The object in the mirror of genetic transcendentalism: Lacan’s objet petit a between visibility and invisibility [Book Review]

Continental Philosophy Review 46 (2):251-269 (2013)

Authors
Adrian Johnston
University of New Mexico
Abstract
One of the more superficially perplexing features of Lacan’s notion of objet petit a is the fact that he simultaneously characterizes it as both non-specularizable (i.e., incapable of being captured in spatio-temporal representations) and specular (i.e., incarnated in visible avatars). This assignment of the apparently contradictory attributes of visibility and invisibility to object a is a reflection of this object’s strange position at the intersection of transcendental and empirical dimensions. Indeed, this object, which Lacan holds up as his central psychoanalytic discovery, raises important philosophical questions about the transcendental-empirical distinction, arguably short-circuiting in interesting, productive ways this dichotomy and many of its permutations. This article seeks to achieve two aims: one, to clarify how and why Lacan situates object a between the specular and the non-specular; and, two, to extract from the results of this clarification a preliminary sketch of a post-Lacanian transcendentalism that is also thoroughly materialist
Keywords Lacan  Mirror stage  Object a  Transcendentalism  Materialism  Hegel
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DOI 10.1007/s11007-013-9263-z
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