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Kant’s Nothings and Lacan's Empty Object

The Letter, Issue 39, Autumn 2008, Pages 97 - 102



Tom Dalzell

Guy Le Gaufey’s critical reading of Lacan’s formulae of sexuation has traced the historical course of the invention of Lacan’s object. Lacan’s objet a is not the specular object corresponding to his early concentration on the Imaginary, not the unary traitfrom his transition to the Symbolic, but "an object without a concept” or an object in the Real. It is to make sense of this new object that Lacan draws on Immanuel Kant’s “four nothings ” and, in particular, his nihil negativum or negative nothing which is a nothing without a concept. The relevance of this to theformulae ofsexuation and the “not-all” is that Lacan’s interpretation of this negative nothing will allow for an object free from a concept, a concept which would relate it to a whole, a class or an “all”. This paper will examine Lacan’s use of Kant’s nothings and attempt to raise some questions about Le Gaufey’s reading.

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The previous issue of The Letter appeared in 2006, the year we celebrated the 150th birthday of Sigmund Freud. This year is no less...


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