Talk:Seminar XX

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There are several reasons why this seminar is(one of the best-known) of all the seminars held since 1964-1965, it is the only one that has been published; it has been shortened and reorganized by J.-A. Miller, and it makes the latest developments of Lacanian thinking relatively accessible; finally, it concerns a sensitive area, that of femininity, at a time when the Mouvement de Liberation des Femmes contested psychoanalytic theory. Lacan presented the doctrine of femininity here, and he defied women to say-to articulate�anything about their sexuality, about their jouissance, and about themselves. All this did not go without violence (pp. 69-70). Most of the notions had already been elaborated during the previous years and had been published in Radiophonie (77): the four discourses, the broad logical categories, the distance put between linguistics and Lacanian "linguistry," the aphorism, "there is no sexual relation" -they all appeared as early as L'Envers de la psychanalyse (73). The "quantic formulas" used to write the absence of relation between the sexes-which does not mean the absence of a relation to the sex symbolized by the phallus-went back to Seminar XIX ... Ou pire (80). Several sessions at the H6pital Sainte-Anne the previous year (82) were devoted to l' amur and the love letter. Besides, Lacan quoted himself more and more often: here, he comments on L' Etourdit (82), but the text is full of explicit or implicit self-references. This phenomenon was unavoidable: to be at the same time a theoretician and a teacher whose audience changed led to these repetitions. However, more and more, what varied was the form more than the content. Since L' Etourdit, the plays on writing or the puns served this purpose. Here, the latest "trick" was to write We woman in order to indicate that she is not inscribed in the universal. However, the strict doctrine is fairly simple: woman would only enter in the sexual relation "quoad matrem" (as a mother) and man "quoad castra�tionem" (depending on castration?). Hence there is no real "sexual rela�tion," and love as well as speech make up for this absence. "There is woman only as excluded by the nature of words." Why should she complain since she reaches a supplementary jouissance? This infinitude places her in a particular relation with "the god" [Ie dieu], Ie dieur," "the act of saying" [Ie dire], ... and with God who is on the side of the Name-of-the-Father. In any case, for man she is on the side of "the truth" and man does not know what to do with it .... Lacan said that he was the first one to feel that way. Topology (for the first time they played with pieces of string at the end of this seminar), Saint Paul, Freud, logic, and plays on words--everytbing was able to prove the validity of the Lacanian theory. If, by erasing the uncertainties, the text published by J.-A. Miller makes it more dogmatic and more pedagogical, it reveals clearly its main founding certainties.

Back Cover

Lacan takes us on a startling psycholinguistic exploration of the bounds of love and knowledge. Often controversial, always inspired, French intellectual Jacques Lacan begins the twentieth year of his famous Seminar by weighing theories of the relationship between the desire for love and the attainment of knowledge from such influential and diverse thinkers as Aristotle, Marx, and Freud. From here he leads us through mathematics, philosophy, religion, and, naturally, psychoanalysis into an entirely new and unexpected way of interpreting the two most fundamental human drives. Anticipated by English-speaking readers for more than twenty years, this annotated translation presents Lacan's most sophisticated work on love, desire, and jouissance.


Seminar XX is Lacan's major work on feminine sexuality.

In particular he explores the question of feminine desire that was absent from his earlier theory of the phallus.

It is a short seminar with only 11 presentations and many of these are rather enigmatic and aphoristic, if they are not read in relation to the discussion of courtly love in Seminar VII and the formulation of jouissance and drive in Seminar XI.

Seminar XX develops the idea that the 'woman does not exist' and that she is 'not-whole', but also goes beyond the discussions of feminine sexuality to consider the relationship between jouissance and love and the idea of jouissance as the ultimate limit of human knowledge.

In the seminar Encore, Lacan proposed what he called "formulas of sexuation" to set down the basic structures of male and female sexuality.


  1. On jouissance
  2. To Jakobson
    1. Linguistricks
    2. The sign that one is changing discourses
    3. Signifierness by the bucketfull
    4. The stupidity of the signifier
    5. The enjoying substance
  3. The function of the written
    1. The unconscious is what is read
    2. On the use of letters
    3. S/s
    4. Ontology, the master's discourse
    5. Speaking of fucking
    6. The unreadable
  4. Love and the signifier
    1. The other sex
    2. Contingency of the signifier, routine of the signified
    3. The end of the world and the "para-being"
    4. Love makes up for the absence of the sexual relationship
    5. The ones
  5. Aristotle and Freud: the other satisfaction
    1. Aristotle's headache (tracas)
    2. The deficiency of jouissance and the satisfaction of blah-blah.
    3. Development, the hypothesis of mastery.
    4. Jouissance is inappropriate to the sexual relationship.
  6. God and Woman's jouissance
    1. Reading-loving, hating
    2. Materialists
    3. Jouissance of being
    4. The male, polymorphous pervert
    5. Mystics
  7. A love letter
    1. Coalescence and scission of a and S(A)
    2. The beyondsex
    3. Speaking ot no avail
    4. Psychoanalysis is not a cosmology
    5. Knowledge of jouissance
  8. Knowledge and truth
    1. Hateloving (l'hainamoration)
    2. Knowledge about truth
    3. Contingency of the phallic function
    4. Freud's charity
    5. Getting of on knowledge
    6. The unconscious and woman
  9. On the Baroque
    1. Where it speaks, it enjoys, and it knows nothing
  10. Rings of string
  11. The rat in the maze
    1. Language is knowledge's harebrained lucubration
    2. About Llanguage
    3. The unity of the body
    4. The Lacanian hypothesis
    5. Love, from contingency to necessity

See Also



  • Le séminaire, Livre XX: Encore, 1972-1973. Paris: Editions du Seuil. 1975.

English version: The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XX: Encore, On Feminine Sexuality, The Limits of Love and Knowledge 1972-1973. Ed. J.-A. Miller. Trans. B. Fink. New York: Norton, 1998.

On Feminine Sexuality the Limits of Love and Knowledge: The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XX Encore 1972-1973 (Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Bk 20).