Geoff Boucher – The Logical Status of Lacan’s Formulae of Sexuation

THE LETTER 34 (Summer 2005) pages 114-143

In this article, I propose to investigate the logical status of Lacan’s formulae of sexuation, as expounded in Seminar XX. According to Lacan, ‘the sexed being … results from a logical exigency in speech”. But the question of the relation between “the logical demands of language” and human sexuality is the locus for a series of objections to the psychoanalytic project. According to the contemporary doxa, the individual finds himself located within the multiple language games that constitute social reality. This involves the radically contingent construction of gender identity through dramatic performances of social roles. Such critics allege that there are as many sexualities as there are language games. They oppose the “radical translation” between incompatible social worlds to sexual difference as a transhistorical reality. To insist, as Lacan does, that the relation of the subject to language necessarily includes an unconscious, masculine or feminine stance, seems, to such critics to be a naturalisation of culturally constructed gender characteristics. So do Lacan’s formulae of sexuation represent a return to biological essentialism? What are the epistemological claims raised by Lacan’s metapsychological formalisations? I depart from the assumption that a relevant indicator of…



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