Notes on Seminar VII: 18th November 1959 : p1-7 : 15th September 2012 Reading Group Meeting

by Julia Evans on September 15, 2012

During the introduction to the Reading Group, Bruno de Florence volunteered to read the seminar in French to check the translation.  It transpires there are a number of mistakes and Bruno de Florence drew only those which alter the meaning of the text to our attention.

Related texts

Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: from 18th November 1959 : Jacques Lacan or here

Texts from the “Reading Seminar VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis”’ group : here  

The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  or here

P1 : Seminar VII: session of 18th November 1959


Translation: The Chapter titles and sub-titles are given by Jacques-Alain Miller who edited the text from notes of its spoken delivery.  The footnote about the translation of ‘La Faute’ is wrong.  ‘Transgression’ is a wrong translation.  ‘Guilt’ is a better translation and should be substituted for transgression throughout.

2nd paragraph, p1: ‘I, in fact, decided to do so because the subject follows directly from my seminar of last year, if it is true that we can consider that work as completely finished.’ : Last year’s seminar was: Seminar VI: Desire and its interpretation: 1958-1959: first session on 12th November 1958: availability here:  Seminar VI: Desire and its interpretation: 1958-1959 : from 12th November 1958 : Jacques Lacan or here

Translation: 4th paragraph, p1: ‘Very specific, on the other hand, like our daily work, namely, in the way in which we have to respond in experience to what I have taught you to articulate as a demand, a patient’s demand, to which our answer (not response) gives its (not an) exact meaning.

P2: Seminar VII: session of 18th November 1959

Translation: 3rd paragraph: … the universe of guilt (mistranslated as transgression). That is the expression which, with an extra adjective, my colleague Hesnard uses. He refers to the morbid universe of guilt (mistranslated as transgression.) …

3rd paragraph, p2: about Dr Angèlo Hesnard: The following information is summarised from Martine Bernard-Hesnard’s web-site, available here :

Dr Angèlo Hesnard would appear to have been a psychiatrist who drew the attention of the Vatican’s Holy Office to three of his books. On January 10th 1956, the Authorities put three of his books on the Index list, that is they proscribed: Dr. A. Hesnard: Morale sans péché (Morality without sin), Presses Universitaires de France, Paris 1954; L’univers morbide de la faute (The Morbid Universe of Guilt), same publishers 1939; and Manuel de sexologie normale et pathologique, Payot, Paris, 1951.

The charge would seem to be that he completely inverses moral values to a context that no Catholic can possibly agree to. So Hesnard is accused of: ‘holding certain standards: in his own mind they are very lofty standards. But they are based entirely upon the relation of our exterior acts to the rest of society. We are not to be judged by any internal tribunal of right and wrong. Man is no longer to be terrified by an unseen judge laying down the law to him in the inner chambers of his heart, and saying “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not”’ ‘The author terms the doctrine of sin and inner responsibility a “myth-morality”, something derived first from the anxiety-ridden and ritualistic Old Testament, and later from sex-repressing monasticism. If we reduce Dr. Hesnard’s thesis starkly to its bare bones, we can easily show is in flat contradiction of Christian teachings.’  The charge goes on to emphatically state: ‘This is the true basis of Christian morality.’ & ends ‘May the distortions increase in us the desire to present the full truth.’

In summary,  Hesnard’s book ‘The Morbid Universe of Guilt’ was banned by the Vatican over three years before Lacan gives this session.  It is banned because it challenges ‘THE true basis of Christian morality’. Hesnard is accused of distorting ‘the full truth.’  Desire acquires a THE in front of it and its direction is defined by the Vatican.  So the Vatican puts Hesnard outside morality and THE law.  I suspect these points will return.

Translation: 4th paragraph, p2: ‘It is remarkable to see how they, as it were, give in to the temptation of an excessive and even comic optimism, and start to think that a reduction (not decline) of morbidity might lead guilt (not transgression) to vanish. 5th paragraph: In fact, what we are dealing with is nothing less than the attraction of guilt (not transgression).

