Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 45 (3):388 - 420 (1983)
AbstractIn this paper a distinction is made between two conceptions of the ego in freudian metapsychology. According to the first conception, a conception which Freud never gave up, the ego is conceived as a specific function on the surface of the living organism ; it is the result of a progressive differentiation of the Id ('Es') under the driving power of internal stimuli and external reality. Fitted with specific neutral, i.e. non-conflictual functions as perception, memory, control of the bodily motions and consciousness, the ego has to defend the individual as a biological living organism against the threats from without and within. In this conception the ego is treated as an instance that doesn't take part in the different psychic conflicts. We analyse the philosophical presuppositions and show the metapsychological disadvantages of this hypothesis that has been worked out especially in the American ego-psychology. According to the second conception, that takes into account important clinical pheno mena as identification, idealisation, narcissism, ideal of the ego, the ego is conceived as a metaphorical effect of a specific psychic act. With Lacan, we try to analyse and to interpret this specific act as an act that causes an infinite splitting in the ego : the ego is constituted as a subject that from its origin is separated from itself. Instead of being a biological function that lives in the immediate metonymical prolongiation of the living organism, it rather has to defend a certain representation of himself. This point of view doesn't exclude a purely functional description of the ego ; but the different functions have now to be interpreted differently because the ego is the effect of conflicts in which it takes part (consciousness is interlaced with unconsciousness, perception with denying...). In the last part of our study we show how Freud makes the philosophically important distinction between the ego as an object of the Id and the ego as a subject that has to speak in the first person ('I'). We try to give a Lacanian interpretation of the subject as act on the basis of the well-known Freudian formula 'Wo Es war soll Ich werden'
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