My discourse proceeds in the following way: each term is sustained only in its topological relation with the others.

Jacques Lacan | Book XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis


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LX:14 | Diplomatic Situation

Leaving the sphere of knowledge for that of life and action, we find modern man coming to grips with ambiguities which are perhaps more striking still. There is no longer a single word in our political vocabulary that has not been used to refer to the most different, even opposed, real situations: consider freedom, socialism, democracy, reconstruction, renaissance, union rights. The most widely divergent of today's largest political parties have all at some time claimed each of these for their own. And this is not a ruse on the part of their leaders: the ruse lies in the things themselves. In one sense it is true that there is no sympathy for socialism in America and that, if socialism involves or implies radical reform of relations of property ownership, then there is no chance whatsoever of its being able to settle under the aegis of that country; rather, subject to certain conditions, it can draw support from the Soviet side. Yet it is also true that the socioeconomic system which operates in the USSR - with its extreme social differences and its use of forced labor - neither conforms to our understanding of what a socialist regime is nor could develop, of its own accord, in order to so conform. Lastly, it is true that a form of socialism which did not seek support from beyond French national borders would be impossible and, therefore, would lack human meaning. We truly are in what Hegel called a diplomatic situation, or in other words a situation in which words have (at least) two different meanings and things do not allow themselves to be named by a single word.  (80)


Source

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. The World of Perception.  Trans. Oliver Davis.  Routledge 2008. 


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Lexicon Entries

The Red Ink; A Limited But Infinite Path; The Most Basic Sphere of Concern is Schooling; Standing Toe to Toe 

Works and Days

Monday May 11 2009

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Notes

 


 

LX:15 | Principle of Incompletion

Where human beings are concerned, rather than merely nature, the unfinished quality to knowledge, which is born of the complexity of its objects, is redoubled by a principle of incompletion. For example, one philosopher demonstrated 10 years ago that absolutely objective historical knowledge is inconceivable, because the act of interpreting the past and placing it in perspective is conditioned by the moral and political choices which the historian has made in his own life - and vice versa. Trapped in the circle, human existence can never abstract from itself in order to gain access to the naked truth; it merely has the capacity to progress towards the objective and does not possess objectivity in fully-fledged form. (79-80)


Source

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. The World of Perception.  Trans. Oliver Davis.  Routledge 2008. 


See Also

Lexicon Entries

Foucault's Objective; A Fundamental Quality of an Act; A Limited But Infinite Path

Works and Days

 

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Notes

 


LX:16 | Some Might Say

Some might say: “Are you not ashamed, Socrates, to have followed the kind of occupation that has led to your being now in danger of death?” However, I should be right to reply to him: “You are wrong, sir, if you think that a man who is any good at all should take into account the risk of life or death; he should look to this only in his actions, whether what he does is right or wrong, whether he is acting like a good or a bad man.” (28c)

This is the truth of the matter, gentlemen of the jury: whenever a man has taken a position that he believes to be best, or has been placed by his commander, there he must I think remain and face danger, without a thought for death or anything else, rather than disgrace. (28d)


Source

Plato. Five Dialogues (Apology).  Trans. G.M.A. Grube.  Hackett Publishing 1981. 


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Lexicon Entries

La Mort 

Works and Days

 

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LX:17 | The Most Blameworthy Ignorance

To fear death, gentlemen, is no other than to think oneself wise when one is not, to think one knows what one does not know. No one knows whether death may not be the greatest of all blessings for man, yet men fear it as if they knew that it is the greatest of evils. And surely it is the most blameworthy ignorance to believe that one knows what one does not know. It is perhaps on this point and in this respect, gentlemen, that I differ from the majority of men, and if I were to claim that I am wiser than anyone in anything, it would be in this, that, as I have no adequate knowledge of things in the underworld, so I do not think I have.  I do know, however, that it is wicked and shameful to do wrong, to disobey one’s superior, be he god or man. I shall never fear or avoid things of which I do not know, whether they may not be good rather than things that I know to be bad.  (29b)


Source

Plato. Five Dialogues (Apology).  Trans. G.M.A. Grube.  Hackett Publishing 1981. 


See Also

Lexicon Entries

The Central Attitude; The Red Ink 

Works and Days

 

Documents

 


Notes

 


LX:18 | Apologia

Even if you acquitted me now and did not believe Anytus, who said to you that either I should not have been brought here in the first place, or that now I am here, you cannot avoid executing me, for if I should be acquitted, your sons would practise the teachings of Socrates and all be thoroughly corrupted; if you said to me in this regard: “Socrates, we do not believe Anytus now; we acquit you, but only on condition that you spend no more time on this investigation and do not practise philosophy, and if you are caught doing so you will die;” if, as I say, you were at acquit me on those terms, I would say to you: “Gentlemen of the jury, I am grateful and I am your friend, but I will obey the god rather than you, and as long as I draw breath and am able, I shall not cease to practise philosophy, to exhort you and in my usual way to point out to any one of you whom I happened to meet: Good Sir, you are an Athenian, a citizen of the greatest city with the greatest reputation for both wisdom and power; are you not ashamed of your eagerness to possess as much wealth, reputation and honours as possible, while you do not care for nor give thought to wisdom or truth, or the best possible state of your soul?” Then, if one of you disputes this and he says he does care, I shall not let him go at once or leave him, but I shall question him, examine him and test him, and if I do not think he has attained the goodness that he says he has, I shall reproach him because he attaches little importance to the most important things and greater importance to inferior things. I shall treat in this way anyone I happened to meet, young and old, citizen and stranger, and more so the citizens because you are more kindred to me. Be sure that this is what the god orders me to do, and I think there is no greater blessing for the city than my service to the god. For I go around doing nothing but persuading both young and old among you not to care for your body or your wealth in preference to or as strongly as for the best possible state of your soul, as I say to you: “Wealth does not bring about excellence, but excellence makes wealth and everything else good for men, both individually and collectively.” (29c)


The word "apology" is a transliteration, not a translation, of the Greek apologia which means defense.  There is certainly nothing apologetic about the speech.


Source

Plato. Five Dialogues (Apology).  Trans. G.M.A. Grube.  Hackett Publishing 1981.


See Also

Lexicon Entries

Act
A Fundamental Quality of an Act
Parrhesia
Training of the Self By Oneself

 Works and Days

 

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