The Unconscious Testifies to a Real of Its Own : 15th January 2019 : Yves Vanderveken

by Julia Evans on January 15, 2019

Towards Pipol 9, The Unconscious and the brain – nothing in common :, the 5th Congress of the Eurofédération de Psychanalyse: EFP : July 2019 – Brussels

Circulated from: PIPOL9, Subject: a-kephalos 6, Date: 17 January 2019

Translated by Janet Haney & John Haney


Or  /authors a-z (Vanderveken) or authors by date (January 2019)



*  “Lacan might have regretted the too-close semantic link between the words ‘unconscious’ and ‘consciousness’ (1).” : Television, Television: 31st January 1974 : Jacques Lacan  : Notes & references here  : p5 of Dennis Hollier’s translation :

– II.

– [Questioner] I think, my dear doctor, that I am here not to trade witticisms with you …, but only to give you the occasion to reply. Therefore all you will get from me are the thinnest, the most elementary, even common­place, of questions. I’ll throw one out at you.”The unconscious- what a strange word!”

– [JL] Freud didn’t find a better one, and there’s no need to go back on it. The disadvantage of this word is that it is negative, which allows one to assume anything at all in the world about it, plus everything else as well. Why not? To that which goes unnoticed, the word everywhere applies just as well as nowhere.

It is nonetheless a very precise thing.

There is no unconscious except for the speaking being. The others, who possess being only through being named­ even though they impose themselves from within the real­ have instinct, namely the knowledge needed for their survival. Yet this is so only for our thought, which might be inadequate here.

This still leaves the category of homme-sick animals, thereby called domestics [d’hommestiques],who for that reason are shaken, however briefly, by unconscious, seismic tremors.

It speaks, does the unconscious, so that it depends on language, about which we know so little: …..


*  “No one disputes that the brain is the instrument which makes thinking possible – in spite of the serious games of Jacques Lacan, indicating that he himself thought … with his feet (3) : Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2nd December 1975 (MIT lecture on topology) : Jacques Lacan : Notes & References here : p6 of Jack W. Stone’s translation :

4. – The soul.

The only thing that seems to me to substantify the soul is the symptom.

Man would think with his soul. The soul would be the tool of thought. What would be the soul of this so-called tool?

The soul of the symptom is something hard, like a bone.
We believe we think with our brain.
Me, I think with my feet, it is only there that I encounter something hard; at times, I think

with the platysmas (peauciers) of my forehead, when I bang into something. I have seen enough electro-encephalograms to know that there is no shadow of a thought there.


* “or, again justifiably, that the said “idiote savants” show that the brain is something richer, something that does not function as a machine. (4)

But it is not the brain that thinks what we call the subject.  The subject is precisely that part which escapes its representation.” : The place, origin and end of my teaching (Lyon) : October 1967 : Jacques Lacan: See here : p31 of David Macey’s translation :

And yet, it’s not entirely unrelated. There are lines, tubes and connections there too. But a human brain is so much richer than any of the machines we have managed to build so far. Why shouldn’t we raise the question of why it does not function in the same manner?

Why can’t we perform three billion operations, additions and multiplications, and other standard operations in twenty seconds the way a machine does, when so many more things are being moved around in our brains? Curiously enough, our brains sometimes do work like that for a brief moment. On the basis of everything we know, the brains of the retarded do work like that. The phenomenon of idiote savants who can calculate like machines is well known.

This suggests that everything to do with the way we think is, perhaps, the result of a certain number of language-effects, and that they are such that we can operate on them. I mean that we can build machines that are in some way an equivalent, but on a much shorter register then we might expect from a comparable productivity if we really were talking about a brain that functioned in the same way.


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Julia Evans

 Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst


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By Yves Vanderveken

Towards Pipol 9, The unconscious and the brain, nothing in common, The argument by Yves Vanderveken : 22nd November 2018   or here


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Éric Laurent : The symptom in the perspective of the speaking body in civilisation (19th May 2016) : Information here

Éric Laurent : The Unconscious and the Body Event – the full interview (July 2015) : Information here

Éric Laurent : Lost in Cognition: Psychoanalysis and the Cognitive Sciences : in French 2008 & English 2014 : Information here

Éric Laurent : The Chronicle of Éric Laurent – Starts of the Clinic and the Dead-End of Neuro-Multiculturalism LQ 208 : 16th May 2012 : Information here

Éric Laurent : ▪ Research and Punish : Ethics Today LQ 199 : 18th April 2012 : Information here

Éric Laurent : Autism: Epidemic or Ordinary State of the Subject? LQ 194 : 10th April 2012 : Information here