I only recently noticed that Nosubject.com has been offline... for some time. My apologies. The site is now back online. -- August 2017
Drive and Instinct
For Freud, the distinctive feature of human sexuality -- as opposed to the sexual life of other animals -- is that it is not regulated by any instinct -- a concept which implies a relatively fixed and innate relationship to an object -- but by the drives -- which differ from instincts in that they are extremely variable, and develop in ways which are contingent on the life history of the subject.
Aim of the Drive
Thus the real purpose of the drive is not some mythical goal of full satisfaction, but to return to its circular path, and the real source of enjoyment is the repetitive movement of this closed circuit.
Drive as Cultural and Symbolic Construct
The drive cannot therefore be conceived of as "some ultimate given, something archaic, primordial."
The Circuit of the Drive
Lacan incorporates the four elements of the drive in his theory of the drive's circuit.
In this circut, the drive originates in an erogenous zone.
This circuit is structured by the three grammatical voices.
- The active voice (e.g. to see)
- The reflexive voice (e.g. to see oneself)
- The passive voice (e.g. to be seen)
Activity and Passivity
The first of these two times (active and reflexive voices) are autoerotic; they lack a subject.
Only in the third time (the passive voice), when the drive completes its circuit, does "a new subject" appear (which is to say that before this time, there was no subject).
Although the third time is the passive voice, the drive is always essentially active, which is why Lacan writes that the third time not as "to be seen" but as "to make oneself be seen."
The Partial Nature of the Drives
Freud argued that sexuality is composed of a number of partial drives (Ger. Partieltrieb) such as the oral drive and the anal drive, each specified by a different source (a different erotogenic zone).
At first these component drives function anarchically and independently (viz. the "polymorphous perversity" of children), but in puberty they become organized and fused together under the priamcy of the genital organs.
Differences between Freud and Lacan
- Lacan rejects the idea that the partial drives can ever attain any complete organization or fusion, aruging that the priamcy of the genital zone, if achieved, is always a highly precarious affair.
- He thus challenges the notion, put forward by some psychoanalysts after Freud, of a genital drive in which the partial drives are completely integrated in a harmonious relation.
- Lacan argues that the drives are partial, not in the sense that thy are parts of a whole (a 'genital drive'), but in the sense that they only represent sexuality partially; they do not represent the reproductive function of sexuality but only the dimension of enjoyment.
The Four Partial Drives
Lacan identifies four partial drives: the oral drive, the anal drive, the scopic drive, and the invocatory drive.
|PARTIAL DRIVE||EROGENOUS ZONE||PARTIAL OBJECT||VERB|
|D||Oral drive||Lips||Breast||To suck|
|D||Anal drive||Anus||Faeces||To shit|
|d||Scopic drive||Eyes||Gaze||To see|
|d||Invocatory drive||Ears||Voice||To hear|
The Lacanian Matheme for the Drive
The Dualism of the Drives
Sigmund Freud: Life and Death
Throughout the various reformulations of drive-theory in Freud's work, one constant feature is a basic dualism.
At first this dualism was conceived in terms of an opposition between the sexual drives (Sexualtriebe) on the one hand, and the ego-drives (Ichtriebe) or drives of self-preservation (Selbsterhaltungstriebe) on the other.
This opposition was problematized by Freud's growing realization, in the period 1914-20, that the ego-drives are themselves sexual.
Jacques Lacan: Symbolic and Imaginary
Drive and Desire
- Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.301
- 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.168
- 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.162
- 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.200
- Freud, Sigmund. p.1905d.
- 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.204
- 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.118-20
- Lacan, Jacques. Écrits. Paris: Seuil, 1966. p.848
- 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.189