Lacan: the name-of-the-father and the phallus

Lewis Michael

in Derrida and Lacan

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780748636037
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652457 | DOI:
Lacan: the name-of-the-father and the phallus

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This chapter considers Jacques Lacan's early psychoanalytic theory in such a way as to demonstrate where and how it is vulnerable to deconstruction. Deconstruction concerns the relation between the text and the other of the text, the symbolic and the real. Lacan's own understanding of this relation may be reconstructed around two notions: the ‘name-of-the-father’ and the ‘phallus’. It is shown that the overwhelming tendency of Lacan's thought is to understand the relation between the real and the symbolic as an opposition. It then explores why a more ‘deconstructive’ notion of the relation is overwhelmed in this way. The phallus has two aspects: imaginary and symbolic. The phallus is an image of what stands at the very origin of the signifier. The name-of-the-father forces Lacan to adopt a transcendental rather than a genetic approach, and institutes a deconstructible relation between the real and the symbolic.

Keywords: Jacques Lacan; name-of-the-father; phallus; psychoanalytic theory; deconstruction

Chapter.  28262 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy

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