Derrida and Lacan: Another Writing

Derrida and Lacan: Another Writing

Derrida and Lacan: Another Writing

Derrida and Lacan: Another Writing


Derrida and Lacan: Another Writing argues that Jacques Derrida's philosophical understanding of language should be supplemented by Jacques Lacan's psychoanalytic approach to the symbolic order. Lacan adopts a non-philosophical, genetic or developmental approach to the question of language and in doing so isolates a dimension that Derrida cannot properly envisage: the imaginary. Michael Lewis argues that the real must be understood not just in relation to the symbolic but also in relation to the imaginary. The existence of an alternative approach to the real that is other than language allows us to identify the idiosyncrasies of Derrida's purely transcendental approach, an approach that addresses language in terms of its conditions of possibility. Lacan shows us that an attention to the genesis of the symbolic order of language and culture should lead us to understand this real other in a different way. This book relates transcendental thought to the insights of non-philosophical thought, and, more specifically, it proposes a way in which philosophy might relate to the insights of the human and natural sciences. By critically juxtaposing Derrida and Lacan, Derrida and Lacan: Another Writing attempts to systematise Slavoj iek's presentation of a Lacanian alternative to Derridean deconstruction. This work should be of interest to all readers in continental thought and transcendental philosophy, deconstruction, psychoanalysis, and literary studies.


In comparison with a genius, that is to say with a being which either begets
or bears, both words taken in their most comprehensive sense – the
scholar, the average man of science, always has something of the old maid
about him. “…” The worst and most dangerous thing of which a scholar
is capable comes from the instinct of mediocrity which characterises his

(Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, ¶206)

The concern of contemporary philosophy, philosophy that stands in the wake of the travails of the transcendental problematic, is to understand the difference between a (present) being and the (absent, transcendental) event that produced it. An attempt to understand contemporary philosophy may thus legitimately take the form of a comparative study of the various ways in which the one unique difference has been understood. To superimpose these explanations of the nature of this difference will bring to light the idiosyncrasies of each explanation and perhaps throw into relief the deficiencies of one account relative to another.

If contemporary thought is an attempt to discern an event and to deal with the potentially distorting effects of naming this event in language, is the comparative study, as a superimposition of two or more thoughts of the event, not a productive course for philosophy as it muses on its own end? Is it not a way in which philosophy can be almost as vibrant as in its metaphysical pomp and splendour? Is this not what the true adult does, to look back on his younger self with ever more unclouded eyes, forever repeating childhood in its exuberance, and gradually eliminating the mistakes that accompany every 'first time'?

What are texts of philosophy if not explicit considerations, which now stand as signs, of the way in which beings as a whole present themselves at a certain epoch, and an attempt to understand how that could be so, signposts of the moment at which the absent event crystallised itself into a present entity? Do they not constitute moments of reflection in human life where, rather than being blithely lived through, the conditions of this existence are scrutinised? Moments in . . .

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