Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 69 (3):535-558 (2007)

Philippe van Haute
Radboud University Nijmegen
In his seminar on 'Desire and its Interpretation' Lacan gives a detailed interpretation of Shakespeare's Hamlet. We present this interpretation as an alternative to the psychobiographic approach which has been dominant in the psychoanalytic tradition. According to Lacan Hamlet is a poetic creation and nothing else. In order to understand it wedon't have to look at the unconscious motives of the author, but at the composition of the text. The deliberate articulation of the signifier accounts for the effect of the play on its readers. According to Lacan Hamlet is a tragedy of desire that informs us onthe truth of human existence. It also shows how we can get access to this truth. In that sense Shakespeare's text can, according to Lacan, also learn us something about the aim of the psychoanalytic process. The conclusion argues that Lacan's interpretation of the nature of the psychoanalytic process is heavily dependent on the phenomenological tradition and more particularly that it ressembles the problematic of the 'phenomenological reduction'
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