Jacques Lacan and the Discourse of Science Roland Benedikter Via Cavour 23/a, I-39100 Bolzano, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Lacan's goal: further development of the discourse of science into an "analytic" discourse
We have seen, that the self-conception of science does not take into consideration the fundamental logic of the three registers – of the Real, the Imaginary and the Symbolic. Therefore, science is characterised by two neuroses: the repression of the Imaginary and the Real, and the repression of the subject. These repressions evoke "individual-oriented" – and often enough egoistic – counter-movements.
In this situation, Jacques Lacan calls for an expansion of the self-design of science. Science has to reintegrate the Imaginary and the Real in its discourse and to reflect the worth of subjectivity in the act of cognition in order to even out its increasingly dangerous one-sidedness and to counteract an increasing societal uneasiness. To put it more precisely: science has to reflect more accurately the unconscious effects of the Imaginary and the Real on its practical doing. Lacan envisaged the aim of a pertinent development of science, as comprehensively transforming itself to an instrument of self-enlightenment, which should in the widest sense have a "linguistic" approach and hold processual potential. This means that science should not only reflect the interplay of the three registers (the Real, the Imaginary and the Symbolic) regarding its cognitive object, but should also "work them through" (Freud): integrate the obtained knowledge of their influence into its own actions, and correspondingly become a "discourse of analysis" in its basic approach to knowledge and in its methodology [cf. Lacan 1982]. What does this mean?
"Analysis" here means above all the renunciation of the hidden claim for a concept of absolute truth (which primarily originates in the "objective" compensation of the western loss of metaphysics). In Lacan’s view, every – conscious or unconscious – concept of absolute truth bears imaginary traits. Lacan proposes a renunciation of absolute truth in favour of a more phenomenological or pragmatic method of procedure, which more strongly stresses the processual aspects of development, as well as the constitutive value of the condition of incompletion. And at the same time, Lacan proposes a stronger focus on the subjective constituents of truth and cognition, which are – from a psychoanalytical point of view – indispensable for the very business of science itself, because science is a process which in itself is not "objective," but always carried out by subjects with their different relations to the Real, the Imaginary and the Symbolic.
In this sense, Lacan suggests to principally value positively the fact that truth evades the exact scientific appropriation. For, this unbreakable resistance of truth to science is a chance for the reinforcement and extension of the scientific self-projection. The acknowledgement of a fundamental "barrier" of science to "truth" does in no way mean a value-free science or the dissolution of its particular cognitive claim, which in terms of civilisation has brought so many positive effects. This recognition much more means an open, pluralistic differentiation and questioning of science’s hidden values and secret ideologies, which due to the objectivity postulate have been neclected only to become stronger in their unconscious effects, and which in the neighborhood of the "barrier" are always in danger to turn to a prejudice which can hide the truth.