Seminar XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts: 1963-1964 : beginning 15th January 1964 : Jacques Lacan

by Julia Evans on January 15, 1964

Published in English:

‘The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis’ :

translated by Alan Sheridan :

edited by Jacques-Alain Miller :

London, The Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis : 1977

Published in French:

Le Séminaire de Jacques Lacan, Livre XI, ‘Les quatre concepts fondamentaux de la psychanalyse’ : Published by Éditions du Seuil, 1973 

Summary published in 1965:

Availability given: Summary of Seminar XI, ‘The four fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis’ : July 1965 : Jacques Lacan or here  

Contents of Seminar XI (Page numbers are to the Alan Sheridan translation)

17th May 1976 : Preface to the English-language edition of Seminar XI

Published in English:

a)  Pvii-ix of ‘The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis’ : translated by Alan Sheridan : London, The Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis : 1977 : Available here

b) The text of this preface is available: Preface to the English-language edition of Seminar XI : 17th May 1976 : Jacques Lacan or here

This preface is published in French :

a)  Ornicar ? : 1977 : vol 12/13 : p124-126

b)  École Lacanienne de Psychanalyse – Pas tout Lacan : here : available : Préface à l’édition anglaise des Écrits   or here

c)  p571-573 of  Autres Écrits: 2001 : Jacques Lacan  : index available here : Préface à l’édition anglaise du Séminaire Xl :

c) For Postface to the French Edition of Seminar XI : January 1973 : Jacques Lacan : See here  

Seminar XI : 15th January 1964 : Excommunication: Chapter 1

Sub-headings: Am I qualified?-The essence of comedy-What is a praxis?-Between science and religion-The hysteric and Freud’s own desire 


Seminar XI : 22nd January 1964 : The Freudian unconscious and ours : Chapter 2

Subheadings: ‘Pensée Sauvage’ – There is cause only in something that doesn’t work – Gap, obstacle, discovery, loss – Discontinuity – Signorelli

p24 of 22nd January 1964 : … but we should not be over-hasty, for Freud, in the seventh chapter of ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ (Available The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  or here), himself referred to it (Edward von Hartmann’s unconscious) in a footnote – that is to say, we must look more closely at it if we are to discover in what way Freud’s unconscious is to be distinguished from it.

To all these forms of unconscious, ever more or less linked to some obscure will regarded as primordial, to something pre-conscious, what Freud opposes is the revelation that at the level of the unconscious there is something at all points homologous with what occurs at the level of the subject-this thing speaks and functions in a way quite as elaborate as at the level of the conscious, which thus loses what seemed to be its privilege. I am well aware of the resistances that this simple remark can still provoke, though it is evident in everything that Freud wrote. Read, for example, the paragraph of that seventh chapter of ‘The Interpretation of dreams, called ‘Forgetting in Dreams, concerning which Freud merely refers to the play of signifier.

Seminar XI : 29th January 1964: Of the subject of certainty: Chapter 3

Sub-headings: Neither being, nor non-being-Finitude of desire-The elusive-The status of the unconscious is ethical-That all theory has to be revised-Freud, Cartesian-The desire of the hysteric

p32 of 29th January 1964 : Since Freud himself, the development of the analytic experience has shown nothing but disdain for what appears in the gap. We have not – according to the comparison that Freud uses at a particular turning-point of ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ (Available The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  or here) – ‘fed with blood’ the shades that have emerged from it. [Note: JE thinks this is a reference to the second group of theories in Part G, Dreaming and its function p146 of PFL.]

