You are here: Home / Concepts / Signifier

This project is funded by an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) research grant and is supported by the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP) and Kingston University's Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

AHRC logo

CRMEP logo

Le signifiant

The ‘signifier’, drawn from Saussurean linguistics, was arguably the central concept in Jacques Lacan’s engagement with psychoanalysis. As indicated in its programmatic texts, the effort to develop a ‘logic of the signifier’ that would account for the relations between subject, science, and ideology, was one of the guiding concerns of the Cahiers pour l’Analyse.

Three conceptual distinctions lay at the heart of Ferdinand de Saussure’s innovative structural linguistics, the science that was foundational for twentieth-century French structuralism. The first was the distinction between langue [language] and parole [speech]. For Saussure, the former was to be considered in synchronic terms and as the primary terrain of linguistic analysis; in this it was opposed to the diachronic reality of the latter, which put language to use in time in spoken form. In his synchronic analysis of language, Saussure insisted on another distinction, that between the sign and the referent. For example, the sign ‘cat’ may in multiple instances refer to an actual cat which would be its real world referent, i.e., this cat. Most crucial, however, was the third distinction, that within the sign between the ‘signified’ and the ‘signifier’. The former was the conceptual content of the sign, in this case the idea of a cat, as a four-legged mammal, often domesticated, distinct from ‘dogs’ and other domestic pets. Opposed to this mental concept or ideational content, was the signifier ‘cat’ – as an ‘acoustic image’ or phoneme, a sequence of letters, i.e., the word itself apart from its meaning or content. For Saussure, meaning was produced through a sequence of differential relations in which signifiers were correlated to signified contents; in all instances, it was the difference between signifiers that allowed them to function as linked to specific signifieds or contents. In this regard, the production of the signified was the locus of Saussure’s linguistic concerns.

Jacques Lacan’s meeting of Roman Jakobson (a follower of Saussure’s, via their mutual friend Claude Lévi-Strauss) in 1950 was arguably the central event in Lacan’s own intellectual itinerary. His introduction to structural linguistics moved him away from the Hegelianism of his youth, and paved the way for his later concern with mathematics, formalisation, and systems theory analysis. Inspired by Saussure, Lacan nonetheless departed from him on several significant points. First, the sign/referent distinction was of minimal concern for Lacan. Second, where Saussure tended to denigrate parole in favour of a thoroughly synchronic approach to language, Lacan, as a psychoanalyst, was eminently concerned with speech, itself the medium of psychoanalytic practice and the crucial mechanism for the emergence of the subject of the unconscious. Finally, and most importantly, Lacan reversed the priority of the signified/signifier relationship found in Saussure’s example. For Lacan, meaning was the result of the play of signifiers apart from any synchronic correlation to fixed signified contents. Lacan introduced his new structural interrogation of Freud in his famous ‘Rome Discourse’ in 1953, reprinted in the Écrits as ‘The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis’ (E, 237-322). The increasing pertinence granted to the signifier would be evident in the later texts of this volume, culminating in ‘The Subversion of the Subject and the Dialectic of Desire in the Freudian Unconscious’ (1960), wherein Lacan claims that ‘[s]tarting with Freud, the unconscious becomes a chain of signifiers that repeats and insists somewhere (on another stage or in a different scene, as he wrote), interfering in the cuts offered it by actual discourse and the cogitation it informs’ (E, 799).

For Lacan, the primacy of signifier was what accounted for the uniqueness of the human and distinguished its relationship to language from any notion of mere communication or the simple transfer of meaning. In his third seminar, on the psychoses, delivered in 1955-56, Lacan provides an illuminating example of this phenomenon that deserves to be quoted at length:

I’m at sea, the captain of a small ship. I see things moving about in the night, in a way that gives me cause to think that there may be a sign there. How shall I react? If I’m not yet a human being, I shall react with all sorts of displays, as they say – modelled, motor, and emotional I satisfy the descriptions of the psychologists, I understand something, in fact I do everything I’m telling you that you must know how not to do. If on the other hand I am a human being, I write in my log book – At such and such a time, at such and such a degree of latitude and longitude, we noticed this and that.

This is what is fundamental. I shelter my responsibility. What distinguishes the signifier is here. I make a note of the sign as such. It’s the acknowledgment of receipt [l’accusé de réception] that is essential to communication insofar as it is not significant, but signifying. If you don’t articulate this distinction clearly, you will keep falling back upon meanings that can only mask from you the original mainspring of the signifier insofar as it carries out its true function.