7th paragraph, p2: Comment: This paragraph refers to the Freud’s dialectic between eros and thanatos.  The drive can dissolve as well as unite.

p3: Seminar VII: session of 18th November 1959:

2nd paragraph: ‘That is why I believe it necessary to relate the dimension of our experience to the contribution of those who have attempted in our time to advance moral thought – I am, in fact, alluding to Fritz Rauh, whom we will be concerned with as one of our reference points in this exercise.’

I have had difficulties in locating anything about Fritz Rauh and welcome contributions. There is an internet reference to a painter of that name: Fritz Rauh was born in 1920 in Wuppertal lived in the US from 1954 onwards. His paintings are coloured by nature and energy.’   I do not think this is the same one as the reference by Lacan. From the bibliography, (p329) there is this reference: Fritz Rauh (1969) Das Sittliche Leben des Menschen im Licht des gleichenden Verhaltensforschung.’ Kevelaer, Rheinland: Butzen und Bercker   The internet translates this as ‘The moral life of man in the light of the same end behavior research’. There seems to be a copy of this book in German available to read on the internet.  Further to this, I have no information.

P4: Seminar VII: session of 18th November 1959

1st paragraph, p4: I draw to your attention: ‘The naturalist liberation of desire has failed historically.’ … 2nd paragraph: ‘we will soon see that in truth everything in this moral theory was to destine it to failure.’

3rd paragraph, p4: ‘… although the experience of the man of pleasure presents itself with an ideal of naturalist liberation, one has only to read the major authors – I mean those who in expressing themselves on the subject have adopted the boldest approaches to libertinage, and even to eroticism itself – to realize that this experience contains a note of defiance, a kind of trial by ordeal in relation to that which remains the terminal point of this argument, an undoubtedly diminished but nevertheless fixed term. And that is nothing less than the divine term.’

‘As the creator of nature, God is summoned to account for the extreme anomalies whose existence the Marquis de Sade, Mirabeau, and Diderot, among others, have drawn our attention to. …’

So it appears that Lacan is giving de Sade, Mirabeau and Diderot as examples of extreme anomalies of nature. Why?  In order to answer this question I first looked them in the bibliography and then in Wikipedia. A summary of both sources follows:

Marquis de Sade (2 June 1740 – 2 December 1814): wrote Philosophy in the Boudoir and other writings: 1965: The Story of Juliette: 1968: Idée sur le Roman: 1970.  He was a French aristocrat, revolutionary politician, philosopher, and writer famous for his libertine sexuality and lifestyle. His works include novels, short stories, plays, dialogues, and political tracts. He is best known for his erotic works, which combined philosophical discourse with pornography, depicting sexual fantasies with an emphasis on violence, criminality, and blasphemy against the Catholic Church.

Sade was incarcerated in various prisons and in an insane asylum for about 32 years of his life. During the French Revolution he was an elected delegate to the National Convention. Many of his works were written in prison.

Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau (9 March 1749 – 2 April 1791): wrote L’Oeuvre Libertine du Comte de Mirabeau: Sainte-Maxime: D’Aujourd’hui:  He was a French revolutionary, as well as a writer, diplomat, journalist and French politician. He was a popular orator and statesman. During the French Revolution, he was a moderate, favoring a constitutional monarchy built on the model of Great Britain. In the years leading up to the Revolution, he communicated with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson and used materials provided directly by each of them in several of his pre-Revolution publications.

Denis Diderot (October 5, 1713 – July 31, 1784)  : wrote  Rameau’s Nephew and other Works: 1956: He was a French philosopher, art critic, and writer. He was a prominent person during the Enlightenment. Diderot also contributed to literature, notably with Jacques le fataliste et son maître (Jacques the Fatalist and his Master), which emulated Laurence Sterne in challenging conventions regarding novels and their structure and content, while also examining philosophical ideas about free will. Diderot is also known as the author of the dialogue, Le Neveu de Rameau (Rameau’s Nephew), upon which many articles and sermons about consumer desire have been based.

