text: “Ontology, Ontics, Object a” (PG Gueguen)

from the NLS-Messager, n. 582:


Ontology, ontics, object a

Pierre-Gilles Guéguen

Pierre-Gilles Guéguen, who held a Seminar on Jacques-Alain Miller’s Course “On the Nature of Semblants” (1991-1992) this year, opens this new series destined to prepare for the Congress of the WAP. The Congress will take place in Paris on the theme “Semblants andSinthome”. Following the thread of J.-A. Miller’s Course, he offers us a trajectory to the interior of the labyrinth that Lacan’s teaching would be without the Lacanian orientation as a compass. – Marie-Hélène Blancard

In 1964, when Lacan delivered his Seminar on the Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis at the École Normale Supérieure, Jacques-Alain Miller questioned him on his ontology (13th May 1964) [1]. The question pursued Lacan for many years and, particularly in the Seminar Encore, he offered an assured, though rather discreet, answer.
J.-A. Miller, for his part, re-affirmed this year on 8th April 2009, in his Course “Choses de finesse en psychanalyse”, that Lacan’s effort had been to “make jouissance into the cause of desire by means of his object a”, but that he had to give this up, notably by transferring the locus of the Other into the body. Lacan’s last answer, according to J.-A. Miller, is to be found in the Seminar Le sinthome, under the guise of: “There is no such thing as the jouissance of the Other; there is only the jouissance of the body”. It follows that: “the object a is no Being. It means it does not belong to ontics.” The reference to Lacan supplied by Miller in this Course is: Encore, p.87 and p.114.
It is not the first time that J.-A. Miller puts this question back to work. It insists in varied ways, notably as far as the ends, and the end, of analysis are concerned.
On 11th May 1988, when he commented on Freud’s article on “Two Principles of Mental Functioning” in his Masters Seminar, Miller noted that in Heidegger’s work there were two successive ways of dealing with the question of Being [être]. He may be the philosopher for whom freedom resides in abandonment to the unveiling of Being; this is where, for J.-A. Miller, he introduces the theme of existence [2]. But he is also the philosopher of the forgetting of Being, of the veiling of being [étant] : “At the same time there is a second Heidegger”, he indicated, “which, simultaneously, correlatively, underlines the fundamental dissimulation of Being.” [3]
He pointed out that philosophy was, par excellence, the discourse which confused Being and the real. Hence the importance of the Freudian theme of the perpetual avoidance of reality for the neurotic. At this point, J.-A. Miller signals the importance of respecting the distinction between the neurotic avoidance of what must be done and the psychotic avoidance of Realität, where a substitutive reality is installed. He interprets the Freudian beyond of the pleasure principle as working for jouissance, which leads him to state that: “the Freudian subject does not devote himself to the world, even when external reality is at stake. He only devotes himself to jouissance.” Thus psychoanalysis forces us to separate the question of Being and that of the real.
But let us return to the 1992 Course, “On the Nature of Semblants”. There J.-A. Miller affirms, once more, the following about object a: “It is not Being, it is merely a semblant of being”. It is through his commentary of the triangle found in Chapter 8 of the SeminarEncore that he detaches it forcefully, relying on brief indications by Lacan. The whole of this section of the Course is dedicated to it. [4]
Let us pick up some central formulations: “The true nature of object a (…) does not lie in its relation to the real; even if it is in the inclination, in the impetus of the Symbolic towards the Real, christened “reference” in the vain efforts of mathematical logic to apprehend the real – even if it is on this path towards the Real that it is encountered, its true nature lies in its relation to Being”.
Yet again: “The starting point we find in lack-of-being is precisely what leads us to confuse Being – positive Being – with the real”.
In this part of his Course, J.-A. Miller reminded us, among other things, that the question of Being has been the philosophical question since Parmenides and Plato, but that, for psychoanalysis, the equivalence between the cause of desire and the drive-object as such can only be dealt with through the use of semblants: “Object a, its position, answers to the fact that the subject can encounter, can complete himself with Being, with one Being. What we call object a is what, in the disaster of the subject called lack-of-being, seems to lend support to Being, to quote Lacan…”
It is, finally, in this Chapter of the Course “On the Nature of Semblants” that J.-A. Miller develops the ontological argument, reminding us that it is true that, in the pass, “there is something akin to a mock ontological argument”. This evokes what Lacan said of the pass in his October Proposition: it “makes be” [fait être]. Today, J-A Miller develops this theme, by indicating that with the pass, the stake is in fact that of a “new alliance with jouissance”, which is as such impossible to negativise.

[1] Lacan J., Seminar XI, p.184.
[2] On this point his reference was to the 1930 conference, entitled “The Essence of Truth”, Heidegger. M., Questions I and II, Continuum 2004.
[3] Ibidem, for example, in the 1955 conference entitled “Contribution to the Question of Being”.
[4] Miller J.-A., “De la Naturaleza de los semblantes”, Ch. 8, La verdadera naturaleza del objeto a, Paidos, Buenos-Aires, 2002.

Translated by Veronique Voruz for NLS Messager

Original first circulated on ECF Debats
Consult the website of the VIIth Congress of the WAP: http://www.congresoamp.com


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