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7/3/2017 SignifierCahierspourlAnalyse(Anelectronicedition)

ConceptandForm:
TheCahierspourlAnalyse
andContemporaryFrenchThought

Signifier
Lesignifiant

Thesignifier,drawnfromSaussureanlinguistics,wasarguablythecentralconceptinJacquesLacansengagementwithpsychoanalysis.Asindicatedinits
programmatictexts,theefforttodevelopalogicofthesignifierthatwouldaccountfortherelationsbetweensubject,science,andideology,wasoneofthe
guidingconcernsoftheCahierspourlAnalyse.

Seealso:Linguistics,Logic,Meaning,Speech,Structure,Subject,Unconscious

ThreeconceptualdistinctionslayattheheartofFerdinanddeSaussuresinnovativestructurallinguistics,thesciencethatwasfoundationalfortwentiethcentury
Frenchstructuralism.Thefirstwasthedistinctionbetweenlangue[language]andparole[speech].ForSaussure,theformerwastobeconsideredinsynchronic
termsandastheprimaryterrainoflinguisticanalysisinthisitwasopposedtothediachronicrealityofthelatter,whichputlanguagetouseintimeinspoken
form.Inhissynchronicanalysisoflanguage,Saussureinsistedonanotherdistinction,thatbetweenthesignandthereferent.Forexample,thesigncatmayin
multipleinstancesrefertoanactualcatwhichwouldbeitsrealworldreferent,i.e.,thiscat.Mostcrucial,however,wasthethirddistinction,thatwithinthesign
betweenthesignifiedandthesignifier.Theformerwastheconceptualcontentofthesign,inthiscasetheideaofacat,asafourleggedmammal,often
domesticated,distinctfromdogsandotherdomesticpets.Opposedtothismentalconceptorideationalcontent,wasthesignifiercatasanacousticimage
orphoneme,asequenceofletters,i.e.,theworditselfapartfromitsmeaningorcontent.ForSaussure,meaningwasproducedthroughasequenceofdifferential
relationsinwhichsignifierswerecorrelatedtosignifiedcontentsinallinstances,itwasthedifferencebetweensignifiersthatallowedthemtofunctionaslinked
tospecificsignifiedsorcontents.Inthisregard,theproductionofthesignifiedwasthelocusofSaussureslinguisticconcerns.

JacquesLacansmeetingofRomanJakobson(afollowerofSaussures,viatheirmutualfriendClaudeLviStrauss)in1950wasarguablythecentraleventin
Lacansownintellectualitinerary.HisintroductiontostructurallinguisticsmovedhimawayfromtheHegelianismofhisyouth,andpavedthewayforhislater
concernwithmathematics,formalisation,andsystemstheoryanalysis.InspiredbySaussure,Lacannonethelessdepartedfromhimonseveralsignificant
points.First,thesign/referentdistinctionwasofminimalconcernforLacan.Second,whereSaussuretendedtodenigrateparoleinfavourofathoroughly
synchronicapproachtolanguage,Lacan,asapsychoanalyst,waseminentlyconcernedwithspeech,itselfthemediumofpsychoanalyticpracticeandthe
crucialmechanismfortheemergenceofthesubjectoftheunconscious.Finally,andmostimportantly,Lacanreversedthepriorityofthesignified/signifier
relationshipfoundinSaussuresexample.ForLacan,meaningwastheresultoftheplayofsignifiersapartfromanysynchroniccorrelationtofixedsignified
contents.LacanintroducedhisnewstructuralinterrogationofFreudinhisfamousRomeDiscoursein1953,reprintedinthecritsasTheFunctionandFieldof
SpeechandLanguageinPsychoanalysis(E,237322).Theincreasingpertinencegrantedtothesignifierwouldbeevidentinthelatertextsofthisvolume,
culminatinginTheSubversionoftheSubjectandtheDialecticofDesireintheFreudianUnconscious(1960),whereinLacanclaimsthat[s]tartingwithFreud,
theunconsciousbecomesachainofsignifiersthatrepeatsandinsistssomewhere(onanotherstageorinadifferentscene,ashewrote),interferinginthecuts
offereditbyactualdiscourseandthecogitationitinforms(E,799).