Seminar XI : 29th January 1964 : p33 of Alan Sheridan’s translation : Is ‘Whatever it is, I must go there’ a translation of ‘Wo es war, sol Ich werden’? (Last paragraph of Lecture XXXI : Dissection of the personality: 1932 : published New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis : Sigmund Freud : 1932 (Published 1933)? See discussion on The Letter google group here

29th January 1964 :p34 : Quote, The father, the Name-of-the-father, sustains the structure of desire with the structure of the law-but the inheritance of the father is that which Kierkegaard designates for us, namely his sin. Jacques Lacan is probably referring to ‘The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Orienting Deliberation on the Dogmatic Issue of Hereditary Sin’ : by pseudonym Vigilius Haufniensis : availability given The Concept of Dread (Anxiety) : 1844: Søren Kierkegaard or here

p37 of 29th January 1964 : … What the subject fears most is to mislead us (nous tromper), to put us on a wrong track, or more simply, that we will make a mistake (nous nous trompions), for, after all, it is obvious, just to look at us, that we are people who could make a mistake like anybody else.

Now, this does not bother Freud because – it is precisely this that one must understand, especially when one reads the first paragraph of the chapter on forgetting in dreams (Part VII – The Psychology of the Dream-Processes, Section (A) The Forgetting of Dreams : p656 pfl : Available The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  or here) – the signs intersect, one must take everything into account, one must free oneself, he says, ‘frei machen’ oneself of the whole scale of the evaluation that is sought there, ‘Preisschätzung’, the evaluation of what is sure and what is not sure. The slightest indication that something is entering the field should make us regard it as of equal value as a trace in relation to the subject.

Note: JE thinks this refers to the passage from p660-pfl which begins: ‘Previous writers have had less justification in devoting so much space to the ‘doubt’ with which our judgement receives accounts of dreams.’ From p661: ‘The distrust in this analyogy corresponds to the doubt in the case we are considering. That is why in analysing a dream I insist that the whole scale of estimates of certainty shall be abandoned and that the faintest possibility that something of this or that sort may have occurred in the dream shall be treated as a complete certainty. In tracing any element of a dream it will be found that unless this attitude is firmly adopted the analysis will come to a standstill. If any doubt is thrown upon the value of the element in question, the psychical result in the patient is that none of the involuntary ideas underlying that element comes into his head.

Seminar XI : 5th February 1964: Of the network of signifiers : Chapter 4

Sub-headings: Thoughts of the unconscious-The colophon of doubt-Subversion of the subject-Introduction to repetition-The real is that which always comes back to the same place.

Seminar XI : 5th February 1964 : p44 of Alan Sheridan’s translation : ‘Wo es war, sol Ich werden’? (Last paragraph of Lecture XXXI : Dissection of the personality: 1932 : published New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis : Sigmund Freud : 1932 (Published 1933)) is quoted directly and the following translation given: Here, in the field of your dream you are at home.

From p45 of 5th February 1964: ‘Where it was,’ the ‘Ich’- the subject, not psychology – the subject, must come into existence. And there is only one method of knowing that one is there, namely, to map the network. And how is a network mapped? One goes back and forth over one’s ground, one crosses one’s path, one cross-checks it always in the same way, and in this seventh chapter of ‘The Interpretation of dreams’ (Available The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  or here) there is no other confirmation for one’s ‘Gewissheit’ one’s certainty, than this – ‘Speak of chance, gentlemen, if you like. In my experience I have observed nothing arbitrary in this field, for it is cross-checked in such a way that it escapes chance.’

From p45 of 5th February 1964: I would remind those who have already attended my lectures on this subject of [Freud’s] letter fifty-two to Fliess (Available Letter from Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess: 6th December 1896 : Known as Letter 52 or here), which comments on the schema that later, in ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’, is called optical. …. Well, to return to the letter to Fliess, how do the ‘Wahrnehmungszeichen’, the traces of perception, function?

From p46 of 5th February 1964 : He (Freud) then designates a time when these ‘Wahrnehmungszeichen’ must be constituted in simultaneity. What is this time, if not signifying synchrony? And, of course, Freud says this all the more in that he does not know that he is saying it fifty years before the linguists. But we can immediately give to these ‘Wahrnehmungszeichen’  their true name of ‘signifiers’. And our reading makes it clear that Freud, when he comes back to this locus in ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’  (Available The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  or here), designates still other layers, in which the traces are constituted this time by analogy. What we have here are those functions of contrast and similitude so essential in the constitution of metaphor, which is introduced by a diachrony.


