In the twenty-third seminar, Lacan stipulates that a sinthome is a
symptom upon which the very being of its subjective bearer depends.
Were the subject to be “cured” of his/her sinthome, he/she would
cease to exist, would dissipate along with this point de capiton of his/
her subjectivity itself. Hence, the therapeutic gain brought about by
analysis, according to the Lacan of the twenty-fifth seminar, hinges not
on eliminating the sinthome, but on making it transition from being an “in
itself” to a “for itself” (to resort to a bit of Hegelese not foreign to Lacan).
In so doing, the subject goes from being unconsciously in the grip of his/ her sinthome to having a margin of conscious distance from it, after the
achievement of which he/she may even come to identify with it (or at
least be comfortable enough living with it). This might be as much self-transparent freedom and contentment as analysis can afford.
Similarly, apropos invincible religion’s triumphant God hypothesis
as the sinthome of socio-symbolic subjectivity, perhaps there is no “cure”
for religiosity. Maybe the irreducible meanings enshrined in both religion
and philosophy are indeed incurable. However, if this sort of sens is
handled as a sinthome, then although an immediate, first-order atheism
might not be possible for speaking subjects, a mediated, second-order
one is a potential option. Both desire à la Lacan and belief too are
inherently self-reflexive. Hence, one can come not to desire one’s desire
for the divine, not to believe in one’s (first-order) belief. A second-order
atheism therefore would be attainable despite the impossibility of a first-order
one. This would be a position somewhat akin to the Kantian doctrine
of transcendental illusion.
The same might also hold for Lacan’s “insurgence” against
philosophy. Putting together some of his above-cited remarks, Lacanian
anti-philosophy could be described as a second-order rebellion against
unavoidable first-order philosophizing. One cannot help but lapse into
philosophical indulgences. But, one also can struggle against these
lapses. As an anti-philosopher, Lacan might be redescribed as an
uncomfortable and reluctant philosopher. Analogously, as an atheist,
Lacan perhaps is an unsettled, discontent Catholic

Lacan’s Endgame:
Philosophy, Science, and Religion in the Final Seminars
Adrian Johnston


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