Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 4, No 1-2 (2008)

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How Lacan's Ethics Might Improve Our Understanding of Nietzsche's Critique of Platonism: The Neurosis and Nihilism of a ‘Life’ Against Life

Tim Themi


his paper sets to answering the question of how Lacanrsquo;s 1959-60 Seminar on emThe Ethics of Psychoanalysis/em, with its recurring critique of the Platonic idea of a moral Sovereign Good, might contribute to and improve our understanding of the Nietzschean project to diagnose the moral metaphysics instigated by Plato in philosophy, and by Christianity in religion, as a history of untruth and nihilismndash;ndash;emopposed to life/emndash;ndash;in preparation for its overcoming. I explore the possibility that Lacanrsquo;s emEthics/em might make such a contribution by i) its tripartite ontology of the real, the symbolic and the imaginary serving as an additional frame of reference for examining the nature of the Good and our configurations of desire beneath it; and ii) by its more detailed elaboration of the archaic, polymorphous perversity at the instinctual base of the drives, what Lacan in his emEthics/em will call emdas Ding/em, the somewhat diabolical Freudian Thing. I also attempt to indicate how Nietzschersquo;s own ethics might make a contribution to those of the Lacanian, for the purposes of further combating what I will take to be the contemporary neurosis and nihilism of a lsquo;lifersquo; emagainst/em lifendash;ndash;as indicated today for instance by such phenomena as the physical destruction of the environment, along with us as amongst its earthly inhabitants.

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