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Lacan's discussion of 'the Thing' constitutes one of the central themes in the seminar of 1959-60 (‘’L'éthique de la psychanalyse’’ – “[[The Ethics of Psychoanalysis]]”), where he uses the French term ‘’la Chose’’ interchangeably with the German term ‘’das Ding’’. There are two main contexts in which this term operates.
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{{Top}}[[chose]]{{Bottom}}
  
The distinction between 'word-presentations' (‘’Wort- vorstellungen’’) and 'thing-presentations' (‘’Sachvorstellungen’’) is prominent in Freud's metapsychological writings, in which he argues that the two types of presentation are bound together in the preconscious-conscious system, whereas in the unconscious system only thing-presentations are found.<ref>Freud, 19l5e</ref>
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[[Lacan]]'s [[discussion]] of the "[[Thing]]" constitutes one of the central themes in the [[seminar]] of 1959-60 (''[[Seminars|L'éthique de la psychanalyse]]'' – "[[The Ethics of Psychoanalysis]]"), where he uses the [[French]] term ''[[Thing|la chose]]'' interchangeably with the [[German]] term ''[[Thing|das Ding]]''.  There are two main contexts in which this term operates.
  
This seemed to some of Lacan's contemporaries to offer an objection to Lacan's theories about the linguistic nature of the unconscious. 
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==Word-Presentations and Thing-Presentations==
Lacan counters such objections by pointing out that there are two words in German for 'thing': ‘’das Ding’’ and ‘’die Sache’’.<ref>see S7, 62-3, 44-5</ref>
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The first context is [[Freud]]'s [[distinction]] between "[[Thing|word-presentations]]" (''[[Thing|Wort-vorstellungen]]'') and "[[Thing|thing-presentations]]" (''[[Thing|Sachvorstellungen]]'').  The distinction is prominent in [[Freud]]'s metapsychological writings, in which he argues that the two types of presentation are bound together in the [[preconscious]]-[[conscious]] [[system]], whereas in the [[unconscious|unconscious system]] only [[thing-presentations]] are found.<ref>{{F}} "[[Works of Sigmund Freud|The Unconscious]]", 19l5e. [[SE]] XIV, 161</ref>
It is the latter term which Freud usually employs to refer to the thing-presentations in the unconscious, and Lacan argues that although on one level ‘’Sachvorstellungen’’ and ‘’Wortvorstellungen’’ are opposed, in the symbolic level 'they go together'.
 
Thus ‘’die Sache’’ is the representation of a thing in the [[symbolic]] [[order]], as opposed to ‘’das Ding’’, which is the thing in its “dumb reality”,<ref>7, 55</ref> the thing in the [[real]], which is “the beyond-of-the-signified.<ref>S7, 54</ref>
 
The thing-presentations found in the unconscious are thus still linguistic phenomena, as opposed to ‘’das Ding’’ which is entirely outside [[language]], and outside the [[unconscious]].
 
“The Thing is characterised by the fact that it is impossible for us to imagine it.”<ref>87, 12</ref>
 
Lacan's concept of the Thing as an unknowable x, beyond symbolisation, has clear affinities with the Kantian 'thing-in-itself'.
 
  
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This seemed to some of [[Lacan]]'s contemporaries to offer an objection to [[Lacan]]'s theories [[about]] the [[linguistic|linguistic nature]] of the [[unconscious]].  [[Lacan]] counters such objections by pointing out that there are two [[words]] in [[German]] for "[[thing]]": ''[[Thing|das Ding]]'' and ''[[Thing|die Sache]]''.<ref>{{S7}} p. 62-3, 44-5</ref>  It is the latter term which [[Freud]] usually employs to refer to the [[thing-presentations]] in the [[unconscious]], and [[Lacan]] argues that although on one level ''[[Thing|Sachvorstellungen]]'' and ''[[Thing|Wortvorstellungen]]'' are opposed, in the [[symbolic|symbolic level]] "they go together".
  
