|Moment of truth:The Newman Reference
|Newsletter of the London Circle of European Psychoanalysis Issue 4 January.
In Seminar XI, Lacan asks what are the fundamentals of psychoanalysis through asking what grounds it as praxis. In searching for an answer to this question, he introduces two terms between which to hold the question: the terms of science and religion.
In approaching these terms, Lacan considers the nature of research. While dissociating psychoanalysis from the form of research in which the phrase ‘you would not seek me if you had not already found me‘ is used, he nevertheless comments on the hermeneutic demand which emerges “as it were, beneath the feet of whoever finds”. The way of developing signification offered by hermeneutics “is confused with what analysts call interpretation. Interpretation is not hermeneutics, although hermeneutics makes ready use of interpretation”. The relation to religion is through understanding the nature of this asymmetry. This is one thing that the Newman reference casts light on.
The relationship to science lies through what specifies science: “having an object”. If science is specified by an object of experiment, what is the object of psychoanalysis? The subject is at “the nexus [noeud] of difference”: “a split between a notion of reality that includes psychic reality, and another that makes reality the correlate of the perception-consciousness system”. The reality principle is “the strain of experience sanctioned by the subject of science”, so that “the subject upon which we operate in psychoanalysis can only be the subject of science”. But if the subject of science is the necessary condition for the practice of psychoanalysis, what is the sufficient condition? What is constitutive of the object of psychoanalysis?
The difference to science emerges through the difference between the enunciated and the enunciation:the impact of the subject who speaks. Gödel’s incompleteness theorem shows the impossibility of any theory saying everything. This remainder speaks the impossibility of the suturing of the subject of science, and is taken by Lacan as the point of difference: whereas science is defined by “the deadlocked endeavour to suture the subject”, psychoanalysis is defined by the opposite: the internal exclusion – the extimacy – of the subject from its object.
It is this internal exclusion which leads to a dialectic which the reality and pleasure principles are doomed never to resolve, which the religious ideal offers to religate, and which science seeks to suture. In the pursuit of his purposes, the other thing that Newman casts light on are the limitations of this suturing strategy.