explores the questions: what is speech and what is at stake for human subjects in speaking? In part two, parallels are drawn between four (ana)logical pairings of conceptual moments in Freudo-Lacanian and Hegelian theory in order to elucidate dynamic and topological intricacies in each. The Oedipus complex is described as a dialectical unfolding, wherein Hegelian and Freudian theorizing and Lacanian mythmaking are, similarly, creative retorts to contradiction and ambivalence. These subjective responses effect the Aufhebung or Verdrängung (in neurosis) of the conflictual impasse, and institute a vehicle for the transgenerational transmission of Kultur—what Hegel called Geist and Freud rendered Unbewusst.
It is argued that Freud’s analysis of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex should be read in the context of his Interpretation of Dreams. There it figures in the chapter on typical dreams of the death of beloved persons, dreams from which Freud infers a murderous desire directed to the father. Later, Freud admitted that this view involved his own reaction to the death of his father. For Freud, the latter constitutes the most importance experience in a man’s life. From then onwards however, the theme of the murder of the father is revealed as a fantasm that hides the castration of the father with which the son is confronted when his own father dies. With reference to the hellenistic commentaries on Oedipus Rex, a Lacanian interpretation of the tragedy is proposed. It is argued that Oedipus Rex is the tragedy of the subject and his responsibility when Mythical discourse was replaced by the Master discourse, in which the Master figures both as father of a castrated reality and as mythical father who escapes castration. Castration consists precisely of the loss of jouissance introduced by the Master discourse. Eventually it is argued that, for Lacan, the castration complex comes down to the truth of the Oedipus complex.
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It is argued that, originally, archaic desire for the mother and hate for the father, i.e., the feelings referred to by Freudian psychoanalysis in its theory of the Oedipus complex, were not implied in the Greek myth. Having defined (i) the latter as a complex and historically derived conglomerate of variants of one and the same narrative, and (ii) tragedy as such, an overview is sketched of the principal variants of the Oedipus myth. Moreover, several interpretations are confronted and it is argued that, from a philological point of view, Freud’s interpretation cannot be supported.