‘Lacan: A Genealogy’ by Miguel de Beistegui

Published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2021.


Lacan: A Genealogy provides a genealogical account of Lacan’s work as a whole, from his early writings on paranoid psychosis to his later work on the real and surplus enjoyment.

Beistegui argues that Lacan’s work requires an in-depth genealogy to chart and interpret the his key concept of desire. The genealogy is both a historical and critical approach, inspired by Foucault, which consists in asking how – that is, by what theoretical and practical transformations, by the emergence of which discourses of truth, which institutions, and which power relations – our current subjectivity was shaped. Desire is a crucial thread throughout because it lies at the heart not only of liberal political economy, psychiatry and psychopathology, and the various discourses of recognition (from philosophy to psychology and the law) that shape our current politics of identity, but also, and more importantly, of the manner in which we understand, experience and indeed govern ourselves, ethically and politically.

A novel reading of Lacan that foregrounds the radicality and urgency of his concepts and the relationship between desire, norm and the law.

Miguel de Beistegui offers us an extensive and intriguing genealogy of the central Lacanian concept of desire. On the one hand this genealogy is undertaken in Foucauldian spirit, extending the critical assessment of psychoanalytic focus on desire and Law, but on the other hand the book also convincingly shows how Lacan’s project exceeds this framework and offers powerful tools for critical thought and radical engagement with the liberal logic of desire. Insightful and absorbing.

– Mladen Dolar, Professor and Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

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