‘This so-called crisis. It does not exist’ – Jacques Lacan on Psychoanalysis in 1974

This interview has been re-published, with permission, from the Verso Books blog.

In this interview given in 1974, Jacques Lacan prophetically warned of the dangers of the return of religion and of scientism. For him, psychoanalysis is the only conceivable rampart against contemporary anxieties. These are arguments of surprising present-day relevance.


As if by magic, Lacan lives again with full force in this interview given to the Italian magazine Panorama in 1974. The Italian interviewer Emilio Granzotto noted that ‘we hear more and talk more of the crisis of psychoanalysis’. Fortunately in Jacques Lacan we can find real frankness, good sense, lucidness and precision – far from the ‘comforting’ psychoanalysis established by some of Freud’s students, who ritualised techniques of therapy that gently re-adapt the patient to his social environment. ‘This is the very negation of Freud’, Lacan tells us. What were his fears, at that time? Showing his talent for prophesy, Lacan feared already in 1974 both the return of religion and the triumph of science. Sex in evidence everywhere? No. Rather, a fake liberalisation, without importance. But scientific meddling – well, that’s a different matter…

Emilio Granzotto: We hear more and more talk of a crisis of psychoanalysis. Sigmund Freud has been left behind, they say, as modern society has discovered that his work is insufficient for understanding man or for deeply investigating his relationship with the world.

Jacques Lacan: This is tittle-tattle. In the first place, this so-called crisis. It does not exist, it could not. Psychoanalysis has not come close to finding its own limits, yet. There is still so much to discover in practice and in consciousness. In psychoanalysis, there are no immediate answers, but only the long and patient search for reasons.

Secondly, Freud. How can it be said that he has been left behind, when we have still not yet entirely understood him? What we do know for sure is that he made us aware of things that are entirely novel, that would not even have been imagined before him, from the problems of the unconscious to the importance of sexuality, from access to the symbolic sphere to subjection to the laws of language.

His doctrine put truth itself in question, and this concerns everyone, each individual personally. It is hardly in crisis. I will repeat: we are far from Freud. His name has also been used to cover for a lot of things, there have been deviations and epigones who did not always loyally follow his model, creating confusion about what he meant. After his death in 1939, some of his students also claimed to be exercising a different kind of psychoanalysis by reducing his teachings to a few banal formulas: technique as a ritual, practice restricted to treating people’s behaviour, as a means of re-adapting the individual to his social environment. This is the negation of Freud: a comforting salon psychoanalysis.

He had predicted it himself. He said that there were three untenable positions, three impossible tasks: governing, educating, and exercising psychoanalysis. These days it doesn’t much matter who takes the responsibility for governing, and everyone claims to be an educator. As for psychoanalysts, thank God, they are prospering as experts and as quacks. To offer to help people means guaranteeing success, and the customers are banging down the door. Psychoanalysis is something quite different to this.

What exactly?

I define it as a symptom – something that reveals the malaise of the society in which we live. Of course, it is not a philosophy. I abhor philosophy, for an awful long time it’s had nothing new of interest to say. Nor is psychoanalysis a faith, and I am not keen on calling it a science. Let’s say that it’s a practice, and it is concerned with whatever is not going right. Which is a terrible difficulty because it claims to introduce the impossible, the imaginary, into everyday life. Thus far it has obtained certain results, but it still has no rules and is prone to all sorts of ambiguities.

We must not forget that it is something entirely new, with regard to both medicine and psychology and its outliers. It is also very young. Freud died barely thirty-five years ago. His first book, The Interpretation of Dreams, was published in 1900, and met with very little success. I think they sold only three hundred copies across the first few years. He had a handful of students, who were considered mad, and they did not even agree amongst themselves on how to put into practice and to interpret what they had learned.

What isn’t going right with people today?

This great listlessness in life, a consequence of the rush for progress. Through psychoanalysis people expect to discover how far it is possible to draw out this listlessness.

What is it that drives people to have themselves analysed?

Fear. When something happens to someone and they do not understand it, even if they wanted it to happen, they are afraid. They suffer from not understanding, and little by little they fall into a panic. This is neurosis. With hysterical neurosis, the body becomes ill from the fear of being ill, and without really being so. With obsessive neurosis, the fear brings bizarre things to mind, thoughts that cannot be controlled, phobias in which forms and objects acquire different meanings that make people afraid.

For example…

he neurotic person may feel constrained by a terrifying need to go dozens of times to check if a tap is really turned off, or if something is in the place that it should be, even though they already know for certain that the tap is off and the thing is in the right place. There are no pills to cure that. It is necessary to find out why that happens and what it means.

And the cure?

The neurotic is an ill person who is treated by speech, above all his own. He must speak, recount, explain himself. Freud defined psychoanalysis as the subject’s assumption of his own history, insofar as this history is constituted by the words addressed to another person. Psychoanalysis is the realm of speech, there is no other remedy. Freud explained that the unconscious is not deep as much as it is inaccessible to conscious examination. And that in this unconscious, the speaker is a subject within the subject, transcending the subject. The great strength of psychoanalysis is speech.

Whose speech? The ill person’s or the psychoanalyst’s?

In psychoanalysis the terms ‘ill person’, ‘doctor’ and ‘remedy’ are no more appropriate than the passive formulas that are so commonly used. We say: ‘have yourself psychoanalysed’. This is wrong. The person doing the real work in the analysis is the speaker, the subject analysing himself. That is the case even if he does so in the manner suggested by the analyst who indicates how he ought to proceed and who makes helpful interventions.

The subject is also provided with an interpretation, which at first sight seems to give meaning to what he himself says. In reality, the interpretation is rather subtler, tending to efface the meaning of the things from which the subject is suffering. The goal is to show him, by way of his own narrative, that the symptom – or let’s call it the illness – has no relationship to anything, and lacks any kind of meaning. Even if it is apparently real, it does not exist.

The routes by which this act of speech proceeds demand a great deal of practice and infinite patience. Psychoanalysis’s tools are patience and moderation. The technique consists of moderating the degree of help that you give to the subject analysing himself. Psychoanalysis is thus no simple matter.

When we speak of Jacques Lacan, we inevitably associate his name to a formula, the ‘return to Freud’. What does this phrase mean?

Exactly what it says. Psychoanalysis is Freud. If you want to do psychoanalysis, you have to go back to Freud, his terms and definitions, read and interpreted literally. I founded a Freudian school in Paris with precisely this goal in mind. For more than twenty years I have been expounding my viewpoint: to return to Freud simply means to sweep the ground of the deviations and ambiguities of existential phenomenology, for example, as well as of the institutional formalism of psychoanalytical societies, and to resume a reading of Freud’s teachings that follows definite, enumerated principles based on his own work. Re-reading Freud just means re-reading Freud. Whoever does not do so is abusing words if they speak of psychoanalysis.

