File spoon-archives/habermas.archive/habermas_2001/habermas.0101, message 58

Subject: HAB: No, Re: Lacan and Habermas: understanding as control?
Date: Sun, 14 Jan 2001 22:14:16 -0500 (Eastern Standard Time)

On Sun, 14 Jan 2001 13:41:10 -0800 (PST) Gary D <> wrote:

> K: I don't have the time or energy to run through it all.

> G: Excuse ME. But I suppose you'd like me to more than "run through" your 
long passages on Lacan. Or maybe not.

So, back to Hegel...

Habermas notes that Hegel's categories, developed in his earlier work: 
language, tools and family, designate three equally significant patterns of 
dialectical relation: symbolic representation, the labour process, and 
interaction on the basis of reciprocity; and each mediates subject and object 
in its own way (Habermas, Theory and Practice [1973]: 142). Summarizing his 
thesis, Habermas argues "It is not the spirit in the absolute movement of 
reflecting on itself which manifests itself in, among other things, language, 
labour, and moral relationships, but rather, it is the dialectical 
interconnections between linguistic symbolization, labour, and interaction with 
determine the concept of spirit" (Habermas 1973: 143). With this aim in mind, 
Habermas seeks to demonstrate a moral tension built into self-consciousness and 
social life from the beginning. His analysis of Hegel aims to further 
articulate the developmental relation between labour and interaction, while at 
the same time keeping them rigorously separated [Habermas develops a richer 
distinction between instrumental and communicative later].

Starting with the "I" Hegel articulates the fundamental experience of the 
philosophy of reflection; namely, the experience of ego-identity in 
self-reflection: "I" ... is that initially pure unity relating to itself, and 
this it is not immediately, but in that it abstracts from all determinateness 
and content and, in the freedom of unlimited self- equality, passes back into 
itself. Thus it is universality; unity which is unity with itself only due to 
that negative comportment, which appears as abstraction, and which therefore 
contains all the determinateness, dissolved within itself. Secondly, "I" is 
singularity just as immediately as it is the negativity which relates to itself;
it is absolute being-determinate which confronts the other and excludes it; 
individual personality. The nature of both the "I" and the concept consists both
of this absolute universality, which is just as immediately absolute singular 
individuation [vereinzelung], as well as a being-in-and-for-itself, which is 
simply being-posited, and which is this being-in-and-for itself only through its
unity with being-posited. Neither the "I" nor the concept can be comprehended if
the two above- mentioned moments are not conceived simultaneously in their 
abstraction and in their perfect unity (from Hegel's Science of Logic, quoted in
Habermas 1973: 143-144).

This experience of the self, as the knowing subject [subject comprehended as
substance qua self-relating negativity], abstracts from all possible objects in 
the world and refers back to itself as the sole object. The subjectivity of the 
"I" is determined as reflection - it is the relation of the knowing subject to 
itself: represented as "pure unity relating to itself," the "I think," capable 
of accompanying all inner representations. For Hegel the dialectic of the "I" 
and the "other" is understood within the framework of intersubjectivity of 
spirit: the "I" communicates not with itself as its "other," but instead with 
another "I" as its "other." The experience of self-consciousness is no longer 
considered the original one. For Hegel, the experience of the "I" stems from 
the experience of interaction, in which the "I" learns to see itself through 
the eyes of another subjects. Self-consciousness, as Habermas stresses, is the 
derivation of the intersection of perspectives. Self-consciousness is formed 
only on the basis of mutual recognition; it must be tied to the self being 
mirrored in the consciousness of another subject (Habermas 1973: 144-145). In 
other words, the "I" develops through the power of reflection which is / cannot 
be understood otherwise / intersubjective. In a way, subjectivity per ce is 
individual, while the medium through which the subject articulates this is 
radically intersubjective.

The immediate paradox of the formation of self-consciousness only through an 
encounter with another self-conscious being, is solved in Hegel solely with a 
theory of spirit (Habermas 1973: 145). Spirit is not beneath subjectivity, 
then, rather the medium within which one "I" communicates with another "I" and 
from which, as an absolute mediation, the two mutually form each other into 
subjects (we can see dynamics of this process in the film Bi-Centennial Man - 
whereby Andrew Martin 'the robot' comes to be recognized as something he 
already is - human; the emptiness of the monological subject in Boxing Helena; 
and the general framework of struggle - anticipating feminist objects, in 
Angels and Insects). Consciousness (ie. intersubjectivity) exists as the middle 
ground on which the subjects encounter each other, so that without encountering 
each other they cannot exist as subjects (Habermas 1973: 145). Hegel writes, 
"As spirit, the product of Reason, the first product is the middle as its own 
concept, [or] as consciousness; and it realizes itself in consciousness, i.e. 
it is memory and speech; from this middle the spirit generates the practical 
antithesis through understanding and formal Reason, and supersedes it in 

