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French: progrès

Jacques Lacan

Rejection of Progress

Lacan claims that the idea of progress, like other humanist concepts, is alien to his teaching:

"There is not the slightest idea of progress in anything I articulate, in the sense that this term would imply a happy solution."[1]

In this respect, Lacan is a basically pessimistic thinker, and he finds support for such pessimism in the gloomier works of Freud such as Civilization and its Discontents.

These texts allow Lacan to argue that "Freud was in no way a progressive."[2]

Unidirectional Concept of Time

Lacan rejects the idea of progress because it is based on a linear unidirectional concept of time, and because it implies the possibility of synthesis. Lacan rejects other related concepts such as that of a unilinear sequence of phases of psychosexual development.

Progress in Psychoanalytic Treatment

There is one sense, however, in which Lacan does speak of progress: the progress in psychoanalytic treatment. Treatment is a process which has a beginning and an end. When the treatment is moving and not 'stuck', we may speak of progress. Indeed, psychoanalytic treatment may be described as "a progress towards truth."[3]

See Also


  1. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre XVII. L'envers de la psychanalyse, 19669-70. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.122
  2. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book VII. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-60. Trans. Dennis Porter. London: Routledge, 1992. p.183
  3. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p. 253