Anxiety and Ontology: Toward the Lacanian Materialist Metapsychology of the Affect

  • Boštjan Nedoh Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Institute of Philosophy
Keywords: anxiety, ontology, psychoanalysis, Lacan, subjectivity, objectivity, jouissance, real, drive

Abstract

Notwithstanding the fact that already in his early essay “The Logical Time” Lacan suggested that the “ontological form of anxiety” is the constitutive element in the process of the constitution of subjectivity, thus far there have only been rare attempts at inquiring into the relation between the affect of anxiety and Lacan’s critique of classical ontology, which this article will try to explore. Specifically, my argument will be that Lacanian anxiety, unlike, for instance, its Heideggerian variation, is inextricably connected with the third dimension of being, which amounts to what Lacan in Seminar XI labelled “the unrealized,” i.e. to the peculiar structure of the unconscious, which distorts the classical ontological opposition between being and non-being. For Lacan, the unconscious, rather than referring simply to repressed unconscious content, is instead structured around a “pre-ontological” gap (Lacan) or “ontological negativity” (Zupančič). While anxiety notoriously “does not deceive,” it does not deceive only regarding the subject’s encounter with the real, but also – and most importantly – regarding the specific ontological structure of the unconscious, which includes the negativity as its own “material cause”. In this respect, anxiety might be regarded as an “ontological” or even objective material affect – yet not in a posthumanist sense of the affect of being/matter, but rather as the affective correlate or material signal for the fracture of being itself. In short, without this specific ontological gap/negativity, there would only be fear and frustration, not anxiety, which brings anxiety into the domain of metapsychology.

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Published
2020-12-31
How to Cite
1.
Nedoh B. Anxiety and Ontology: Toward the Lacanian Materialist Metapsychology of the Affect. FV [Internet]. 2020Dec.31 [cited 2021Oct.27];41(3). Available from: https://ojs.zrc-sazu.si/filozofski-vestnik/article/view/9878