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Truth

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French: vérité

Truth is one of the most central, and yet most complex terms in Lacan's discourse.

Psychoanalysis

The aim of psychoanalytic treatment is to lead the analysand to articulate the truth of his or her desire.

Truth does not await, in some preformed state of fullness, to be revealed to the analysand by the analyst, but is rather constructed in the dialectical movement of the treatment itself.[1]

Philosophy

Lacan argues, in opposition to the traditions of classical philosophy, that truth is not beautiful[2] and that it is not necessarily beneficial to learn the truth.[3]

Lacan speaks about "truth" in the singular, not as a single universal truth, but as particular truth, unique to each subject.[4]

Language

Truth is only a meaningful concept in the context of language:

"It is with the appearance of language that the dimension of truth emerges."[5]

Psychoanalytic treatment is based on the fundamental premise that speech is the only means of revealing the truth about desire.

"Truth hollows its way into the real thanks to the dimension of speech. There is neither true nor false prior to speech."[6]

Science

From Lacan's earliest writings, the term "truth" has metaphysical, even mystical, nuances which problematise any attempt to articulate truth and science.

It is not that Lacan denies that science aims to know the truth, but simply that science cannot claim to monopolise truth as its exclusive property.[7]

Lacan later argues that science is in fact based on a foreclosure of the concept of truth as cause.[8]

The concept of truth is essential for understanding madness, and modern science renders madness meaningless by ignoring the concept of truth.[9]

Truth and Deception

Truth is intimately connected with deception, since lies can often reveal the truth about desire more eloquently than honest statements.

Deception and lies are not the opposite of truth: on the contrary, they are inscribed in the text of truth.

The analyst's role is to reveal the truth inscribed in the deception of the analysand's speech.

Although the analysand may in effect be saying to the analyst "I am deceiving you," the analyst says to the analysand:

"In this I am deceiving to you, what you are sending as message is what I express to you, and in doing so you are telling the truth.[10]

False Appearances

The false appearances presented by the analysand are not merely obstacles that the analyst must expose and discard in order to discover the truth; on the contrary, the analyst must take them into account (see semblance).

Error and Mistakes

Psychoanalysis has shown that the truth about desire is often revealed by mistakes (parapraxes).

The complex relations between truth, mistakes, error and deception are evoked by Lacan in a typically elusive phrase when he describes "the structuration of speech in search of truth" as "error taking flight in deception and recaptured by mistake."[11]

Fiction

Lacan does not use the term "fiction" in the sense of 'a falsehood', but in the sense of a scientific construct.[12]

Thus Lacan's term "fiction" corresponds to Freud's term Konvention, convention,[13] and has more in common with truth than falsehood.

Indeed, Lacan states that truth is structured like a fiction.[14]

The Real

The opposition which Lacan draws between truth and the real dates back to his pre-war writings,[15] and is taken up at various points;

"We are used to the real. The truth we repress."[16]

However, Lacan also points out that truth is similar to the real; it is impossible to articulate the whole truth, and "[p]recisely because of this impossibility, truth aspires to the real."[17]

See Also

References

  1. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits. Paris: Seuil, 1966. p.144
  2. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book VII. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-60. Trans. Dennis Porter. London: Routledge, 1992. p.217
  3. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre XVII. L'envers de la psychanalyse, 19669-70. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.122
  4. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book VII. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-60. Trans. Dennis Porter. London: Routledge, 1992. p.24
  5. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.172
  6. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book I. Freud's Papers on Technique, 1953-54. Trans. John Forrester. New York: Nortion; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. p.228
  7. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits. Paris: Seuil, 1966. p.79
  8. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits. Paris: Seuil, 1966. p.874
  9. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits. Paris: Seuil, 1966. p.153-4
  10. 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.139-40; Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.107-8)
  11. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book I. Freud's Papers on Technique, 1953-54. Trans. John Forrester. New York: Nortion; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. p. 273
  12. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book VII. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-60. Trans. Dennis Porter. London: Routledge, 1992. p.12
  13. 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.163
  14. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. 306; Lacan, Jacques. Écrits. Paris: Seuil, 1966. 808
  15. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits. Paris: Seuil, 1966. p.75
  16. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.169
  17. Lacan, Jacques. Télévision, Paris: Seuil, 1973. Television: A Challenge to the Psychoanalytic Establishment, ed. Joan Copjec, trans. Denis Hollier, Rosalind Krauss and Annette Michelson, New York: Norton, 1990]. p. 83