Number 6/2013

Issue Topic: Lacan, Shechita and The Myths of (Post)Modern Europe

List of abstracts

The theory created by Jacques Lacan, with solid roots in Freud’s thinking, is a valuable and necessary guide for the practice of psychoanalysis. Admittedly, Lacan’s texts give the impression of being an inaccessible, dense and difficult-to-master conceptual network, but when one begins the process of studying it, in place of this discouraging impression there arrives a desire for knowledge that will lead to the rules of conduct towards the subject, who comes to a session in order to say what is possible and wrestle with what cannot be said. Theoretical knowledge is also a guide for the formation of the psycholanalyst, who undergoes his own analysis up to the very end (the Pass procedure).

The subject of the following article will be a series of digressions from a practical perspective on such questions as: the transferential relationship and the psychoanalysts’ fight against transference, the desire of the subject for the Other, respect for the symptom jouissance, the game of the imaginary, symbolic and real registers, the make-up of a phantasm. These phenomena that arise in psychoanalysis are useful for the analyst only so far as he is able to place himself in the position of the Other. This allows him to conduct psychoanalytic discourse in which the analyst and the analyzed are unaware that they are indispensable partners to one another.

Sublimation creates a change in perspective through the use of an attractive object (e.g. cans of sardines). It transforms the imaginary relationship in relation to our ego with a relationship in which we are momentarily called out of and torn away from the imaginary circuit. Thanks to the attractive object, we look at ourselves sub specie aeternitatis. In contemplation, we share the point of view of eternity, from which we see ourselves as nothingness. However, the discovery of this nothing is at the same time removed from personal emotion and meaning, which belong to the imaginary circuit. In the imaginary order, this “nothing” of my desire does not leave me indifferent; it triggers various effects of sense (revolt, lamentation, cursing of life, strengthening of the narcissistic ego, etc.). Yet, together with sublimation, the effects of sense become neutralized, split up, immobilized. It is a moment of peace. Our life means nothing, but this fact that it means nothing is not in itself entirely nothing. We are removed from everything; we take part in the sovereign indifference of the world that surrounds us. Sublimation brings us into contact with the Thing, cleansed and emptied of all sense.


In this article I attempt to trace the first stage of Lacanian theory regarding the subject in psychoanalysis. Working from the canonical text dedicated to the so-called “mirror stage”, I call attention to the phenomenological mediation of understanding of the subject by Lacan. The decisive experience is the identification of oneself with an entire and complete vision of one’s own ego – according to Lacan, this boils down to recognizing one’s own reflection in the mirror ­– which becomes the basis for all later identification. The essence of this experience, however, is that it reveals not the “real” face of the subject, but the awareness of the fictitiousness of this face. Nevertheless, this is a necessary fiction, and a condition for all human acts of cognition. Referencing Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of perception, I demonstrate how Lacan, taking a similar path, stepped outside the realm of traditional phenomenology. The subject ceased to be a transparent, self-supporting ego of perception, because – as the experience of psychoanalysis shows – it is entangled from the very beginning in the web of language.

This radical “weakening” of perception and of the Cartesian Cogito brings Lacan to the conclusion that an act of cognition, and consequently the entire system of human knowledge, is unable from the start to give any truth about the subject. This is because truth is not revealed in the undisturbed, pure realm of perception of cogito ergo sum. Difficult and complicated investigation into the truth of the subject brings one to the experience of psychoanalysis and its inconclusive character.

Finally, I show how Lacan, delving into the well-known Freudian thesis wo Es war, soll Ich warden, relocates the subject of psychoanalysis in the structure of speech. In other words, I will connect the entire range of possible interpretations of the subject with speaking and speech. It is in the structure of speech, and only through this structure that the subject’s ego can appear in language.

In this article I present various answers to the questions generated by psychoanalytical thought, which are sometimes quite contrary to each other. Besides describing concepts formulated by the father of psychoanalysis, I focus above all on Lacan’s ideas. It turns out that on many fundamental issues the positions of both thinkers are very different. It seems to me quite interesting to present and to compare these issues.
Judaism’s dietary rules |kashrut| are deeply rooted in the Torah. Shechita, as a traditional method of slaughtering, does not provide for the stunning of animals. The animals’ suffering evokes moral criticism within modern societies worldwide. This paper examines the procedure of shechita in its religious, biological, technological, and philosophical aspects.

Finally, two problems are highlighted. The first is a cognitive problem concerning stunning. Does shechita truly contain stunning as a natural or 'integral' element, as some documents claim? Or, by contrast, should Jewish communities follow European conventions, i.e. accept stunning as an additional element of the shechita procedure? Both options are examined here. Secondly, the animal’s protection against suffering prevails morally. However, Jewish tradition has always paid extraordinary attention to life and living beings. So it is still difficult to find strong arguments to convince Jewish communities to modernize the shechita procedure. The entire discussion remains open.

The seminar The Myths of (Post)Modern Europe as an educational model applied in Autorskie Licea Artystyczne i Akademickie [Authorial Artistic and Academic Secondary Schools] in Wrocław

The seminar entitled The Myths of (Post)Modern Europe is a narrative defined by the themes proper to modern society, such as identity, recognition and respect for the other. The principal educational objective of the seminar is to describe the situation of a man in a pluralistic society, and particularly to develop reflective and critical thinking. The phrasing ‘teaching the word through the word’ defines the didactic method used in the seminar, which is conversation informed by the philosophy of dialogue and Socratic dialogue.