In his seminar on the ethics of psychoanalysis, Lacan sought to clarify Freud’s definition of the unconscious and especially the question of what is repressed.
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Thus ''[[Thing|die Sache]]’’ is the [[representation]] of a [[thing]] in the [[symbolic]] [[order]], as opposed to ''[[thing|das Ding]]’’, which is the [[thing]] in its "dumb [[reality]]",<ref>{{S7}} p.55</ref> the [[thing]] in the [[real]], which is "the beyond-of-the-[[signified]]."<ref>{{S7}} p.54</ref>  The [[thing-presentation]]s found in the [[unconscious]] are thus still [[linguistics|linguistic phenomena]], as opposed to ''[[Thing|das Ding]]'' which is entirely [[outside]] [[language]], and [[outside]] the [[unconscious]].  
For Freud there can be no unconscious without repression, but what exactly is it that is repressed: words, images, feelings?
 
For Lacan, what is repressed is not iamges, words or emotions but something much more fundamental.
 
Freud hit upon this when, in ‘’[[The Interpretation of Dreams]]’’, he suggested that there was a hard impenetrable core of the dream – what he called the ‘navel’ of the dream – that is beyond interpretation.
 
What is repressed, argues Lacan, is this hard impenetrable core.
 
This is always a core of the real that is missing from the symbolic and all other representations, images and signifiers are no more than attempts to fill this gap.
 
In seminar VII Lacan identified this repressed element as ‘’the representative of the representation’’, or ‘’dad Ding’’ (the Thing).
 
  
The Thing is the beyond of the signified – that which is unknowable in itself.
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<blockquote>"The Thing is characterised by the fact that it is [[impossible]] for us to imagine it."<ref>{{S7}} p. 125</ref></blockquote>
It is something beyond symbolization, and therefore associated with the real, or as Lacan puts it, “the thing in its dumb reality.<ref>1992: 55</ref>
 
The Thing is a lost object that must be continually refound.
 
However, it is more importantly an ‘object that is nowhere articulated, it is a lost object, but paradoxically an object that was never there in the first place to be lost.”<ref>1992: 58</ref>
 
  
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[[Lacan]]'s [[concept]] of the [[Thing]] as an unknowable x, beyond [[symbolisation]], has clear affinities with the [[Kant]]ian "thing-[[in-itself]]".
  
As well as the object of [[language]], ‘’das Ding’’ is the [[object of desire]].  
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==''Jouissance''==
It is the lost object which must be continually refound, it is the prehistoric, unforgettable Other<ref>S7, 53</ref> - in other words, the forbidden object of incestuous desire, the mother.<ref>S7, 67</ref>
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The second context is ''[[jouissance]]''.  As well as the [[object]] of [[language]], ''[[Thing|das Ding]]'' is the [[object]] of [[desire]]. It is the [[castration|lost]] [[object]] which must be continually refound, it is the prehistoric, unforgettable [[Other]]<ref>{{S7}} p.53</ref> - in other words, the [[forbidden]] [[object]] of [[incest]]uous [[desire]], the [[mother]].<ref>{{S7}} p. 67</ref> The [[pleasure principle]] is the [[law]] which maintains the [[subject]] at a certain distance from the [[Thing]],<ref>{{S7}} p. 58, 63</ref> making the [[subject]] circle round it without ever attaining it.<ref>{{S7}} p. 95</ref>
The [[pleasure principle]] is the law which maintains the [[subject]] at a certain distance from the Thing,<ref>S7, 58, 63</ref> making the subject circle round it without ever attaining it.<ref>S7, 95</ref>
 
The Thing is thus presented to the subject as his Sovereign Good, but if the subject transgresses the pleasure principle and attains this Good, it is experienced as suffering/evil,<ref>Lacan plays on the French term mal, which can mean both suffering and evil, see S7, 179</ref> because the subject “cannot stand the extreme good that ‘’das Ding’’ may bring to him.”<ref>S7, 73</ref>  It is fortunate, then, that the Thing is usually inaccessible.<ref>S7, 159</ref>
 