Summary: All three lived roughly contemporaneously, when political ideas were changing, in a revolution.  All three combine political ideas with (de Sade & Mirabeau) descriptions of libertinage (a beyond of enjoyment) and (Diderot) with ideas of free will and consumer desire.

4th paragraph, p4: ‘… from the moment of those first soundings, from the sudden flash of light that the Freudian experience cast on the paradoxical origins of desire, on the polymorphously perverse character of its infantile forms, …’  Bruno de Florence suggested this referred to Sigmund Freud’s ‘Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905)[p33 of pfl, Penguin Freud Library: Volume 7, On Sexuality or p1173] I think this is the quote: From p1219 or p108 of pfl: Essay II, Infantile Sexuality: Section 4, Masturbatory Sexual Manifestations: Paragraph heading,

Polymorphously Perverse Disposition

It is an instructive fact that under the influence of seduction children can become polymorphously perverse, and can be led into all possible kinds of sexual irregularities. This shows that an aptitude for them is innately present in their disposition. There is consequently little resistance towards carrying them out, since the mental dams against sexual excesses – shame, disgust and morality – have either not yet been constructed at all or are only in course of construction, according to the age of the child. In this respect children behave in the same kind of way as an average uncultivated woman in whom the same polymorphously perverse disposition persists. Under ordinary conditions she may remain normal sexually, but if she is led on by a clever seducer she will find every sort of perversion to her taste, and will retain them as part of her own sexual activities. Prostitutes exploit the same polymorphous, that is, infantile, disposition for the purposes of their profession; and, considering the immense number of women who are prostitutes or who must be supposed to have an aptitude for prostitution without becoming engaged in it, it becomes impossible not to recognize that this same disposition to perversions of every kind is a general and fundamental human characteristic.

Reference, for the following quote, is missing: It is probably a footnote by Sigmund Freud, written after Three Essays (1905) and I have been unable to find its exact location:  ‘It will be enough here to refer to my Three Essays (1905d), in which I have attempted to throw some light – if only a feeble one – on the somatic processes in which the essential nature of sexuality is to be looked for. I have there shown that the constitutional sexual disposition of children is incomparably more variegated than might have been expected, that it deserves to be described as ‘polymorphously perverse’ and that what is spoken of as the normal behaviour of the sexual function emerges from this disposition after certain of its components have been repressed.’

Summary: Children’s enjoyment is organised genitally.  This is an enjoyment outside the pleasure principle.

Last line p4: ‘perverse jouissance’: Comments in 3 sections:

(i) Translation or meaning: perverse:  The common usage of perversion differs in French and English though the word’s derivation is in common, see below.  In English, perversion is defined first as abnormal or unacceptable behaviour. The second more rare usage involves the law or a limit, for example, the perversion of the law. So it is going against the law or limit or hiding under the limit.  In French, I understand, it retains its original meaning which is not specific to abnormal or unacceptable sexual behaviour. Lacan is probably using it in the second sense not as abnormal.

From the Concise Oxford Dictionary: 10th Edition: Perverse: adj. 1 showing a deliberate and obstinate desire to behave unacceptably. 2 abnormal or unacceptable sexual behaviour : Derivatives – perverter n.: Origin Middle English: from Old French. Pervertir from Latin pervertere, from per ‘thoroughly, to ill effect’ + vertere ‘to turn’

(ii) Translation or meaning: jouissance:  This word is usually left in the French as it is difficult to translate into English.  Excitement or Enjoyment approach its meaning.  As I asserted at this first meeting, it is in use within English.  My Concise Oxford Dictionary, 10th Edition, p764 gives an English and French pronunciation and this definition: n. formal pleasure. Origin: French from jouir ‘enjoy’. After some discussion, it emerged that this use of jouissance may be similar to Geoffrey Chaucer’s use of ‘bliss’.  It is hoped that this will be explored further.

(iii) perverse jouissance.  This is enjoyment outside the pleasure principle to the excesses given by De Sade and Mirabeau above.  There was further discussion of excess or surplus jouissance.  This evolved into the difference between profit and plus-value in Marxist economics.  It is possible that Diderot on consumer desire is involved at this point. It is hoped that there will be further contributions on this topic.