But Freud is difficult. And Lacan, they say, makes him utterly incomprehensible. Lacan is charged with speaking and, above all, writing in such a way that only very few adept scholars can hope to understand…

I know, I know, I am taken for an obscurantist who hides his thinking behind smokescreens. I ask myself why. I repeat, with Freud, that analysis is the ‘inter-subjective game by which truth enters into the real’. Isn’t it clear enough? Psychoanalysis isn’t child’s play.

My books are called incomprehensible. But for whom? I did not write them for everyone, thinking that just anyone could understand them. On the contrary, I have never made the least effort to cater to my readers’ tastes, no matter who they are. I had things to say, and I said them. For me, it is enough to have an audience who reads my work. If they do not understand, well, let’s be patient. As for the number of readers, I have had more luck than Freud. Maybe my books are even too widely read – I find it astonishing.

I am also convinced that within ten years at the utmost, people reading my work will find it entirely transparent, like a good glass of beer. Perhaps then they’ll say ‘This Lacan, he’s so banal!’

What are the characteristics of Lacanianism?

It’s a little early to say, since Lacanianism does not yet exist. We can just about get a whiff of it, a premonition.

In any case, Lacan is a gentleman who has been practicing psychoanalysis for at least forty years, and has been studying it for just as long. I believe in structuralism and the science of language. I wrote in my book that ‘what the discovery of Freud drives us to is the enormity of the order in which we are inserted, into which we are – so to say – born for the second time, emerging from the aptly termed stage of infancy, in which we are without speech’.

It is language – as a moment of universal, concrete discourse – that constitutes the symbolic order on which Freud based his discovery. It is the world of speech that creates the world of things, which initially blur into everything that is in-becoming. Only words give a finished meaning to the essence of things. Without words, nothing would exist. What would pleasure be, without the intermediary of speech?

My thinking is that in outlining the laws of the unconscious in his early works – The interpretation of dreamsBeyond the pleasure principle,Totem and taboo – Freud’s formulations were a precursor to the theories with which Ferdinand de Saussure some years later opened the way to modern linguistics.

And pure thought?

Like everything else, it is subject to the laws of language. Only words can engender thought and give it substance. Without language, humanity would never make any forward step in its efforts to understand thought. This is true for psychoanalysis also. Whatever the function you attribute to it – a form of cure, of training or of making soundings – there is just one medium that you can employ, the patient’s speech. And all speech deserves a response.

Analysis as dialogue, then. There are those who interpret it more as a substitute for confession…

But what confession? You confess precisely zero to the psychoanalyst. You give yourself over to telling him simply whatever comes into your head. Words, that is. Psychoanalysis’s discovery is man-as-speaking-animal. It is up to the analyst to order the words he hears, giving them sense and meaning. For a good analysis to be possible there needs to be an agreement, an understanding between the analyst and the subject analysing himself.

Through the latter’s discourse, the analyst seeks to get an idea of what is at issue, and going beyond the apparent symptom locate the tangled knot of truth at the heart of the matter. The analyst’s other function is to explain the meaning of the words used in order to allow the patient to understand what he can expect from the analysis.

A relationship that demands a great deal of trust…

Or rather, an exchange, in which the important thing is that one person speaks and the other listens. As well as silence. The analyst poses no questions and adds no ideas of his own. He only gives the answers that he wants to, to the questions that he wants to. But ultimately the subject analysing himself always goes where the analyst leads him.

You just mentioned therapy. Is there a possibility of being cured? Can one emerge out of neurosis?

Psychoanalysis is successful when it clears the ground, goes beyond symptoms, goes beyond the real. That is to say, when it touches the truth.

Could you put the same concept in less Lacanian terms?

I call a ‘symptom’ everything that comes from the real. And the real is everything that isn’t right, does not work, and is opposed to man’s life and his engagement with his personality. The real always returns to the same place. And it is there that you will always find it, in the same trappings. There are scientists who make out that nothing is impossible, in the real – and it takes some nerve to say things like that, or, as I suspect, total ignorance of what one is doing and saying.
The real and the impossible are antithetical and cannot go together. Analysis pushes the subject toward the impossible, suggesting to him that he ought to consider the world as it truly is – that is, an imaginary world without meaning. Whereas the real is like a gluttonous seagull, and only feeds on meaningful things, actions that have some meaning.

We often hear it said that we have to give meaning to this or that, to one’s own thoughts, aspirations, sex, life. But we know absolutely nothing about life. Experts run out of breath trying to explain it to us.

My fear is that through their failings, the real – this monstrous thing that does not exist – ends up winning. Science substitutes itself for religion and is all the more despotic, obtuse and obscurantist. There is an atom-god, a space-god, etc. If science or religion wins, psychoanalysis is finished.

What relationship is there today between science and psychoanalysis?

For me the only true, serious science worth following is science fiction. The other, official science with its altars in the laboratories gropes its way forward without reaching any happy medium. And it has even begun to fear its own shadow.

It seems that the experts will soon be facing anxious moments. Donning their starched shirts in their aseptic laboratories, these rather elderly toddlers playing with unknown things, making ever more complex devices, inventing ever more obscure formulas, begin to ask themselves what might happen tomorrow, what these ever-novel research projects might bring to bear. Enough, I say! And what if it’s too late, biologists and physicists and chemists now ask themselves. I think they are mad. They are already changing the face of the universe, and it only now occurs to them that perhaps this might be dangerous. And if everything blew up in their faces? If the bacteria so lovingly raised in their shiny laboratories transformed into our mortal enemies? If hordes of these bacteria overran the world as well as all the crap that lives there, starting with these laboratory experts themselves?

In addition to Freud’s three impossible positions – government, education, and psychoanalysis – I would add a fourth, science. But the experts are not expert enough to know that their position is untenable.

So you have a rather pessimistic view of what they call progress…

No, it’s something else entirely. I am not pessimistic. Nothing is going to happen. For the simple reason that man is a good-for-nothing, not even capable of destroying himself. Personally, I would find the idea of an all-encompassing plague, produced by man, rather marvellous. It would be the proof that he had managed to do something with his own hands and head, without divine or natural intervention.

All these bacteria overfed for amusement’s sake, spreading out across the world like the locusts in the Bible, would mark the triumph of mankind. But this isn’t going to happen. Science happily saunters through its crisis of responsibility: everything will return to its natural place, as they say. And as I said, the real will win out, as always. And we’ll be as fucked as we ever were.

Another paradox of Jacques Lacan. As well as the difficulty of your language and the obscurity of your concepts, you are reproached for your jokes, word games, puns, and, rightly, for your paradoxes. Your reader or listener has the right to feel a bit disoriented.

I am not joking, the things that I say are very serious. I merely make use of words in the same way that the experts of which I speak make use of their alembics and their electronic circuitry. I always try to refer to the experience of psychoanalysis.

You say: the real does not exist. But the average Joe knows that the real is the world, everything around him that he can touch and see with the naked eye.

First off, let’s get rid of this average Joe, who does not exist. He is a statistical fiction. There are individuals, and that is all. When I hear people talking about the guy in the street, studies of public opinion, mass phenomena, and so on, I think of all the patients that I’ve seen on the couch in forty years of listening. None of them in any measure resembled the others, none of them had the same phobias and anxieties, the same way of talking, the same fear of not understanding. Who is the average Joe: me, you, my concierge, the president of the Republic?

