Lacan, Biology, and Sex

One day intensive course.

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7 April, 2019, 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

£48 – £65

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The Not two, Lorenzo Chiesa

It is often misleadingly claimed that, by thinking the sexual unconscious in linguistic terms, Jacques Lacan does not deal with biology.

In this one-day intensive course we will contrast this naïve assumption. We will see how, in order to develop a logic of sexuation, Lacan needs to con­front the biological notion of sex from a psychoanalytic perspective.

On the one hand, we will focus on how Lacan’s attack on the – more or less – essentialist and fusional teleology of evolutionary theory, including that of the beginnings of molecular biology, is a constant throughout his oeuvre. Moving from a materialist perspective, psychoanalysis should problematize any alleged logos of life. For instance, the XX and XY chromo­somes are not, according to Lacan, a scientific writing of the way in which sex­ual difference generates the sexual relationship, but, instead, yet another reassertion of the mythical cosmic complementarity between matter and form, Yin and Yang as predicated in premodern times. Ignoring the clinical evidence provided by psychoanalysis, biology continues for the most part to take for granted a harmony between the sexes, and thus reduces itself to what we could call a “psycho-erotology”.

On the other hand, we will show how psychoanalysis cannot overlook the fact that cutting-edge research in behav­ioral neuroscience also contrasts this stance, and goes as far as defining sex as a set of “symptoms” that only successively allow for a “diagnosis” of male and female. Forty years after Lacan’s death, it is high time to establish a dialogue with some recent developments in the life sciences. Today, psychoanalysis should lend an ear to their own endeavor to have done with what Lacan, tacitly following the medicine Nobel laureate Jacques Monod, defines as animism, namely, the persistent anthropocentric assumption that natural objects in the world think (as we do).

Finally, we will argue that this dialogue should continue to endorse the question “What is a sci­ence that includes psychoanalysis?” as opposed to the – badly posed for Lacan – “Is psychoanalysis a science?”, that is, avoid conforming psychoanaly­sis to a hegemonic idea of science.

Some prior knowledge of Lacan is advisable but not necessary.

10.00am – first session
12.00pm – lunch break
12.45pm – second session
2.45pm – tea break
3.00 – third session
5.00pm – finish

Lorenzo Chiesa is a philosopher who has published extensively on psychoanalysis. His works in this field include Subjectivity and Otherness: A Philosophical Reading of Lacan (MIT Press, 2007); Lacan and Philosophy: The New Generation (, 2014); The Not-Two: Logic and God in Lacan (MIT Press, 2016); and The Virtual Point of Freedom (Northwestern University Press, 2016). He is Director of the GSH – Genoa School of Humanities. Since 2014, he has been Visiting Professor at the European University at Saint Petersburg and at the Freud’s Dream Museum of the same city. Previously, he was Professor of Modern European Thought at the University of Kent, where he founded and directed the Centre for Critical Thought.


7 April, 2019
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
£48 – £65
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