Speech, Sacrifice and Shit: Three Orders of Giving in the Thought of Jacques Lacan

Gerald Moore

in Politics of the Gift

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780748642021
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671861 | DOI:
Speech, Sacrifice and Shit: Three Orders of Giving in the Thought of Jacques Lacan

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Chapter 1 opens through a discussion of Mauss's more explicit héritiers, Claude Lévi-Strauss and Georges Bataille, as two principal, albeit highly different proponents of new forms of knowledge deemed irreducible to the broader concerns and remit of institutional philosophy. The main focus of the chapter is on Jacques Lacan. Drawing extensively on the historical background Lévi-Strauss, Hegel-Kojève, Freud and Bataille, the chapter is structured around the idea that the gift features extensively in the formation of each of the three registers of Lacan's pre-ontology: the symbolic ‘gift of speech’ of the earlier, more structuralist Lacan; the sacrificial gift of love in the imaginary; and, in the later, more Bataillean, Lacan, the traumatic ‘gift of shit’, the eternal return of a real that ungrounds the subject. Through sustained readings of many of Lacan's most important works, including the “Rome Discourse” and Seminars VII and XI, plus a range of responses from Boothby and Miller, Borch-Jakobsen, Žižek and Zupančič, we see that the work of Lacan is exemplary of the shift from more empirical understandings of gifts and exchange toward an increasingly abstract, theoretical conception of giving as an event that cannot be incorporated within the economic sphere of the traditionally-conceived subject.

Keywords: Georges Bataille; Alexandre Kojève; Claude Lévi-Strauss; Jacques Lacan; Psychoanalysis; Symbolic; Sacrifice

Chapter.  18138 words. 

Subjects: Social and Political Philosophy

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