Dialectics & Psychoanalysis

Tony Brachet, trans. Sylvia

from: Le Cahier (Collège international de philosophie), No. 7 (April 1989), pp. 162-4

           The stake of this seminar was the determination of an eventually common logic to these two notions. In order more to identify the contours than the limits, two examples were taken as paradigms of a logicist conception, dialectics (Kojève) and psychoanalysis (Verdiglione).

           Kojève's example was studied for itself, without particularly seeking relations to Hegel, relations which are elsewhere denied by the former more on the logical plane (its tripartition is not Hegel's) than on the phenomenological plane (its anthropology is explicitly Marxist).

           Verdiglione's was studied in relation with Lacan. Lacan’s system is presented as the reprise of a philosophical thematic (in the last analysis, that of Plato) destined to make room for its unanalyzed transference onto Kojève.

           The Lacanian figure of the Master is Kojève's; that of the hysterical, both that of the “Slave” (i.e., the Marxized Knecht) and that… of Hegel as master of the Master. In effect, the hysterical (Lacan considering himself outside-institution, outside-power, and outside-therapy) seeks a master (Kojève) onto which he/she can reign by leaning on the master of the master (i.e., the philosophical tradition).

           There is a circularity between logicized dialectics and psychoanalysis. That is why the deconstruction of Lacanism by Verdiglione brings it to confirm dialectics, but on its “unconscious” face. This deconstruction is rendered possible by topology, but related to the act of speech and therefore metaphorized or de-literalized, the matheme being combined with the poem.

           Psychoanalysis should thus lead to a singular discourse and finally to “non-psychoanalysis”[1]. But worked by dialectics onto its reverse, it is condemned to thereby retake the categories. It is thus that Kojèvian energology, the discourse of the irreducible-opposition, corresponds to the Verdiglionian logic of functions (repression and resistance); that its ontology, the unitary discourse, corresponds to the logic of operations or to the phantasm; that its phenomenology finally, discourse of individuation, corresponds to the logic of relations or of nomination.

           The demarcation of two types of discourse (“conscious” or “unconscious” dialectics and “non dialectizable”) is made by the Peircean semiology's bias, inasmuch as the in-definite notion of the interpretant engages psychoanalysis in the spiral rather than in the circle. It thus abandons the dominant auto-referential character in Kojève, as well as its corollary, reflexivity, charged to the account of the phantasm. In effect, just like logicist dialectics, it confounds reflexivity and reflection and misinterprets the latter as reversion, thus falling in the genre of “philosophies of difference”[2].

           Reversion proceeds by annulment of time qua irreducible-opposition, or else, in Kant’s sense, content: a unitary field—in physics—a void function—in psychoanalysis—comes to suspend the operation. The content of time—the real—is then liberated for the operation of the phantasm which puts it in series, still in Kant’s sense, i.e., produced, parting from what is supposed purely reversible, a semblant of irreversibility. Finally, pure irreversibility as a mark of individuation and of the order of time is assured by the logic of relations.


           There are therefore three logics of the unconscious unanimously comprehended as time and considered as pure reversibility (Matte Blanco’s “non-repressed” or “symmetric” unconscious), as irreversibility, or as mixed. The mixed leads to [débouche sur] the matheme, that is the approach of the real by imaginary means (Nasio’s “topologery”).

           These three logics, functions, relations, operations constitute what we can call (still not far from Kant) a loganalysis, in view of which the notions of dimension and point (or of the object a) arises from psychoanalysis as specification of psycho-logy by transference. A mixed of analysis and unconscious (of analysis and the unanalyzable), equivalent of the auto-contradiction of dialectics (the contradiction of contradiction and non-contradiction) transference does not arise from a pure logic, but from a meta-logic. It is the philosophical face of psychoanalysis: transference must be taken with philosophy.

           Transference, therefore, onto Kojève or onto Lacan. In the two cases the transmission is effectuated by marking and counter-mark (translation), and finally demarcation (transposition).

           Lacan’s Marking by the tripartite “Hegelian” distinction, and counter-marking by the inversion of rapports of logos and being, so that, in Lacan, the discourse speaks in the same manner (mathematics) of three different things—in lieu of speaking of the same thing in three different fashions—: the imaginary, the symbolic, and the real come to spatialize and phenomenalize the three registers of loganalysis. The penultimate seminar is titled La topologie et le temps[3], the last Dissolution.

           Demarcation by the displacement from the “Hegelian” anthropology of the Master and the Slave to (“psychoanalytic”) psycho-logy of hysteria as paradigm resuscitating Charcot, even if it is this time discourse, while for Charcot hysteria is—if only as semblant—. For Lacan, the semblant becomes the agent of discourse, and discourse a semblant to the second power. Only the master is subtracted from the semblant: it represses it (see on this subject the note on the Étourdit). Demarcation fails since “the Concept which speaks of Being is Being which speaks the Concept”. There is no logic of the signifier (alone): Lacan dissolves the School.

           Verdiglione’s Marking by Lacanian tridimensionality (mark therefore of a mark) and counter-marking (annulment) by the reinsertion of this one in the act of speech (in Lacan, tongue and speech remain juxtaposed and opposed): language, matter or real, and semblance as dimensions of speech, no more as “things in themselves”. There is the abandonment of philosophy or metalogic.

           Demarcation by the notion of point (the ex-object a) which in every manner also suspends dimensionality in the experience of transference, forbidding all stasis or station, as also, at the theoretical level, the promotion of the mirror as stage: there is no mirror stage, there is the mirror as point, coexistent with the voice and the gaze.

           The point contra-dicts (it escapes from saying): it makes contra-point, symptom, impasse, or schize. It manifests the impossibility of psychoanalysis in the absence of the psyche. This absence founds psycho-logy.

           There is a return of dialectics, but in the Kantian sense. Non-dialectizable dialectics, not auto- nor hetero-referential, but trans(re)ferential. Psychoanalysis is the dialectics' hidden dimension , dialectics is the psychoanalysis' blind spot. Transference is the undialectizable; and in the field of psychoanalysis, it is, to say the least—like narcissism—meta-psychology.


[1] Cf. La décision philosophique, no 5 (pp. 85 sq.) and no 7 (pp. 93 sq.).

[2] [auth.]: Cf. François Laruelle, Les philosophies de la différence, PUF, 1987.

[trans.]:  In English as Philosophies of Difference: A Critical Introduction to Non-Philosophy, trans. Rocco Gangle, Bloomsbury, 2011.

[3] [trans.]: Topology and Time in English.