ForLacan,theprimacyofsignifierwaswhataccountedfortheuniquenessofthehumananddistinguisheditsrelationshiptolanguagefromanynotionofmere
communicationorthesimpletransferofmeaning.Inhisthirdseminar,onthepsychoses,deliveredin195556,Lacanprovidesanilluminatingexampleofthis
phenomenonthatdeservestobequotedatlength:

Imatsea,thecaptainofasmallship.Iseethingsmovingaboutinthenight,inawaythatgivesmecausetothinkthattheremaybeasignthere.
HowshallIreact?IfImnotyetahumanbeing,Ishallreactwithallsortsofdisplays,astheysaymodelled,motor,andemotionalIsatisfythe
descriptionsofthepsychologists,Iunderstandsomething,infactIdoeverythingImtellingyouthatyoumustknowhownottodo.Ifontheother
handIamahumanbeing,IwriteinmylogbookAtsuchandsuchatime,atsuchandsuchadegreeoflatitudeandlongitude,wenoticedthis
andthat.

Thisiswhatisfundamental.Isheltermyresponsibility.Whatdistinguishesthesignifierishere.Imakeanoteofthesignassuch.Itsthe
acknowledgmentofreceipt[laccusderception]thatisessentialtocommunicationinsofarasitisnotsignificant,butsignifying.Ifyoudont
articulatethisdistinctionclearly,youwillkeepfallingbackuponmeaningsthatcanonlymaskfromyoutheoriginalmainspringofthesignifier
insofarasitcarriesoutitstruefunction.

[]Indeed,itisntasallornothingthatsomethingisasignifier,itstotheextentthatsomethingconstitutingawhole,thesign,existsandsignifies
preciselynothing.Thisiswheretheorderofthesignifier,insofarasitdiffersfromtheorderofmeaning,begins.

Ifpsychoanalysisteachesusanything,ifpsychoanalysisconstitutesanovelty,itspreciselythatthehumanbeingsdevelopmentisinnoway
directlydeduciblefromtheconstructionof,fromtheinterferencesbetween,fromthecompositionof,meanings,thatis,instincts.Thehumanworld,
theworldthatweknowandlivein,inthemidstofwhichweorientateourselves,andwithoutwhichweareabsolutelyunabletoorientateourselves,
doesntonlyimplytheexistenceofmeanings,buttheorderofthesignifieraswell.1

Lacanwillultimatelylinkthesignifier,assuch,signifyingnothingtotheOedipuscomplex,andarguethattheentrytothesymbolicorderoflanguageisaresult
ofasubmissiontothelawofthephallicsignifier,groundedintheNameofthefather.Morebroadly,thesignifier,distinctfrommeaning,lackingfixedsignified
orreferent,willforLacancometobetheconceptforsexualdifferenceassuchtheintegralincompletenessorindeedlackthatconstitutesthesubject.

IntheCahierspourlAnalyse

MuchasinLacansteaching,thesignifierisaubiquitousconceptintheCahierspourlAnalyse.Intheinauguralarticle,LaScienceetlavrit(CpA1.1),Lacan
developshisthesesconcerninglackandtruthascauseinscientificdiscourse.Aftermakingadistinctionbetweentheformalandmaterialcausealong
Aristotelianlines,Lacanspecifiesthatpsychoanalyseisconcernedwiththelatteranditsrelationtotheformer:

ThismaterialcauseistrulytheformofimpactofthesignifierthatIdefinetherein.