P5: Seminar VII: session of 18th November 1959

3rd paragraph, p5: I will give Aristotle an important place in my discussion, including particularly that work which lays out Aristotelian ethics in its most elaborate form, the ‘Nicomachean Ethics’. :  Background information summarised from Wikipedia: Aristotle (384 BC to 322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. Together with Plato and Socrates (Plato’s teacher), Aristotle is one of the most important founding figures in Western philosophy. Aristotle’s writings were the first to create a comprehensive system of  Western philosophy, encompassing morality, aesthetics, logic, science, politics, and metaphysics. His works contain the earliest known formal study of logic, which was incorporated in the late 19th century into modern formal logic. In metaphysics, Aristotelianism had a profound influence on philosophical and theological thinking in the Islamic and Jewish traditions in the Middle Ages, and it continues to influence Christian theology, especially the scholastic tradition of the Catholic Church. His ethics, though always influential, gained renewed interest with the modern advent of virtue ethics.

Comments on the Nicomachean Ethics: This is Aristotle’s best known work on ethics. The work, which plays a pre-eminent role in defining Aristotelian ethics, consists of ten books, originally separate scrolls, and is understood to be based on notes from his lectures at the Lyceum, which were either edited by or dedicated to Aristotle’s son, Nicomachus. The theme of the work is the Socratic question which had previously been explored in Plato’s works, of how men should best live

Quote from page 5, Sem VII: There are two points in Aristotle’s work in which he shows how a whole register of desire is literally situated by him outside of the field of morality. Where a certain category of desires is involved, there is, in effect, no ethical problem for Aristotle. Yet these desire are nothing less than those notions that are situated in the forefront of our experiences. A whole large field of what constitutes for us the sphere of sexual desires is simply classed by Aristotle in the realm of monstrous anomalies – he uses the term “bestiality” with reference to them. What occurs at this level has nothing to do with moral evaluation.

Comment:  There is repetition of desire which is outside and also of monstrous anomolies. These are both implicated in the reference to Freud, De Sade and Mirableau.

Paragraph 6, p5: Quote: We are faced with question of what analysis allows us to formulate concerning the origin of morality. Is its contribution limited to the elaboration of a mythology that is more credible and more secular than that which claims to be revealed? I have in mind the reconstructed mythology of ‘Totem and Taboo’, which starts out from the experience of the original murder of the father, from the circumstances that give rise to it and its consequences. From this point of view, it is the transformation of the energy of desire which makes possible the idea of the genesis of its repression. As a result, the guilt (JE; corrected from transgression in Dennis Porter’s translation) is not in this instance just something which is imposed on us in a formal way; it is instead something worthy of our praise, ‘felix culpa’, since it is at the origin of a higher complexity, something to which the realm of civilization owes its development. Note:  Totem and Taboo: 1912-1913 published 1913: p43 of pfl vol 13, The origins of religion: The chapter titles follow:

Preface p49 Preface to the Hebrew Translation p51: I The Horror of Incest p53: II Taboo and Emotional Ambivalence p71: III Animism, Magic and the Omnipotence of Thoughts p132 IV The Return of Totemism in Childhood p159: Available here  or here

Comment: Is there something beyond reconstructing how morality came into being? What is the beyond of morality?

P6: Seminar VII: session of 18th November 1959

Paragraph 4, p6: Sigmund Freud: Civilization and its discontents: written 1929, published 1930: p243 of pfl – Penguin Freud Library – vol 12, Civilization, Society and Religion. Quote Sem VII : … I refer you to ‘Civilization and its discontents’, published in 1929 (corrected from the original text, 1922) and written by Freud after the working out of his second topic, that is to say after he had placed in the foreground the highly problematic notion of the death instinct. You will find expressed there in striking phrases the idea that what, in brief happens in the progress of civilization, those discontents that are to be explored, is situated, as far as man is concerned, that turning point in history where Freud himself and his work are situated. We will come back to the significance of Freud’s formula and I will draw your attention to its significance in the text. But I believe it to be important enough for me to point it out to you right away, and already sufficiently illuminated in my teaching, where I show the originality of the Freudian conversion in the relation of man to the logos.

