Published in 1973, "L'Etourdit" was one of the French philosopher Jacques Lacan's most important works. The book posed questions that traversed the entire body of Lacan's psychoanalytical explorations, including his famous idea that "there is no such thing as a sexual relationship," which seeks to undermine our certainties about intimacy and reality.
In There's No Such Thing as a Sexual Relationship, Alain Badiou and Barbara Cassin take possession of Lacan's short text, thinking "with" Lacan about his propositions and what kinds of questions they raise in relation to knowledge. Cassin considers the relationship of the real to language through a Sophist lens, while the Platonist Badiou unpacks philosophical claims about truth. Each of their contributions echoes back to one another, offering new ways of thinking about Lacan, his seminal ideas, and his role in advancing philosophical thought.
Lacan's 'L'Etourdit' is a pivotal yet still underappreciated piece of his corpus. In Badiou and Cassin's concise tour de force, two of France's most important living minds tackle this enigmatic text. Through their combined efforts, Badiou and Cassin render 'L'Etourdit' crystal clear, situating Lacan's later teachings in relation to the history of philosophy and logic starting in ancient Greece. This three-way encounter between Lacan, Badiou, and Cassin, stimulating and surprising to equal degrees, will be enthralling for anyone interested in what philosophy and psychoanalysis have to say to each other.
Adrian Johnston, University of New Mexico at Albuquerque
This is a fascinating and complex little book. Specialists will no doubt spend hours and hours debating the significance of these two lectures for the understanding not only of Lacan but also of the respective projects of his two readers, Badiou and Cassin.
Bruno Bosteels, Cornell University
Abbreviations of Lacan's Works Cited in the Text
Introduction to Alain Badiou and Barbara Cassin, There's No Such Thing as a Sexual Relationship: Two Lessons on Lacan, by Kenneth Reinhard
Ab-sense, or Lacan from A to D, by Barbara Cassin
Formulas of "L'Étourdit", by Alain Badiou
About the Authors:
Alain Badiou is emeritus professor of philosophy at the École normale supérieure in Paris. One of the most well-known philosophers of our time, he is also a novelist, playwright, and political activist. His Columbia University Press books include The Incident at Antioch/L'Incident d'Antioche: A Tragedy in Three Acts (2013) and Plato's Republic: A Dialogue in Sixteen Chapters (2015).
Barbara Cassin is a linguist and philosopher and director of research at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique.