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Consciousness

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French: conscience
German: Bewußtheit
German: Gewissen

Jacques Lacan

Sigmund Freud

In the so-called "topographical model", Freud isolates consciousness as one of the parts of the psyche, along with the unconscious and the preconscious. Lacan finds Freud's remarks on consciousness far weaker than his formulations on the unconscious.

"While he [Freud] can give a coherent, balanced account of the majority of other parts of the psychic apparatus, when it's a question of consciousness, he always encounters mutually contradictory conditions."[1]
According to Lacan, Freud's problems with discussing consciousness return again and again to haunt his theory:
"The difficulties which this system of consciousness raises reappear at each level of Freud's theorising."[2]

Consciousness and the Ego

In particular, Lacan rejects the apparent attempts in Freud's work to link the consciousness-perception system to the ego, unless this link is carefully theorized. If there is a link between the ego and consciousness, it is in terms of a lure. The illusion of a fully self-transparent consciousness is subverted by the whole psychoanalytic experience (see cogito).

"Consciousness in man is by essence a polar tension between an ego alienated from the subject and a perception which fundamentally escapes it, a pure percipi."[3]

Consciousness and Materialism

In 1954 Lacan gives "a materialist definition of the phenomenon of consciousness."[4] However, matter is not to be confused with nature. Lacan argues that consciousness does not evolve from the natural order. It is radically discontinuous, and its origin is more akin to creation than to evolution.[5]

Subject Supposed to Know

In the 1960s Lacan rethinks the illusion of a self-consciousness (Selbstbe-wufltsein) fully present to itself in terms of his concept of the subject supposed to know.

See Also

References

  1. 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.117
  2. 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.117
  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. 177
  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.40-52
  5. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book VII. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-60. Trans. Dennis Porter. London: Routledge, 1992. p. 213-14; 223