1161295115 - Jacques Lacan The Mirror Stage Overview and...

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Jacques Lacan, “The Mirror Stage” Overview and Discussion Questions Lacan’s essay sets out to provide an account of how the infant human develops a sense of self. To do so, he seizes on the familiar moment when a child first sees its image in a mirror, and learns to associate that image with him or herself. The so-called “mirror stage” illustrates for Lacan how our identity is a product of identifications with an image that is external to us. The implications of this for Lacan are first that people never become fully stable selves (an ideal which it is only possible to approach but never truly reach), and second that there is something alien and external at the very source of the self. Identity is a product of identification with that which is outside of us. This is true as the child matures into an adult, and begins to speak and enter into relationships with others (or in Lacan-speak, as the “specular I” becomes the “social I”).
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Unformatted text preview: The self is always constituted in relation to language and to other people. Lacan advances his theory in opposition to an understanding of the self as an autonomous and self-contained entity. Such autonomy represents for Lacan a profound illusion, a misrecognition (or “mèconnaissance”) of the fundamentally alienated quality of existence. 1. Why does Lacan write in the way that he does? 2. Why does Lacan refer to the development of an “I” or sense of self identity as “the assumption of . . . armour” (1288)? 3. How would Lacan address the idea of a blind child? 4. What might the goal of Lacanian analysis be? 5. At the end of his essay Lacan speaks to the task of the analyst and opposes it to the activities of “the philanthropist, the idealist, the pedagogue, and even the reformer” (1290); these latter he characterizes as fundamentally aggressive in nature. Why? 6. What kind of resources might Lacan offer to literary scholars?...
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  • Spring '07
  • WINOKUR
  • Literary Theory, Jacques Lacan, Discussion Questions Lacan

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