Thesignifierisdefinedbypsychoanalysisasactingfirstofallasifitwereseparatefromitssignification.Hereweseetheliteralcharactertraitthat
specifiesthecopulatorysignifier,thephallus,whenarisingoutsideofthelimitsofthesubjectsbiologicalmaturationitiseffectively(im)printed

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itisunable,however,tobethesignrepresentingsex,thepartnerssexthatisthepartnersbiologicalsignrecall,inthisconnection,my
formulationsdifferentiatingthesignifierfromthesign.

[]Conveyedbyasignifierinitsrelationtoanothersignifier,thesubjectmustbeasrigorouslydistinguishedfromthebiologicalindividualasfrom
anypsychologicalevolutionsubsumableunderthesubjectofunderstanding(CpA1.1:26,trans.875).

TheprimacyofthesignifierinLacansteaching,andhisattempttoprovidearigorousaccountofit,aretheinspirationbehindJacquesAlainsMillersattemptin
LaSuturetoprovide,asthesubtitlesuggests,theelementsforalogicofthesignifier(CpA1.3).Note,however,thatinLaScienceetlavritLacanis
alreadygesturingtowardtyingthesignifierbacktothebody,withouthoweverreducingittoanythingthatcouldbeconfusedwithbiology.Millerscontributionto
theCahierswillemphasizetheformalelementsofLacansaccount,whereasothers,chieflyAndrGreenandSergeLeclairewillworktobringthebodybackin
toanalysisinresponsetoMillersultraformalism.

MillerpresentstheconceptoflogicofthesignifierincleartermsattheoutsetofLaSuture(CpA1.3):

WhatIamaimingtorestore,piecingtogetherindicationsdispersedthroughtheworkofJacquesLacan,istobedesignatedthelogicofthesignifier
itisagenerallogicinthatitsfunctioningisformalinrelationtoallfieldsofknowledgeincludingthatofpsychoanalysiswhich,inacquiringa
specificitythere,itgovernsitisaminimallogicinthatwithinitaregiventhosepiecesonlywhicharenecessarytoassureitaprogressionreduced
toalinearmovement,uniformlygeneratedateachpointofitsnecessarysequence.Thatthislogicshouldbecalledthelogicofthesignifieravoids
thepartialityoftheconceptionwhichwouldlimititsvaliditytothefieldinwhichitwasfirstproducedasacategorytocorrectitslinguistic
declensionistopreparethewayforitsimportationintootherdiscourses,animportationwhichwewillnotfailtocarryoutoncewehavegraspedits
essentialshere(CpA1.3:389,trans.25).

TheanalysisthatfollowsisareadingofGottlobFregesGrundlagenderArithmetik(1884),basedaroundademonstrationthatFregesattempttogivealogical
constructionoftheseriesofwholenaturalnumbersispredicatedonthispriorlogicofthesignifier.Fregesconceptofzeroinvolvesasimultaneoussummoning
andannulmentofthenonidenticalthatMillerclaimscanberelatedtoLacansaccountofprimaryrepressionandmetonymicdisplacementinthesignifying
chain.ForMiller,Fregedoesnotrecognizethatthetruthofhisowndiscourseispredicatedonasuturingoverofaninauguralnonidentity.Hemisrecognisesthe
paradoxofthesignifier,thatthetraitoftheidenticalrepresentsthenonidentical(CpA1.3:48/32).

Intheconcludingsectionofthisarticle,Millertiesthelogicofthesignifiertothesubject(CpA1.3:4749).Ineffect,MillerfollowsLacanindefiningthesubjectas
thepossibilityforonesignifiermore:

Inordertoensurethatthisrecoursetothesubjectasthefounderofiterationisnotarecoursetopsychology,wesimplysubstitutefor
thematisationtherepresentationofthesubject(assignifier)whichexcludesconsciousnessbecauseitisnoteffectedforsomeone,but,inthe
chain,inthefieldoftruth,forthesignifierwhichprecedesit(CpA1.3:48/33).

Thekeypointisthatthesignifyingchain,inwhichthesubjectflicker[s]ineclipses,ismarkedbyaconstitutivelackthatissuturedover.Itisthislack,inits
determinantcapacity,thataccountsforthepersistenceofthesubjectinhisowndiscourse.