[…] Indeed, it isn’t as all or nothing that something is a signifier, it’s to the extent that something constituting a whole, the sign, exists and signifies precisely nothing. This is where the order of the signifier, insofar as it differs from the order of meaning, begins.

If psychoanalysis teaches us anything, if psychoanalysis constitutes a novelty, it’s precisely that the human being’s development is in no way directly deducible from the construction of, from the interferences between, from the composition of, meanings, that is, instincts. The human world, the world that we know and live in, in the midst of which we orientate ourselves, and without which we are absolutely unable to orientate ourselves, doesn’t only imply the existence of meanings, but the order of the signifier as well.1

Lacan will ultimately link the ‘signifier, as such, signifying nothing’ to the Oedipus complex, and argue that the entry to the symbolic order of language is a result of a submission to the ‘law’ of the phallic signifier, grounded in the ‘Name-of-the-father’. More broadly, the signifier, distinct from meaning, lacking fixed signified or referent, will for Lacan come to be the concept for sexual difference as such – the integral incompleteness or indeed lack that constitutes the subject.

In the Cahiers pour l’Analyse

Much as in Lacan’s teaching, the signifier is a ubiquitous concept in the Cahiers pour l’Analyse. In the inaugural article, ‘La Science et la vérité’ (CpA 1.1), Lacan develops his theses concerning lack and ‘truth as cause’ in scientific discourse. After making a distinction between the formal and material cause along Aristotelian lines, Lacan specifies that psychoanalyse is concerned with the latter and its relation to the former:

This material cause is truly the form of impact of the signifier that I define therein.

The signifier is defined by psychoanalysis as acting first of all as if it were separate from its signification. Here we see the literal character trait that specifies the copulatory signifier, the phallus, when – arising outside of the limits of the subject’s biological maturation – it is effectively (im)printed; it is unable, however, to be the sign representing sex, the partner’s sex – that is the partner’s biological sign; recall, in this connection, my formulations differentiating the signifier from the sign.

[…] Conveyed by a signifier in its relation to another signifier, the subject must be as rigorously distinguished from the biological individual as from any psychological evolution subsumable under the subject of understanding (CpA 1.1:26, trans. 875).

The primacy of the signifier in Lacan’s teaching, and his attempt to provide a ‘rigorous’ account of it, are the inspiration behind Jacques-Alain’s Miller’s attempt in ‘La Suture’ to provide, as the subtitle suggests, the ‘elements for a logic of the signifier’ (CpA 1.3). Note, however, that in ‘La Science et la vérité’ Lacan is already gesturing toward tying the signifier back to the body, without however reducing it to anything that could be confused with biology. Miller’s contribution to the Cahiers will emphasize the formal elements of Lacan’s account, whereas others, chiefly André Green and Serge Leclaire will work to bring the body back in to analysis in response to Miller’s ultra-formalism.

Miller presents the ‘concept of logic of the signifier’ in clear terms at the outset of ‘La Suture’ (CpA 1.3):

What I am aiming to restore, piecing together indications dispersed through the work of Jacques Lacan, is to be designated the logic of the signifier - it is a general logic in that its functioning is formal in relation to all fields of knowledge including that of psychoanalysis which, in acquiring a specificity there, it governs; it is a minimal logic in that within it are given those pieces only which are necessary to assure it a progression reduced to a linear movement, uniformly generated at each point of its necessary sequence. That this logic should be called the logic of the signifier avoids the partiality of the conception which would limit its validity to the field in which it was first produced as a category; to correct its linguistic declension is to prepare the way for its importation into other discourses, an importation which we will not fail to carry out once we have grasped its essentials here (CpA 1.3:38-9, trans. 25).

The analysis that follows is a reading of Gottlob Frege’s Grundlagen der Arithmetik (1884), based around a demonstration that Frege’s attempt to give a logical construction of the series of whole natural numbers is predicated on this prior logic of the signifier. Frege’s concept of zero involves a simultaneous ‘summoning’ and ‘annulment’ of the non-identical that Miller claims can be related to Lacan’s account of primary repression and metonymic displacement in the ‘signifying chain’. For Miller, Frege does not recognize that the truth of his own discourse is predicated on a suturing over of an inaugural non-identity. He misrecognises ‘the paradox of the signifier’, that ‘the trait of the identical represents the non-identical’ (CpA 1.3:48/32).

