Antigone, in Her Unbearable Splendor

New Essays on Jacques Lacan's The Ethics of Psychoanalysis

By Charles Freeland

Subjects: Psychoanalysis, Philosophy, Ancient Greek Philosophy, Hegel
Series: SUNY series, Intersections: Philosophy and Critical Theory
Paperback : 9781438446486, 328 pages, January 2014
Hardcover : 9781438446493, 328 pages, June 2013

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Table of contents

List of Abbreviations of Works by Jacques Lacan
1. Toward an Ethics of Psychoanalysis
2. Philosophy Preparation for Death
3. The “Truth about Truth”
4. The Knots of Moral Law and Desire
5. Antigone, in Her Unbearable Splendor
6. The Desire for Happiness and the Promise of Analysis: Aristotle and Lacan on Ethics of Desire
7. To Conclude / Not to Conclude

A study of Lacan’s engagement with the Western philosophical traditions of ethical and political thought in his seventh seminar and later work.


With its privileging of the unconscious, Jacques Lacan's psychoanalytic thought would seem to be at odds with the goals and methods of philosophy. Lacan himself embraced the term "anti-philosophy" in characterizing his work, and yet his seminars undeniably evince rich engagement with the Western philosophical tradition. These essays explore how Lacan's work challenges and builds on this tradition of ethical and political thought, connecting his "ethics of psychoanalysis" to both the classical Greek tradition of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and to the Enlightenment tradition of Kant, Hegel, and de Sade. Charles Freeland shows how Lacan critically addressed some of the key ethical concerns of those traditions: the pursuit of truth and the ethical good, the ideals of self-knowledge and the care of the soul, and the relation of moral law to the tragic dimensions of death and desire. Rather than sustaining the characterization of Lacan's work as "anti-philosophical," these essays identify a resonance capable of enriching philosophy by opening it to wider and evermore challenging perspectives.

Charles Freeland is Lecturer and Course Coordinator, teaching philosophy and architecture at the International Program of Design and Architecture at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand.


"Freeland's reading of Lacan is distinctly philosophical not only because he examines the psychoanalyst's debts to philosophical discourse, but, more forcefully, because his own approach is not indebted to any of the currently dominant trends in psychoanalytic theory. This book is as singular as it is insightful." — Steven Miller, University at Buffalo, State University of New York