We were talking about the real, about the world that all of us see.

OK. The difference between the real – what is not going right – and the symbolic, the imaginary – that is, truth – is that the real is the world. To see that the world does not exist, that there is no world, it is enough to think of the great mass of banalities that an infinite number of imbeciles believe the world to be. And I invite my friends at Panorama, before they accuse me of paradoxes, to reflect carefully on what they have just read.

People will say that you’re becoming ever more pessimistic.

That isn’t true. I am not among the ranks of the alarmist or the anxious. Woe betide the psychoanalyst who hasn’t gone beyond the stage of anxiety. It’s true: everywhere around us there are troubling, all-consuming things, like the TV that eats up so many of us. But that is only because there are people who allow themselves to be eaten up, who even invent an interest for themselves in what they are seeing.

And then there are other monstrous things that are just as voracious: rockets that go to the moon, research at the bottom of the oceans, etc. All sorts of things that consume people. But there’s no point in making a big deal out of them. I am sure that when we have enough of rockets, TVs and these wretched quests into the void, we will find something else with which to busy ourselves. It’s a reincarnation of religion, isn’t it? And what monster is more voracious than religion? It is a continual feast, to be enjoyed for centuries, as we have already seen.

My response to all this is to note that man has always been able to adapt himself to the bad. The only real that we can conceive, that we can have access to, is precisely that, the need for a reason: to give some meaning to things, as we said earlier. Otherwise, man would not have anxiety, Freud would not have become famous, and I would be teaching in some grammar school.

Are anxieties always of this nature, or are there anxieties linked to certain social conditions, historical eras or geographical climbs?

The anxiety of the expert afraid of his discoveries may seem a latter-day phenomenon. But what do we know about what happened in other times? The dramas of other researchers? The anxiety of the worker enslaved to the assembly line like the rowers on a galley – that is today’s anxiety. Or, more simply, this anxiety is linked to today’s words and definitions.

But what is anxiety, in psychoanalysis?

Something that is situated outside our body, a fear, but a fear of nothing, that can be driven by the body, including the mind. The fear of fear, in sum. Many of these fears and anxieties, at the level that we perceive them, have to do with sex. Freud said that for the speaking animal called man, sexuality has no remedy and has no hope. One of the analyst’s tasks is to find the relation between anxiety and sex, this great unknown, in the patient’s speech.

Now that sex is promoted everywhere you look – sex at the cinema, at the theatre, on TV and in newspapers, in songs and on beaches – you hear it said that people are less anxious about problems linked to the sexual sphere. The taboos have fallen, they say, and people are no longer afraid of sex.

The invading sex-mania is just an advertising phenomenon. Psychoanalysis is a serious matter that concerns, I repeat, a strictly personal relation between two individuals, the subject and the analyst. There is no collective psychoanalysis, just as there are no mass anxieties or neuroses.

The fact of sex being spoken about, shown off on street corners, treated like some detergent on the TV merry-go-round, does not bring any promise of joy. I do not say that this is a bad thing. Certainly it is insufficient for treating particular problems and anxieties. It is part of fashion, of this fake liberalisation that so-called permissive society gives us, like some gift from on high. But it is of no use at the level of psychoanalysis.

To read the original interview in French at Le Magazine Littéraire click here.

To read Élisabeth Roudinesco’s interview on the 30th anniversary of Jacques Lacan’s death click here, or check out Roudinesco’s latest biography on Lacan, “In Spite of Everything.”

  • Michał Polański

    This interview is wholly embarrassing. Notwithstanding problems with science his response to it is purely pathetic.

    • Bueno Devine Burquez

      I understand your disagreement with him, but I have a simple question: which science has ever accomplished, or at least advanced, the project of human emancipation? In other words, where in history has science ever “taught us” anything more about ourselves so that we could “get along” any better?

      This is not to say science doesn’t have its value, but I tend to agree with Lacan: no science has yet to create a better society (ie less domination, less inequality, etc.)

      • Bob Sanderson

        I agree that progress is blind and unthinking in many respects – but hasn’t science created, at least, further possibility for human emancipation? Technology has rendered humanity capable of fulfilling the basic needs of all. We have the resources to end poverty, hunger, etc. We haven’t done so, obviously, and scientism and blind faith in progress (i.e. Neoliberalism) is to blame, at least in part. But airplanes fly resources to Nepal after the earthquake, technological-agricultural techniques allow arid land to produce crops, etc. How do we treat this fact?

        • Bueno Devine Burquez

          I think you’re right on both assertions: science/technology is indifferent to progress AND yet holds many possibilities for human emancipation. My argument was of course not saying we need to stop striving for new technologies or new ways of understanding the world through science; rather (as you put it) a blind belief in progress gets us nowhere.

          In other words, technology is an open field for human interpretation, but all this postmodern blah blah like “let’s accept the ambiguity, there
          Is no answer” is just another dismissal of a very simple fact: we must decide what our technology “means” to us.

          But the key is that we cannot answer the question “what to do with our technology” in a scientific manner. This is what gets confusing. We must instead refer to the human being within this system of technology, and answer the question from that perspective, I think.

      • Collin237

        That has never been the purpose of science. The purpose is simply to learn about the world. It’s up to politics and morality to decide what to do with the knowledge.

        It’s often said that horrible things have been done “in the name of” science; but that’s at best extremely sloppy thinking and at worst a deliberate misdirection. Science has given us knowledge, and some people have done horrible things with it because they’re horrible people. The sane response would be at the very least to get these people out of the business of science. The Continental Philosophers, however, in the guise of railing against science, excuse these people by claiming — in a roundabout hard-to-prove way — that the horrors could not have actually happened, because the theories the devices they were committed through were built according to are delusionary.

        It can, of course, be argued that there are subtle distinctions between the concepts of reality and existence, but for ordinary perspicuous purposes they are equivalent. Lacan, however, claims quite clearly that they are perspicuously opposite. This goes beyond being merely illogical or incorrect; it is actually a flat-out lie.

        • Bueno Devine Burquez

          “The Continental Philosophers, however, in the guise of railing against science, excuse these people by claiming — in a roundabout hard-to-prove way — that the horrors could not have actually happened, because the theories the devices they were committed through were built according to are delusionary.”

          I don’t understand this statement. Which horrors are did the continental philosophers claim did not happen?

          • Collin237

            Take for example Einstein’s equation E=mc². Evil people realized that if this equation is correct it would be possible to make an atomic bomb. (This cannot be considered an act of science. There was already a known phenomenon that the equation described, the decay of radium into lead weighing less. So if they were really scientists they would just have done more lab experiments with radium. And it would have been they that died of radiation, rather than billions of innocent people.) The Continental Philosophers saw this as evidence of the killing power of male aggression, and “reasoned” that E=mc² must be a secret code for a sexist message. So in order to “enlighten” us, they made up a new meaning of the equation, and claimed that what Einstein thought he meant was merely a fit of neurosis, and not a theory about anything real. The obvious conclusion, that the bombs weren’t real either, they left for their readers to supply. Because if they had said that themselves, everyone would have realized they were nuts.

