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Beautiful Soul

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beautiful soul (belle ‚me) The beautiful soul (Ger. schˆne Seele) is a

stage in the dialectic of self-consciousness which Hegel describes in the

Phenomenology of Spirit (Hegel, 1807). The beautiful soul projects its own

disorder onto the world and attempts to cure this disorder by imposing 'the law

of the heart' on everyone else. For Lacan, the beautiful soul is a perfect

metaphor for the ego; 'the ego of modern man . . . has taken on its form in

the dialectical impasse of the belle ‚me who does not recognise his very own

raison d'Ítre in the disorder that he denounces in the world' (E, 70). In a more

extreme way, the beautiful soul also illustrates the structure of paranoiac

misrecognition (see M…CONNAISSANCE) (Ec, 172-3).

The concept of the beautiful soul illustrates the way that neurotics often

deny their own responsibility for what is going on around them (see AcT). The

ethics of psychoanalysis enjoin analysands to recognise their own part in their

sufferings. Thus when Dora complains about being treated as an object of

exchange by the men around her, Freud's first intervention is to confront her

with her own complicity in this exchange (Ec, 218-19; see Freud, 1905e).
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