top of page

The Sophist And The Psychoanalyst

The Letter, Issue 9, Spring 1997, Pages 61 - 72


Barry O'Donnell

In the Crucial Problems for Psychoanalysis[1] Lacan announces: The psychoanalyst is the presence of the sophist in our time ...'. In this paper I will investigate this provocative statement. The paper is divided into four sections. Firstly I will introduce you to different understandings of the term sophist and then in the subsequent three sections I will situate and explore a text of Plato's entitled Sophist[2] under the following headings:

One: Definitions and Defining.

Two: Getting it wrong: the possibility of falsehood and deception.

Three: Mimicry and Knowing: the sophist and the psychoanalyst.

In this last section I will return to the quotation from Lacan and attempt to situate his reference to the sophist. As we proceed through what is a broad outline of the story of Plato's Sophist I would ask you to bear in mind that the figure of the sophist as presented by Plato is in some significant way comparable to the psychoanalyst as presented by Lacan. What do we understand by the term sophist? Firstly let us distinguish between the historical sophist and the Platonic sophist.

Want to read more?

Subscribe to to keep reading this exclusive post.

Related Posts

See All

The Rapture Of Lol V. Stein

The Rapture of Lol V. Stein was written by Marguerite Duras in 1964. Lacan wrote a short commentary on the text in December 1965 - the...

Of Klein bottles, Cuts And Sex

A young man had the following dreams. He is obsessional and his symptom involves a sexual attraction to other young men, always in a form...

Issue 9: Editorial

It will come as no surprise to our regular readership that this third and final issue of volume III of THE LETTER is given over to the...


Couldn’t Load Comments
It looks like there was a technical problem. Try reconnecting or refreshing the page.
bottom of page