          • Bueno Devine Burquez

            Ok I’m gonna need a direct quote for that claim. Which continental philosopher said that?

          • Bueno Devine Burquez

            I see, are you referring to Heidigger? Ok that comment makes sense regarding him and his work. He is a difficult philosopher, and especially because its nearly impossible to distinguish between his work and his life.

            He was a philosopher and a fascist and whos continental philosophy does defend Naziism directly. This is actually not an ad hominem you’re
            making and I think this is a crucial issue. Namely: if all these great philosophers (Nietszche, Heidigger, Marx Engels) created an ideology that produced fascism ON BOTH SIDES, then their ideologies were inherently fascist and should be dismissed.

            I will get back to you on this one.

          • Bueno Devine Burquez

            Once again, regarding this comment, I will need a source: which continental philosopher made this claim?

          • Bueno Devine Burquez

            Huh? Clarification needed for your fantastic Einstein comment. Oh, and I mean fantastic quite literally: please clarify that this fantasy happened somewhere else but in your head.

          • Collin237

            Is it also racist to generalize about Continental Breakfast? No, it’s just a name.

            The Continental Philosophers are not a type of people. They are the students of a genre of study. And it seems you’ve picked up on their technique of dumping all social categories onto groups of people.

            This makes the category of society itself a collective of people, but since it actually is, they have a blank space in their table, where they can fill in whatever’s politically expedient, usually Capitalism or Patriarchy.

            They combine various anti-Capitalist manifestos and personal identity theories; and to top it all off, L. Ron Hubbard’s concept of White Privilege. This allows them to play off of all the worst aspects of the current global culture, such as corporate greed, racism, and fanatically intolerant factions of Christianity and Islam. They perpetuate these evils and work toward the Conservative goal of eradicating science, all the while using nonsense logic to portray themselves as Liberals working for Social Justice.

            You don’t have to be part of this. Read Wittgenstein and Foucault. See what they really said, not what all the so-called experts claim they said. Set yourself free, and think for yourself.

          • Bueno Devine Burquez

            Lets take a particular argument from Foucalt and analyze if. You pick. Give me a direct quote and your thoughts.

            Or Nietzche, his “predecessor”
            if we can summarize that type of power thinker whatever you want to call it. Then we’ll move on to another philosopher who has a very direct answer for both of them and for you.

          • Collin237

            If by an “academic discussion”, you mean judging our views about ideas written down, and set in stone (as it were), by other thinkers, then that’s not what I ever asked for. I don’t think in blocks of text cut-and-pasted from others. I think about issues, in my own words.

            I do look into a lot of things, and I do know where I stand on a lot of topics. But I don’t include among those topics playing a trivia game with interpreting quotes.

          • Bueno Devine Burquez

            Really? you didn’t ask for it?

            So what youre sayin is that when you made a garbled
            generalization ABOUT continetal philosophers, who you THEN told me to go read, you mean to tell me you didnt actually want to DISCUSS continental philosophy? Brilliance sheer

            lol im gonna post some random claims on about new age economic theory is….but im gonna do it without having read it and without actually wanting to discuss it.

            Quack quack little duckling, you sit are a victim of Orwell’s famous duck speak: you say all the words without ever actually thinking!

            Lol let me know next time you want to bring some quack quack to the table
            so i can squash it properly. now run a long and go read
            those people that you already claim to know so much about.

            QUACK QUACK

          • Collin237

            You said you thought my objection was justified in the case of Heidegger, and that you’d get back to me with a more detailed opinion. Now I see you don’t give a damn about the quality of anyone’s logic. You made absolutely no attempt to summarize the actual views of any of the philosophers you claim to be so sure I’m wrong about.

            You started this whole thing by claiming that science has done nothing to “emancipate” humanity. Now you insult me for responding on the same level of abstraction.

            Do you really know anything about Heidegger and Irigaray? Whose names you can’t even spell? You volunteered to explain something to me about Heidegger and then refused, and blamed me for it. What the hell are you playing at?

          • Bueno Devine Burquez

            Firstly, I did not give any explicit statements on any specific continental philosopher because frankly all of your comments lack any sort of direct reference. You don’t actually engage in any particular thinker, you simply generalize the whole continental “school” as if it were that simple. This indeed is the FORM of the logic of racism (not racism, do you know what form means?): you spontaneously assume the whole of continental philosophy “excuses” horrors simply bc you read some small snippit about a few of them. As for my spelling errors: the grammar police always come out when they have no other arguments. Recall the Billy Madison moment? KID CANT EVEN READ.

            Regarding the Heidigger comment: I had to INSERT and assume you meant Heidegger because you were so vague in your blabbering. You make these meaningless blanket statements. To be clear: you cannot summarize the whole of continental philosophy in one silly vague sentence.

            Now to Heidigger: he asks the question that everyone asks: what does it mean, what is the essence of a human. In order not to fall back into some reductionist language, he uses a very odd and idiosyncratic (on purpose) language like “life world, Dasein, throwness.” Simply, he wanted to avoid getting caught in the traps of positivist notions and to really ask the question of being again.

            His answer is actually quite complex and comes out looking more like a movement rather than a straightforward answer. For Heidigger, Dasein is FIRSTLY thrown into the world, into the “ontic” contingent reality. It is only when a subject QUESTIONS the things (and his own being) that are simply “out there in the world,
            existing simply” does he begin to form an ONTOLOGY for what we might call the “nature” of things. In other words, man has the unique ability NOT to “see” the hidden agalma beneath the ontic reality, but rather man himself POSITS the framework for this reality through his questioning.

            Now this may sound like a whole
            lot of jargon but I have found it to actually be an interesting truism, especially regarding, yes your beloved science. Let’s take a look at a practical application of the “disclosure” or “enframing” which actually posits the presupositions that allow the sciences to function the way they do.

            Not very long ago (in human history) we viewed or percieved matter as having unique and distinct qualities. Now these qualities, for instance fluidity, color, hardness, were assumed to be CONSTITUATIVE of the actual substance itself. In other words, a tautology was used: water flows like water bc frankly it is water and these are its qualities. What this means is that we had a basic A PRIORI distinction between types
            of matter: liquid, gas, whatever else. This a priori framework that underlay the sciences at that time was our metaphysical ontology. Now with the advent of the notion of the atom, we began a new epoch of understanding: namely, that although these “substances” appear different, it now appears that their individual atoms are actually basically identitical. Now what came to “matter” was the STRUCTURE or form of the assembly of equivalent atoms. What’s more is that this epoch was exploded by Eistein who was in turn replaced by quantum physics. One we now “understand”
            a priori is that subject (the viewer, or perciever) is MEDIATED by the object of viewing. This is our new epoch. Do you see how Heidigger comes into play here? It was not that something in REALITY changed, it was rather that our ontological presupositions changed.