Comment: 1) A turning point is how Lacan views Freud’s work.

End paragraph 4, p6: Quote ‘relation of man to the logos’.

(i) definition of ‘logos’ Summarised from Wikipedia: Originally a word meaning “a ground”, “a plea”, “an opinion”, “an expectation”, “word,” “speech,” “account,” “reason,” it became a technical term in philosophy, beginning with Heraclitus (ca. 535–475 BC), who used the term for a principle of order and knowledge. Ancient philosophers used the term in different ways. The sophists used the term to mean discourse, and Aristotle applied the term to refer to “reasoned discourse” or “the argument” in the field of rhetoric. The Stoic philosophers identified the term with the divine animating principle pervading the Universe.  The following is summarised from anonymous notes on the Durham Technical College College site, here, where more detail is given:  A General Summary of Aristotle’s Appeals . . .The goal of argumentative writing is to persuade your audience that your ideas are valid, or more valid than someone else’s. The Greek philosopher Aristotle divided the means of persuasion, appeals, into three categories–Ethos, Pathos, Logos.  Logos (Greek for ‘word’) refers to the internal consistency of the message–the clarity of the claim, the logic of its reasons, and the effectiveness of its supporting evidence.

(ii) Jacques Lacan cites a relationship between man and the logos: ‘the originality of the Freudian conversion in the relation of man to the logos’. This is important as Jacques Lacan is wanting to show how Freud transforms it and makes it a turning point.

5th paragraph, p6 to 7:  I suspect that the following quote from Freud underlies much that Jacques Lacan is stating in this paragraph: From p278: Civilization and its Discontents: Sigmund Freud: Penguin Freud Library: Volume 12, Civilization, Society and Religion:

It is time for us to turn our attention to the nature of this civilization on whose value as a means to happiness doubts have been thrown. We shall not look for a formula in which to express that nature in a few words, until we have learned something by examining it. We shall therefore content ourselves with saying once more that the word ‘civilization’ describes the whole sum of the achievements and the regulations which distinguish our lives from those of our animal ancestors and which serve two purposes – namely to protect men against nature and to adjust their mutual relations.¹ [Footnote: ¹ See The Future of an Illusion (1927c). ] In order to learn more, we will bring together the various features of civilization individually, as they are exhibited in human communities. In doing so, we shall have no hesitation in letting ourselves be guided by linguistic usage or, as it is also called, linguistic feeling, in the conviction that we shall thus be doing justice to inner discernments which still defy expression in abstract terms.

The first stage is easy. We recognize as cultural all activities and resources which are useful to men for making the earth serviceable to them, for protecting them against the violence of the forces of nature, and so on. As regards this side of civilization, there can be scarcely any doubt. If we go back far enough, we find that the first acts of civilization were the use of tools, the gaining of control over fire and the construction of dwellings. Among these, the control over fire stands out as a quite extraordinary and unexampled achievement, [See Freud’s footnote ¹ below at the end of this paragraph] while the others opened up paths which man has followed ever since, and the stimulus to which is easily guessed. With every tool man is perfecting his own organs, whether motor or sensory, or is removing the limits to their functioning. Motor power places gigantic forces at his disposal, which, like his muscles, he can employ in any direction; thanks to ships and aircraft neither water nor air can hinder his movements; by means of spectacles he corrects defects in the lens of his own eye; by means of the telescope he sees into the far distance; and by means of the microscope he overcomes the limits of visibility set by the structure of his retina. In the photographic camera he has created an instrument which retains the fleeting visual impressions, just as a gramophone disc retains the equally fleeting auditory ones; both are at bottom materializations of the power he possesses of recollection, his memory. With the help of the telephone he can hear at distances which would be respected as unattainable even in a fairy tale. Writing was in its origin the voice of an absent person; and the dwelling-house was a substitute for the mother’s womb, the first lodging, for which in all likelihood man still longs, and in which he was safe and felt at ease.