ThesignifierisacrucialconceptinthefirstsegmentofSergeLeclairesseminarCompteraveclapsychanalysethatconcludesVolume1(CpA1.5).According
toLeclaire,theanalystdoesnotobeyalogicofmeaning[logiquedusens](CpA1.5:57),butinlisteningfortheunconsciousmustratherfollowtheformalpaths
openedupbythesignifier.

Inadiscussionofclinicalapproachestofantasy,Leclairesaysthattworeferencesareessentialforthedeterminationofthestructureofthefantasy(CpA
1.5:61).Ontheonehand,fantasiesaretiedtoanemotionthatiscorporeallylocalized.Hegivesexamples:analexcitation,oralordentalexcitations,or
sensationsofthresholdorpassage[moideseuil,depassage].Ontheotherhand,theyareattachedtosignifiersandmoreparticularlytosignifiersassuch,
thatis,signifiersdetachedfromtheirrelationtothesignified.ThisishowoneshouldunderstandFreudssuggestionthatfantasiesaremadeupfromthingsthat
areheard,andmadeuseofsubsequently(SE1:248).Leclairegivesexamplesofhowcertainsignifiersusedbythemother(propernamesandpetnames)can
becomedetachedfromtheircommonsignificanceforthechildandbecomesitesforunconscioussignifyingchains.

Later,Leclaireturnstothenotionoftheunconsciousconcept,emphasizingitsroleintheconstitutionofsignifierswhichmarkthebody.Indeed,thechain
createdbytheunconsciousconcept,theconceptofthesmallpiecedetachedfromthebody,asFreudsays,inordertogainthefavourofsomeotherperson
whomheloves(SE17:131)isthelibidinalconditionfortheemergenceofthesignifier.Leclairegoesontoelaboratethatthiswanderingpiecethatcanbe
separated,byfiguringtheplaceofseparation,transgresses,intheliteralsenseoftheterm,thesurfacesfunctionoflimit.Andasalimititself,itmarks
difference,thustranscendingtheeffaceabletraceofthesensible:thepainofthewoundbecomesanineradicablemark(CpA1.5:68).Thisinitialtransgression,
hesays,isrediscoveredinorgasmandinsadisticjouissance.Itis,saysLeclaire,thevoidorholearoundwhichfantasyturns.

InhisRponsedestudiantsenphilosophiesurlobjetdelapsychanalysewhichopensVolume3,Lacaninsiststhat,whileposingachallengetodialectical
materialism,histheoryoflanguageisnonethelessmaterialistthesignifier,heclaims,ismattertranscendingitselfinlanguage(CpA3.1:10,trans.111).Thisis
infactacrucialmomentforthelegacyoftheCahiers,e.g.intheworkofBadiouandSlavojiek,inthatthesymbolicnatureofthesignifier,asitwellasits
transcendentalizingcharacter,remainsgroundedinamaterialismirreducibletoanaccountofrawinchoatematter.

InasectiontitledTheSutureoftheSignifier,itsRepresentationandtheObject(a)fromhiscontributiontothisvolume,AndrGreenfurtherdevelopssomeof
LeclairescriticismsofMillerandalsoseekstolinkthelogicofthesignifiertoamorerobustaccountofaffectandthebody(CpA3.2:22ff).Thesignifierplaysa
keyroleinLuceIrigarayscontributiontoVolume3aswell.DevelopingMillersargumentsfromLaSuture,andsupplementingthemwithamoreextensive
engagementwithlinguistics,IrigarayfocusesonthefamilyromanceoftheOedipuscomplexandtheemergenceofsubjectivityoutofthisscene.Irigaraymaps
outandexplainsthelinguisticandintersubjectivefeaturesofthetransformationproducedbytheentranceofathirdtermintotheoriginaldyadofchildandOther.
InhisorherveryfirstrelationshipwiththefirstOther,thechildstartsoutasafluidentity,notyetstructuredasIbythesignifier(CpA3.3:40trans.9).Atthe
introductionofthethirdpartyintotheprimitiverelationbetweenthechildandthemother,Iandyouareestablishedasdisjunction,separation(CpA3.3:40/10).
Themerepresenceofathirdterm,however,isinsufficientforaradicalbreakwiththeimaginarydyad,sincethethirdinitiallyappearsintheformofarival.This
oppositionofIandyou,ofyouandIremainsone[on],withoutpotentialforinversionorpermutationthefatherbeingonlyanotheryouifthemotherand
thefatherdonotcommunicatewitheachother.

