Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Pellauer, David. "Review of Karl Simms' RICOEUR AND LACAN." NDPR May 13, 2008.

Simms, Karl. Ricoeur and Lacan. London: Continuum, 2007. Simms says he wants to show that there are some real points of similarity between them, even if in the end they are irreconcilable, so one will read on perhaps wondering which way the balance will tip. The first of these points of contact we are told has to do with how both thinkers stand in relation to Descartes and more particularly to the Cartesian cogito, which each questions, but in different ways. The second point of contact has to do with their attitudes toward Freud, although here the gap between them is greater: Simms shows Ricoeur was never able to accept what he called Freud's realism while Lacan could and did, albeit in his own way. A sidelight here is Simms' effort to show that over time Ricoeur came less and less to emphasize this understanding of Freud, to the point even of arguing that Freud himself was not the victim of any vicious kind of naïve realism. For Ricoeur, Simms concludes, the unconscious finally remains relative to conscious awareness, albeit to that of another. This is unlike Lacan who always held that Freud had shown that there was such a thing as an independently existing unconscious, and that it not only existed independently of consciousness but could even be said to think. Simms' third point of comparison between Ricoeur and Lacan is their interpretations of Hegel's master-slave dialectic. For Lacan, "the mutual recognition of the master-slave dialectic is what originates desire as desire for another" (6); for Ricoeur, it has more to do with the birth of the self. It is this way of seeing things that helps Ricoeur argue that both phenomenology and psychoanalysis should be understood as forms of hermeneutics that themselves stand in a dialectical relationship, psychoanalysis serving as something like an archeology of the subject, phenomenology rather tending in the direction of a teleology of selfhood, a new understanding that incorporates the unconscious into an enlarged self-understanding. In a word, then, one organizing structure of this book is to show that Lacan and Ricoeur take up similar themes but they reach quite different conclusions. . . . Read the whole review here: http://ndpr.nd.edu/review.cfm?id=13064.

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