  
After the seminar of 1959-60, the term ‘’das Ding’’ disappears almost entirely from Lacan's work.  
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The [[Thing]] is thus presented to the [[subject]] as his Sovereign [[Good]], but if the [[subject]] transgresses the [[pleasure principle]] and attains this Good, it is experienced as [[suffering]]/evil,<ref>[[Lacan]] plays on the [[French]] term ''mal'', which can mean both suffering and [[evil]]; {{S7}} p. 179</ref> because the [[subject]] "cannot stand the extreme good that ''[[Thing|das Ding]]'' may bring to him."<ref>{{S7}} p. 73</ref>  It is fortunate, then, that the [[Thing]] is usually inaccessible.<ref>{{S7}} p. 59</ref>
However, the ideas associated with it provide the essential features of the new developments in the concept of the ‘’[[objet petit a]]’’ as Lacan develops it from 1963 onwards.  
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For example the ‘’objet petit a’’ is circled by the [[drive]]<ref>Sll, 168,</ref> and is seen as the cause of desire just as ‘’das Ding’’ is seen as “the cause of the most fundamental human passion.<ref>S7, 97</ref>
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==''Objet petit a''==
Also, the fact that the Thing is not the imaginary object but firmly in the register of the real, <ref>S2, l 12</ref> and yet is “that which in the real suffers from the signifier,<ref>S7, 125</ref> anticipates the transition in Lacan's thought towards locating objet petit a mcreasingly in the register of the real from 1963 on.
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After the [[seminar]] of 1959-60, the term ''[[das Ding]]'' [[disappears]] almost entirely from [[Lacan]]'s [[Work of Jacques Lacan|work]]. However, the [[ideas]] associated with it provide the essential features of the new developments in the concept of the ''[[objet petit a]]'' as [[Lacan]] develops it from 1963 onwards. For example the ''[[objet petit a]]'' is circled by the [[drive]]<ref>{{S11}} p. 168</ref> and is seen as the [[cause]] of [[desire]] just as ''[[thing|das Ding]]'' is seen as "the cause of the most fundamental [[human]] [[passion]]."<ref>{{S7}} p. 97</ref> Also, the fact that the [[Thing]] is not the [[imaginary]] [[object]] but firmly in the [[register]] of the [[real]], <ref>{{S2}} p. 112</ref> and yet is "that which in the real suffers from the [[signifier]],"<ref>{{S7}} p. 125</ref> anticipates the transition in [[Lacan]]'s [[thought]] towards locating ''[[objet petit a]]'' increasingly in the [[register]] of the [[real]] from 1963 on.
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==See Also==
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{{See}}
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* ''[[Jouissance]]''
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* [[Language]]
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* ''[[Objet petit a]]''
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* [[Unconscious]]
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{{Also}}
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==References==
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[[Category:Psychoanalysis]]
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[[Category:Jacques Lacan]]
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Latest revision as of 22:30, 20 May 2019

French: [[chose]]

Lacan's discussion of the "Thing" constitutes one of the central themes in the seminar of 1959-60 (L'éthique de la psychanalyse – "The Ethics of Psychoanalysis"), where he uses the French term la chose interchangeably with the German term das Ding. There are two main contexts in which this term operates.

Word-Presentations and Thing-Presentations

The first context is Freud's distinction between "word-presentations" (Wort-vorstellungen) and "thing-presentations" (Sachvorstellungen). The distinction is prominent in Freud's metapsychological writings, in which he argues that the two types of presentation are bound together in the preconscious-conscious system, whereas in the unconscious system only thing-presentations are found.[1]

This seemed to some of Lacan's contemporaries to offer an objection to Lacan's theories about the linguistic nature of the unconscious. Lacan counters such objections by pointing out that there are two words in German for "thing": das Ding and die Sache.[2] It is the latter term which Freud usually employs to refer to the thing-presentations in the unconscious, and Lacan argues that although on one level Sachvorstellungen and Wortvorstellungen are opposed, in the symbolic level "they go together".