Later,IrigaraydevelopssomeofLacansthesesconcerningthecrucialroleofthephallicsignifier.Thefundamentalfantasyofthehystericisthattheydidnot
getenoughlove.Withregardtohisorhermothersdesire,heorsheexperiencesthemselvesasmarkedbythesignofincompletenessandrejection,unableto
sustainthecomparisonwiththephallicsignifier.Forthemalehysteric,theconfrontationwiththemirrorislikethetestofhisinsignificance(CpA3.3:51/20).

Theobsessionalneurotic,ontheotherhand,suffersfromanearlyexcessoflove.Hismotherfoundhimtooappropriateasignifierforherdesire(CpA
3.3:51/22).Thephallicreferenceisattributedtosomeabsenthero,anallpowerfulfigure,whosedeath(aswiththedeathofthefatheroftheprimalhordein
FreudsTotemandTaboo)wouldonlyinanycaseguaranteethesubjectsongoingacquiescence.Theneuroticsproblemcomesdowntotheadequacyofhis

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signifiedtohissignifierheremainsrivetedtowhathehasbeen,unabletobecome.Heistrappedinanemptymetonymy,unabletometaphorise,andthus
enteratruetemporalsuccession.

Asthetitlesuggests,thesignifieristhecentralconceptofJeanClaudeMilnersreadingofPlatosSophistinVolume3,LePointdusignifiant(CpA3.5).For
Milner,deeplyinspiredinthisinstancebyMillersLaSuture(CpA1.3)thekeymovementinPlatostextisthevacillationofnonbeingasalternatelyfunction
andterminthechainofPlatosdiscourse,amovementwhichevokesthesummoningandannulmentofthesubjectthatMillerfoundinFregesdiscourse.The
signifyingchainisthesolespacesuitedtosupporttheplayofvacillation.Whereveranelementinalinearsequenceisreplacedbyanelementwhich,as
element,transgressesthislinearity(asinthemechanismofstructuralcausalityidentifiedbyMillerinActiondelastructure,CpA9.6),avacillationisproduced
withinthechain.Milnergivestheexamplesof(1)thefoundingexceptionofachain,and(2)anymarkingoftheplaceofanerasure.Theinstitutionofalinear
sequenceisgovernedbyavacillationthattestifiestoadoubleformaldependence,andwhichretroactivelydefinesthesignifierasachain(CpA3.5:77).
Platoschainofgenerathuspointstowardsthepossibilityofanorderofthesignifierinwhichbeingandnonbeingwouldregainthosetraitswhoseverycoupling
guaranteestruthandauthorizesdiscourse(CpA3.5:77).

Milnerspeculatesthatthenotionsofbeingandnonbeingmightborrowtheirtraitsfromtheorderofthesignifieritselfinitsbasicconstitution.Inapassagecited
byLeclaireinCpA5.1:12,Milnermentionsthreeaspectsofvacillation.First,thereisthevacillationoftheelement,whichistheeffectofasingularpropertyof
thesignifier,anddevelopsinaspacewheretheonlylawsareproductionandrepetition:beingandnonbeingrecoverthisrelationthroughtheirinverse
symmetry,dividingthemselvesbetweentermandexpansion,betweenmarkandabyss(CpA3.5:77).Thereisalsoavacillationofthecauseinsofarasboth
beingandnonbeingcannotpositthemselvesascauseexceptbyrevealingthemselvestobetheeffectoftheother.Finally,thereisthemovementofvacillation
wherebythetermthatinitiallytransgressesthesequencecallsupatransgressionthatannulsthewholechain.

