Lacan/Foucault: Author, Subject, Vitalism/Materialism

Lacan held Foucault’s works in high esteem. He repeatedly refers to and comments on them in his seminars, urging his audience to read them. Conversely, throughout his oeuvre, Foucault paid considerable attention to psychoanalysis. Although these exchanges are far from devoid of mutual criticism, they also witness to a profound awareness that psychoanalysis is not merely an ‘anti-philosophy’ but an innovative praxis, and that philosophy can only be renewed in dialogue with it. In this one-day intensive course we will compare and contrast Lacan’s and Foucault’s respective stances on subjectivity. We will focus on their apparently convergent but also, on close inspection, fundamentally different critiques of the classical notion of the subject. First, we will address Foucault’s notion of the subject as unveiled in his discussion of authorship – as elaborated in his 1969 seminal essay “What Is an Author?”. We will pay particular attention to the far from insignificant fact that, in this context, Foucault regards Freud as a “founder of discursivity”. Second, we will dwell on Lacan’s comments on the Foucauldian notion of the author (made in Seminar XVI); we will also see how the Foucauldian notion of the author overlaps with the Lacanian subject of the unconscious. Third, we will oppose Lacan’s and Foucault’s conclusions on the ontological status of the subject. On the one hand, for Foucault’s vitalist presuppositions determining “who is speaking” in the end no longer makes any difference. On the other hand, for Lacan what materialistically matters in the human form of life, or speaking being, as highlighted by psychoanalysis is absolute difference. We will conclude by examining how this absolute difference amounts to the inextricability of subject and structure. This one-day course will be followed later in the year by a one-day course on Lacan’s, Foucault’s, and Deleuze’s treatment of aesthetics with specific regard to the gaze and the baroque (30th September).

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Full Price £65.00 Friend of the Museum £60.00 Student/unwaged £55.00 Student Friend of the Museum £45.00



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