The Ethics of Psychoanalysis Encore, Beyond the Limits of Speculative Reason

  • Tania Espinoza


The essay reads Jacques Lacan’s Seminar XX, Encore as a transcendental reflection on feminine sexuality that confronts the scepticism of the biology of sex with the dogmatism of idealised femininity, leaving the realm of the ‘beyond experience’ of the Kantian noumenon, or the ‘beyond the phallus’ of the Lacanian feminine jouissance as an ethical ‘room for faith’ onto which feminism can project its horizon. For this, it reconstructs a hypothetical dialogue between Jacques Lacan and Mary Jane Sherfey, an American psychiatrist who, in 1966, presented the theory that civilization was founded on the suppression of women’s insatiable sexual drive. Comparing this insatiability to reason’s natural tendency towards the absolute, I propose a reading of the relationship between Kant’s antinomy of pure reason and Lacan’s formulas of sexuation that revises Joan Copjec’s reading. If Encore invites a passage from a masculine to a feminine position within discourse, this involves moving from the mathematical to the dynamic class of conflicts in the antinomy, from the point of view of the theoretical or speculative to that of practical reason.


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Espinoza T. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis Encore, Beyond the Limits of Speculative Reason. FV [Internet]. 2016Mar.27 [cited 2020Jul.6];36(2). Available from: