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Semblance

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French: semblant

False Appearance

Running throughout Lacan's work is the idea that appearances are deceptive, an idea that is closely connected to the classical philosophical opposition between appearance and essence.[1]

The very distinction between the imaginary and the symbolic implies this opposition between appearance and essence.

The imaginary is the realm of observable phenomena which act as lures, while the symbolic is the realm of underlying structures which cannot be observed but which must be deduced.

Science

This opposition informs all scientific enquiry, a basic presupposition of which is that the scientist must attempt to penetrate through false appearance into the hidden reality.

Similarly, in psychoanalysis, as in science, "only he who escapes from false appearances can achieve truth."[2]

However, false appearance in psychoanalysis is different from false appearance in the natural sciences.

For the natural scientist, the false appearance lacks the dimension of deliberate deception, which is why Lacan states that the axiom of natural science is the belief in an honest, non-deceitful God.[3]

However, in the conjectural sciences, and in psychoanalysis, there is always the problem that the falsity of the appearance may be due to deception.

Jacques Lacan

Lacan uses two terms to refer to false appearances.

The term apparence is that used in philosophical discussions of the distinction between essence and appearance.

The term semblant is less technical, but acquires a growing importance in Lacan's work over the years.

It appears as early as 1957,[4] and is used several times in the seminar of 1964,[5] but it is not until the early 1970s that the term comes to occupy an important place in Lacan's theoretical vocabulary.

Other meanings

At first Lacan uses the term to refer to such issues as feminine sexuality, which is characterised by a dimension of masquerade.

Later on, Lacan uses the term to characterize general features of the symbolic order and its relations to the imaginary and the real.

Truth and Appearance

Thus Lacan devotes his 1970-1 seminar to "a discourse that would not be semblance," in which he argues that truth is not simply the opposite of appearance, but is in fact continuous with it; truth and appearance are like the two sides of a moebius strip, which are in fact only one side.

Love and Jouissance

In the seminar of 1972-3, Encore, Lacan goes on to state that objet petit a is a "semblance of being,"[6] that love is addressed to a semblance,[7] and that jouissance is only evoked or elaborated on the basis of a semblance.[8]

See Also

References

  1. 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.103
  2. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book VII. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-60. Trans. Dennis Porter. London: Routledge, 1992. p. 310
  3. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book III. The Psychoses, 1955-56. Trans. Russell Grigg. London: Routledge, 1993. p. 64
  4. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits. Paris: Seuil, 1966. p. 435; Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p. 207
  5. 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. 107
  6. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre XX. Encore, 1972-73. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1975. p. 84
  7. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre XX. Encore, 1972-73. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1975. p. 85
  8. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre XX. Encore, 1972-73. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1975. p. 85