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Riding in Cars with Jacques Lacan (nybooks.com)
32 points by tintinnabula 51 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 12 comments



Lacan is very interesting.

I was suspicious about Freud since being a teenager and was told by two long-term psychiatrists I've had that psychoanalysis is not-even-wrong-bullshit, which it is -- but nevertheless, Lacan is just so interesting.

I heartily recommend Malcolm Bowie's biography titled "Lacan". Bowie engages with Lacan work rather than life-of-lacan trivia and comes across both very skeptical but very impressed of its scope and grandeur too.

I recently wrote this about Lacan: https://asemichorizon.wordpress.com/2019/08/18/jacquess-prom...


This is hilarious. You're accusing Freud of being bullshit compared to Lacan?

Lacan is practically the king of bullshit-- a textbook example. No one can muster a non-bullshit explanation of what exactly the fuck Lacan is talking about (I'm looking at you, Zizek, bless your heart).

In my experience, most people who are "suspicious" of Freudian psychoanalysis don't understand how psychoanalysis began and evolved over time, and they don't understand that some of it's stranger jargon refers in fact to very straightforward concepts. It's true that Freudian analysts have overreached and been wrong in various ways, but you're incorrect and you're throwing the baby out with the bath water if you think that somehow invalidates all of the revolutionary and important work that Sigmund/Anna did.

Also see https://www.researchgate.net/publication/261567941_The_Dark_...


I don't think neither can be taken at face value as psychological theories. Then, stricto sensu scientific psychology is undergoing an awesome crisis of credibility with all the p-hacking and stuff.

I think Lacanian theory showcases a notion of "theory" that is worth being familiarized with. Ordinarily "theory" in humanities/philosophy etc. is equated with "critical theory"; but Lacan's bogus theory of psychology and Althusser's bogus theory of economics share this sense of "theory".

I think there are many shades to "bullshit". From a scientific, objective point of view, all of this is bullshit -- I'm a STEM nerd by day and I have that point of view.From that point of view I'd have to see extraordinary evidence towards methods like Anna's or Melanie Klein's (or Kohut, or, or) making any sense at all. That's a sense in which I reject Freud. The sense in which I accept Lacan is something very different.


Respectfully, your description of Lacan's "theory" not being that kind of theory or whatever is exactly the kind of bullshit at issue; no one can even articulate what kind of theory it is, let alone what the theory itself is. You are asserting, precisely in the obscurantist way described in the paper I linked to, that his work is immune to critical attack.


Lacanian psychoanalysis is a dead horse that's pointless to "attack". If you want soft gooey targets for sokal-ish "critical attack", please take down Piketty or Judith Butler.


Why is Althusser's theory bogus?

I sympathise with your assessment, but I haven't read enough to justify my sympathies


>Lacan is practically the king of bullshit-- a textbook example. No one can muster a non-bullshit explanation of what exactly the fuck Lacan is talking about

Nobody, except any European with a working knowledge of 19th and 20th century thought currents...

It's not like Lacan is for readers or Marvel Comics or anglosaxon philosophy...


So are you not one of those people or are you just teasing us?


>and was told by two long-term psychiatrists I've had that psychoanalysis is not-even-wrong-bullshit

That's just one intellectual fraction pissing on another. The psychiatrists can't understand that there are other ways to looking at a person's mind that are not quantifiable, but can nonetheless be systematically studied and be used to help.


I'm greatly interested in Lacan and reading through the entire series of the "Seminars" while watching Jacques Siboni's "Topologos Lutecium" seminars on YouTube and even re-reading the parts of Zizek I had skipped because, you know, psychoanalysis.

But it's hard to deny the differences in epistemological status between modern psychiatry (which tries to advise therapy for most conditions, it's too bad that it's so hard to find therapy that passes either Popperian criteria or p-value hypothesis testing) and psychoanalysis.

I have a masters in mathematics and have been increasingly attracted to the idea of going through psychoanalytic training instead of a normal PhD in some field like physics or philosophy -- which at one point was also an intellectual obsession. I find it fascinating. But I also have STEM goggles; I can see the world through them and see what's wrong.

But it seems to me that there's a "meta knowledge" of how theories can be constructed outside the Popperian box; Zizek saw this.


I mean, didn't Freud invent the thing where the patient comes and he sits there and listens to the patient for an hour? My very vague impression of the field is that nobody agrees about the theories and explanations, but everyone follows the basic process he created.


Freud's work grew out of the observation that people are heavily influenced by their subconscious. In the beginning, he tried to access the subconscious by hypnotizing people, but he wasn't very good at it and it didn't work on everyone. Then he tried to access the subconscious through free association, but not everyone is capable of just lying there and freely associating. He ultimately invented psychoanalysis more or less as a way of understanding people who could neither be hypnotized nor free-associate.




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