Vol 1 No 1 (2021)

A Reading of "Lacan, Seminar VII, The Ethics of psychoanalysis"

Sergio Benvenuto
Published February 10, 2021


The author reads Lacan’s 1959-60 seminar as something altogether out of the ordinary with respect to Lacan’s actual teaching. Eccentric, and marginal, even with respect to psychoanalysis taken as a whole. The author doesn’t wager on the evolutive continuity of Lacan’s thought, but instead stresses its breaks, gaps, and vanishing points. In so doing, he doesn’t reduce the Thing (das Ding) – over which Lacan will linger in Seminar VII – to the object ‘a’ that will take on a more definitive position in his system of thought. The Thing is an extimacy of the Lacanian system, that is, of the unconscious. Lacan’s wager starts from the idea that the Freudian system is not a psychological theory, but an ethical system. This seminar’s sense of vertigo derives from its wanting to demonstrate that each of us is polarised by a Thing (one’s own duty) that in its turn is the byproduct of a dialectic of pleasure. And what we call ethics is the continuous, unresolved tension between Utilitarianist Accounting and the Kantian Imperative.