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Subjectivity and Otherness : A Philosophical Reading of Lacan
Chiesa, Lorenzo
MIT Press / Softcover / 2007-09-01 / 0262532948
Lacan / Philosophy
price: $21.95 (may be subject to change)
243 pages
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Countering the call by some "pro-Lacanians" for an end to the exegesis of Lacan's work--and the dismissal by "anti-Lacanians" of Lacan as impossibly impenetrable--Subjectivity and Otherness argues for Lacan as a "paradoxically systematic" thinker, and for the necessity of a close analysis of his texts. Lorenzo Chiesa examines, from a philosophical perspective, the evolution of the concept of subjectivity in Lacan's work, carrying out a detailed reading of the Lacanian subject in its necessary relation to otherness according to Lacan's orders of the Imaginary, the Symbolic, and the Real.

Chiesa emphasizes the continuity underlying apparently incompatible phases of Lacan's examination of the subject, describing Lacan's theory as a consistent philosophical system--but one that is constantly revised and therefore problematic. Chiesa analyzes each "old" theory of the subject within the framework of a "new" elaboration and reassesses its fundamental tenets from the perspective of a general psychoanalytic discourse that becomes increasingly complex. From the 1960s on, writes Chiesa, the Lacanian subject amounts to an irreducible lack that must be actively confronted and assumed; this "subjectivized lack," Chiesa argues further, offers an escape from the contemporary impasse between the "death of the subject" alleged by postmodernism and a return to a traditional "substantialist" notion of the subject. An original treatment of psychoanalytic issues, Subjectivity and Otherness fills a significant gap in the existing literature on Lacan, taking seriously the need for a philosophical investigation of Lacanian concepts.

--- from the publisher

Critical Acclaim:

"Chiesa reintroduces us to Lacan in the same way Lacan reintroduces us to Freud: setting aside received ideas, false projections, and impressionistic readings, he uncovers what is most basic and original in Lacan's thought while demonstrating conclusively why an engagement with it is indispensable for contemporary philosophy. Not a fly-over summary of the Lacanian corpus, the book manages rather to capture the eventful moments of hesitancy, insight, recasting, in short, the movement of Lacan's thought as it grapples with the critical relation between subjectivity and otherness. This is a dynamic, matchless reading of Lacan that will ignite new interest in his work and rekindle the passions of initiates."
--Joan Copjec, author of Imagine There's No Woman

"Distilled from an enviable mastery of the whole of Lacan's oeuvre, Lorenzo Chiesa's book provides an exceptionally clear and well-integrated account of all the central concepts at work in Lacan's notoriously elusive system of thought, organised in terms of its shift in orientation from 'Imaginary' through 'Symbolic' to 'Real'. Rarely have the properly philosophical dimensions of Lacan's anti-philosophy been presented with such assurance and poise; anyone interested in the ongoing re-evaluation of the place of the subject in contemporary continental philosophy will find Subjectivity and Otherness an invaluable and inspiring guide."
--Peter Hallward, Professor of Philosophy, Middlesex University, London, UK

"Lorenzo Chiesa has written a philosophical account of Lacan's teaching that is both a superb introduction and a penetrating study of his major contributions, from the initial discovery that the unconscious is structured like a language to a detailed analysis of the subject of jouissance. Newcomers will find a clear, step-by-step exposition of the major themes, while those already familiar with Lacan's contribution to psychoanalysis will find intense stimulation in Chiesa's philosophical engagement with Lacanian thought."
--Russell Grigg, Director, Psychoanalytic Studies and Associate Professor, Philosophy, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia

Contents:

Series Foreword vii
Introduction 2
I THE SUBJECT OF THE IMAGINARY (OTHER)
1 The Subject of the Imaginary (Other) 12
1.1 Introduction: The Subject and the Ego 13
1.2 "Je est une autre": The (De)formative Function of the Image and the Mirror Stage 14
1.3 Hainamoration, Ideal Ego and Ego-Idea 19
1.4 Consciousness, the Unconscious, and the Complexes 26
II THE SUBJECT OF THE SYMBOLIC (OTHER)
2 The Unconscious Structured Like a Language 34
2.1 Introduction: From the Small to the Big Other 35
2.2 The Function of Speech 37
2.3 The Notion of Message 41
2.4 Signifier, Signified, Letter 46
3 Oedipus as a Metaphor 60
3.1 Introduction: Entering the Symbolic 61
3.2 The Mythical State before Frustration, and Primordial Frustration 65
3.3 The Dialectic of Frustration, or, the First ("Pre-Oedipal") Stage of the Oedipus Complex 67
3.4 The Second and Third Stages of the Oedipus Complex 75
3.5 Sexuation and the Feminine Oedipus Complex 82
3.6 The Paternal Metaphor, the Name-of-the-Father, and the Phallus 88
3.7 The Oedipus Complex and the Birth of the Unconscious 96
III THE SUBJECT OF THE REAL (OTHER)
4 There Is No Other of the Other 104
4.1 Introduction 105
4.2 From "There Is an Other of the Other" . . . 107
4.3 . . . to "There Is No Other of the Other" 115
4.4 What Is the "Real"? 125
5 THE SUBJECT OF THE FANTASY . . . AND BEYOND 140
5.1 The Subject of the Fantasy and the Function of the Death Drive: An Overview 141
5.2 The Subject of the Fantasy and Desire 151
5.3 The Subject of the Fantasy and the Object ? 156
5.4 Pure Desire, Jouissance, and the Ethics of Psychoanalysis 167
5.5 J'ouïs-sens, Jouis-sens, Jouis-sans 183
Notes 193

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About the Author

Lorenzo Chiesa is a Lecturer at the School of European Culture and Languages, University of Kent, United Kingdom. He has published numerous journal articles and book chapters on Lacanian theory and contemporary French philosophy, and serves as Production Editor for the Journal for Lacanian Studies.

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