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What might a School be?

The Letter, Issue 44, Summer 2010, Pages 47 - 57

What might a School be?

Barry O’Donnell

This paper is a response to Lacan's reference to the ancient philosophical schools when he was launching the school in 1964. It aims to shed light on the reference through a consideration of material which describes the ancient schools. This material indicates that Lacan‟s school differs in its arrangement and aims from other educational and training institutions.

Keywords: School, antiquity, Lacan, work-transference In one of the closed seminars during the Crucial problems for Psychoanalysis Seminar, in January 1965, just some months after the act of founding L'Ecole Francaise de Psychanalyse / L'Ecole Freudienne de Paris Lacan indicates that it is "a school ... in the sense that this term has been employed since antiquity.‟ Importantly he emphasises that it is “elsewhere”, that it is not the Seminar.

In the Preamble of 1964 Lacan describes his idea of a school as having the sense of "certain places of refuge, indeed operational bases against what could already be called the discontents of civilisation‟.[1] What follows are some points gathered from a cursory consideration of some key texts describing the ancient schools of Athens with a view to, one, better appreciating Lacan's proposal for a Freudian school in Paris in 1964;[2] and two, allowing this material to shed light on the current project of the Irish School for Lacanian Psychoanalysis.

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