THE COMPULSION TO LANGUAGE IN PSYCHOANALYSIS:
LACANIAN THEORY AND PRAGMATIC PSYCHOANALYSIS
Doctoral Thesis presented to the
Departament of Philosophy of the
Institute of Philosophy and Human
Sciences from the State University of Campinas
under supervision of Prof.
Osmyr Faria Gabbi Júnior.
This copy corresponds to the final script
of the Thesis defended and approved by the Jury
in July 08, 2004.
Prof. Dr. Osmyr Faria Gabbi Júnior (supervisor - State University of Campinas)
Prof. Dr. Franklin Leopoldo e Silva (University of Sao Paulo)
Prof. Dr. Oswaldo Giacóia Júnior (State University of Campinas)
Prof. Dr. Richard Theisen Simanke (Federal University of Sao Carlos)
Prof. Dr. Zeljko Loparic (State University of Campinas)
Prof. Dr. Luiz Benedicto Lacerda Orlandi (State University of Campinas)
Prof. Dr. Marcos Severino Nobre (State University of Campinas)
This work is a critical exposition of conceptual links manifested by both the Lacanian Theory and the Pragmatic Psychoanalysis, the latter circumscribed to texts of Marcia Cavell and Jurandir Freire Costa. It is intended to get a panoramic presentation from the conceptual composition and the meanings that the words acquire in the whole of each theoretical practice, without overlooking the exegetical investigation. The two types of psychoanalytic theory - here denominated as "linguistic psychoanalysis" - appeal to certain conceptions of language as form of resolution of metaphysical and clinical problems inherited from Freudian theory. Nonetheless, their behaviour are treated as compulsive, inasmuch as their theoretical practice blindly and inexorably obey to a set of technics and procedures incorporated to the action of cleaning the older theory from conceptual impurities. As alternative to the referential conception of language presupposed by Freud, Lacan employed an idealist conception, and the Pragmatic Psychoanalysis resorted to a behavioral point of view, to accomplish their respective tasks. The work consists in questioning Lacan’s substantialization of language, and the mentalism and mecanicism presented in the Pragmatic Psychoanalysis case. Nothing seems to indicate that clinics would need such resorts, nor that those theories would not introduced new metaphysical problems.
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Chapter I: The Compulsion to Language in Psychoanalysis
The Will to Purification
The Compultion to Language
Types of Language Conception
Types of Externalisms
Actions Without Thinking
Chapter II: Lacan and The Desire of Kojève's Desire
The Principles of the General Agony
Desire Taken by the Negativity
Fight to Death for the Pure Prestige
The Kojève's Real
The Explaining Negativity
Lacan's Interests on Kojève
The Causal Determination of Subjectivity
The Ideal of "Completeness"
Chapter III: The Meanings of the Signifier
The Primacy of the Symbolic
From the Colective to the Individual Myth
The Primacy of the Signifier
What Can Be the Existence?
Lacan's Existential Sentences
The Signifier Existence
Chapter IV: The Interpretation Paradox
Language as Behaviour
The Subject and The Psychoanalysis in Pragmatism
Reason as Causes
There is Ample Metaphysics
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What I mean by the term "compulsion" has nothing to do with the kind of behaviour largely recognized by psychoanalysts as an unrestrainable tendency toward a certain form of action. Behaviours which, with no apparent reason, change from pleasantful, unpretentious or necessary activities to imperatives highly above any sense of reasonableness. From hygiene cares, religious devotions, innocent amusements, pastimes to an action taken by a huge force of impulsivity, such as gambling up to loose all the money, uncontrolable tendency to have sexual intercourse with strangers, washing hands all the time to the point of physical injury, torture oneself with fixed ideas like guilt or terror by divine punishment, intemperance in the ingestion of food, alternating between excess and inapetence. Psychoanalysis tries to find the unconscious causes of those kinds of immoderate will, for liberating the patient from the supposed element which subjugate the capability of choice and decision. The compulsion in psychoanalytic perspective clearly implies the existence of a suffering; somebody can have a suffering from being conscient of having lost the control over one's own life, of not being capable of directing one's life into the ways one could freely choose but be obliged to do what it is not desired and what it is not representative of oneself. The ungovernable action is not useful or helpful for anything, it is in general a serious obstruction to any personal improvement, but, above all, can cause enormous phisical and moral loses. Pain, misery and distress result from not be allowed any power to the individual to stop what she or he consciously disapprove. In the 1995's Mike Figgis film, "Leaving Las Vegas", the character played by Nicolas Cage, Ben, in a certain moment asks to Sera, played by Elisabeth Shue: - "Are you sure you want that I live in your home?". The question is explained by the fact that Ben was an alcoholic and knew perfectly well the terrible consequences of a compulsive life. What psychoanalysts recognize as "compulsion" has precisely this component of consciousness and suffering demonstrated by Ben; the service they have to offer is trying to find what lies behind the appearances or the invisible factor which would explain the apparently irrational behaviour.