The Ordinary Topology of Jacques Lacan: 1986: Jeanne Lafont 

Seminar XI : 12th February 1964 : Tuché and automaton : Chapter 5

Psychoanalysis is not an idealism – The real as trauma – Theory of the dream and of waking – Consciousness and representation – God is unconscious – The ‘objet petit a’ in the ‘fort-da’

Quote from p55 of Alan Sheridan’s translation of 12thFebruary 1964 available Quotes towards ‘Trauma : Les traumatismes dans la cure analytique’ : 9th April 2013 : Christiane Alberti & Marie-Hélène Brousse : See here

Quotes from The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  : Available here

From p57 of 12th February 1964 : To make things quite clear, let us return to the dream – which is also made up entirely of noise – that I left you time to look up in ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’. (Dream of Burning Child [unknown father – Freud’s patient] pfl p652-654 – Chapter VII The Psychology of the Dream-Processes, p681- 682 – Chapter VII, Part (B) Regression, p692 – ditto begins ‘Experience shows us that this path….’, p701- Chapter VII, Part (C) Wish-Fulfilment, p725-726 – Ditto begins ‘Whereas the wish from the uncs….’

P57 to 58 of 12th February 1964 : What, then, does Freud mean by placing, at this point, this particular dream, stressing that it is in itself full confirmation of his thesis regarding dreams?

If the function of the dream is to prolong sleep, if the dream, after all, may come so near to the reality that causes it, can we not say that it might correspond to this reality without emerging from sleep? ….

P60 of 12th February 1964 : How can we fail to see that awakening works in two directions – and that the awakening that re-situates us in a constituted and represented reality carries out tow tasks? The real has to be sought beyond the dream – in what the dream has enveloped, hidden from us, behind the lack of representation of which there is only one representative. This is the real that governs our activities more than any other and it is psychoanalysis that designates it for us.

12th February 1964 : p61 : Quote, I would ask you to re-read Kierkegaard’s essay on ‘Repetition’

Repetition : 1843: Søren Kierkegaard : available at www.ebook3000.comhere : Download here or here (zip file)  

OF THE GAZE AS ‘objet petit a’

Seminar XI : 19th February 1964: The split between the eye and the gaze:Chapter 6

Sub-headings : The split of the subject – The facticity of the trauma – Maurice Merleau-Ponty – The philosophical tradition – Mimicry – The all-seer – In the dream, it shows

P68-70 of 19th February 1964:  Although, last time, it was around the dream in chapter seven of ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ (The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  : Available here) that I approached the whole question of repetition, it was because the choice of this dream – so enclosed, so doubly and triply enclosed as it is, since it is not analysed – is very revealing here, occurring as it does at the moment when Freud is dealing with the process of the dream in its last resort …

p74-75 : Seminar XI : 19th February 1964 : Response to a query raised on The-Letter google group of where Jacques Lacan stated the following:

‘In this sense, the spectacle of the world appears before us as all-seeing.’

[From NLS-Messager <> : Subject: [nls-messager] 2219.en/ 46th Study Days of the ECF – The object gaze : Date: 8 October 2016 at 00:16:43 BST : 46th Study Day of the École de la Cause freudienne : ‘The objet gaze’ : November 5th & 6th 2016 : Paris. Palais des Congrès]

This quote was identified by Bruno de Florence ( as Seminar XI.

P74-75 of Alan Sheridan’s translation :

That in which the consciousness may turn back upon itself —grasp itself ; like Valery’s Young Parque, as seeing oneself seeing oneself—represents mere sleight of hand. An avoidance of the function of the gaze is at work there.

This much we can map of this topology, which last time we worked out for ourselves on the basis of that which appears from the position of the subject when he accedes to the imaginary forms offered him by the dream, as opposed to those of the waking state.

