Division Review Issue #30 Winter 2023

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Laplanchean Dialogues with Hélène Tessier November 1, 2022 - January 3, 2023 1ST DIALOGUE Bryan Batista-Thomas: Thank you for participating in these dialogues, Hélène. We have worked together on Laplanche’s thinking for the last three years. Aside from being the Vice-President of the Conseil Scientifique de la Fondation Jean Laplanche, you are a Full Professor, psychoanalyst, and former human rights lawyer. I know you have written several papers and books on the themes of ethics, rationalism, emancipation, and epistemology in Laplanche’s work. With this in mind, what are the Ethics of a Laplanchean style? How does this relate to metapsychology, clinical practice, and culture? Hélène Tessier: I will start with the formulation of the question. I am not comfortable with talking about ethics in general. However, I am more comfortable with the adjective ethical because I would not like to substantiate ethics. Ethics and psychoanalysis are two different things. Analysis can be practiced ethically as much as science. Theory

building in psychoanalysis, like metapsychological developments, can be done ethically. Ethics is a domain of its own. There are obviously ethical dimensions in Laplanche’s theorizing and theory of practice. I am comfortable with discussing these ethical dimensions. I also want to emphasize the accuracy of your word “style.” It is very relevant in the context. There is indeed a Laplanche style, meaning that his thinking has a quality found in almost all his work. This style has an ethical component: dedication to clarity, precision, elegance, and coherence. It is ethical since it is the basis of his method of thinking, governed by a quest for truth. If we want to examine the ethical dimension of Laplanche’s work, we must consider two aspects separately: the scientific and the anthropological aspects in relation to the theory of practice. The ethical dimension of the scientific or metapsychological developments of Laplanche’s theory has to do with truth, scientific truth. The anthropological dimension relates to the conception of what it is to be human that this theory conveys. More specifically, it relates to the conditions for being a human and becoming

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human. It is closely linked to the theory of practice. Laplanche’s theory postulates a human capable of transformation - aiming for freer and more global auto-historicizations (or phrased a little differently, translations). The distinction between the ethical dimension of Laplanche’s metapsychology and his anthropology is somewhat artificial because the metapsychological conceptions fit with his anthropological conception. Nonetheless, let us keep the distinction for the sake of our discussion. Let us start with the issue of truth. For Laplanche, science must formulate truth about its object or at least strive to do so. Laplanche argues in favor of a scientific status for metapsychology. This status involves consequences: the possibility of proposing an integrated model coherent with an explanation of the mode of action of psychoanalysis as a clinical method. A model that can also be refutable. Regarding epistemological trends, Laplanche’s choices are in debate with the current postmodern cultural conditions. He formulated strong criticism against eclecticism in contemporary psychoanalysis. He argues, for example, that if a


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