MilnerclaimsthatgroundingPlatonicontologyonthelogicofthesignifieralsomakespossibleanewunderstandingoftheoppositionbetweenbeingand
subjectivity.Ontheonehand,thereisbeingastheorderofthesignifier,theradicalregisterofallcomputations,totalityofallchains,andontheotherhand,the
oneofthesignifier,theunityofcomputation,theelementofthechain,nonbeing,asthesignifierofthesubject(CpA3.5:77).Thislatterreappearsassuch
everytimethatdiscoursedeploysitspowertoannulsignifyingchains.

Inthenextsegmentofhisseminar,inVolume3,Leclairefocusesontheconceptofdrive[pulsion].Heasks:istheobjectofthedriveasignifierortheobjetpetit
ainLacanssense?Leclaireexplainsthatthesetwoareindissociable:insofarasitistheterminusofsoughtforsatisfaction,itistheobjetpetita,butinsofaras
itisconnectedwithadifferentiationinthebody,itisasignifier.Thedifferencebetweentheobjetpetitaandtheobtainedcorporealsatisfactionislivedasan
antinomyofpleasure,andthroughtherepresentationofthesplittingofthesubject[laschizedusujet](CpA3.6:87).

JacquesDerridascontributiontoVolume4,onthewritinglessoninClaudeLviStrausssTristesTropiques,presentshisgeneralcaseforaconceptofarche
writingthatisinmanyrespectsdistinctfromthelogicofthesignifier(CpA4.1:34).ForDerrida,themetaphysicaltraditionandclassicallinguisticshavealways
presentedwritingassecondarytoanddependentuponspeech,whichtheyunderstoodastheabsoluteimmediacyofmeaning,ofthesignifiedtothesignifier.
Nevertheless,therigorousdevelopmentoflinguisticsbySaussureandhisfollowersdemonstratedthatspokenlanguagewasstructurednotbyareferential
relationshiptoasignifiedbutratherbythehomologyofthedifferencesbetweensignifiersandthedifferencesbetweensignifieds.Inthissituation,despite
Saussurescontinuedandclassicaldisdainforwriting,thetraditionalunderstandingofwritingprovidedabettermodelforstructurallinguistics,becauseitalso
forewenttheimmediatepresenceofasignifiedtoitssignifier.Thegeneralstructureoflanguagethencouldbenamedarchewriting.Fromthisperspective,the
passagefromarchewritingtowritingasitiscommonlyunderstood[]isnotapassagefromspeechtowriting,itoperateswithinwritingingeneral(CpA
4.1:34).

InthefirstsectionofhisreadingofFreudsWolfMancaseinVolume5,OntheSignifier(CpA5.1:917),Leclairedistinguishesthepsychoanalyticsignifier
fromthelinguisticsignifier,whichhedescribesapsychicentitywithtwofaces:acombinationoftwoelementssignifier(Saussuresacousticimage)and
signifiedthattogetherconstitutethesignassuch,itreferstothesignifiedobjectitdenotes.Accordingtothisdefinition,thesignifieristhephonic
manifestationofthelinguisticsign(CpA5.1:10).AsusedbyJacquesLacan,however,thesignifiercannotbeconsideredasanelementderivedfromthe
problematicofthesign,butratherasafundamentalelementconstitutingthenatureandtruthoftheunconscious(CpA5.1:11).WhilePeircefamouslydefinedthe
signifieraswhatrepresentssomethingforsomeone,Lacandeclaresthatthepsychoanalyticsignifierrepresentsasubjectforanothersignifier.Theirfunctions
ofrepresentationthusdifferradically.

