The Death Drive and Ethical Action

Andrea Hurst

in Derrida Vis-à-vis Lacan

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print May 2008 | ISBN: 9780823228744
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235179 | DOI:

Series: Perspectives in Continental Philosophy

The Death Drive and Ethical               Action

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This chapter elaborates on the theme of action and its implications for Jacques Lacan's psychoanalytic account of ethical action. It shows that the masculine je, formed via a rejection of castration, dominated by the death drive as return, and bound by the stereotypes of an existing order, operates from a position of ideological paranoia, whereby his lot is the fixated action of an obedient functionary of the externally imposed law. In contrast, the feminine je, formed via wholesale acceptance of castration, dominated by the death drive as dissolution, and bound to smash up existing stereotypes, operates from a position of hysterical transgression, whereby her lot is the paralysis of pure destruction. Beyond these two libidinal styles, Lacan derives a third style, namely, one of inventive sublimation. This style, which invokes the aporia of a paradoxical interweaving of inventive and destructive action, is the key to Lacan's account of ethical action.

Keywords: Jacques Lacan; death drive; ethical action; castration; paranoia; return; dissolution; hysterical transgression; inventive sublimation; stereotypes

Chapter.  13538 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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