Notes on Seminar VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis : Session of 23rd December 1959: p81 – 1st and 2nd paragraph : ‘I am what I am’

by Julia Evans on March 23, 2013

Discussed at the Seminar VII Reading Group, on 23rd March 2013.

The passage:

The issue I want to raise today concerns their privileged structure in relation to the structure of the law. I want today to consider two of them.

I must leave to one side the huge questions posed by the promulgation of these commandments (the ten commandments) by something that announces itself in the following form: “I am what I am.” It is, in effect, necessary not to draw the text in the direction of Greek metaphysics by translating as “he who is,” or “he who am.” The English translation, “I am that I am,” is, according to Hebrew scholars, the closest to what is meant by the formulation of the verse. Perhaps I am mistaken, but since I do not know Hebrew and while I wait on further information on the subject, I rely on the best authorities, and they are of one mind on the question.

That “I am what I am” is announced first of all to a small people in the form of that which saved it from the misfortunes of Egypt, and it begins by affirming, “You will adore no God but me, before my countenance.” …

The discussion

The Reading Group present on Saturday 23rd March 2013, on discussing this passage, considered the names of the father.  There follows 3 references which explore this topic:

Jacques Lacan:  Introduction to the Names-of-the-Father seminar: 20th November 1963: Available Introduction to the Names-of-the-Father Seminar : 20th November 1963: Jacques Lacan or here

Gil Caroz : Three names in the inexistent seminar : 2006 :Available : Three names in the inexistent seminar : 2006: Gil Caroz  or here

Éric Laurent: How to recompose the Name-of-the Father : 2004 : available How to recompose the Name-of-the Father : 2004 : Éric Laurent or here