            This of course is my very shaky interpretation on my terrible reading of Being and Time. Nevertheless, I have at least looked into it before calling “BULLSHIT,” like so many others like yourself prefer. These continental philosophers are about as varied as they come, and if you look closely you will find extreme disagreements, along with subtle differences and odd truisms. I found Heidigger extremely difficult because of his oddlanguage, but overall I think i got the jist of some of his more primary concerns.

            Now to Foucault, who might be called a Heidiggerian and a Nietzchean in that he historicizes each “epoch” and looks at the presupositions that define each. Now we will really get down to the nitty gritty and the reason why I see problems with modern scientism and the educational system that STRUCTURES that system. Foucault deploys a geneology like Nietzche, which basically means that for him history has no “progressive” pattern, but instead is like a sort of jagged assemblage of power struggles. One of Foucault’s most potent arguments, and one which hits directly at your point on science, is that knowledge is ALWAYS tied to power. This of course is what you were attacking, as it does seem sort of odd at first. Now I’m going to quote Rick Roderick NOT because his answers are written in stone but simply because i tend to agree with this next blurb. I don’t know why some people have problems with quotations, Roderick is not an authority for any other reason that i see his argument and re-phrasing of Foucault as on point and very astute. In other words the only authority seems to be “the strange power of the better argument.” So here’s his rephrasing of Foucaults knowledge and power argument:

            Okay, now, here is the claim I think that is the most outrageous of Foucault’s and about which a lot of the debate that you hear today about “deconstruction” – even though Foucault is not a “deconstruction” person – a lot of the debate you hear today about the universities hinges on this important claim by Foucault and I will start with it and I will defend it and then I will give you an example of a powerful work in which he makes use of this claim. The claim is as follows: Knowledge is controlled in every society through mechanisms of power. Anywhere you find knowledge; there also you will find power. They are linked. They are conditions for the possibility of one another. “Knowledge is a regime of power” is how he sometimes says it.

            Today, in using the distinction I have used in these lectures, I might want to replace the world “knowledge” with “information”, and it wouldn’t hurt Foucault’s argument if I did given that I think that’s what the university systems and other systems produce; that’s a better term now for it. But in any case, the idea here is that it cuts deeply against a lot of our humanistic sentiments. We would like to believe based on the long Platonic tradition that knowledge is what can be accepted by all rational beings, and the standard model for that in philosophy is mathematics. You know, one plus one is two and you don’t vote on it and it doesn’t matter what you think, and you know that’s probably right about one plus one is two. But its a far different matter about whether its right about the structure within which we learn systems like mathematics, and that’s what Foucault was concerned with are whole genealogical slices of time within which we learn certain practices and how to obey them.

            Now when I have my students argue with me about this thesis that: where you find knowledge or information there also you will find power, if they keep arguing with me I threaten to given them a “C” and then they agree with me [crowd laughter]. And that is what I call a demonstration by direction, or a West Texas phrase for it would be “hitting a mule upside the head to get his attention”; that will get a student’s attention, when they realise that your power is connected to your knowledge and vice versa. By the way if they happened to be the son or daughter of a three or four million dollar donor to Duke then their power is connected to how their knowledge may have to be treated by someone, although I generally ignored that kind of thing, in fact I have always ignored it.

            Alright now that’s the thesis that is considered – as hard as it may be to believe, because I think I presented it in a commonsensical way – this is the thesis that seems to have outraged a whole group of people at universities as though this doesn’t speak to the experience of – and of course it does, this is why they associate it with political correctness, because this always spoke to the experience of those who have just entered such systems; women when they first came to the university, African Americans, Chicanos and so on have always experienced the knowledge that they were to receive as a form of power and this certainly was true of the working class kids that entered the university system in the sixties, you know as I said, thanks to a lot of student loans that Lyndon Johnson was responsible for, which I will give him credit for since his friend John Connally recently ah… kicked off.

            In any case, this has seemed to me to be obvious, but it has caused a furor, you know, a real ruckus. It’s as though someone has sort of given away the secret. I mean, I don’t think there are that many people in serious, quiet conversation that don’t recognise this relationship, but it’s not one that we like to talk about publicly and that’s…

            Even a graduate student we have in physics that we take a particular dislike to and who comes up with equations and views about Newtonian dynamics that are say, at odds with various more contemporary views relating to chaos theory, we can call him old fashioned and kick him out, or if the reverse is the case, we could say he’s a kook and his work is too flighty and too bizarre and kick him out, I mean clearly there is a relation, it seems to me, between knowledge and power. It is a mechanism that has operated, I think, in every society, the issue is whether there is any way – and this is going to be the happy issue; will be whether there is a way – to uncouple knowledge and power. I will leave that aside for a moment as I move through this thesis.

            Knowledge is comprised not only of institutions – and I will be naming them later – or institutional rules and so on, but of discourse, and this is where we get back to Habermas and relating to communication. Knowledge is – or knowledge and information is – comprised of discourses, communications that function through rules of exclusion, not inclusion; through rules of exclusion.

            In other words, institutional communications function through rules that determine who may speak, about what they may speak, for how long they may speak, in what setting they may speak, and so on, and again, this is not an invidious thing, all societies had these. You may notice if you watched the congress that there are rules for how long people may speak; they are rules for who may speak. If you are a freshman member, its not advisable to hog a lot of the clock, this is not an advisable thing to do.

            To summarize: the way I see Heidigger is basically he’s saying “yes there is such thing called metaphysics, but metaphysics, aka the totalizing field, only APPEARS through our contingent, ontic lense. In other words, we are unable to “step back” as it were and see the whole picture because our ontic view is always already inscribed into that picture.” As Zizek might put it, the blind spot in our view is OUR OWN POSITION.

            What this means regarding technology is a quite complex argument that goes something like this: technology is the ontic aperture through which the old life world was destroyed and a new one disclosed, thus from here on out this era must be interpreted via this disclosure, into an ontology.

            Now, how does this relate to Naziism and his promotion of that movement? Well, he saw communism as a sort
            of totalizing, “eastern” ideology that was not authentic towards the advent of the disclosure that technology brought. Instead he saw Naziism, with its focus on mobilized bodies, organization, nationalism, as the proper athentic attitude towards this ere of disclosure. This is why he gives priority to the technological aspect of the Holocaust (even though I don’t think he made many comments about it). The Holocaust to him was just another aspect of the disclosure of technology, like farming etc..”

            That is all I have time for for now. But frankly I see nothing ludicrous about Foucault’s thesis and it seems actually very obvious as Roderick points out. Similarly, power also functions on a smaller scale, like instead of attacking my argument or confronting it you will point out my grammatical errors. Thus my I will be “deprived” of any correctness due to some technicality, due to your “discrediting” of my perspective on account of my “inability” to spell. lol rather hilarious when you really think about it. In the same way you tries to discredit an entire continent of thinkers by generalizing a group of well probably thousands of thinkers. Their knowledge is clearly tied to their ability to be heard.

