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Absence

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French: absence

Symbolic

The symbolic order is characterized by a binary opposition between absence and presence.[1]

"In the symbolic order nothing exists except upon an assumed foundation of absence. Nothing exists except insofar as it does not exist."[2]

Real

This is a basic difference between the symbolic and the real.

"There is no absence in the real. There is only absence if you suggest that there may be a presence there where there isn't one."[3]

Linguistics

As Roman Jakobson showed with his analysis of phonemes, all linguistic phenomena may be entirely characterized in terms of the presence or absence of certain distinctive features.

Fort/Da

Lacan sees the game of fort!/da!, which Freud describes in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, as a primitive phonemic opposition representing the child's entry into the symbolic order. The two sounds made by the child, O/A, are "a pair of sounds modulated on presence and absence, and these sounds are related "to the presence and absence of persons and things."[4]

Word

In the symbolic order, absence has a positive existence or presence.

"Through the word, which is already a presence made of absence, absence itself comes to be named."[5]

Lacan notes that the word is "a presence made of absence" because:

  1. the symbol is used in the absence of the thing and
  2. signifiers only exist insofar as they are opposed to other signifiers.[6]


Presence

Because of the mutual implication of absence and presence in the symbolic order, absence can be said to have an equally positive existence in the symbolic as presence. This is what allows Lacan to say that "the nothing" (le rien) is in itself an object (a partial object).[7]

Phallus

It is around the presence and absence of the phallus that sexual difference is symbolically apprehended by the child. Sexual difference is apprehended by the child symbolically around the presence and absence of the phallus.

See Also

References

  1. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.67-8
  2. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits. Paris: Seuil, 1966. p.392
  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.313
  4. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.65, 109, n.46
  5. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.65
  6. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.65
  7. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.184-5

Ecrits is the essential source for anyone who seeks to understand this seminal thinker and hisinfluence influence on contemporary thought and culture.