Seminar VII : 2nd December 1959 : An intervention by Jean-Bertrand Lefèvre-Pontalis on Sigmund Freud’s Project: Reading Group of 8th December 2012 (p35 to 48)

by Julia Evans on December 8, 2012

Notes from Reading Group of 8th December 2012

From Seminar VII: 2nd December 1959: Chapter III: Rereading the ‘Entwurf’

Sub-headings: An ethics not a psychology; How reality is constituted; A topology of subjectivity

An intervention by Jean-Bertrand Lefèvre-Pontalis is referred to in Seminar VII : 2nd December 1959 : p38 of the Dennis Porter translation, but 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

Information on Jean-Bertrand Lefèvre-Pontalis :  From Wikipedia here

Jean-Bertrand Lefèvre Pontalis born 15th January 1924 and died 15th January 2013 was a philosopher, psychoanalyst and French writer.

After completing his studies in philosophy in 1945 at the Sorbonne with work on Spinoza, he engaged in leftist political movements. A pupil of Jean-Paul Sartre , he worked on the magazine ‘Modern Times’ (1945-1948). His academic career as a philosopher led him to teach successively at schools of Alexandria (1948-1949), Nice (1949-1951) and Orléans (1951-1952). With the support of the philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty , he entered the CNRS – Centre National de Researche Scientifique. He published in Modern Times and became a member of its editorial board. He became a psychoanalyst as well as being recognized as a writer and editor.

In 1953, Jean-Bertrand Lefèvre-Pontalis entered an analysis with Jacques Lacan. It lasted seven years. In 1960, with Jean Laplanche , under the direction of Daniel Lagache , Pontalis undertakes important work that will lead in 1967 to the first edition of the Vocabulary of psychoanalysis. 

He separated from Jacques Lacan in 1964 to participate in the founding of the Psychoanalytic Association of France . That same year, he became a member of the Executive Committee of the journal Les Temps Modernes and began teaching at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes.

Availability of The Project for a Scientific Psychology: 23rd & 25th September & 5th October 1895: Sigmund Freud  or here

Information on Jean Laplanche available : Notes from Seminar VII : session 3rd February 1960 : Interventions by Xavier Audouard & Jean Laplanche or here

Availability Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: Jacques Lacan : or here

Further posts for the “A. Reading Seminar VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis” category  or here 

Seminar VII, The Ethics of Psychoanalysis : Session of 2nd December 1959 : Ch 3, p38 of Dennis Porter’s translation, paragraph 5 & 6:

Quote: I, therefore, had no difficulty remembering – it is something of which I am painfully aware – that this seminar is a seminar, and that it would be a good idea if it were not simply the signifier “seminar” alone that maintained its right to such a denomination. That is why I asked one of the two people to come and tell us the thoughts inspired in him by the way in which I related the subject of this seminar to the ‘Entwurf’. You will hear that,  Jean-Bertrand Lefèvre-Pontalis, but his colleague, Jean Laplanche, and he are currently equally on top of the ‘Entwurf’, a work that, as Valabrega noted just now, you really have to have fresh in your memory, if you are to say anything valid about it. Is that really true? I don’t know, for one ends up realizing that it’s not as complicated as all that.

Mr Lefèvre-Pontalis:  “There is a slight misunderstanding that I would like to clear up. I am by no means a specialist of the ‘Entwurf’ and I haven’t reread it – I am in the process of reading it. Dr Lacan asked me to go over a number of points made in his seminar last week, including especially the question of the relation to reality, that he described as particularly problematic, if not downright paradoxical, in this early text of Freud.”

Jacques Lacan’s comments on this presentation

Seminar VII : 2nd December 1959 :bottom of p38 :

I would like to thank you for what you have done today. It will perhaps enable us to introduce this year a way of dividing up the seminar that will allow me to stop now and then, to take a rest, and at the same time have another use.

It seems to me that you presented with remarkable elegance the vital armature of a problem where one risks getting lost in details that are, I must say, extraordinarily tempting. I did occasionally regret that you didn’t enter into the detail of the position of the ‘Bahnung’, on the one hand, and the ‘Befriedigungserlebnis’, on the other. I also regretted that you didn’t remind us of the topology that the system φ, ψ, ω presupposes. All that might perhaps have illuminated things. But it is clear that one could spend a whole term, indeed a year, simply in the attempt to rectify the distortions of certain of the ‘Entwurf’s’ original intuitions, distortions caused by the English translation.

.. ‘Bahnung’ suggests the creation of a continuous way, a chain, and I even have the feeling that it can be related to the signifying chain insofar as Freud says that the development of the ψ apparatus replaces simple quantity by quantity plus ‘Bahnung’, that is to say its articulation.  …

… discussions that will lead us back to the relationship between the reality principle and the pleasure principle. You showed the paradox involved by indicating that the pleasure principle cannot be inscribed in a biological system. … namely, that the subject’s satisfaction is entirely dependent on the other, on the one whom Freud designates in a beaurtiful expression that you didn’t emphasize, I am sorry to say, the ‘Nebenmensch’. I will have opportunity to proffer a few quotations so as to show that it is through the intermediary of the ‘Nebenmensch’ as speaking subject that everything that has to do with the thought processes is able to take shape in the subjectivity of the subject.

I ask you to refer to the double column table that I drew for you last time. [Note: the diagram in Dennis Porter’s translation of Seminar VII is incorrect. One that is more accurate will be made available shortly.]

This diagram will be of use to us until the end of our presentation and will enable us to conceive of the pleasure function and the reality function in a relationship that we will have to bind together more and more closely. If you approach them in another way, you end up with the paradox that you perhaps overemphasized today, namely, that there is no plausible reason why reality should be heard and should end up prevailing. Experience proves it to be overbundant for the human species, which for the time being is not in danger of extinction. The prospect is exactly the opposite. Pleasure in the human economy is only ever articulated in a certain relationship to this point, which is no doubt always left empty, enigmatic, but which presents a certain relationship to what man takes to be reality. And it is through this that we manage to approach ever more closely that intuition, that apperception of reality which animates the whole development of Freud’s thought.