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Lacan's Approach to Language

What must be understood above all about Lacan's approach to language is that it is conceived of as both a symbol, or sign, of human experience and as a mediating mechanism whereby human beings may indicate other symbols and construct signs that constitute social intercourse of any kind. For that idea to make sense, Lacan considers linguistic constructs and behavior as features of human development, which itself is conceptualized as a feature of individual social development and the cultural development that inheres in the consequences of individual behavior and/or interaction. In "The Mirror Image" Lacan describes a process whereby the developing human organism, from the moment of birth, is opaque to knowledge until he acquires consciousness of his own existence as a human being in the world. An infant, wholly dependent on the mother, has no sense of difference from the other. Lacan describes the self, or the "I," in a way that suggests how it recognizes its commonality with human existence on one hand, and how it will eventually recognize its uniqueness as a human being on the other. Lacan says that the developing infant is on the road to full self-consciousness (i.e., consciousness of self) when he "assumes an image," or has the sense of himself as a particular kind of being. That is in the background of Lacan's use of the term imago, which means likeness, in Latin. Lacan continues:

[The] I is precipitated in a primordial form, before it is objectified in the dialectic of identification with the other, and before language restores to it, in the universal, its function as subject (Lacan 1288).

This short passage carries multiple meanings and does multiple conceptual duties for Lacan's linguistic theory. Decoding its and complex prose is an essential prerequisite for discussing his views of the centrality of language in poststructuralism. The first issue of this passage has to do with how the developing self, or the I, enters a c...

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Lacan's Approach to Language. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 04:28, July 04, 2022, from