Education by Way of Truths: Lacan with Badiou
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Jacques Lacan’s diagram of the discourse of the analyst, as seen in Figure 6.1, presents a peculiarity in that it locates knowledge (S2) in the position of truth. What does it mean to say that knowledge occupies the place of truth? In seminar XVII, Lacan himself recognizes that there is something deeply ambiguous in this idea: “We are properly speaking condemned to only being able, even on this point, still vague for us, about the relationship between knowledge and truth, to declare anything at all.”1 On the one hand, knowledge functions as truth in the sense that at the end of analysis the truth of the unconscious emerges. On the other hand however, Lacan senses something more at stake. In a lecture given a few years before seminar XVII entitled “Science and Truth,” Lacan issues this challenge: “I will take it up now only to pose you analysts a question: does or doesn’t what you do imply that the truth of neurotic suffering lies in having the truth as cause.”2 Here, Lacan suggests that what is important in psychoanalysis is that it deploys the function of “the truth as cause”—but the cause of what exactly? In seminar XVII, Lacan sheds some more light, claiming that the truth causes “only a collapse of knowledge” (S XVII:186). He goes on to say that it is a collapse that “creates a production” (186).
KeywordsOriginal Emphasis Previous Regime Tonal Music Substantive Claim Chinese Peasant
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- 1.Jacques Lacan, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XVII: The Other Side of Psychoanalysis, trans. Russell Grigg (New York: W. W. Norton, 2007), 109.Google Scholar
- 2.Jacques Lacan, “Science and Truth,” Newsletter of the Freudian Field 3 (1989): 19.Google Scholar
- 3.Alain Badiou, Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil (New York: Verso, 2002).Google Scholar
- 4.Alain Badiou, Infinite Thought: Truth and the Return of Philosophy, trans. Justin Clemens and Oliver Feltham (New York: Continuum, 2003), 61.Google Scholar
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- 6.For a full account of Badiou’s philosophical project, see Peter Hallward, Badiou: A Subject to Truth (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003).Google Scholar
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- 10.See Louis Althusser, The Humanist Controversy and Other Texts, trans. Francois Matherson and G. M. Goshgarian (New York and London: Verso, 2003).Google Scholar
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