The compulsion to which I refer is not linked to anything hidden and it is an activity performed in a completely blind, repetitious and inexorable way. It is about a power felt as an effect innerly related to language, an authomatized action which lies in the manner the sense of certain words are shaped, in the way certain questions are understood, in the disposition someone frames and idealizes tasks and their executions. We could, for example, try to find "what is hidden behind the appearances" and this would become, as several others, a compulsive linguistic behaviour as we would have cauterized a form of expression showed by the attitudes compelled by the fascination which results from this particular disposition of meaning. Wittgenstein, referring to his first book, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, once said: 
“An image held us captive. And we could not escape because it was in our language, and language seemed to reiterate it inexorably to us.”
Why do we get stuck by certain images? This is simply because people taught us to see this way and so we learnt; we begun to do this way by teaching, and came to the point that the dilettante practice became an ability, one more of so many customs or habits we assimilated in life. After some time, the occupation being incorporated, we do not know any more if we have an occupation or the occupation have us in commandment. Lacanians, for instance, learned how to use the word "desire" always in correlation with the notion of "lackness", "emptyness" or "nothingness". Anyone of them could ask themselves what sort of thing this "lackness" is or why it must be there. It is just an accustomed and authomatized way of expressing certain things. In fact, after incorporation the expressions act like injunctions, they command body and mind without necessity of orders, as coercitive influence of laws, customs, rules or practices. When Lacanians speak of the "signifier materiality", or that "the signifiers precedes and determines the signified", that "language is a subtil body", about "filling the Other's gap", "the institution of the subject by language acquisition", "the fundamental split of the subject", and others countless expressions, they are at the same time circumscribing the belongness to a certain community and uttering commandments. The same thing actually occurs with the expressions uttered by Pragmatic Psychoanalysis, in spite of the insufficient time to build a properly named "linguistic community". They say that the "subject is a description in terms of a web of beliefs and desires", that the action is "something done to satisfy some desire", that psychoanalysis analyzes "subjects and their desires", that "reasons and motives cause actions". These are in the same way capturing images.
What is curious about those theories is that they represent what I call "linguistic psychoanalysis". They are theories which defend the idea that there is a conception of language applicable to psychoanalysis and to psychoanalytic clinics. Or rather, they are theories which more than establishing a correlation they really constitute psychoanalysis by means of a conception of language. They are not merely theories which say language is an important part or the most important part of the theory and the clinics of psychoanalysis. Should not they be, precisely for this reason, mindful about the bewitchment which exert certain forms of expression over themselves? My answer is no, they should not. What is characteristic of linguistic compulsion is lack of consciousness about one's activity - in the same way that there is no conscience in the soccer player jumping to head a ball inside the goal. I am referring to the conscience of what one is doing while one is doing something. The soccer player does not think about the rules of soccer, or about his bodily disposition, or anything, while heading; she just do it. It is just "instinct" or "reaction". Think or discuss about rules of soccer, chess or tennis it is not playing soccer, chess or tennis; it is another task, another occupation. The chess player would not ask herself what a "pawn" means, or the "tower", or the "bishop", while playing chess; she would never think about her hands in moving the pieces if she is playing chess and not doing some other activity like thinking about her hands movements; she would just play chess while playing chess.
In fact, the linguistic compulsion is an exclusive vision to a certain sense order or configuration, and a blindness to other configurations or framings of the same reality. The reasoning developed here consists in seeing other connections, or increasing vocabulary. People who should be convinced by this reasoning could be discerning other aspects of those theories and, for that reason, of psychoanalysis too. They could see what people under constraint of old habits would never perceive but by a "grammatical modification". 