            I’ll be interested to see your response, especially regarding Foucault’s analysis. There you have it, I directly confeonted some thinkers and gave my thoughts. While I am very weak when it comes to Heidigger, I know my Foucault very well and we can discuss more of his thought if you’d like.

            Final point: you tried to discredit thinkers with vague accusations, next time you should bring your A game and same something SUBSTANTIAL about the actual content of their thought.

            Quack quack.

          • Collin237

            There! Now was that so hard? Now we’re not generalizing anymore! Why didn’t you just write this in the first place?

            So here’s my quack:

            Dasein has more of an influence nowadays than it ever did, because of the internet. Not just that it allows people of all cultures to communicate, but that it even exists. Computers — and thus everything built from them, including the internet — rely heavily on quantum theories. And yet, they remain squarely within a realistic framework.

            Quantum theories, of course, contradict all forms of realism. And the knowledge of them is indeed the power to deny reality. The internet is an opposing power. However, this power is mechanical at heart.

            The current global system, often referred to as capitalist (which I think is just as inaccurate as calling it democratic — but I suppose there’s no better word in common use), is full of inequalities. As much as everyone would like everyone to “just get along”, human nature doesn’t work that way. Equality can be established only by force, either creative or destructive. A global revolution can only result in destroying all the resources it seeks to distribute. And a global cultural leadership can only result in concentrating those resources into an even more exclusive pile. Machines, however, have neither a culture nor a will to lead. Yet, through the internet, they are — paradoxically — serving as leaders.

            However, allowing people to communicate isn’t enough — and not merely inasmuch as some people are still excluded. The problem still remains of explaining how there can even be an internet. Science provided the means to build the machines of the internet; but when asked why they work, suddenly it isn’t so “beloved” anymore.

            Someone who insists on going back to Newtonian mechanics is, of course, subject to social rejection. She is also, however, subject to being proven wrong through experimental demonstration. It might be argued, in the name of deconstruction, that these two are the same. However, deconstruction is supposed to be a rebellion against the hegemony; yet the hegemony agrees that they’re the same.

            It’s contradictions like these that can easily lead to accusations of conspiracy, such as we have made against each other. My way out of the contradiction is to say that physical experiments are valid, but social propaganda is not.

            This is, of course, not an original view. I do not claim to have either postulated or derived my views. I claim to have elected them as representatives of the one-person nation of my mind. As such, I do not wish to limit my freedom of choice by searching for their origin, and adding to the inevitable bias acquired from society at large the additional association of those views with other views that I might have declined had I first heard of them without such provenance.

            I consider moral relativism at the most an untenable position, and at the least a mere strawman of ideological camps. The very recognition that we are all part of power structures maintaining inequality, out of which the refusal to take a moral stand is supposed to liberate us, is itself a moral stand. And to rebel against hegemonic reality is implicitly to corroborate the hegemony’s claim that they own reality in the first place.

            It was stupid of me to make generalizations about who it is that’s lobbying against belief in reality. However, there does seem to be an anti-realist arm of the hegemony, with philosophy as its weapon. I agree that knowledge is power, and I further maintain that knowledge of reality is the greatest power of all. But if everyone shares power equally, who gets to decide what’s real? That’s where the internet comes in, as the unaffiliated gentle monster (so to speak). Its existence confirms on the one hand the specific details of the quantum theories, but on the other hand the overall framework of Newtonian mechanics.

            Science, being unable to test any syncretic between these two schools of physics, claims the right to deny them all. And mathematics in the service of science claims to prove they’re necessarily wrong. Inasmuch as I highly doubt these claims, I do not love science. However, I like science, and I study it to participate in the quest for knowledge that science set out on and then abandoned. This is analogous to, and perhaps tied in with, the way political Pragmatists (which I consider myself to be) feel about the Democratic Party.

          • Bueno Devine Burquez

            Let’s begin again. I apologize for the tone. Indeed it appears you do do some thinking unlike many others.

            I would like to return to the primary question so as to remain somewhat focused: how do you respond to the thesis that power constructs systems of knowledge, ie how they are presented, who is presenting, who is an authority, etc. The thesis of Foucault was NOT “knowledge IS power” rather it was that “Every discourse of knowledge is structure by mechanisms of
            power.” In other words, Foucault is a bit skeptical as to WHO defines what proper knowledge is, and whether or not something counts as knowledge. How do you view this? To be less abstract, let’s take the study of economics specifically or maybe another subject that you prefer

          • Bueno Devine Burquez


          • Collin237

            Thanks for the offer, but I have other projects in my life, and I’ve already formally ended this one.

          • Bueno Devine Burquez

            So when something substantial is said and a concrete reference to an actual continental philosopher is made, you shy away?

            Pretty typical stuff here:
            once again I’ll repeat: you consistently made vague generalizations about the whole of continental philosophy and when I responded with a specific argument made by one of those philosophers as a topic open for discussion you prefer not to respond?

            Indeed very typical, just glaze over the top with extremely vague and unfounded accusations so as to deny the “legitimacy” of en entire tradition of philosophy. I’ll return to my initial thesis: you’re a duck who speaks in duck speak: you never take the time to actually think about the issues, instead you say all the words without even knowing what in the world you’re saying.

            QUACK QUACK.

          • Collin237

            QUACK FUCKING QUACK TO YOU TOO, YOU TWO-FACED SOPHIST!!! You have no power over me. I am a thinker, and I always will be a thinker. You cannot wish my mind away. I do not need to turn in essays to hear you mete out vindications to me. For all I know, you’re in a philosophy class in college and you’ve been given an essay assignment, and you’ve realized I’d be able to do it for you. I won’t. I have other things to do.

          • Bueno Devine Burquez

            I never claimed to have any power over you, I simply believe in the power of the better argument. I was attacking your arguments specifically (whether or not those arguments are
            part of your “identity”, is frankly not important to me) because of their lack of specific content, lack of reference to any particular argument made by a continental philosopher, and overall vagueness.

            I called you a duck because once again your arguments are duck- like (I mean specifically the Orwellian type of duck speak): they have zero content and rely upon false accusations and huge over generalizations.

            Therefore, I provided a SPECIFIC CONCRETE thesis of a continental philosopher, and I even provided some reasoning as to why I believe he is correct. Now, you can use your “thinking” ability to refute Foucault’s thesis. It is your oppurtunity to respond to his thesis.

            Once again, my statement about identity I think is often quite true: people stick to their beliefs (whether philosophical or scientific or religious whatever) because those beliefs often help solidify one’s identity. I am the same way, I don’t think anyone is free from this. I mean this is not a hard thing to see: ask anyone about their political views and I think you’ll find their identity VERY embedded in their arguments and beliefs.

            As I said, I refuted your arguments not to “damage” or “break” your identity, but simply because your arguments were crap. I thus refuted them and provided a concrete thesis up for discussion. The internet is open to your response…

          • Collin237

            Funny, I thought Foucault and I were on the same side? Anyway, I’ve had my arguments called worse.