In the concluding section of this article, Miller ties the logic of the signifier to the subject (CpA 1.3:47-49). In effect, Miller follows Lacan in defining the subject as ‘the possibility for one signifier more’:

In order to ensure that this recourse to the subject as the founder of iteration is not a recourse to psychology, we simply substitute for thematisation the representation of the subject (as signifier) which excludes consciousness because it is not effected for someone, but, in the chain, in the field of truth, for the signifier which precedes it (CpA 1.3:48/33).

The key point is that the signifying chain, in which the subject ‘flicker[s] in eclipses’, is marked by a constitutive lack that is sutured over. It is this lack, in its determinant capacity, that accounts for the persistence of the subject in his own discourse.

The signifier is a crucial concept in the first segment of Serge Leclaire’s seminar ‘Compter avec la psychanalyse’ that concludes Volume 1 (CpA 1.5). According to Leclaire, the analyst does not obey a logic of meaning [logique du sens] (CpA 1.5:57), but in listening for the unconscious must rather follow the formal paths opened up by the signifier.

In a discussion of clinical approaches to fantasy, Leclaire says that ‘two references are essential for the determination of the structure of the fantasy’ (CpA 1.5:61). On the one hand, fantasies are tied to an emotion that is corporeally localized. He gives examples: anal excitation, oral or dental excitations, or ‘sensations of threshold or passage [émoi de seuil, de passage]’. On the other hand, they are attached to signifiers; and more particularly to ‘signifiers as such’, that is, signifiers detached from their relation to the signified. This is how one should understand Freud’s suggestion that fantasies are ‘made up from things that are heard, and made use of subsequently’ (SE 1: 248). Leclaire gives examples of how certain signifiers used by the mother (proper names and pet names) can become detached from their common significance for the child and become sites for unconscious signifying chains.

Later, Leclaire turns to the notion of the ‘unconscious concept’, emphasizing its role in the constitution of signifiers which mark the body. Indeed, the chain created by the unconscious concept, the concept of the ‘small piece’ detached from the body, as Freud says, ‘in order to gain the favour of some other person whom he loves’ (SE 17: 131) is the libidinal condition for the emergence of the signifier. Leclaire goes on to elaborate that ‘this wandering piece that can be separated, by figuring the place of separation, transgresses, in the literal sense of the term, the surface’s function of limit. And as a limit itself, it marks difference, thus transcending the effaceable trace of the sensible: the pain of the wound becomes an ineradicable mark’ (CpA 1.5:68). This initial transgression, he says, is rediscovered in orgasm and in sadistic jouissance. It is, says Leclaire, ‘the void or hole around which fantasy turns’.

In his ‘Réponse à des étudiants en philosophie sur l’objet de la psychanalyse’ which opens Volume 3, Lacan insists that, while posing a challenge to dialectical materialism, his theory of language is nonetheless materialist; the signifier, he claims, is ‘matter transcending itself in language’ (CpA 3.1:10, trans. 111). This is in fact a crucial moment for the legacy of the Cahiers, e.g. in the work of Badiou and Slavoj Žižek, in that the symbolic nature of the signifier, as it well as its transcendentalizing character, remains grounded in a materialism irreducible to an account of raw inchoate matter.

In a section titled ‘The Suture of the Signifier, its Representation and the Object (a)’ from his contribution to this volume, André Green further develops some of Leclaire’s criticisms of Miller and also seeks to link the logic of the signifier to a more robust account of affect and the body (CpA 3.2:22ff). The signifier plays a key role in Luce Irigaray’s contribution to Volume 3 as well. Developing Miller’s arguments from ‘La Suture’, and supplementing them with a more extensive engagement with linguistics, Irigaray focuses on the family romance of the Oedipus complex and the emergence of subjectivity out of this scene. Irigaray maps out and explains the linguistic and intersubjective features of the transformation produced by the entrance of a third term into the original dyad of child and Other. In his or her very first relationship with the first Other, the child starts out as a fluid entity, ‘not yet structured as “I” by the signifier’ (CpA 3.3:40; trans. 9). ‘At the introduction of the third party into the primitive relation between the child and the mother, “I” and “you” are established as disjunction, separation’ (CpA 3.3:40/10). The mere presence of a third term, however, is insufficient for a radical break with the imaginary dyad, since the third initially appears in the form of a rival. ‘This opposition of “I” and “you”, of “you” and “I” remains “one” [on], without potential for inversion or permutation - the father being only another “you” - if the mother and the father do not communicate with each other’.

