Philosophical Psychology 14 (4):477 – 498 (2001)

Grant Gillett
University of Otago
In European philosophical psychology, the work of Jacques Lacan has exerted a great deal of influence but it has received little attention from analytic philosophers. He is famous for the view that the unconscious is a repository of influences arising from language and the meanings it captures, but the presentation of his ideas is sometimes perplexing and impenetrable and its conceptual links with analytic philosophers like Frege and Wittgenstein are not easily discerned. In fact, there are a number of such links and they are worth pursuing for those interested in language, mind, and the unconscious. If we explore Lacan's claim about the link between signification and the tuchè (the encounter with the real) we find that the mental content of the subject is essentially tied to the external world both causally and linguistically. The means of tying the two together arise in the context of human interactions and therefore are charged with personal and emotive content as well as the semantic content with which we are normally concerned in philosophy of language. When we pursue the implications of his view it becomes plausible both that the unconscious is structured like a language and that language borrows much of its meaning and significance to a subject from the interpersonal medium through which it has been inscribed on that subject. His approach is therefore illuminating both for linguistics (especially psycholinguistics) and for the psychology of the unconscious.
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DOI 10.1080/09515080120088120
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References found in this work BETA

The Savage Mind.Alasdair MacIntyre & Claude Levi-Strauss - 1967 - Philosophical Quarterly 17 (69):372.

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What Does "Signify" Signify?: A Response to Gillett.Rupert Read - 2001 - Philosophical Psychology 14 (4):499 – 514.

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