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Metzger, D. (1997). Freud's Jewish Science and Lacan's Sinthome. Am. Imago, 54(2):149-164.

(1997). American Imago, 54(2):149-164

Freud's Jewish Science and Lacan's Sinthome

David Metzger

In chapter nine of Seminar XVII, Lacan writes that the position of the analyst cannot be separated from Jewish history (158). More particularly, the invention of analytic discourse is part and parcel of a Hebraic tradition—represented by the Book of Hosea—in which one's god underscores the fact that even if everyone is speaking (let's say about sexual knowledge) this does not mean everyone is saying something. One of the defining moves of a Jewish Science, in this specific frame of reference, would be to situate the knowledge, “There is no Other,” precisely where other intellectual and religious traditions establish their rapport with the divine as “I am your Other.” In the first section of this essay, “Belief and The Clinical Structures,” we will observe how Lacan situates this “There is no Other” in terms of hysteria, obsession, psychosis, and perversion. We will also see how the confirmation of these clinical structures leads Lacan to conceive of unconscious fantasy as something constrained not by the Other but by what he called the “sinthome.” Sections two and three of the essay (“God and Discourse, the example of Aquinas”; “God and Sinthome, the example of Descartes”) chart a similar development in the theological arguments of Thomas Aquinas and René Descartes. In “Moses and Monotheism: Is there a Jewish cogito?” (the final section of the essay), we will see how Lacan's specific delineation of the sinthome can be traced to Freud's own hope for a “Jewish Science,” his desire to construct “something” that might shoulder the weight of Jewish fantasy.


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