being (Ítre) Lacan's use of the term 'being' introduces a metaphysical
note to his discourse that distinguishes it from most other schools of psycho-
analytic theory, which refuse to engage with their metaphysical and philo-
sophical foundations (see E, 228). Lacan argues that it is necessary for
psychoanalysts to engage with such concerns, for when the analyst intervenes
his action 'goes to the heart of [the analysand's] being', and this also affects
his own being, since he cannot 'remain alone outside the field of play' (E,
228). Hence 'it is certainly in the relation to being that the analyst has to find
his operating level' (E, 252). Lacan also argues that during the course of the
treatment the analyst is subjected to a progressive loss of being (Fr. dÈsÍtre), as
he is gradually reduced to being a mere object for the analysand.
Lacan's discussion of being is clearly influenced by the ideas of Martin
Heidegger (see Heidegger, 1927). Being belongs to the symbolic order, since it
is 'the relation to the Other in which being finds its status' (E, 251). This
relation, like the Other itself, is marked by a lack (manque), and the subject is
constituted by this lack of being (manque-‡-Ítre), which gives rise to desire, a
want-to-be (manque-‡-Ítre); desire is thus essentially a desire for being.
Whenever Lacan opposes being tO EXISTENCE, œt œS with existence in the real,
which contrasts with the symbolic function of being. Something may thus be
without existing, when it is constructed from speech but finds no correlate in
the real (e.g. the complete Other). Conversely, something may exist without
being, such as the 'ineffable, stupid existence' of the subject, which cannot be
completely reduced to a signifying articulation (E, 194).
Lacan coins the neologism parlÍtre from the verbal noun Ítre (being) and
the verb parler (to speak) to emphasise his point that being is constituted in
and through language. A human being is above all a speaking being.