How about the linguistic compulsion of linguistic psychoanalysis? The idea that I defend in this work is that the particular activity of both types of psychoanalytic theories were of getting hold of determined philosophies of language in order to solve the problem of metaphysical contamination in Freud's theory. Lacan employed an idealist conception of language with the purpose of establishing a form of scientificity in psychoanalysis. He desubstantialized the abstract concepts from the Freudian theory and comprehended them in an externalist, relational and indirect way. The pragmatic psychoanalysis, by its turn, here represented by works of Marcia Cavell and Jurandir Freire Costa, made use of a behaviourist conception of language to set up a sort of descriptive psychology based on a supposed pragmatic objectivity of interpretation in propositional attitudes. Pragmatic psychoanalysis is also externalist and relational in its comprehension of psychological facts, nonetheless, to the difference of Lacanian theory, is direct as such facts are in no way dissociated of any aspect of language.
The parameter of analysis and criticism of the philosophies of language used by those theories is, in its major part, formed by Wittgensteinian discussions on psychology and language. In spite of this, there is any - and it is not my intention that there is some - Wittgensteinian philosophy of language in this work. As far as I understand, Wittgenstein's criticism of psychoanalysis has other interests and it is directed to other targets. This work does not reflect his philosophy, neither his criticism of psychoanalysis, nor has any intention to be faithful to him: it just employs some of his conceptual instruments side by side of others, coming from different philosophers, in order to examine the theoretical behaviour of those psychoanalytic theories as cleaning of metaphysical mistakes.
It is possible to profusely discuss about the concept of metaphysics in a particular theory as psychoanalysis. In this work I will also leave aside the propositional exam of the matter to concentrate solely in its use by the theories. There are three kinds of employment of metaphysical concepts in the theoretical practice of psychoanalysis. The first one as an espurious element to be eliminated. In this procedure of constitution of valid concepts it must be observed, however, that the word "metaphysics" means different things in Freudian, Lacanian and pragmatic psychoanalysis theories. Freud had the intention to avoid it closely following patterns of scientificity from the natural sciences and treating psychological facts as concomitants of physical forces originating in experiences. Lacan, by his turn, tried to avoid the myth of interiority in referring the psychological facts to social relations reduced to formal aspects of language. And pragmatic psychoanalysis tried not to substantialize language itself. In this sense I describe both linguistic psychoanalysis as intents of remotion of unnecessary elements for the theory according to proper criteria. In both cases the engagement in this project is made by adherence to an ideal conception of language. This ideal conception of language has the role to supply the correct pattern of the use of concepts in psychoanalytic theory. In this way both psychoanalytic theories are described as manner of thinking rather than, as the custom in philosophy, as in the terms of results of a thinking. This means that the effort here undertook goes in the sense of illuminating the procedures employed in the formation of the theories and of getting a sight of the processes of composition of their concepts in relation to the ends they intend to accomplish, and not in the sense of checking the soundness or the precision of what was presented as correct propositions.
The second way of conceiving metaphysics in the theoretical practice of psychoanalysis has to do with certain grammatical presuppositions which cannot be taken as knowledge as they cannot be subjected to justification or doubt in their role of cornerstone or base of actions.  By those fundamentals I mean "behavioural certainties", parts of an instinctive way of acting according to rules, as our language games can only be performed over a background of basic propositions relatively permanents. One cannot doubt of a measure pattern, for instance; one can be suspicious about a tape measure or about a scale of not being in accord to the pattern if by chance the measurement fail to pass the exam. Protests against the metter as a measurement pattern make no sense, it is part of a grammar which informs a certain activity of measurement. A pattern just applies (or not). In the same way, one cannot doubt that there are objects in front of oneself, that our bodies are normally composed of two arms and two legs, or that one is alive, as such certainties serve as presuppositions for the use of a web of interrelated beliefs which would make no sense in the absense of such basic patterns. In other words, for a set of beliefs could be doubted or verified it is needed first the institution of patterns of verification. Those are beyond any doubting. But naturally those certainties are not axioms according to which it is possible to deduce the truth of beliefs, because they are not, properly speaking, beliefs or knowledges but rather forms of life. This means that they are a kind of descriptive metaphysics supposed by the language games.
