Guy Le Gaufey – Being a Stranger to Oneself

The Letter Issue 66-67 (Autumn 2017/Spring 2018) Pages 19-25

Being a Stranger to Oneself

Guy Le Gaufey

Is there any kind of relationship between knowledge and fatherland? Between the fact of knowing something (a lot of things) and the fact of belonging to a land, a language, a culture? To answer such a question, I will rely on two strange statements, the first one coming from Heidegger in The Principle of Reason: ‘There is a mysterious play of correspondences between the appeal to provide reason and the withdrawal from native ground’. And the second one coming from Lacan, when he enigmatically uttered as a ‘formula’ of his, in the seminar On Anxiety: ‘As soon as it is known that something depends on knowledge (tient au savoir), there is something lost; and the surest way to approach this something lost is to conceive it as a fragment of the body.’

Since its very beginnings, psychoanalysis as a knowledge has pretended to be a very special one, not to be confused with any other one already established. This is the reason why: quite early on, Freud inscribed his name in a prestigious series of scientists who were at first condemned and thereafter celebrated: Copernicus, Darwin and himself. And all because all three of them had dismissed Man: decentring him with regard to everything; the world, Creation, consciousness; each one of them contradicting religions as well as philosophy. How right was Freud to say so? I won’t be so quick to consider psychoanalytical knowledge as something so special, especially in its ambition to decentre Man. After all, it is a man that asserts it, and in a rather proud way; and so we are not to forget, in this circumstance – and thanks to psychoanalysis itself – that the truth of an utterance can be contradicted by its proper enunciation. I would, therefore, rather take into account the fact that this way of being decentred is but a general property of…

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