Eros and Ethics

Reading Jacques Lacan's Seminar VII

By Marc De Kesel
Translated by Sigi Jottkandt

Subjects: Psychoanalysis, Philosophy, Literary Theory, Ethics
Series: SUNY series, Insinuations: Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, Literature
Paperback : 9781438426105, 352 pages, January 2010
Hardcover : 9781438426099, 352 pages, May 2009

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Table of contents

1. A Theory of the Subject
The Object Relations Theory and Its Moral Premises
Lacan’s Target: Maurice Bouvet
Lacanian Object Relations Theory: A Theory of the Subject
Ethics and Phantasm
Introducing a Real Object
2. Crucial Problems
One Ethical Demand versus Another
A New Form of Guilt?
A New Ethics, A New Eroticism?
3. Aristotle Revisited
The Interval between Aristotle and Freud
Aristotle and Freud against Bentham
Pleasure, Reality, and Logos
4. An Intimately Distant “Thing”
Das Ding
A Matter of Distance
How Much Does a Thing Weigh?
5. A Critique of Pure Practical Reason
Kant’s Critique of Morals
Lacan and the Critique of Practical Reason
The Lacanian “Critique of Pure Practical Reason”
6. The Weight of Enjoyment
The Commandment to Love Your Neighbor
An Ethics of Singularity
7. Sublimation
From Doom to Dame
An “Object Relational” Concept of Sublimation
Courtly Love
Culture as Sublimation
Sublimation and Ethics
8. Radiant Antigone
An Anamorphic Glance at Tragedy
The Subject in the Picture
Desire in the Picture
9. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis
The Analytic Toll
Measure without Measure

A comprehensive examination of Lacan’s seminar on ethics.


In Eros and Ethics, Marc De Kesel patiently exposes the lines of thought underlying Jacques Lacan's often complex and cryptic reasoning regarding ethics and morality in his seventh seminar, The Ethics of Psychoanalysis (1959–1960). In this seminar, Lacan arrives at a rather perplexing conclusion: that which, over the ages, has been supposed to be "the supreme good" is in fact nothing but "radical evil"; therefore, the ultimate goal of human desire is not happiness and self-realization, but destruction and death. And yet, Lacan hastens to add, the morality based on this conclusion is far from being melancholic or tragic. Rather, it results in an encouraging ethics that for the first time in history gives full moral weight to the erotic. De Kesel's close reading uncovers the real scope of Lacan's criticism regarding the moralizing ethics of our time, and is one of the rare books that gives the reader full access to the letter of the Lacanian text.

Marc De Kesel is Senior Researcher at Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Sigi Jöttkandt is coeditor of S: Journal of the Jan van Eyck Circle for Lacanian Ideology Critique and researcher in the Theory Department at Jan van Eyck Academie, the Netherlands.