Habermas notes that Hegel retains Kant's empty identity of the "I" but reduces 
this "I" to a moment, by comprehending it under the category of the universal. 
"I" as self-consciousness is universal, because it is an abstract "I," having 
arisen from the abstraction of all contents given to a subject that knows (qua 
intersubjectivity) [ie. subjectivity is intersubjectivity mediated by 
objectivity]. In the same way it abstracts from all external objects, the "I" 
retains itself as identical also abstracts from the succession of inner states 
and experiences. The universality of the abstract "I" is displayed in that all 
possible subjects are determined as individuals while at the same time 
introducing each subject as inalienably individual; the unity of the universal 
and the singular (Habermas 1973: 145).

For Habermas, then, "Spirit is the communication of individuals in the medium 
of the universal, which is related to the speaking individuals as the grammar 
of a language is, and to the acting individuals as is a system of recognized 
norms" (Habermas 1973: 146). We should not that Habermas's analogy here bears 
a sharp resemblance to Kant - immediately "spirit" is reduced to - understood 
through - regulative rules (grammar --> recognized norms). I'm interested in 
this point in particular: why rules? Habermas continues, Spirit(the universal) 
permits the distinctive links between these singularities: "Within the medium 
of this universal - which Hegel therefore called a concrete universal - the 
single beings can identify with each other and still at the same time maintain 
themselves as nonidentical" (Habermas 1973: 146). The original insight that 
Habermas attributes to Hegel consists in that the "I" as self-consciousness can 
only be conceived if it is spirit, "if it goes over from subjectivity to the 
objectivity of a universal in which the subjects know themselves as 
nonidentical are united on the basis of reciprocity" (Habermas 1973: 146). 
Habermas then equates the process of individuation as a process of 
socialization, which cannot be conceived as the adaption to society of an 
already given individuality, but as that which itself produces an individuated 

Moral relationships, as Habermas notes, are clarified by Hegel in terms of the 
relationship between lovers: "In love the separated entities still exist, but 
no longer as separated - as united and the living feels the living" (Hegel 
quoted in Habermas 1973: 147). Love, then, is the reconciliation of a preceding 
conflict. Habermas argues that the distinctive element of this resolution can be
understood only if it is seen as a dialogic relation of the complementary 
unification of opposing subjects, signifying a relation of logic and of the 
praxis of living. What is interesting about this point is that "love" - 
psychoanalytically understood - is a transference relation - something which 
cannot be formulated in regulative principles "there is no sexual relation" 
sayeth Lacan.

What is dialectical, for Habermas, is not unconstrained intersubjectivity 
itself, but the history of its suppression and reconstitution. The distortion 
of the dialogic relationship is "subject to the causality of split-off symbols 
and reified logical relations... relations that have been taken out of the 
context of communication and thus are valid and operative only behind the backs 
of the subjects." The struggle for recognition, then, meets up with the 
"causality of fate" through ideological distortions of intersubjective 
relations. Again, this foreshadows Habermas's reading of Freud - if not 
determining it.

Habermas illustrates this point with reference to Hegel's discussion of a 
"criminal" from his fragment on the Spirit of Christianity. The "criminal" is 
one who "revokes the moral basis" (the complementary interchange of 
noncompulsory communication and the mutual satisfaction of interests) by 
putting himself as individual in the place of the totality. The criminal (in 
the exact same manner as the neurotic), then, sets himself up as the universal. 
This assumption triggers the process of fate which strikes back at him. The 
struggle engendered by the actions of the criminal ignite hostility, which 
marks a loss of complementary interchange and generates what Habermas will 
eventually call moral consciousness. The criminal, then, is confronted by the 
power of deficient life and experiences guilt" (Habermas 1973: 148). The guilt 
suffered by the criminal emanates from the repression of the "departed life" 
which the criminal himself has provoked. The "causality of fate" is the power 
of suppressed life at work, which can only be reconciled when, out of the 
experience of the negativity of a sundered life, the longing ("the passion for 
critique") for that which has been lost arises and necessitates identifying 
one's own denied identity in the alien existence one fights against (Habermas 
1973: 148). I'm tempted to speculate about the assigned role of guilt here. It 
seems to me to be too narrowly conceived... what if we 'get off' on feeling 
guilty? What if 'normative rules' function to sustain enjoyment through their 
very transgression. In other words: can we not consider grammatical rules those 
rules which we establish *only* so that breaking them yields richness in 
poetry... (we have examples of televangelists who decry adultery only to find 
them committing the deed behind closed does... in other words: obedience to the 
law *and* its transgression are two sides of the same coin).