Similarly, in that order, which is particularly satisfying for the subject, connoted in psycho-analytic experience by the term narcissism—in which I have striven to reintroduce the essential structure it derives from its reference to the specular image—in the satisfaction, not to say that diffuses from it, which gives the subject a pretext for such a profound méconnaisance—and does its empire not extend as far as this reference of the philosophical tradition represented by plenitude encountered by the subject in the mode of contemplation—can we not also grasp that which ahs been eluded, namely, the function of the gaze? I mean, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty points this out, that we are beings who are looked at, in the spectacle of the world. That which makes us

Consciousness institutes us by the same token as speculum mundi. Is there no satisfaction in being under that gaze of which, following Merleau-Ponty, I spoke just now, that gaze that circumscribes us, and which in the first instance makes us beings who are looked at, but without showing this?

The spectacle of the world, in this sense, appears to us as all-seeing. This is the phantasy to be found in the Platonic perspective of an absolute being to whom is transferred the quality of being all-seeing. At the very level of the phenomenal experience of contemplation, this all-seeing aspect is to be found in the satisfaction of a woman who knows that she is being looked at, on condition that one does not show her that one knows that she knows.

The world is all-seeing, but it is not exhibitionistic—it does not provoke our gaze. When it begins to provoke it, the feeling of strangeness begins too.

What does this mean, if not that, in the so-called waking state, there is an elision of the gaze, and an elision of the fact that not only does it look, it also shows. In the field of the dream, on the other hand, what characterizes the images is that it shows.

It shows—but here, too, some form of ‘sliding away’ of the subject is apparent

Seminar XI : 26th February 1964 : Anamorphosis : Chapter 7

Subheadings: Of the foundation of consciousness – The privilege of the gaze as ‘objet a’ – The optics of the blind – The phallus in the picture

Seminar XI : 4th March 1964 : The line and light : Chapter 8

Subheadings: Desire and the picture – The story of a sardine can – The screen – Mimicry – The organ – You never look at me from the place I see you 

Seminar XI : 11th March 1964 : What is a picture? : Chapter 9

Subheadings: Being and its semblance – The lure of the screen – ‘dompte-regard’ and ‘trompe-l’œil’ [Note: The sense of the verb ‘dompter’ is ‘to tame’, ‘to subdue’. The reference, then, is to a situation in which the gaze is tamed by some object, such as a picture. Lacan has invented the phrase ‘dompte-regard’ as a counterpart to the notion of ‘trompe-l’œil’, which has of course pased into the English language.] – The backward glance – Gesture and touch – ‘Le donner-à-voir’ and ‘invidia’ [‘Donner-à-voir’ means literally ‘to give to be seen’ and, therefore, ‘to offer to the view’. The Latin ‘invidia’, translates as ‘envy’, derives, as Lacan points out, from ‘videre’, to see.]


Seminar XI : 15th April 1964: Presence of the Analyst : Chapter 10

Sub-headings: Problems of the transference-Obscurantism in analysis-‘Ablata causa’-The Other, already there-The unconscious is outside-An article in ‘The International Journal’


The Ordinary Topology of Jacques Lacan: 1986: Jeanne Lafont 

Seminar XI : 22nd April 1964 : Analysis and truth or the closure of the unconscious : Chapter 11

Sub-headings : Telling the truth, lying, being wrong – The ‘I’ lie and the ‘I think’ – Homoculus or $ – The validity of psychology – Illusion and its rectification – The transference is the enaction of the reality of the unconscious 

Seminar XI : 29th April 1964 : Sexuality in the defiles of the signifier : Chapter 12

Subheadings: The reality of the unconscious is sexual – Of Chinese astronomy – Against Jung and against hermeneutics – Desexualization of reality – The entrance into the unconscious – Anna O. and Freud’s desire 

Seminar XI : 6th May 1964 : The deconstruction of the drive : Chapter 13


Drive and Fantasy: 1994: Pierre Skriabine

Seminar XI : 13th May 1964 : The partial drive and its circuit : Chapter 14

Sub-headings: Die ganze Sexualstrebung-Every drive is partial-Drive, sex and death-The supposed stages-Schaulust-Sado-masochism


