Speaking being: language, body, and the construction of a world in Heidegger and Lacan

PhD thesis

Tombras, C. 2017. Speaking being: language, body, and the construction of a world in Heidegger and Lacan. PhD thesis Middlesex University Psychology
TypePhD thesis
TitleSpeaking being: language, body, and the construction of a world in Heidegger and Lacan
AuthorsTombras, C.

In this thesis, I discuss the basic theoretical hypotheses and models of Lacanian psychoanalysis, taking into consideration Martin Heidegger’s critique of science and modernity, and his arguments against (Freudian) psychoanalysis.
I begin by presenting certain key aspects of Heidegger’s phenomenology in connection with his central problem, the question regarding the meaning of “being”—i.e., the source of intelligibility of the world for the human being. I follow Heidegger in his argument that there is a rupture between the ancient and modern worldviews, and in his claim that modern science fails to question its foundations. Heidegger’s philosophy allows for a deep understanding of the human condition, without having to resort to tacit assumptions about what is subject, object, truth, reality, and the world.
Heidegger’s work helps bring out the uncritically accepted presuppositions of psychoanalytic theory, and challenges them. In reviewing the efforts by thinkers like Ludwig Binswanger and Medard Boss to apply Heidegger’s insights to psychiatry and psychotherapy I find that they generally fail in their attempts to present compelling theories that can also show their clinical relevance.
I turn to the work of Jacques Lacan, a psychoanalyst deeply influenced by Heidegger’s thought. With his rereading and reformulation of Freud’s original insights, Lacan presents a post-Freudian metapsychology that can, as I show, respond confidently to Heidegger’s critique of psychoanalysis, and reach beyond it. Lacan offers a conceptualisation of the human being as a sexed “speaking being”, a being under the sway of jouissance and the signifier. I follow Lacan in his argument that meaning is always floating, unstable, and retroactively established, and discuss his efforts to reach an “ideal” of discursive mathematic formalisation.
This discussion paves the way for an exploration of the basic themes of a possible theoretical exchange between Heidegger and Lacan. I formulate this exchange as a conceptual synthesis, which I provisionally label Discourse Ontology of the Speaking Being. In bringing this thesis to an end, I explore five basic themes of this conceptual synthesis—they are: speaking being; truth; language; body; world—and briefly touch on other themes, reflection on which is facilitated by this exchange.

Department namePsychology
Institution nameMiddlesex University
Publication dates
Print10 Mar 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited10 Mar 2017
Accepted09 Jan 2017
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
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