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Kant’s Nothings and Lacan's Empty Object

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


KANT’S NOTHINGS

AND LACAN’S EMPTY OBJECT


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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