Lacan’s Henology: from Ontology to the Ontic (excerpt)
“If Jacques-Alain Miller recalls that “there is no particular moment where you can isolate Lacan’s turning point”, that he makes his way step by step, Miller nevertheless situates Chapter 8 of Seminar XX as “the moment when it becomes patent that Lacan renounces the reference to being, renounces ontology, including his own, his modified ontology, in order to privilege the register of the real””
“The passage from ontology to the ontic concerns the displacement of emphasis operated by Lacan from the register of being to that of existence.
The two first periods of his teaching remained captive to ontology. Here, Lacan tried to elaborate “what could be called a being without substance”, a product of the signifier, a “being without the real where, let’s say a being, that of the subject, that is only inscribed by being differentiated from the real and by posing itself at the level of meaning”. Jacques-Alain Miller indicates that it is at this level that the “semantic ontology” of Lacan is at work. The want-of-being and the desire to be, that constitute the pivot, are still situated in the regime of being.”
“The object a, as delimited negativity, does not allow for a rupture with ontology. He further underlines that with the crossing of the fantasy, Lacan “preserves the idea of […] the ontological conclusion, he spoke about it as disbeing [désêtre]”, going back to what he had already said “in a more poetic way when he spoke about the want of being or of the uninhabited horizon of being”. We can see in the deflation of desire, “that desire is only a metonymy of the want-of-being, a revelation, and the ontological revelation is this, it is the revelation of disbeing [désêtre].””
Translated from the French by Dylan Trigg and Bogdan Wolf