The substance of the self (was Outlawing Fascistic Racist Speech)

Dace edace at
Mon Mar 27 23:27:41 PST 2000

Ken Mack wrote:

>On Sun, 26 Mar 2000 20:33:03 -0500 Dace <edace at> wrote:
>>All of us speak according to the same grammar, and
>this shapes the way we think. Of course, we're each unique, but our
>differences exist only in the context of our profound similarities. We tend
>get fixated on the differences and lose sight of the common ground. The
>differences between an evangelical Christian and a Buddhist monk and a
>dialectical materialist are superficial compared to the overlappings that
>take for granted. If we didn't share a fundamental orientation, we
>even comprehend how we're different.
>So... what is the fundamental orientation we share? The fact that we share
>same grammar, hypothetically anyway, means we share form, and this says
>of the content - form being abstract and without content.
Some form exists only in the mind that perceives it, while other form emerges organically and exists in and of itself. So, right now we may think we're looking at words on the computer screen, but the eye sees only sees pixels of light. The "words" are in our minds. Someone might say that if all the atoms in my computer were replaced with other atoms, it would still be the same computer, and it would be except that it's not a computer to begin with. "Computer" is in our minds. But what about form which is not imposed onto matter but which arises organically "from within"? In this case the form is in the thing and not merely in the mind of the perceiver. This is what it means to be yourself. A computer is not itself. But for us, form is real and actively maintains itself in the matter that comprises our bodies. Living form is not abstract. This applies to the mind, i.e. the form of the neuronal connections in the brain. So the mind is not abstract. It just creates abstractions. Grammar is the form inherent to the prefrontal lobe. The content of language is abstract, but the grammar that underlies it is as concrete and self-existent as any living form.

Grammar is not the only thing we all share in common. We have the same array of emotions and archetypal fantasies and facial expressions.

>For Lacan, desire springs
>from the symbolic (the cogito) whereas the ego informs us of what we desire
>(through fantasy). So desire itself springs from the unconscious, whereas
>"taming" or translation of desire emerges in the ego (desire wants what it
>lacking, the ego translates this into something concrete - "cake!").
And who is this "us" being informed by our ego of what we desire?

Desire wants what it is lacking? You mean desire desires? Why would desire bother desiring when it's already desire?

>> There can be no perception without perceiver, no thought without thinker.
>Yes, this is the difference between Lacan and structuralism, Lacan
>the subject with an inverted Cartesian framework - against the
>So Descartes "I think therefore I am" reads "I am not where I think."
Being is
>eclipsed by thinking (the "forced choice" between the cogito and the mirror
You also say that the cogito is the "subject of the unconscious." So the subject is not the conscious thinker. We are not where we think but deeper, in the symbolic. But we're forced into the illusion of identifying with our conscious thought.

Am I getting warmer?



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