            You seem to believe, as I do, that Palestine is real, that the evilness of Israel occupying Palestine is real, and that the typical political insults are not real. If you’re using Continental Philosophy to campaign to end the occupation, then I wish you luck in your quest. Since I don’t know anything about the Middle East, it’s best all round that I let you do your work. I lose nothing by admitting I was wrong on all counts.

          • Bueno Devine Burquez

            This was not a discussion about Palestine/Israel. Though we agreed on a different thread, THIS thread was about Lacan and more
            specifically my initial comment was about the status of science.

            And yes foucault and other continental philosophers are a great resource when battling against the status quo. I’m not saying I have any more “knowledge” than you regarding concrete issues, such as the Middle East, but we were discussing continental philosophy and in this matter I simply have read a decent amount of it.

            Otherwise, I see no reason why specific issues cannot be thought through with your method; you do not need to consult any continental philosophers to come to the right conclusions about real world concrete issues. If, for some reason, you find you lack the language to fight the good fight then once again these guys (Foucault, Nietzche, Butler, Zizek, Marx) have a full arsenal for your disposal. Once again: you don’t need these guys to make good arguments, but if you lose your way I find them extremely helpful allies.

            Now, if we are going to discuss directly continental philosophy, you will probably need to know their arguments.

            I was never claiming that “i know more than you” about specific real time issues, because like I said THE ONLY authority is the authority of the better argument, which ANYONE can come up with, it requires no esoteric knowledge or jargon. So good on you for the Israel palestine debate and Im glad we agree. Continental philosophy is a different issue entirely and you’re right you dont really need them: your own brain is good enough.

          • Collin237

            “It’s almost as if people feel tied to their assumptions in such a way
            that any form of differing opinion seems to break their very sense of
            identity at it’s core.”

            Did you think I wouldn’t find out that you said that? You are trying to break me. Unfortunately for you, part of my core identity is refusing to be intimidated by fools like you. And it looks like I’m the first person on Disqus to do so.

          • Bueno Devine Burquez

            Well you haven’t read it so you wouldn’t know whether or not it makes sense or not.

          • Collin237

            I looked up Zizek in Google Books. I’m looking at The Sublime Object of Ideology, the chapter titled Marx, Freud, the Analysis of Form.

            It makes no sense at all to me. I’m not saying it was Zizek’s fault; maybe it was translated incorrectly from another language.

            And when I say I find it meaningless, I don’t mean offensive or infelicitous or whatever. I mean I literally can’t figure out what he’s talking about.

          • Bueno Devine Burquez

            Ok perfect. This is an extremely difficult book, and the chapter specifically is very difficult as well.

            To begin simply, Zizek is using psychoanalysis (Lacanian style) as a parallel to Marx’s investigation of the form of the commodity. Zizek assumes you know both the foundation of psychoanalysis and Marx, which is troublesome but not that bad once you get a basic understanding of Lacanian psychoanalysis.

            So firstly, Lacan being a psychoanalyst, functions upon a simple premise: there is of course a “reality” that exists outside of our mind, but the problem is that when we view reality WE OURSELVES,
            our mind, is always-already INCLUDED in our viewing of it. This might sound confusing but it makes sense if we look at quantum mechanics. One of the key “discoveries” of quantum physics was that it was impossible to view a particle (or wave whatever) without AFFECTING that wave. Therefore, there was always some part of the equation that could not be accounted for (it was US viewing the wave that we could not account for). Therefore, quantum mechanics comes out looking probablistic, there seems to be no certainty to reality.

            This “undecidability” is where Lacan begins: when we view the world we are always included, inscribed he calls it, into our view as the “blind spot,” which cannot be accounted for. Therefore, Lacan takes a strictly phenomological perspective: basically he wants to see how we view the world because “reality” is skewed by our inclusion in it. Thus, by looking at how we view the world we can in fact change reality through a subjective shift in perspective.

            Now, to describe our view he uses 3 “realms” that function within the mind, which spontaneously mix and match and tangle to create an ideology: The Real, The Symbolic, and The Imaginary.

            I think it’s best to begin with The Real because this is the most confusing for me. Basically, since the reality we view appears incomplete, skewed, undecided, probabalistic, because we are included/inscribed as the blind spot, our minds automatically must “cover up” this indecidability with an order: Words and fictions which seem complete, predictable. The undecidability, the “gap” in reality which is ourselves: this is The Real: the inconsistency within our view that cannot be symbolized, the part that eludes our cognitive grasp.

            Now, the words and fictions that “suture” our view, that circumvent the gap of The Real: Lacan calls these The Symbolic and The Imaginary. The Symbolic is pretty self explanatory: it is the words we use that structure our minds to describe our perspective, that give our view a specific “order.” Now the key is that NOBODY has an identical Symbolic Order within their minds, though many have similar functions the overall symbolic structure is idiosyncratic. The Imaginary is simple as well: it is basically the fantasy portion which also helps to suture or structure our view.

            These 3 “realms” function in a tangle to create each persons individual Ideology. Zizek breaks down for example The ideology of Naziism. Now, it is important to note that while each person has their own idiosyncratic ideology, there are indeed overall similar structures within groups, or maybe in totally untelated cultures. Zizek interprets what he calls “the fundamental fantasy” that structures the ideology of Naziism: namely that the Jew has taken their form of life of “jouissance/enjoyment” and has “stolen” it from the original, pure German people. Notice, the Jew in Nazi ideology is the Symbolic fiction that covers up The Real, the central antagonism of their culture (Germany was crumbling, basically needed someone to blame.) The Jew as we can see was not in reference to any actual Jew, but instead is a fictionalized place holder, a Symbol which is ever-present, always sneaking around behind the scenes. If we look at the Nazi propoganda of the time we can see how totally contradictory the figure of the Jew is: even if he is nice or well-dressed, nevertheless this is really a scheme, he is really plotting. So we see how the Symbolic and The Imaginary cover up the Real of the antagonism, and suture to form a very distinct yet widespread ideology of Naziism.

            So what does this have to do with Marx and Freud? Zizek sees a parallell between the interpretation of dreams and Marx’s commodity in that they both need to be interpreted via the dialectic of form vs content. For Frued, the actual particular content of the dream was not important; rather it was the form, the way in which the dream was “disclosed” that held the answer (or rather THE QUESTION ITSELF). So the question that applied to Marx’s commodity is “why did the commodity take the particular labour-form”?

            So, since Marx established that there is no real “value” of a commodity, and Freud that there is no real “meaning” of a dream OTHER THAN its form, how does this substanceless form ACTUALLY function.

            The answer is that both value and the subject itself, rely upon a Sublime Object that is “staged” on another scene. Money functions NOT because we really believe it has a real value, but because we “displace” our belief onto some imagined invisible Other, aka the Symbolic Order. Similarly, this is exactly how “being a person” functions: we know very well that in a way we are kind of empty, our desire seems unknowable, so the center of the “self, the subject”
            for Zizek is actually THE DISPLACEMENT OF BELIEF onto an imaginary Other, The Symbolic Order.

