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Moncayo, R. (1998). True Subject Is No-subject: The Real, Imaginary, and Symbolic in Psychoanalysis and Zen Buddhism. Psychoanal. Contemp. Thought, 21(3):383-422.

(1998). Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought, 21(3):383-422

True Subject Is No-subject: The Real, Imaginary, and Symbolic in Psychoanalysis and Zen Buddhism

Raul Moncayo, Ph.D.

This paper contends that Lacanian psychoanalysis and Buddhism converge on the proposition that true self is no-self. It proposes that the Lacanian notion of the subject provides a viable alternative to either the psychoanalytic thesis of a substantial ego or the Buddhist pitfall of ignoring the significance of both language and a historical subject. Lacan's concept of the Real provides an answer to the critique that psychoanalysis lacks a positive psychology of meditation states. I differentiate between Imaginary, Symbolic, and Real dimensions of a divided and unified subject and between the heteronomy and autonomy of the unconscious, the ego, and the subject. The concept of insight is defined in terms of an “unknown knowing” that includes repressed knowing and the participation of the analyst in the larger nonrepressed structure of the Symbolic. Buddha-consciousness, as a consciousness beyond consciousness, and the psychical position of the analyst both constitute variations of

the seat of unknown-knowing. I differentiate between a conventional and an emancipatory function of language and argue that the Zen critique of language only applies to the former. The latter is articulated within a different conception of the Real found implicit in Lacan's work.

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