Lecture II, Can Psychoanalysis Constitute the Kind of Ethics Necessitated by our Times?: Faculté Universitaire Saint-Louis, Brussels : 10th March 1960 : Jacques Lacan

by Julia Evans on March 10, 1960

Note on translation by JE: ‘Discourse to Catholics’ was translated as ‘Lecture to Catholics’ by Dennis Porter (p179: Ch XIV) and as ‘lectures, comments, and conversations in which I engaged in Brussels’ (p169). Therefore, I suggest that ‘Engaging with Catholics’ is nearer to what Jacques Lacan describes. This will be the title given throughout LacanianWorks.

Availability of Lecture I & II here

Information & references for Lecture I available here


The “Engaging with Catholics” includes two lectures – given on 9th and 10th March 1960 in Brussels, at the invitation of the Faculté Universitaire Saint-Louis – which were billed as “open to the public.”

Jacques Lacan (See Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: Jacques Lacan or here)  refers to them in

Seminar VII : 16th March 1960 : Chapter XIII – The Death of God : p169 of Denis Porter’s translation where Lacan describes his encounter as ‘lectures, comments, and conversations in which I engaged in Brussels’ and

Seminar VII: 23rd March 1960 : Chapter XIV: Love of one’s neighbour : p179 of Denis Porter’s translation where Lacan designates them with the words “my lectures to Catholics” (if the translation is correct.).

See the notes for the ‘Reading Seminar VII Group : 30th November 2013 at LacanianWorks : Category — A. Reading Seminar VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis : Available here)


Two successive versions of them were published in the organ of the École de la Cause Freudienne in Belgium: Quarto :Vol 6 :1982 :p5-24 and Quarto :Vol 50 : 1992 : p7-20

Translated by Bruce Fink: p32-33 of Jacques Lacan, The Triumph of Religion, Polity Press, 2013

References to Sigmund Freud

Lecture II : p24 : Totem and Taboo: 1912-1913 : Sigmund Freud

You will find Freud’s paper in English with the original German text laid out in the right hand column : published by www.Freud2Lacan.com : available here

Lecture II : p32 : Civilization and its Discontents: 1929: Sigmund Freud:

available here http://archive.org/details/CivilizationAndItsDiscontents

Lecture II : p32 :“Sie lieben also den Wahn wie sich slbst” see Sigmund Freud : Aus den anfängen der Psychoanalyse 1887-1902 : Briefe an W. Fliess : London, Imago : 1950 : p101 [Citation from Draft H Corrected.]

Rendered, by James Strachey, as “They love their delusion as they love themselves” Draft H, Paranoia : 24th January 1895 : p113 of The Origins of Psycho-Analysis: Letters to Wilhelm Fliess, Drafts and Notes1887-1902 : Basic Books New York : 1954

or as ‘ One resorts to hallucinations, which are friendly to the ego and support the defense. from Letter of 24th January 1895 and Draft H, Paranoia : p112 of The Complete Letters of Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess, 1887-1904 : Translated by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson : Belknap Press : 1985.

Availability given Letter of 24th January 1895 and Draft H, Paranoia (The Emma Eckstein episode) : 24th January 1895 : Sigmund Freud or here

This shows the benefit of reading the original language as did Jacques Lacan.

Also see Seminar III : The Psychoses : 1955-1956 : begins 16th November 1955 : Jacques Lacan : Availability given here:

Seminar III : 15th February 1956 : p157 : How does one enter psychosis? How is the subject led, not into alienating himself in the little other, but becoming this something which, from within the field in which nothing can be said, appeals to all the rest, to the field of everything that can be said? Isn’t this something that evokes what you see displayed in the case of President Schreber – namely these fringe phenomena at the level of reality which have become significant for the subject?

Psychotics love their delusion like they love themselves. (See [i] )Having said this, Freud, who hadn’t yet written his article on narcissism, added that the entire mystery lies here. This is true. What is the relationship between the subject and the signifier that is distinctive of the very phenomena of psychosis? How come the subject falls entirely into this problematic?

These are the issues that we are raising this year an I hope we are able to make some headway with them before the long vacation.

Seminar III : 2nd May 1956 : p214 : quote Sie leben also den Wahn wie sich selbst. Das ist das Geheimnis. This sentence is taken from the correspondence with Fliess, where the beginnings of the themes that will appear successively in Freud’s work can be found with singular prominence.

Would we have Freud’s style if we didn’t have these letters? Yes, we still would, but they teach us that this style, which is nothing other than the expression of what orientates and animates his research, never deviated. Even in 1939, when he wrote ‘Moses and Monotheism’ (See [ii]), one feels that his passionate questioning hasn’t waned and that it’s still with the same almost desperate tenacity that he strives to explain how it is that man, in the very position of his being, should be so dependent upon these things for which he is obviously not cut out. This is said and named – it’s a question of the truth.

Engaging with Catholics (see [iii] ) : 10th March 1960 : Faculté Universitaire Saint-Louis, Brussels : quote :

Can Psychoanalysis Constitute the Kind of Ethics Necessitated by our Times?