Toelucidatethisfunction,LeclairecitestwoimportantessaysfrompreviousissuesoftheCahiers,JacquesAlainMillersLaSuture(CpA1.3)andJeanClaude
MilnersLePointdusignifiant(CpA3.5).ForMiller,thecentralparadoxoftheLacaniansignifieristhatthetraitoftheidenticalrepresentsthenonidentical,
fromwhichcanbededucedtheimpossibilityofitsredoubling,andfromthatimpossibilitythestructureofrepetitionastheprocessofdifferentiationofthe
identical(CpA5.1:12).MilneraddsthatThesignifyingorderdevelopsitselfasachain,andeverychainbearsthespecificmarksofitsformality:thevacillation
oftheelement,thevacillationofthecause,andultimatelythevacillationoftransgressionitself,wherethetermthattransgressesthesequence,situatingasa
termthefoundingauthorityofallterms,callstheonetoberepeatedastermtransgressionitself,anagent[instance]whichannulseverychain(CpA5.1:12).
Leclaireembracestheseformulations,butpointsoutthattheydonotexplainhowthepsychoanalystcandistinguishagivensignifier.Whileanyelementof
discoursemaybeasignifier,thepsychoanalystmustbeabletodifferentiatebetweensignifiers,toprivilegesomeoverothers.Hewarnsagainsttheerrorof
makingthesignifiernomorethanaletteropentoallmeanings,andarguesthatasignifiercanbenamedassuchonlytotheextentthattheletterthat
constitutesoneofitsslopesnecessarilyrefersbacktoamovementofthebody.Itisthiselectiveanchoringofaletter(gramma)inamovementofthebodythat
constitutestheunconsciouselement,thesignifierproperlyspeaking(CpA5.1:14).

ItsdevelopmentofakindofprototypeofthesoughtafterlogicofthesignifieraccountsfortheinclusionofGeorgesDumzilsLesTransformationsdu
troisimedutripleinVolume7(CpA7.1).DumzilarguesthatthemultiplereferencesinRomanlegendtofiguresnamedHorace(forinstance,thestoryof
HoratiusCoclesinLivy2.10)haveasignifyingtraitincommon[untraitsignificatif](CpA7.1:9).Allthenarrativesconcernsinglecombatantsperformingfeatsof
extraordinarymilitaryprowess.Therecurrenceofthesenarratives,suggestsDumzil,indicatetheremnantsofaritualfunction(CpA7.1:1923).Thisemphasis
onarecurrentfunctionresonateswithMilnersinsistencetoLeclaireonthehomogeneityofplaces,asopposedtotheheterogeneityofterms,intheCompter
aveclapsychanalysesegmentinVolume3(CpA3.6:96).

InhisanalysisofFreudsAChildisBeingBeaten,alsoinVolume7,JacquesNassifarrivesatanaccountoftheplaceassignedtothesubjectinthesignifying
order(CpA7.4:88).Hesuggeststhatthemodelcanalsohelptoexplaintheprocessoftheoverdeterminationofsymptoms,whichcanbethoughtasaco
presenceinthesamearchaeologicaldispositionofsupersededphases(CpA7.4:86).Fantasythusbecomestheprivilegedsitewheretheunconscious,
structuredlikealanguage,communicateswiththesignifyingorderthatislanguageproperlyspeaking(CpA7.4:88).

IntheirquestionstoMichelFoucaultwhichopenVolume9,theCercledpistmologieenquiresintoFoucaultsmethodforreadingtexts,navigatinghis
conceptionoflanguageandthesignifier.Whatuseoftheletterdoesarchaeologysuppose?Thisistosay:whatoperationsdoesitpracticeonastatementin
ordertodecipher,throughwhatitsays,itsconditionsofpossibility,andtoguaranteethatoneattainsthenonthoughtwhich,beyondit,init,incitesitand
systematisesit?Doesleadingadiscoursebacktoitsunthoughtmakeitpointlesstogiveitinternalstructures,andtoreconstituteitsautonomousfunctioning?
(CpA9.1:6).