Footnote ¹ – see paragraph above:  Psycho-analytic material, incomplete as it is and not susceptible to clear interpretation, nevertheless admits of a conjecture – a fantastic sounding one – about the origin of this human feat. It is as though primal man had the habit, when he came in contact with fire, or satisfying an infantile desire connected with it, by putting it out with a stream of his urine. The legends that we possess leave no doubt about the originally phallic view taken of tongues of flame as they shoot upwards. Putting out fire by micturating – a theme to which modern giants, Gulliver in Lilliput and Rabelais’ Gargantua, still hark back – was therefore a kind of sexual act with a male, an enjoyment of sexual potency in a homosexual competition. The first person to renounce this desire and spare the fire was able to carry it off with him and subdue it to his own use. By damping down the fire of his own sexual excitation, he had tamed the natural force of fire. This great cultural conquest was thus the reward for his renunciation of instinct. Further, it is as though woman had been appointed guardian of the fire which was held captive on the domestic hearth, because her anatomy made it impossible for her to yield to the temptation of this desire. It is remarkable, too, how regularly analytic experience testifies to the connection between ambition, fire and urethral erotism.

These things that, by his science and technology, man has brought about on this earth, on which he first appeared as a feeble animal organism and on which each individual of his species must once more make its entry (‘oh inch of nature!’) as a helpless suckling – these things do not only sound like a fairy tale, they are an actual fulfilment of every – or of almost every – fairy-tale wish. All these assets he may lay claim to as his cultural acquisition. Long ago he formed an ideal conception of omnipotence and omniscience which he embodied in his gods. To these gods he attributed everything that seemed unattainable to his wishes, or that was forbidden to him. One may say, therefore, that these gods were cultural ideals. To-day he has come very close to the attainment of this ideal, he has almost become a god himself. Only, it is true, in the fashion in which ideals are usually attained according to the general judgement of humanity. Not completely; in some respects not at all, in others only half way. Man has, as it were, become a kind of prosthetic God. When he puts on all his auxiliary organs he is truly magnificent; but those organs have not grown on to him and they still give him much trouble at times. Nevertheless, he is entitled to console himself with the thought that this development will not come to an end precisely with the year 1930 A.D. Future ages will bring with them new and probably unimaginably great advances in this field of civilization and will increase man’s likeness to God still more. But in the interests of our investigations, we will not forget that present-day man does not feel happy in his Godlike character.

P7: Seminar VII: session of 18th November 1959

Paragraph 2, p7: Quote: As I have already said, moral experience is not limited to that acceptance of necessity, to that form in which such experience presents itself in every individual case.  JE:  necessity is a term used by Aristotle within his logics.  The first web-reference I accessed is here  on The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy web-site.  A further reference to necessity is here to Henrik Lagerlund, “Medieval Theories of the Syllogism”: Quote: In Chapters 3 and 8–22 of Book I of the Prior Analytics, Aristotle extends his theory to include syllogisms with modally qualified categorical sentences. An Aristotelian modal syllogism is a syllogism that has at least one premise modalized, i.e., that in addition to the standard terms also contains the modal words ‘necessarily’, ‘possibly’ or ‘contingently’.  Next reference:  Garson, James, “Modal Logic”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2009 Edition): available here  : Quote: Modal Logic: A modal is an expression (like ‘necessarily’ or ‘possibly’) that is used to qualify the truth of a judgement. Modal logic is, strictly speaking, the study of the deductive behavior of the expressions ‘it is necessary that’ and ‘it is possible that’. However, the term ‘modal logic’ may be used more broadly for a family of related systems. These include logics for belief, for tense and other temporal expressions, for the deontic (moral) expressions such as ‘it is obligatory that’ and ‘it is permitted that’, and many others. An understanding of modal logic is particularly valuable in the formal analysis of philosophical argument, where expressions from the modal family are both common and confusing. :

JE I suspect that Lacan, in using the term ‘necessity’, is pointing to a beyond of acceptance of polymorphously perverted desires.  I welcome any further clarification.