Later, Irigaray develops some of Lacan’s theses concerning the crucial role of the phallic signifier. The ‘fundamental fantasy’ of the hysteric is that they ‘did not get enough love’. With regard to his or her mother’s desire, he or she experiences themselves as marked by the sign of incompleteness and rejection, ‘unable to sustain the comparison with the phallic signifier’. For the male hysteric, ‘the confrontation with the mirror is like the test of his insignificance’ (CpA 3.3:51/20).

The obsessional neurotic, on the other hand, suffers from an early excess of love. ‘His mother found him too appropriate a signifier for her desire’ (CpA 3.3:51/22). The phallic reference is attributed to some absent hero, an all-powerful figure, whose death (as with the death of the father of the primal horde in Freud’s Totem and Taboo) would only in any case guarantee the subject’s ongoing acquiescence. The neurotic’s problem comes down to the adequacy of his signified to his signifier; he remains ‘riveted to what he has been’, unable to become. He is trapped in an empty ‘metonymy’, unable to metaphorise, and thus enter a ‘true temporal succession’.

As the title suggests, the ‘signifier’ is the central concept of Jean-Claude Milner’s reading of Plato’s Sophist in Volume 3, ‘Le Point du signifiant’ (CpA 3.5). For Milner, deeply inspired in this instance by Miller’s ‘La Suture’ (CpA 1.3) the key movement in Plato’s text is the vacillation of non-being as alternately function and term in the chain of Plato’s discourse, a movement which evokes the summoning and annulment of the subject that Miller found in Frege’s discourse. The signifying chain is the ‘sole space suited to support the play of vacillation’. Wherever an element in a linear sequence is replaced by an element which, as element, transgresses this linearity (as in the mechanism of structural causality identified by Miller in ‘Action de la structure’, CpA 9.6), a ‘vacillation’ is produced within the chain. Milner gives the examples of (1) the founding exception of a chain, and (2) any marking of the place of an erasure. The institution of a linear sequence is governed by a vacillation that testifies to a ‘double formal dependence’, and which ‘retroactively defines the signifier as a chain’ (CpA 3.5:77). Plato’s chain of genera thus points towards the possibility of an ‘order of the signifier in which being and non-being would regain those traits whose very coupling guarantees truth and authorizes discourse’ (CpA 3.5:77).

Milner speculates that the notions of being and non-being might borrow their traits from the order of the signifier itself in its basic constitution. In a passage cited by Leclaire in CpA 5.1:12, Milner mentions three aspects of vacillation. First, there is ‘the vacillation of the element’, which is ‘the effect of a singular property of the signifier’, and develops in a space ‘where the only laws are production and repetition: being and non-being recover this relation through their inverse symmetry, dividing themselves between term and expansion, between mark and abyss’ (CpA 3.5:77). There is also a ‘vacillation of the cause’ insofar as both being and non-being cannot posit themselves as cause except by revealing themselves to be the effect of the other. Finally, there is the movement of vacillation whereby the term that initially ‘transgresses the sequence’ calls up a transgression that annuls the whole chain.

Milner claims that grounding Platonic ontology on the logic of the signifier also makes possible a new understanding of the opposition between being and subjectivity. On the one hand, there is being as the order of the signifier, the ‘radical register of all computations’, totality of all chains, and on the other hand, the ‘one’ of the signifier, the unity of computation, the element of the chain, non-being, as the signifier of the subject (CpA 3.5:77). This latter reappears as such every time that discourse deploys its power to ‘annul’ signifying chains.

In the next segment of his seminar, in Volume 3, Leclaire focuses on the concept of drive [pulsion]. He asks: is the object of the drive a signifier or the objet petit a in Lacan’s sense? Leclaire explains that these two are indissociable: insofar as it is the terminus of sought-for satisfaction, it is the objet petit a, but insofar as it is connected with a differentiation in the body, it is a signifier. The difference between the objet petit a and the obtained corporeal satisfaction is ‘lived’ as an ‘antinomy of pleasure’, and through ‘the representation of the splitting of the subject’ [la schize du sujet] (CpA 3.6:87).