The third way of conceiving metaphysics in a theoretical practice refers to the speculative metaphysics. This one results from a senseless or an absurd conclusion according to criteria belonging to a determined practical activity. For Wittgenstein "the metaphysical question always arise as a factual problem when it is in fact a conceptual one".  We have here the classical cases of crossing over between deviant and habitual rules of a language game, or the use of terms which lay among the related concepts without explanation (unintelligle terms), or simply the convenient ignorance of the utilization of technical patterns assuming them as natural operations. Taking, for instance, the meaning of words as dependent on the laws of differentiation of the signifiers, the desire as a supposition of an absence, the voluntary actions as expressions of an underlying rationality, reasons and motives as causes of behaviour, are all the very examples of forms of speculative metaphysics of which philosophy is supposed to illuminate and dissolve by analysis.
Both psychoanalytic theories focused here are viewed as actions against the first aception of the word "metaphysics" based on the second aception and whose analysis allow us to discern the presence of the third aception. The three aceptions or theoretical uses of the word "metaphysics" in the theoretical practice of psychoanalysis finally result in just two conceptual forms, as the first practical aception is similar to the third when the manner of purging metaphysical speculation is made on a speculative metaphysical base. From the conceptual point of view in this work we have solely, by this reason, the dogmatic and operative forms of metaphysics.
As theoretical practices, both psychoanalysis are viewed under their compulsive aspect, as I have said. Their adherence to a conception of language is part of their programme of impurity removal. By this topic I mean the incorporation of a technique to a practice presented here as will to purification. The technique and the practice must be necessarily made as a set of determined procedures for a certain application, not as a whatsoever procedure, because only in this way the theoretical practice find their meaning. There are, for this reason, the institution of a rightness pattern and a correspondent form of coercion to act the correct way in which both define, in their whole, the sense of a theoretical practice.
The initial chapter, denominated "The compulsion to language in psychoanalysis", tries to outline the theoretical frame presupposed in this analytical exercise, the manner how this analysis is to be applied to each one of those theories, and seek to clarify the immediate and final objectives of the thesis. It is rather an introduction to the work whose intention is to supply the mapping criteria's details in which the aspect vision here assumed distinguishes in the objects it examines.
Right away, two chapters are dedicated to the Lacanian theory. In the first one, whose title is "Lacan and the desire of Kojeve's desire", I examine the idealist core of this psychoanalysis and the motives of his interest by this kind of approaching. This is the initial phase of Lacan's theory, and this arrangement is the birthplace of the intention to turn psychoanalysis into a form of concrete and scientific psychology in a Kojèvian version. There I intend to explain why Lacan added Kojève to Politzer, why it was necessary an univocal definition of "desire" to carry out a psychoanalytic science, why the Lacanian ontology is one of "lackness-to- be" instead of being one of "Being-in-lackness", and why it had necessarily to have an idealist conception of language. In the second one, which has the title "The meanings of the signifier", I examine phases corresponding to two distinct understandings of the role accomplished by the formal holder of the signic relations, belonging to different models of scientificity. The idea is to show that the ideal of reduction to an abstract entity depends on the meaning and the practice related to it in a determined context. In the first context the model of scientificity is the structural linguistic, and the signifier is understood as the minimal symbolic element which constitutes the void and the necessity to fulfil it. In the second context the model of scientificity is the discourse of psychoanalysis in itself, as "the exception", and the signifier is understood as constituting the lust mortification as well as its imperative. Both conceptions of the signifier explain how subjectivity, an empty remanent of an asymmetric linguistic relation, connects to an impersonal and indifferent language. For Lacan, so it seems, it is more important, in the name of objectivity, to understand that the language acquisition does not make that one speaks but that language speaks in one's place. In the name of clinics, notwithstanding, it is more important to make that one speaks in the language which speaks in oneself. The problem of this work is to clarify the sense of this kind of dissociation.
The chapter about pragmatic psychoanalysis has as title "The paradox of interpretation". My intention is to show that the proposal of both Cavell and Costa make up deviations in relation to the behavioural conception of language. It is rather an operational or management mistake in the use of concepts like "desire", "belief" or "reason" than a strategic mistake. In this sense both Cavell and Costa would being teased by the ordinary use of those terms with referential and mechanical meaning, and leaving behind the manifest level of behaviour in the search for an underlying rationality behind the supposed irrational actions. Their hypothesis authorize such movements because there is the supposition that actions could be justified. The result is clear: treating as symptoms which would have to be managed as criteria. This supposition brings about mentalism and a mechanicist understanding of actions in terms of causal descriptions. The first person privilege ends with abandonment or being forgotten as much as there is no sense in thinking of authomatized actions unless by causes occasioned by an agent which is no more the I.
