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Cause

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French: cause

Jacques Lacan

The concept of causality forms an important thread that runs throughout Lacan's entire work.

Psychosis

It first appears in the context of the question of the cause of psychosis, which is a central concern of Lacan's doctoral thesis [1].

Psychical Causality

Lacan returns to this question in 1946, where the cause of madness becomes the very essence of all psychical causality. In the 1946 paper he reiterates his earlier view that a specifically psychical cause is needed to explain psychosis; however, he also questions the possibility of defining "psychical" in terms of a simple opposition to the concept of matter, and this leads him, in 1955, to dispense with the simplistic notion of "psychogenesis."[2].

Symbolic and Real

In the 1950s Lacan begins to address the very concept of causality itself, arguing that it is to be situated on the border between the symbolic and the real; it implies "a mediation between the chain of symbols and the real."[3].

Science

He argues that the concept of causality, which underpins all science, is itself a non-scientific concept; "the very notion of cause ... is established on the basis of an original wager."[4].

Anxiety

In the seminar of 1962-3, Lacan argues that the true meaning of causality should be looked for in the phenomenon of anxiety, for anxiety is the cause of doubt.

Cause of Desire

He then links this with the concept of objet petit a, which is now defined as the cause of desire, rather than that towards which desire tends.

Aristotle

In 1964, Lacan uses Aristotle's typology of causes to illustrate the difference between the symbolic and the real.

Truth

Lacan returns to the subject of causality in his 1965-6 seminar, where he distinguishes between magic, religion, science and psychoanalysis on the basis to their relationship to truth as cause.[5]

Freudian Case

Lacan also plays on the ambiguity of the term, since besides being "that which provokes an effect," a cause is also "that for which one fights, that which one defends."

Lacan clearly sees himself as fighting for "the Freudian cause," although this fight can only be won when one realises that the cause of the unconscious is always "a lost cause."[6].

See Also

References

  1. Lacan, Jacques. De la psychose paranoiaque dans ses rapports avec la personalité. Paris: Seuil, 1975.
  2. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book III. The Psychoses, 1955-56. Trans. Russell Grigg. London: Routledge, 1993. p. 7
  3. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book II. The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis, 1954-55. Trans. Sylvana Tomaselli. New York: Nortion; Cambridge: Cambridge Unviersity Press, 1988. p.192
  4. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book II. The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis, 1954-55. Trans. Sylvana Tomaselli. New York: Nortion; Cambridge: Cambridge Unviersity Press, 1988. p. 192
  5. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits. Paris: Seuil, 1966. p. 855-77
  6. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book XI. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, 1964. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Hogarth Press and Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1977. p. 128