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This early essay (1949) identifies the point at which the "I" (ego) begins to formulate itself as a socially constructed agent. In Lacan's terminology, the mirror stage is the hinge between the *Imaginary and the *Symbolic (concepts we'll discuss further in class). These concepts are used frequently in contemporary literary criticism and theory. As usual, cuts and explanation that I make are in square brackets; the paragraphs have been numbered for ease of reference. </p>
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<p></p><li>The conception of the mirror stage that I introduced [. . .] has since become more or less established in the practice of the French [psychoanalytic] group. However, I think it worthwhile to bring it again to your attention, especially today, for the light it sheds on the formation of the <i>I</i> as we experience it in psychoanalysis. It is an experience that leads us to oppose any philosophy directly issuing from the <i>Cogito</i> [reference is to the tradition stemming from Descartes : I think, therefore I am etc.] </li>
<p></p><li>Some of you may recall that this conception originated in a feature of human behavior illuminated by a fact of comparative psychology. The child, at an age when he is for a time, however short, outdone by the chimpanzee in instrumental intelligence, can nevertheless already recognize as such his own image in a mirror. [. . .] </li>
<p></p><li>For such a task, we place no trust in altruistic feeling, we who lay bare the aggressivity that underlies the activity of the philanthropist, the idealist, the pedagogue, and even the reformer. </li>
<p></p><li>In the recourse of subject to subject that we preserver, psychoanalysis may accompany the patient to the ecstatic limit of the "Thous art that." in which is revealed to him the cipher of his mortal destiny, but it is not in our mere power as practitioners to bring him to that point where the real journey beings.<a></a><a></a> </li>
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