Paragraph 3, p7:  ‘Wo ist war…’ is also referenced in The Freudian thing,or the meaning of the return to Freud in psychoanalysis: An expanded version of a lecture given at the Neuro-psychiatric Clinic, Vienna 7 November 1955:  p136 of : Jacques Lacan, Écrits, A selection: Translated by Alan Sheridan: Tavistock: 1977  which was 4 years before this appearance. Quote: Well, that’s a pretty good speech for a desk, it seems to me. I am joking, of course. In what it said under my command, it did not have its say. For the simple reason that it was itself a word; it was I as grammatical subject. Well, that’s one rank attained, one to be picked up by the occasional soldier in the ditch of an entirely eristic claim, but it also provides us with an illustration of the Freudian motto, which, expressed as ‘Là où était ça, le je doit être’ (Wo es war, soll Ich werden), would confirm to our advantage the feeble character of a translation that substantifies the Ich by giving a ‘t’ to the ‘doit’ of soll [Translator: i.e. making it third person singular] and fixes the price of the Es at the rate of the ‘c’ cedilla. Nevertheless, the desk is not an ego, eloquent though it has been, but a means that I have employed in my discourse.

Paragraph 3 cont, p7: Wo es war, soll Ich werden: which was translated last Saturday as: Where I was, should I be: Bruno de Florence noted that the translation has varied. James Strachey’s translation: ‘Where id was, there ego shall be’. See Lecture XXXI: Dissection of the personality of  p3596 or p112 PFL: Vol 2, New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis: Note – this is wrongly referenced as Introductory Lectures: Quote:Last paragraph of Lecture XXXI:

And here is another warning, to conclude these remarks, which have certainly been exacting and not, perhaps, very illuminating. In thinking of this division of the personality into an ego, a super-ego and an id, you will not, of course, have pictured sharp frontiers like the artificial ones drawn in political geography. We cannot do justice to the characteristics of the mind by linear outlines like those in a drawing or in primitive painting, but rather by areas of colour melting into one another as they are presented by modern artists. After making the separation we must allow what we have separated to merge together once more. You must not judge too harshly a first attempt at giving a pictorial representations of something so intangible as psychical processes. It is highly probable that the development of these divisions is subject to great variations in different individuals; it is possible that in the course of actual functioning they may change and go through a temporary phase of involution. Particularly in the case of what is phylogenetically the last and most delicate of these divisions – the differentiation between the ego and the super-ego – something of the sort seems to be true. There is no question but that the same thing results from psychical illness. It is easy to imagine, too, that certain mystical practices may succeed in upsetting the normal relations between the different regions of the mind, so that, for instance, perception may be able to grasp happenings in the depths of the ego and in the id which were otherwise inaccessible to it. It may safely be doubted, however, whether this road will lead us to the ultimate truths from which salvation is to be expected. Nevertheless it may be admitted that the therapeutic efforts of psycho-analysis have chosen a similar line of approach. Its intention is, indeed, to strengthen the ego, to make it more independent of the super-ego, to widen its field of perception and enlarge its organization, so that it can appropriate fresh portions of the id. Where id was, there ego shall be. It is a work of culture – not unlike the draining of the Zuider Zee.

Related texts

Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: from 18th November 1959 : Jacques Lacan or here

Texts from the “A. Reading Seminar VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis”’ group here  

The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  or here


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Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst in Earl’s Court, London


Further posts:

On Dreams  here 

Some Lacanian history here

Lacanian Transmission here 

Of the clinic here 

Translation Working Group here 

 From LW working groups here

Use of power here 

By Sigmund Freud here 

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud here 

By Jacques Lacan here    

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here 

By Julia Evans here  

Future session dates:

Saturday 6th October, 2012

Saturday 27th October

Saturday 17th November

Saturday 8th December

Timing: From 10.30am until 12.30

Location: Senate House, London University, Malet Street,

The dates for the spring term will be circulated in November.