The alienating mirror: Toward a Hegelian critique of lacan on ego-formation [Book Review]

Human Studies 31 (2):209 - 221 (2008)
This article brings out certain philosophical difficulties in Lacan’s account of the mirror stage, the initial moment of the subject’s development. For Lacan, the “original organization of the forms of the ego” is “precipitated” in an infant’s self-recognition in a mirror image; this event is explicitly prior to any social interactions. A Hegelian objection to the Lacanian account argues that social interaction and recognition of others by infants are necessary prerequisites for infants’ capacity to recognize themselves in a mirror image. Thus mutual recognition with another, rather than self-recognition in a mirror, is what makes possible subsequent ego-formation and self-consciousness. This intersubjective critique suggests that many of the psychoanalytic consequences that Lacan derives from the mirror stage (e.g., alienation, narcissism, and aggressivity) may need to be rethought.
Keywords Ego formation  Hegel  Intersubjectivity  Lacan  Mirror stage  Mutual recognition  Self-consciousness  Subjectivity
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