            That is all I have time for now, but I will add to this. I need to re-read Sublime Object of Ideology, as I don’t think I quite get the whole picture but I’m getting there.

            The question then becomes, if it is merely the FORM that defines the commodity AND the subject, what is its substantial content? The answer is of course nothing…but there’s more to it.

          • Collin237

            You mentioned interpreting this in terms of quantum mechanics. This view of physics, which seems to be quite popular, would mean that the laws of physics — which presumably apply to the entire universe — changed when the human species arose. Based on what you explained here, I think I’ve been wrong to assume that physicists believe this. Instead, it seems to tie in to something I’ve been considering recently:

            Physicists have been discovering laws that work independently of any human culture, but using methods that are peculiar to the culture known as “Western”. This should mean that even though, through the reliance on reproducible experiments, we can vouch for the correctness of physical theories as mathematical models, there may be something about modeling itself that we’re missing.

            Quantum mechanics doesn’t seem to be a theory of what happens, so much as a theory of what we do to predict it. It relies on mathematical shortcuts, “renormalizations”, that clearly are metaphorical, and yet they work. This would seem to mean that a metaphorical narrative is correctly describing reality, even though such a thing has always failed miserably. (The most notable example nowadays is Genesis!!!)

            It’s a Western tradition to explain the world by composing a verbal account. The comfort in sticking to this mode of communication, and the perceived need to share that comfort with the stereotypical money-lending authority, may be the Other Scene behind accepting the view you noted about quantum mechanics.

            But what if renormalization isn’t a narrative? There’s another way to explain the world: by a performance in which people embody parts of the phenomenon. I think physicists have been led to this by discovering that nothing else works, but because of their adherence to Western culture, they can see themselves only as producing a narrative. This would mean that renormalization is not, as is commonly supposed, a cheat to deal with a deficiency of the physical model. Nor is it a human conceit we’re imposing upon nature. It’s just another part of the model, just as empirically correct as the substantive claims, modeling a process that has always been occurring.

            A process that runs by itself without any entity performing it is something traditional Western though can’t conceive of. When someone who follows another culture speaks of such a thing, it’s “translated” as something religious, even when it refers to a physical process that could only have been discovered scientifically.

          • Bueno Devine Burquez

            “You mentioned interpreting this in terms of quantum mechanics. This view of physics, which seems to be quite popular, would mean that the laws of physics — which presumably apply to the entire universe — changed when the human species arose.”

            This is not my view, where did I say “the laws of physics changed when the human species arose?”

          • Collin237

            You didn’t. It’s the unstated conclusion. Quantum mechanics is part of the laws of physics. If it actually requires a human observer, that would mean physics was different before there were humans.

          • Bueno Devine Burquez

            Quantum mechanics is not a physical Law; it is a system of educated guesses. The point is not that “physics requires a human observer.” The point is that even without a human observer, the particle in quantum mechanics or wave is not wholly determined.

            Before humans the path of particles were not determined, after humans its the same thing. The point is that since we are PART of the universe, whatever we view will ALWAYS include US as a distortion, as a blind spot that we cannot account for. The idea is that the universe is “split” from itself, in a way that allows for an opening of unpreditability. In other words, even if we DID have all then information of every velocity and mass etc, a perfect “God’s eye view,” then we still would not know exactly where things would end up.

            Regardless, the point overall is that we can never attain this purely objective position because we are ALWAYS included in that perspective. I think every science would bear that out including quantum mechanics.

            The point however was lost again: i think i gave an interesting and at least slightly understadable version of Lacan and Zizek’s perspective. I can very clearly see why people consider it “eurobabble,” but I assure you these guys are not useless charlatans. They have a very precise project and despite their odd sounding language, I think they’re onto something with a lot of value for analysis.

          • Collin237

            “Regardless, the point overall is that we can never attain this purely
            objective position because we are ALWAYS included in that perspective. I
            think every science would bear that out including quantum mechanics.”

            I think it doesn’t need to be “borne out” at all. It’s self-evident. Trying to back it up with science, especially quantum mechanics, only causes undue confusion.

            “Before humans the path of particles were not determined, after humans its the same thing.”

            Yes, which is why I don’t consider quantum mechanics suitable for an analogy of the human condition. And yes, the universe is split between a deterministic part and a random part. Physical laws are those interactions between them that are reliable enough to make educated guesses about.

            There are many things I might understand as analogies: politics, sports, ecology, computers, whatever. But not quantum mechanics.

          • Bueno Devine Burquez

            Oh and as for this silly comment. When you investigate a scientific issue do you use “your own language”? Do you not refer to say a Biology textbook or do you prefer to simply ignore all scientists who have come before you?

            Another terrible approach that avoids any sort of real investigation. I’m not saying philosophy is a science, but to totally dismiss thousands of years of thought without having at least looked at it is embarassing to say the least. It’s funny because although you think you may be “thinking for yourself,” in fact it’s quite clear if you read some of these continental types, that many (probably most) of your views come from your surroundings. Wouldn’t you want to investigate whether or not your views have been refuted already? I assure you, they have been deeply investigated by many thinkers.

            Now you don’t have to read any philosophy, but to dismiss it before reading it is simple igorance. Instead, you’d be better off not commenting at all. Because as YOU STATED CLEARLY you don’t even take the time to look into it.


            Quack away.

          • Collin237

            Yes of course my views come from my surroundings; that’s the whole point! I don’t bury myself in books and make commitments to them. I read, I interpret, I question, etc.. If that’s quacking, then the world would be a much better place if everyone was a duck!!!

            You, apparently, are a crocodile.

          • Bueno Devine Burquez

            Well the world is the way it is because everyone indeed is a Duck. Dismissing ideas before having heard them, fearing new ideas because someone once told you they’re evil. Once again: you dismissed an entire continent of ideas simply because someone gave you the impression they’re evil.

            This is exactly the type of control through “education” Foucault speaks of and no you don’t need to have read
            him to realize the extremely pathetic and shallow mechanisms that keep people silent in America and abroad. Just the way you were dissuaded against a whole group of ideas, so will others. Always ask the question: do I know where my all my ideas come from and is it in the interest of the very powerful for me to believe it? Indeed, you are very helpful to keeping the established order: no questions, just simple minded answers that you’ve been handed.

          • Collin237

            I have not dismissed a continent. I have dismissed the pretension of certain types of philosophers calling themselves “Continental”.

            Everyone is a Duck? If that means literally everyone, including you, then why are you insulting me for being human? If that doesn’t mean you, then how did you avoid being a Duck? By consenting to have philosophers “educate” you?

            I am not silent. I am a very vociferous online commentator, and I argue passionately for my opinions. Actually I’m surprised I haven’t seen my name on a list of trolls.

            How do you know that there’s a group of people called “the very powerful” who have any agreed-upon interest about what I believe?

            You say I’m serving the establishment by expressing thoughts that you call stupid. The only way I could avoid that charge is either to change what I express in order to suit your tastes or to shut up. Either way I’d be granting you power to control me.