Drive and Fantasy: 1994: Pierre Skriabine 

Seminar XI : 29th May 1964 [This date is probably wrong and it should be 20th May 1964]: From love to the libido: Chapter 15

Sub-headings: The subject and the Other-The narcissistic field-Sexual difference-The field of the drive: making oneself…seen, heard, sucked, shitted-The myth of the lamella


Drive and Fantasy: 1994: Pierre Skriabine  


Seminar XI : 27th May 1964 : The subject and the Other: Alienation: Chapter 16

Sub-headings: Sexual dynamics-Aphanisis-The Piagetic error-Vel-Your money or your life!-The why?


p212   The Dream with the Unicorn – Pôor(d)j’e-li : 30th October 1960 (Bonneval Hospital) [published 1966/68] : Serge Leclaire or here

p212 Alienation and Separation in Seminar XI (Paris) : 1st July 1990 : Éric Laurent or here

Drive and Fantasy: 1994: Pierre Skriabine 

Seminar XI : 3rd June 1964 : The subject and the Other : Aphanisis [Fading of the subject] : Chapter 17

Subheadings: The question of the ‘Vorstellungsrepräsentanz’ – Freedom – Representation and the Hegelian lure – Descartes’ desire – Scepticism, certainty and the subject who is supposed to know – Small letters – The value of the Pavlovian experiment 

Seminar XI : 10th June 1964 : Of the–subject-who-is-supposed-to-know, or the first dyad, and of the Good : Chapter 18

Subheadings: The trust placed in the analyst – Science ‘itself’ – As soon as there is a subject who is suppose to know, there is transference – Belief – Alienation apprehended in the ‘fort-da’ – Alienation in pleasure 

Seminar XI : 17th June 1964: From interpretation to the transference: Chapter 19

Sub-headings: Field of the ego and field of the Other-Metaphor-Interpretation is not open to all meanings-Indetermination and determination of the subject-Love, transference, desire-The slave-The ego ideal and the ‘petit a’

P259 of 17th June 1964 : Questions and Answers: P. Kaufmann : Is there not some kind of connection between what you have said again, on the subject of Booz and Theodore Reik, and what you have said, elsewhere, concerning the father at the beginning of chapter seven of ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ (The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  : Available here)? Lacan: It’s quite clear, he is asleep – that’s all there is to it. He is asleep so that we should sleep too, that is to say, so that we should understand only what there is to be understood. 

Notes & references

p250   The Dream with the Unicorn – Pôor(d)j’e-li : 30th October 1960 (Bonneval Hospital) [published 1966/68] : Serge Leclaire or here

p250 Alienation and Separation in Seminar XI (Paris) : 1st July 1990 : Éric Laurent Or here


Seminar XI : 24th June 1964: In you more than you: Chapter 20

Sub-headings: I love you, but, because inexplicably I love in you something more than you-the ‘objet petit ‘a-I mutilate you


Drive and Fantasy: 1994: Pierre Skriabine 

Postface to Seminar XI, ‘The four fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis’ : 1973

Also in Autres Écrits: 2001 : Jacques Lacan  or here

Translation available here

Published in French at École Lacanienne de la Psychanalyse, Pas Tout Lacan: here : Availability: 1973-01-01, Postface au séminaire : ” Les quatre concepts fondamentaux de la psychanalyse “ (4p) or here


Julia Evans 

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, Earl’s Court, London


Further posts:

Some Lacanian history : here

Dossier on the Institutional Debate, An Introduction : 1990 : Joan Copjec or here

Lacanian Transmission : here

Of the clinic : here

Topology & the Lacanian Clinic here  

By Sigmund Freud here

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud : here

Or by Jacques Lacan : here 

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here

Écrits : 1966 : Jacques Lacan or here

Autres Écrits: 2001 : Jacques Lacan or here