Thus die Sache’’ is the representation of a thing in the symbolic order, as opposed to das Ding’’, which is the thing in its "dumb reality",[3] the thing in the real, which is "the beyond-of-the-signified."[4] The thing-presentations found in the unconscious are thus still linguistic phenomena, as opposed to das Ding which is entirely outside language, and outside the unconscious.

"The Thing is characterised by the fact that it is impossible for us to imagine it."[5]

Lacan's concept of the Thing as an unknowable x, beyond symbolisation, has clear affinities with the Kantian "thing-in-itself".

Jouissance

The second context is jouissance. As well as the object of language, das Ding is the object of desire. It is the lost object which must be continually refound, it is the prehistoric, unforgettable Other[6] - in other words, the forbidden object of incestuous desire, the mother.[7] The pleasure principle is the law which maintains the subject at a certain distance from the Thing,[8] making the subject circle round it without ever attaining it.[9]

The Thing is thus presented to the subject as his Sovereign Good, but if the subject transgresses the pleasure principle and attains this Good, it is experienced as suffering/evil,[10] because the subject "cannot stand the extreme good that das Ding may bring to him."[11] It is fortunate, then, that the Thing is usually inaccessible.[12]

Objet petit a

After the seminar of 1959-60, the term das Ding disappears almost entirely from Lacan's work. However, the ideas associated with it provide the essential features of the new developments in the concept of the objet petit a as Lacan develops it from 1963 onwards. For example the objet petit a is circled by the drive[13] and is seen as the cause of desire just as das Ding is seen as "the cause of the most fundamental human passion."[14] Also, the fact that the Thing is not the imaginary object but firmly in the register of the real, [15] and yet is "that which in the real suffers from the signifier,"[16] anticipates the transition in Lacan's thought towards locating objet petit a increasingly in the register of the real from 1963 on.

See Also


References

  1. Freud, Sigmund. "The Unconscious", 19l5e. SE XIV, 161
  2. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book VII. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-60. Trans. Dennis Porter. London: Routledge, 1992. p. 62-3, 44-5
  3. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book VII. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-60. Trans. Dennis Porter. London: Routledge, 1992. p.55
  4. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book VII. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-60. Trans. Dennis Porter. London: Routledge, 1992. p.54
  5. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book VII. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-60. Trans. Dennis Porter. London: Routledge, 1992. p. 125
  6. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book VII. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-60. Trans. Dennis Porter. London: Routledge, 1992. p.53
  7. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book VII. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-60. Trans. Dennis Porter. London: Routledge, 1992. p. 67
  8. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book VII. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-60. Trans. Dennis Porter. London: Routledge, 1992. p. 58, 63
  9. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book VII. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-60. Trans. Dennis Porter. London: Routledge, 1992. p. 95
  10. Lacan plays on the French term mal, which can mean both suffering and evil; Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book VII. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-60. Trans. Dennis Porter. London: Routledge, 1992. p. 179
  11. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book VII. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-60. Trans. Dennis Porter. London: Routledge, 1992. p. 73
  12. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book VII. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-60. Trans. Dennis Porter. London: Routledge, 1992. p. 59
  13. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book XI. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, 1964. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Hogarth Press and Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1977. p. 168
  14. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book VII. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-60. Trans. Dennis Porter. London: Routledge, 1992. p. 97
  15. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book II. The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis, 1954-55. Trans. Sylvana Tomaselli. New York: Nortion; Cambridge: Cambridge Unviersity Press, 1988. p. 112
  16. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book VII. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-60. Trans. Dennis Porter. London: Routledge, 1992. p. 125