I left you last night with a series of roughly hewn judgments regarding Freud, his position in ethics, and the honesty of his aim.

I believe that Freud is far closer than he allows to the Christian Commandment “Love thy neighbour as thyself”. He does not allow it; he repudiates it for being excessive as an imperative, if not for being mocked as a precept by its apparent fruits in a society that nonetheless calls itself Christian. But it is a fact that he investigates the point.

He speaks about it in a surprising text entitled ‘Civilisation and its Discontents[iv]’ His whole discussion revolves around the meaning of the “as thyself” at the end of the formulation. The mistrustful passion of he who unmasks makes Freud pause before this “as”. The weight of love is at stake. Freud knows in effect that self-love is great; he knows it better than anyone, having recognised that delusions are powerful because they find their source therein. “Sie lieben also den Wahn wie sich selbst”- they love their delusions as themselves, he wrote. This power is the one he designated with the name “narcissism.” It involves a secret dialectic in which psychoanalysts have a hard time finding their way around. It is in order to allow us to conceptualise it that I introduced into psychoanalytic theory the strictly methodological distinction between the symbolic, the imaginary, and the real. Here’s how it goes: [Translated by Bruce Fink: p32-33 of Jacques Lacan, The Triumph of Religion, Polity Press, 2013.]

Seminar VI : 20th May 1959, p268 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : Availability given Seminar VI: Desire and its interpretation: 1958-1959 : from 12th November 1958 : Jacques Lacan or here:

There are three kinds of references to it in analytic experience, well and truly identified up to now as such.

The first kind is the one which we habitually call, rightly or wrongly, the pregenital object. The second kind is this sort of object which is involved in what is called the castration complex. And you know that in its most general form it is the phallus. The third kind, is perhaps the only term which will surprise you as being a novelty, but in truth I think that those of you who have been able to study carefully enough what I wrote about psychoses will not find themselves all the same essentially upset by it, since the third kind of object fulfills exactly the same function with respect to the subject at his point of failing, of fatigue, is nothing other, and neither more nor less, than what is commonly called a delusion, and is very precisely the reason why Freud, from almost the beginning of his first apprehensions, was able to write: ‘These people love their delusion as they love themselves’ (Sie lieben also den Wahn wie sich selbst) [Draft H 24.1.1895].

We are going to take up these three forms of the object in so far as they allow us to grasp something in their form which allows them to fulfill this function, to become the signifiers which the subject draws from his own substance to sustain before himself precisely this hole, this absence of the signifier at the level of the unconscious chain.

Lecture II : p41 : Project for a Scientific Psychology : available here The Project for a Scientific Psychology: 23rd & 25th September & 5th October 1895: Sigmund Freud  or here 

Availability in French

Published in French at École Lacanienne de Psychanalyse – Pas tout Lacan – 1960/1969 : here http://www.ecole-lacanienne.net/pastoutlacan60.php

1960-03-09 : Conférence sur l’éthique de la psychanalyse à Bruxelles (1ère) (11 p.)  :

Available here http://www.ecole-lacanienne.net/documents/1960-03-09.doc 

Il s’agit de la première de deux conférences données par Lacan à la faculté universitaire Saint-Louis, à Bruxelles, le 9 mars 1960. Ce texte a été publié au printemps 1986 dans la revue de l’École Belge de Psychanalyse, Psychoanalyse, n° 4, pp. 163-187, numéro entièrement consacré à Jacques Lacan. (La première publication de l’une – ou des deux ? – conférence(s) fut donnée en 1982, dans Quarto, supplément belge à La lettre mensuelle de l’École de la cause freudienne, sous le seul titre référencé par J. Dor « La psychanalyse est-elle constituante pour une éthique qui serait celle que notre temps nécessite ? » soit celui donné par Lacan à sa deuxième conférence à Bruxelles ; cette publication interne n’a pu être trouvée).

Dans cette publication de la revue Psychoanalyse, le titre « I – À cette place, je souhaite qu’achève de se consumer ma vie… » n’est pas celui que Lacan avait lui-même proposé, ainsi qu’il est dit dans les dernières lignes de la présentation des deux conférences : « Lacan, fait inhabituel, avait rédigé la majeure partie du texte de ses deux interventions. Il les avait annoncées comme suit : – 1. Freud, concernant la morale, fait le poids correctement, – 2. La psychanalyse est-elle constituante pour une éthique qui serait celle que notre temps nécessite ? ». Nous laisserons cependant à la présentation du texte son titre tel que dans la publication, soit :


[i] “Thus they love their delusion as they love themselves. That is the secret.”

[ii] Freud: Moses and Monotheism: 1934-1938

Standard Edition: Vol 23: page 3 or Penguin Freud Library: Vol 13: p237

Available here: http://archive.org/details/mosesandmonothei032233mbp

[iii] Availability given here

[iv] Civilization and its Discontents: 1929: Sigmund Freud:

available here http://archive.org/details/CivilizationAndItsDiscontents

Further Texts

By Jacques Lacan here

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here