Lacan and some philosophers

I’ve been sitting in on the seminar on hermeneutics that Sean is doing this semester. Besides Gadamer’s Truth and Method, we’re reading several essays by Ricoeur, and some pieces by Derrida. Our last class was on the topic of ideological critique, reading a piece on Habermas’ critique of hermeneutics as being unable to adequately critique ideology or politics at all because of its inherent relativism.

The next day I was exchanging emails with Sean and this ended up with a discussion of Freudo-Marxism and Lacanian-Marxism, and Sean leading me to look at a few pages of a book by Charles E. Reagan called Paul Ricoeur: his life and his work. Pages 25-31 (available as a free preview on Google Books) detail Ricoeur’s relationship with Lacan, which was unusual to say the least. I find the relationships that Lacan had (or tried to have) with philosophers very interesting. I of course knew about his attempt to seek approval from Heidegger and the encounters with Deleuze, but I was unaware that he had sought out both Merleau-Ponty and Ricoeur as potential allies. The whole thing has this very bizarre feel to it. Of course now there are many philosophers who pledge allegiance of some sort to Lacan. Does anyone know of any other relationships between Lacan and philosophers, and if so, were they as strange as these?

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7 responses to “Lacan and some philosophers

  1. Christian

    The Merleau-Ponty link is not that strange. He had an early interest in psychology (La structure de comportement, 1942), lectured in psychology, was one of the first to introduce Saussure and structuralism into philosophy, and later held a close relationship with Lévi-Strauss. I’m not sure if he ever wrote anything on Lacan, but he does have some interesting articles on language and structuralism in Signes, 1960. Had he lived a few more years, maybe we wouldn’t think of this link as that strange.

    Another interesting link from Lacan to philosophy: Cornelius Castoriadis. There’s a lot of lacanian psychology in L’institution imaginaire de la société, 1975, even a small critique.

  2. I think Lacan’s strangest relationship with any “philosopher” at the time was probably Bataille. The two were friends early on as members of the Parisian intelligentsia (and also happened to attend, along with Merleau-Ponty, the lectures of Alexandre Kojeve between ’33-’39). Later, Lacan married Bataille’s estranged wife Sylvia and fathered a daughter with her, both of whom kept the name Bataille, all the while maintaining a close friendship with Georges.

    PS: I first came across the Ricoeur thing in Seminar XI, where he criticizes Ricoeur’s work but it’s written in such a way that you can tell it’s kind of a recent fall out of some sort, perhaps unexpected. If you’re interested in some of the biographical gossip, I think you can find more in Elisabeth Roudinesco’s biography of Lacan, titled “Jacques Lacan.” I recall some things being mentioned about Lacan’s fraught relationship with Ricoeur, but nothing in particular, unfortunately

  3. dave

    I don’t know about Lacan and other philosophers, but the bit about Ricoeur is pretty interesting. I’m doing an independent study on Ricoeur right now, and I probably should have tried to track down that Reagan book. I haven’t read much in the intersection of philosophy and psychoanalysis, so reading Ricoeur on Freud and psychology has been my introduction. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but I have a general positive feeling towards Ricoeur.

  4. Are there notes available for the seminar Sean is doing?

  5. Not that I’m aware of Ted, no. I’m not sure if he would be interested in posting them publicly or not but I can bring it up next time I see him.

  6. João Gabriel

    There’s the relation with Louis Althusser. He had, like other marxist philosophers (Slavoj Zizek, for instance), great expectation with the critique potential of Lacan’s psychoanalisys.

  7. ~jg.

    Jean Hyppolite (known for works about Hegel) saw some Lacan’s seminars and the psychanalyst invited him to think the relation Freud/dialectic.

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