In the entire span of his teaching, Lacan was engaged in an intense debate with philosophy and philosophers, from ancient Greek materialists to Plato, from Stoics to Thomas Acquinas, from Descartes to Spinoza, from Kant to Hegel, from Marx to Kierkegaard, from Heidegger to Kripke.
It is through the reference to philosophers that Lacan deploys his fundamental concepts: transference through Plato, the Freudian subject through Descartes’s cogito, surplus-enjoyment through Marx’s surplus-value, anxiety and repetition through Kierkegaard, the ethics of psychoanalysis through Kant, etc.
Through this continuous engagement, Lacan is of course distancing himself from philosophy; however, all his desperate attempts to draw the line of separation again and again re-assert his commitment to philosophy – as if the only way for him to delineate the basic concepts of psychoanalysis is through a philosophical detour.
Although psychoanalysis is not philosophy, its subversive dimension is grounded in the fact that it is not simply a particular science or practice but has radical consequences for philosophy: psychoanalysis is a “no” to philosophy that is internal to it, i.e., psychoanalytic theory refers to a gap/antagonism which philosophy blurs but which simultaneously grounds philosophy (Heidegger called this gap ontological difference). Without this link to philosophy – more precisely, to the blind spot of philosophy, to what is “primordially repressed” in philosophy – psychoanalysis loses its subversive dimension and becomes just another ontic practice.
Lacan’s Hypothesis: Psychoanalysis as the Ex-Timate Core of Philosophy
31 October 2016
Is it Possible to Move Beyond the Transcendental?
1 November 2016,
with a contribution from Dr. Frank Ruda (Free University, Berlin)
The Prospect of the Post-Human
2 November 2016