Lacan’s Dialectics of Knowledge Production: The Four Discourses as a Detour to Hegel

Hub Zwart*

*Corresponding author for this work

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In Seminar XVII, entitled The reverse side of psychoanalysis , Jacques Lacanpresents his famous theorem of the four discourses. In this rereading I propose todemonstrate that Lacan’s theorem entails a transferable dialectical method for studyingprocesses of knowledge production, enabling contemporary scholars to develop adiagnostic of the present, notably scholars interested in issues such as the vicissitudesof knowledge production under capitalism, the crisis of the university and theproliferation of electronic gadgets. In short, I will argue that Lacan’s theorem of the fourdiscourses entails a dialectical diagnostic of technoscientific knowledge during latecapitalism. First, the four discourses will be briefly outlined, emphasising the extent towhich they entail, albeit in an ambivalent manner, a return or detour to the logic ofHegel. Subsequently, each discourse will be presented in more detail, emphasisinghow they allow us to come to terms with the current status of technoscientificknowledge. Special attention will be given to the political backdrop of the seminar: thecrisis of the university. Finally, I will discuss the historical dimension, outlining both thepredecessor of the four discourses and their current predicament under neoliberal/capitalist conditions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFoundations of Science
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Feb 2022


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