Although the symbolic father is not an actual subject but a position in the symbolic order, a subject may nevertheless come to occupy this position, by virtue of exercising the paternal function. Nobody can ever occupy this position completely S4, , , However, the symbolic father does not usually intervene by virtue of someone incarnating this function, but in a veiled fashion, for example by being mediated by the discourse of the mother see S4, The symbolic father is the fundamental element in the structure of the symbolic order; what distinguishes the symbolic order of culture from the imaginary order of nature is the inscription of a line of male descendence. The symbolic father is also the dead father, the father of the primal horde who has been murdered by his own sons see Freud, —
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Evans, Dylan. An Introductory Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis. New York: Brunner-Routledge. Back Cover Jacques Lacan is arguably the most original and influential psychoanalytic thinker since Freud. His ideas have revolutionized the clinical practice of psychoanalysis and continue to have a major impact in fields as diverse a film studies, literary criticism, feminist theory and philosophy.
Detailed definitions are provided for over two hundred Lacanian terms. Each major concept is traced back to its origins in the work of Freud, Saussure , Hege and otbers. An Introductory Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis provides a unique source of reference for psychoanalysts in training and in practice.
Preface "My discourse proceeds in the following way: each term is sustained only in its topological relation with the others.
Today there are many such languages, each with its own particular lexis and syntax. The fact that these languages use many of the same terms, inherited from Freud, can create the impression that they are in fact all dialects of the same language. Such an impression is, however, misleading. Each psychoanalytic theory articulates these terms in a unique way, as well as introducing new terms of its own, and is thus a unique language, ultimately untranslatable.
One of the most importailt psychoanalytic languages in use today is that developed by the French psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan This obscurity has even been seen as a deliberate attempt to ensure that Lacanian discourse remains the exclusive properity of a small intellectual elite , and to protect it from external criticism. If this is the case , then this dictionary is a move in the other direction, an attempt to open Lacanian discourse up top wider scrutiny and critical engagement.
The dictionary is an ideal way of exploiting language since it has the same structure as a language; it is a synchronic system in which the terms have no positive existence , since they are each defined by their mutual differences; it is a closed, self -referential structure in which meaning is nowhere fully present but always delayed in continual metonymy ; it defines each term by reference to other terms and thus denies the novice reader any point of entry and, to refer to a Lacanian formula , if their is no point of entry, there can be no sexual relationship.
Many others have perceived the value of the dictionary as a tool for exploring psychoailalytic theory. The most famous example is the classic dictionary of psychoanalysis by Laplanche and Pontalis There is also the short dictionary by Rycroft which is extremely readable.
In addition to these two dictionaries which concentrate mainly on Freud, there are also dictionaries of Kleinian psychoanalysis Hinshelwood, , of Jungian psychoanalysis Samuels et al. A dictionary of Lacanian psychoanalysis is conspicuous by its absence from the above list. However, none of these has yet been translated, and thus the anglophone student of Lacan bas been left without a useful tool of reference. The dictionaries by Laplanche and Pontalis and by Wright include articles on some Lacanian terms, but not many.
A few English -language publications have included glossaries which provide a key to a number of Lacanian terms e. Sheridan , ; Roustang, , but these too include only a few terms, with extremely brief remarks attached to each. The present work will therefore go some way towards filling an obvious gap in reference material in psychoanalysis. While many have seen the value of the dictionary as a tool for exploring psychoanalytical languages not so many have been fully aware of the dangers involved.
One important danger is that by emphasizing the synchronic structure of language, the dictionary can obscure the diachronic dimension. All languages, including those which are otherwise known as psychoanalytic theories, are in a continual state of flux, since they change with use.
By overlooking this dimension, the dictionary can create the erroneous impression that languages are fixed unchanging entities. However, these changes are not always well understood. Broadly speaking , there are two main ways of misrepresenting them. By showing how the changes are often gradual and hesitant, l hope to problematise the simplistic narratives of epistemological breaks. The dictionary contains entries for over two hundred terms used by Lacan in the course of his work.
Many new terms could have been included, and the main criterion for selecting these terms rather than others is one of frequency. In addition to terms frequently employed by Lacan, a few other terms have been included which Lacan employs infrequently or not at all. Besides the criteria of frequency and contextual information, the selection o terms has also, inevitably, been governed by my own particular way of reading Lacan.
Another writer, with a different reading of Lacan, would undoubtedly have made a different selection of terms. It is one reading of Lacan among many, as partial and selective as any other.
The partiality and limitations of this dictionary concern not only the matter of the selection of terms, but also the matter of sources. Thus the dictionary is not based on the complete works of Lacan, which have not yet been published in their entirety, hut only on a selection of his works mainly the published works, plus a few unpublished ones , This almost exclusive reliance on published material means that there are inevitably gaps in the dictionary.
Another self-imposed limitation has been the decision to restrict reference to secondary sources to a minimum. To exclude references to the work of present-day Lacanian analysts is not such a grave omission as it might seem, since this work has consisted almost entirely of commentaries on Lacan rather than of radically original developments the work of Jacques- Alain Miller is a notable exception. There are two main reasons for this omission.
Secondly, l also want to encourage the reader to engage directly with Lacan self, on Lacans own terms, without prejudicing the debate for or against him by reference to his admirers or to his critics. However, there are some exceptions to this rule of omission, when the debate around a particular term has seemed to be so important that it would be misleading to omit all refererence to it e. Lacan himself actively encouraged debate between psychoanalysts and philosphers, linguists , mathematicians , anthropologists and others, and today there is growing interest in Lacanian psychoanalysis in many other areas especially in fillm studies, feminist theory and literary criticism.
For those with backgrounds in these disciplines the difficulties involved in reading Lacan can be especially great precisely due to their unfamiliarity with the dynamics of psychoanalytie treatment. Because of their brevity, these summaries run the risk of oversimplifying complex concepts, and will undoubtedly strike those more familiar with Freuds work as somewhat rudimentary.
Nevertheless, it is hoped that they will helpful to those readers unversed in Freud. Given the wide range of readers at whom this dictionary is aimed one problem has been to decide the level of complexity at which to pitch the entries. The solution attempted here has been to pitch different entries at different levels.
These entries then refer the reader to more complex terms, which are pitched at a higher level and which the beginner should not hope to grasp immediately. This will I hope allow the reader to find some kind of direction in navigating through the dictionary.
Benvenuto and Kennedy, ; Bowie, ; Grosz, ; Lemaire, ; Sarup, , including some excellent ones e. The dictionary is, rather, an introductory reference book, a guide which the reader may refer back to in order to answer a specific question or to follow up a particular line of inquiry. It is not meant to be a substitute for reading Lacan, but a companion to such reading. For this reason copious page references have been provided throughout the dictionary, the intention being to allow the reader to go back to the text and place the references in context.
Another problem concerns the issue of translation. In order to avoid possible confusion, the French terms used by Lacan are also given along with the English translations. The one issue on which I differ from Sheridan is my decision to leave his algebraic symbols in their original form. For exampie I have left the symbols A and a as they are, rather than translating them as 0 and o as Sheridan does.
Furthermore, as has become clear at the various international conferences of Lacanian psychoanalysis, it is very useful for analysts with different mother -tongues to have some basic symbols i common which can facilitate their discussions of Lacan.
Another, more fundamental problem is the paradox involved in the very act of writing a dictionary of Lacanian terms.
Dictionaries usually attempt to pin down the meanings of each term and eradicate ambiguity. Perhaps this is true. It is certainly true that no one ever learned language by reading a dictionary. In this way, each reader will find their own way through the dictionary, as each one, as Lacan himself would have said, is led by their desire to know.