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InhisRemarquespourunethoriegnraledesidologiesinVolume9,ThomasHerbert[MichelPcheux]developsanAlthusserianaccountofideologyin
whichthelogicofthesignifierplaysakeyrole.Herbertestablisheshowoperationswhichtakeplacewithintheideologyoftheempiricalformarefascinatedby
theproblemoftherealitytowhichthesignifiermustadjust(CpA9.5:80).Inestablishingthesesemanticadjustments,theprocessitselfisneverforgottenor
hidden.Indeed,itistheveryprocessofadjustmentitselfthatisthemotorofideologicaloperations,andruptures,atthislevel.Bycontrast,withideologiesofthe
speculativeform,theoperationtakesplaceatthelevelofsyntax,thatis,intherelationofsignifiertosignifier,notintheadjustmentofsignifiertosignified.In
Herbertsreading,thesocialeffectiswelldescribedbyLacansdescriptionofthemechanisminthesignifyingchainwhichproducesthesubjecteffectin
language:thesignifierrepresentsthesubjectforanothersignifier.WhatisessentialtothisLacanianformulationisthatthesequenceisonethatcoversitsown
tracesunliketheadjustmentbetweensignifierandsignifiedthatoccursoutintheopenintypeAideologies(empiricalform),intypeB(speculativeform)the
subjectificationthatoccursisconstitutivelyforgotten.Thesubjecteffectcoversovertherupturethatwasitsowncondition.TheideasofNicosPoulantzas
serveHerbertinthefollowingformulation:letussaybrieflythattheputtingintoplaceofsubjects[i.e.,thesyntacticchain]referstotheeconomicinstanceofthe
relationsofproduction,andtheforgettingofthisputtingintoplacetothepoliticalinstance(CpA9.5:83).Inotherwords,whatgoesbythenameofpoliticsin
thissocialformation,i.e.,theState,isthesignoftheforgettingofthesocialorderingitself,whichisanteriortopolitics.

IntheirpreambletothedossierontheChimiedelaRaisonwhichconcludesVolume9,theCercledpistmologiepresentsthechemistryofreasonfoundin
theworksofDAlembert,Lavoisier,Mendeleev,orCuvierinamannerthatevokesthelogicofthesignifierthathasbeenthejournalsguidingconcern:

Toconstructachemistryofreasonisthustoreferthesciencestothejurisdictionofthewhole[tout],butthisisalsobythesamestroketosubmit
themtoanothernecessity.Forthiswholeisalsosubstantialsince,beingthescienceofthesimpleandthecompound[compose],chemistrymust
directitsefforttowardgenerating,throughthesoleoperationofcombination,allthematerialsthatmakeallthethingsoftheworldsaving
phenomenathusrequiresthatchemistryconstitutethemassuch,asaplenitudeandliaisonofsubstances.Weseeherethatthecrucialrelation
[relation]tothewholeisbutthereverseofarelation[rapport]totherepresentationtowhichchemistryissointimatelytied,namelythat,giventhat
anythingrepresentableisanobjectofanalysis,allanalysisisthusdeductionfromarepresentablebody(CpA9.11:169).

Selectbibliography

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Lacan,Jacques.LeSminaire,LivreIII.LesPsychoses,19551956,ed.JacquesAlainMiller.Paris:Seuil,1981.TheSeminarofJacquesLacan,Book
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Lacan,Jacques.LeSminaire,LivreXI.Lesquatreconceptsfondamentauxdelapsychanalyse,1964,ed.JacquesAlainMiller.Paris:Seuil,1973.The
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Milner,JeanClaude.LOeuvreclaire:Lacan,lascience,laphilosophie.Paris:Seuil,1995.

Saussure,Ferdinandde.CourseinGeneralLinguistics(1916),eds.CharlesBallyandAlbertSechehaye,trans.RoyHarris.LaSalle,Illinois:Open
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Notes

1.Lacan,SeminarIIIThePsychoses,1889).

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