The solutions proposed by the authors viewed in relation to the philosophy of language sources in which they extract their conceptual framework are susceptible to criticism when confronted with what could be considered as a paradox of interpretation. In regard to an action it is possible an infinity of descriptions, some of them contradictory to each other. So arises the question about in what point would metaphysics be removed according to their procedure. It seems that the accent could not be laid upon the interpretation or the rationality of actions but solely upon the action itself as blind application of impersonal rules in a form of life environment.
The attentive reader will certainly find a disproportion between the extension of the analysis dedicated to Lacan and those dedicated to pragmatic psychoanalysis. For the first, two whole chapters; for the second theory, represented by two different thinkers, just one chapter. I must clarify that this results from the hardness to explain a typical obscure thinking like Lacan´s; much more details are demanded in order to exhibit the sources and subtleties of his arguments without being unfair to his thinking. His theory suffered a very lengthy process of elaboration till get the points stressed by this work. For that reason, the reador does not have to consider the text as a criticism of Lacan's theory with an appendix about pragmatic psychoanalysis. The only concern here is to correctly illuminate the compulsion to language in both psychoanalytic theories according to the use the concepts have inside their respective fields, and, by this way, contribute to the epistemological discussion about psychoanalysis in general.
For that reason I hold out hopes and ambitions in the conclusion of this work that it is possible, in light of the criticism of the conceptions and uses of language in the theories here examined, to establish a supposition about the form in which language could matter to psychoanalysis. It must be noted that this is, as literally as it can be, just a supposition, i.e., an opinion formed without the right proofs or the demonstration of the hypothesis. In this regard, it is fair to ask why such a supposition is to be proposed. My answer is that suppositions illuminate thinking in making its senses vary around others point of views. The conclusion of a thesis cannot be, according to proper academic rules, a non-demonstrated proposition, an exclamation sign without the corresponding argument; but nothing prevents that it could not be suggested for the reader motives for future discussions as, for instance, a feasible and sufficient hypothesis to provoke a test of other possibilities of use of psychoanalytic theory. If we do not have here an exclamation point, nothing prevents that it could not be finished with a question mark. It would have a conception of language which complies with the clinical ends of psychoanalysis without compromise it with any kind of metaphysical especulations criticized in the precedent theories? This supposition allures the necessity of demonstration, opens the possibility to formulate different propositions, different thesis to be defended with proper and adequate arguments. They could be right or wrong, it does not matter. What really matters it is to finish the work of exam and criticism of the linguistic psychoanalyses without hinting the idea that the interest of psychoanalysis to language is to be condemned, or even that the very psychoanalysis is to be rejected as inevitable mythology. The conclusion of this work must be taken, for this reason, in the same sense of the old metaphor of the two-faced head of Janus: one of the faces looks into the thesis as the supposition over which the aspect vision there constituted supports it; the other face looks outside it as an interrogation about a possible future project. Consequently, the work will be completed if it was possible to extract from the whole of the analysis there executed such a supposition, offering to the reader motives for the discussion about why language matters to psychoanalysis.
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. WITTGENSTEIN, Ludwig. Philosophical investigations. Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1953, § 115 (I am responsible for all the translations).
. The reader must understand by "grammar" a set of norms according to which a determined practice is performed.
. Cf. BOUVERESSE, Jacques. Philosophie, mythologie et pseudo-science. Wittgenstein lecteur de Freud. Paris, Editions de L’Eclat, 1996 (1991).
. Cf. WITTGENSTEIN, Ludwig. On certainty (Über Gewissheit). New York, Harper & Row, 1972, § 359. It must be understood that the words "cornerstone" or "base" are not referring to anything taken apart from practice: "...a rule could not determine a course of action, as each course of action is made in conformity to a rule." WITTGENSTEIN, Ludwig. Philosophical investigations. Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1953, § 201.
. WITTGENSTEIN, Ludwig. Remarks on the philosophy of psychology, v. I. Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1980, § 949.