Being

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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

a


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.