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Formation and Development of the Concept of Discourse in Lacan and Benveniste

Formation and Development of the Concept of Discourse in Lacan and Benveniste Much has been written about Jacques Lacan’s theory of the four discourses. His idiosyncratic employment of the term ‘discourse’ itself, however, has gone generally unexplored. This article demonstrates how Lacan’s conception of discourse as a structure founded on language and determining modes of relation emerged not only out of psychoanalytic practice, but also by way of a long-running conversation with the French linguist Émile Benveniste. Indeed, Lacan’s conception of discourse cannot be adequately comprehended if Benveniste’s work on the same topic is not taken into consideration. While Louis Althusser, Michel Foucault and others were also at work offering theorizations of discourse in the 1960s, Benveniste was the privileged source, interlocutor and foil for Lacan’s theorizations. Tracking the manner in which the psychoanalyst drew on but also distinguished his perspective from that of the linguist allows us to reconsider the specifically psychoanalytic conception of this too-familiar term. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Psychoanalysis and History Edinburgh University Press

Formation and Development of the Concept of Discourse in Lacan and Benveniste

Psychoanalysis and History , Volume 24 (2): 29 – Aug 1, 2022

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Publisher
Edinburgh University Press
Copyright
Copyright © Edinburgh University Press
ISSN
1460-8235
eISSN
1755-201X
DOI
10.3366/pah.2022.0422
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Much has been written about Jacques Lacan’s theory of the four discourses. His idiosyncratic employment of the term ‘discourse’ itself, however, has gone generally unexplored. This article demonstrates how Lacan’s conception of discourse as a structure founded on language and determining modes of relation emerged not only out of psychoanalytic practice, but also by way of a long-running conversation with the French linguist Émile Benveniste. Indeed, Lacan’s conception of discourse cannot be adequately comprehended if Benveniste’s work on the same topic is not taken into consideration. While Louis Althusser, Michel Foucault and others were also at work offering theorizations of discourse in the 1960s, Benveniste was the privileged source, interlocutor and foil for Lacan’s theorizations. Tracking the manner in which the psychoanalyst drew on but also distinguished his perspective from that of the linguist allows us to reconsider the specifically psychoanalytic conception of this too-familiar term.

Journal

Psychoanalysis and HistoryEdinburgh University Press

Published: Aug 1, 2022

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