Jacques Derrida’s contribution to Volume 4, on the ‘writing lesson’ in Claude Lévi-Strauss’s Tristes Tropiques, presents his general case for a concept of ‘arche-writing’ that is in many respects distinct from the logic of the signifier (CpA 4.1:34). For Derrida, the metaphysical tradition and classical linguistics have always presented writing as secondary to and dependent upon speech, which they understood as the absolute immediacy of meaning, of the signified to the signifier. Nevertheless, the rigorous development of linguistics by Saussure and his followers demonstrated that spoken language was structured not by a referential relationship to a signified but rather by the homology of the differences between signifiers and the differences between signifieds. In this situation, despite Saussure’s continued and classical disdain for writing, the traditional understanding of writing provided a better model for structural linguistics, because it also forewent the immediate presence of a signified to its signifier. The general structure of language then could be named ‘arche-writing.’ From this perspective, ‘the passage from arche-writing to writing as it is commonly understood […] is not a passage from speech to writing, it operates within writing in general’ (CpA 4.1:34).

In the first section of his reading of Freud’s ‘Wolf Man’ case in Volume 5, ‘On the Signifier’ (CpA 5.1:9-17), Leclaire distinguishes the psychoanalytic signifier from the linguistic signifier, which he describes a ‘psychic entity with two faces:’ a combination of two elements - signifier (Saussure’s ‘acoustic image’) and signified - that together constitute the sign; as such, it refers to the signified object it denotes. According to this definition, ‘the signifier is the phonic manifestation of the linguistic sign’ (CpA 5.1:10). As used by Jacques Lacan, however, the signifier cannot be considered as an element derived from the problematic of the sign, but rather as a fundamental element constituting the nature and truth of the unconscious (CpA 5.1:11). While Peirce famously defined the signifier as what ‘represents something for someone,’ Lacan declares that the psychoanalytic signifier ‘represents a subject for another signifier.’ Their functions of representation thus differ radically.

To elucidate this function, Leclaire cites two important essays from previous issues of the Cahiers, Jacques-Alain Miller’s ‘La Suture’ (CpA 1.3) and Jean-Claude Milner’s ‘Le Point du signifiant’ (CpA 3.5). For Miller, the central paradox of the Lacanian signifier is that ‘the trait of the identical represents the non-identical, from which can be deduced the impossibility of its redoubling, and from that impossibility the structure of repetition as the process of differentiation of the identical’ (CpA 5.1:12). Milner adds that ‘The signifying order develops itself as a chain, and every chain bears the specific marks of its formality’: the vacillation of the element, the vacillation of the cause, and ultimately the vacillation of transgression itself, ‘where the term that transgresses the sequence, situating as a term the founding authority of all terms, calls the one to be repeated as term transgression itself, an agent [instance] which annuls every chain’ (CpA 5.1:12). Leclaire embraces these formulations, but points out that they do not explain how the psychoanalyst can distinguish a given signifier. While any element of discourse may be a signifier, the psychoanalyst must be able to differentiate between signifiers, to privilege some over others. He warns against ‘the error of making the signifier no more than a letter open to all meanings,’ and argues that ‘a signifier can be named as such only to the extent that the letter that constitutes one of its slopes necessarily refers back to a movement of the body. It is this elective anchoring of a letter (gramma) in a movement of the body that constitutes the unconscious element, the signifier properly speaking’ (CpA 5.1:14).

Its development of a kind of prototype of the sought-after ‘logic of the signifier’ accounts for the inclusion of Georges Dumézil’s ‘Les Transformations du troisième du triple’ in Volume 7 (CpA 7.1). Dumézil argues that the multiple references in Roman legend to figures named ‘Horace’ (for instance, the story of Horatius Cocles in Livy 2.10) ‘have a signifying trait in common’ [un trait significatif] (CpA 7.1:9). All the narratives concern single combatants performing feats of extraordinary military prowess. The recurrence of these narratives, suggests Dumézil, indicate the remnants of a ritual ‘function’ (CpA 7.1:19-23). This emphasis on a recurrent function resonates with Milner’s insistence to Leclaire on the homogeneity of places, as opposed to the heterogeneity of terms, in the ‘Compter avec la psychanalyse’ segment in Volume 3 (CpA 3.6:96).

In his analysis of Freud’s ‘A Child is Being Beaten’, also in Volume 7, Jacques Nassif arrives at an account of ‘the place assigned to the subject in the signifying order’ (CpA 7.4:88). He suggests that the model can also help to explain the process of the overdetermination of symptoms, which can be thought as a ‘co-presence in the same archaeological disposition’ of superseded phases (CpA 7.4:86). Fantasy thus becomes the privileged site where the unconscious, structured like a language, ‘communicates with the signifying order that is language properly speaking’ (CpA 7.4:88).

