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Logics of Non-Knowledge



Jacques-Alain Miller

translated by Asunción Alvarez


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Logics of


The Philosophy of Government

To Those Who Think…

Introduction to Encore

Psychoanalytic Cities

Tarantino's Girls

Saint Simeon

Hegel, Sex and Marriage

Richard Phillips


    There is constantly in Lacan an imperative towards knowledge for the psychoanalyst who is worthy of this name, with the proviso that it is not enough for the psychoanalyst to know that he or she knows nothing. A skeptical position is not enough—let us say, a Socratic position with regard to knowledge, which consists in establishing that nothing is known about knowledge—although Socrates allows for an exception: Eros. If this must be clarified, it is because this Socratic position did tempt Lacan, and in a certain sense it is false that the psychoanalyst must know that he or she knows nothing. We can even say that the title of the fourth part of "Variations on the Standard Treatment" encourages us to move in this direction, as this title specifies: What the Psychoanalyst Must Know: How to Ignore What He Knows. Lacan pins "I know nothing" onto Freud's advice to psychoanalysts of taking each of their cases as absolutely new, as original, which indicates that the analyst's subjective attitude should be in his practice.

    If this is true—if this is what must be done; if we mustn't check what has been previously done with other patients; if we must, in a way mothball it; if this mostly hinders rather than favors the direction of the cure—we will soon see that this makes the accumulation of knowledge problematic and even opposes it; that it makes accumulating knowledge impracticable or ill-advised. Freud's advice might be translated as: "Above all, don't accumulate your experience; don't constitute it as something that has to do with being experienced!" In this sense, analytic experience is the experience of what is new. This is the opposite of the sense of the word "experience," when we talk about "being experienced." This amounts to not being experienced, to acting as though one wasn't experienced[…]

"L'orientation lacanienne. Le banquet des analystes." Paris VIII, April 25 1990. Text established by Jacques Peraldi and Yves Vanderveken.

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