Notes from Seminar VII : 25th November 1959 : p27 to 34 (Diagram p34 corrected) : Read on 15th November 2012

by Julia Evans on November 15, 2012

[1)  Jean-Bertrand Lefèvre-Pontalis’s missing intervention into Seminar VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis

Seminar VII : Presentation (in French) on the ‘Entwurf’ (Project for a Scientific Psychology: Sigmund Freud) and the relation to reality : 2nd December 1959: Jean-Bertrand Lefèvre-Pontalis

This intervention is referred to in Seminar VII : 2nd December 1959 : p38 of the Dennis Porter translation, but it has not been included in the translation.  Available here, in French:

Presentation on the ‘Entwurf’ and the relation to reality : 2nd December 1959: Jean-Bertrand Lefèvre-Pontalis  or here

2)  The Interpretation of Dreams and information about it, available here:

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


Seminar VII : 25th November 1959 : p34

For comments on the first two paragraphs, including the reference to Sigmund Freud’s ‘Civilization and its Discontents: 1929’, see Notes on p19-27 of Seminar VII: 25th November 1959: Reading Group of 27th October or here

Quotes from the end of Seminar VII : 25th November 1959:

That is why ethical thinkers have at all times not been able to avoid trying to identify these two terms, which are after all fundamentally antithetical, namely, pleasure and the good.

But over and against that, how does one qualify the substratum of reality of subjective activity?

What is the new figure that Freud gave us in the opposition reality principle/pleasure principle? It is without a doubt a problematic figure. Freud doesn’t for a moment consider identifying adequacy to reality with a specific good. In ‘Civilization and its Discontents: 1929’ he tells us that civilization or culture certainly asks too much of the subject. If there is indeed something that can be called his good or his happiness, there is nothing to be expected in that regard from the microcosm, nor moreover from the macrocosm.

It is with this question mark that I will end today.

NOTE: The diagram which is printed at the end of this session is quite different to the diagram printed elsewhere.  This diagram has been circulated by Bruno de Florence and is below. Note: the position of the question mark makes much more sense.

Seminar VII : 25th November 1959 : p27