In their questions to Michel Foucault which open Volume 9, the Cercle d’Épistémologie enquires into Foucault’s method for reading texts, navigating his conception of language and the signifier. ‘What use of the letter does archaeology suppose? This is to say: what operations does it practice on a statement in order to decipher, through what it says, its conditions of possibility, and to guarantee that one attains the non-thought which, beyond it, in it, incites it and systematises it? Does leading a discourse back to its unthought make it pointless to give it internal structures, and to reconstitute its autonomous functioning?’ (CpA 9.1:6).

In his ‘Remarques pour une théorie générale des idéologies’ in Volume 9, Thomas Herbert [Michel Pêcheux] develops an Althusserian account of ideology in which the logic of the signifier plays a key role. Herbert establishes how operations which take place within the ‘ideology of the empirical form’ are ‘fascinated by the problem of the reality to which the signifier must adjust’ (CpA 9.5:80). In establishing these semantic adjustments, the process itself is never forgotten or hidden. Indeed, it is the very process of adjustment itself that is the motor of ideological operations, and ruptures, at this level. By contrast, with ideologies of the speculative form, the operation takes place at the level of syntax, that is, in the relation of signifier to signifier, not in the ‘adjustment’ of signifier to signified. In Herbert’s reading, the ‘social effect’ is well described by Lacan’s description of the mechanism in the signifying chain which produces the subject effect in language: ‘the signifier represents the subject for another signifier.’ What is essential to this Lacanian formulation is that the sequence is one that covers its own traces; unlike the adjustment between signifier and signified that occurs out in the open in type ‘A’ ideologies (empirical form), in type ‘B’ (speculative form) the subjectification that occurs is constitutively forgotten. The ‘subject effect’ covers over the rupture that was its own condition. The ideas of Nicos Poulantzas serve Herbert in the following formulation: ‘let us say briefly that the putting into place of subjects [i.e., the syntactic chain] refers to the economic instance of the relations of production, and the forgetting of this putting into place to the political instance’ (CpA 9.5:83). In other words, what goes by the name of ‘politics’ in this social formation, i.e., the ‘State’, is the sign of the forgetting of the social ordering itself, which is anterior to ‘politics’.

In their preamble to the dossier on the ‘Chimie de la Raison’ which concludes Volume 9, the Cercle d’Épistémologie presents the ‘chemistry of reason’ – found in the works of D’Alembert, Lavoisier, Mendeleev, or Cuvier – in a manner that evokes the ‘logic of the signifier’ that has been the journal’s guiding concern:

To construct a chemistry of reason is thus to refer the sciences to the jurisdiction of the whole [tout], but this is also by the same stroke to submit them to another necessity. For this whole is also substantial since, being the science of the simple and the compound [composée], chemistry must direct its effort toward generating, through the sole operation of combination, all the materials that make all the things of the world; saving phenomena thus requires that chemistry constitute them as such, as a plenitude and liaison of substances. We see here that the crucial relation [relation] to the whole is but the reverse of a relation [rapport] to the representation to which chemistry is so intimately tied, namely that, given that anything representable is an object of analysis, all analysis is thus deduction from a representable body (CpA 9.11:169).

Select bibliography

  • Lacan, Jacques. Écrits. Paris: Seuil, 1966. Écrits, trans. Bruce Fink, in collaboration with Héloïse Fink and Russell Grigg. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006.
  • Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire, Livre III. Les Psychoses, 1955-1956, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1981. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book III: The Psychoses, 1955-1956, trans. Russell Grigg. New York: W.W. Norton, 1993.
  • Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire, Livre XI. Les quatre concepts fondamentaux de la psychanalyse, 1964, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1973. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, trans. Alan Sheridan. New York: W.W. Norton, 1978.
  • Milner, Jean-Claude. L’Oeuvre claire: Lacan, la science, la philosophie. Paris: Seuil, 1995.
  • Saussure, Ferdinand de. Course in General Linguistics (1916), eds. Charles Bally and Albert Sechehaye, trans. Roy Harris. La Salle, Illinois: Open Court, 1983.
  • Van Haute, Philippe. Against Adaptation: Lacan’s ‘Subversion’ of the Subject, trans. Paul Crowe and Miranda Vankerk. New York: Other Press, 2001.


1. Lacan, Seminar IIIThe Psychoses, 188-9).