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Seminar 4 March

Lunchtime Seminar Wednesday 4 March

Please note that the time and location is different from usual.

Room: Science Hub H2.12

Due to room restrictions there won't be lunch offered this week.

Barry O'Donnell - UCD School of Medicine

Why Antigone? Jacques Lacan’s The Ethics of Psychoanalysis and ethics today

If being human involves a position on enjoyment, arguably a fundamental one, what form might an ethics take which takes enjoyment as central? Jacques Lacan, following the work of Sigmund Freud, formulates our human being as fundamentally that of a speaking subject in a relation to enjoyment. Being a subject of desire – a fragile position never far from anxiety - is proposed as the solution available to tolerate this relation. In his Seminar of 1959 – 1960 entitled The Ethics of Psychoanalysis he begins with Aristotle in order to distinguish between an ethics predicated on the positing of an ideal – the Good – and an ethics responding to the subject’s problematic, unavoidable negotiation of sexual and aggressive drives which seek satisfaction. Lacan relies on Kant, read with the assistance of the work of the Marquis de Sade, to develop his account of the ethics of psychoanalysis. He ends up with Sophocles’ Antigone representing the tragic underpinning and ruinous outcome of action which follows desire. Despite Antigone’s fate Lacan proposes this challenging question as fundamental to ethical evaluation: 'Have you acted in conformity with the desire that inhabits you?'; and the 'paradox' that 'the only thing of which one can be guilty is of having given ground relative to one's desire.'  This talk will introduce some questions which the psychoanalytic field of Freud and Lacan raises for us in our investigation of the concept of ethics and argues that staying alive to this questioning is crucial for the investigation of ethics today. 

Contact the Centre for Ethics in Public Life (CEPL)

CEPL, School of Philosophy, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
E: cepl@ucd.ie