The struggle for recognition, in Hegel's early work, depicts the relation 
between subjects who attach their whole being to each detail of a possession 
they have laboured to gain: a struggle of life-and-death. The result, Habermas 
notes, is not the immediate recognition of oneself in the other 
(reconciliation) but a position of the subject with respect to each other on 
the basis of mutual recognition; the basis of the knowledge that the identity 
of the "I" is possible solely by means of the identity of the other.

Hegel's critique of Kant links the constitution of the "I" to formative 
processes, which Habermas understand to be the communicative agreement of 
opposing subjects. It is not reflection, then, which is decisive, rather, the 
medium in which the identity of the universal and the individual is formed. For 
Hegel, it is the shared existence of a primary group, the family, that is taken 
to be the existing middle of reciprocal modes of contact. Hegel then introduces 
two further categories as media of the self-formative process: language and 
labour. As mentioned, Spirit is an organization of equally original media: 
Habermas argues, "these three fundamental dialectical patterns are 
heterogeneous; as media of the spirit, language and labour cannot be traced 
back to the experiences of interaction and of mutual recognition" (Habermas 
1973: 152).

Summarizing, Habermas notes that language does not already embrace the 
communication of subjects living and acting together. Language, here, is only 
the employment of symbols by the solitary individual who confronts nature and 
gives names to things. He notes that Hegel speaks of the "nighttime production 
of the representational faculty of imagination, of the fluid and not yet 
organized realm of images" (Habermas 1973: 153). Hegel sees the essential 
achievement of the symbols to be representation, a synthetic act, encompassing 
naming and memory. The symbol has a double function: first, the power of 
representation consisting of making something present that is not immediately 
given, possessed of meaning (for us). Second, these symbols are produced by us, 
by means of speaking consciousness. Through symbols, the speaking consciousness 
becomes objective for itself and in symbols experiences itself as subject. 
Language, then, must achieve a twofold mediation: of resolving and preserving 
the perceived thing in a symbolic, which represents it, and on the other, a 
distancing of consciousness from its object, in which the "I" by means of 
symbols it has produced itself, is simultaneously with the thing and with 
itself. Language, as Habermas notes, is the first category in which spirit is 
not conceived as something internal, but as a medium which is neither internal 
nor external (Habermas 1973: 153).

The dialectic of labour does not mediate between subject and object in the same 
manner as the dialectic of representation; beginning not with the subjection of 
nature to self-generated symbols, but with the subjection of the subject to the 
power of external nature. Labour demands the immediate suspension of immediate 
drive satisfaction. In this twofold respect, Hegel speaks of the subject making 
itself into a thing - "reifying itself" - in labour: "Labour is the 
this-worldly making oneself into a thing. The splitting up of the "I" existing 
in its drives is precisely this making oneself into an object" (Hegel quoted in 
Habermas 1973: 154). Habermas notes, the splitting up of the "I" existing in 
its drives is the splitting of the "I" into the reality testing ego and into 
the repressed instinctual demands. By way of the subjection of oneself to 
causality of nature, consciousness, returning back to itself from reification, 
returns as the cunning [or artful] consciousness. Again, we can see shadows of 
Freud here. Just as language, the tool is a category of the middle, by means of 
which spirit attains existence. But the two moments, Habermas observes, pursue 
opposing courses. The name-giving consciousness achieves a different position 
with respect to the objectivity of the spirit than does the cunning 
consciousness that arises from the process of labour. Whereas the symbols of 
ordinary language penetrate and dominate the perceiving and thinking 
consciousness, the cunning consciousness controls the processes of nature by 
means of its tools (Habermas 1973: 155). "The objectivity of language retains 
power over the subjective spirit, while the cunning that outwits nature extends 
subjective freedom over the power of objective spirit" (Habermas 1973: 155).

For Habermas, what is most interesting, is "the relation of the employment of 
symbols to interaction and to labour... [and] ... the interrelation of labour 
and interaction" (Habermas 1973: 159). Because instrumental action follows 
conditional imperatives, it enters into the causality of nature and not the 
causality of fate. A reduction of interaction to labour, or derivation of 
labour from interaction, is not possible. However, Hegel does establish an 
interconnection between the legal norms, in which social relations based on 
mutual recognition is first formally stabilized, and processes of labour 
(Habermas 1973: 159). Under the category of actual spirit, interactions based 
on reciprocity appear in the form of a social relation, controlled by legal 
norms, between persons "whose status as legal persons is defined precisely by 
the institutionalization of mutual recognition" (Habermas 1973: 159). The 
institutional reality of the ego identity consists in the individual's 
recognizing each other as proprietors in the possessions produced by their 
labour or acquired by trade - the exchange of equivalents is the model for 
reciprocal behaviour, the institutional form of exchange is the contract; the 
contract is therefore the formal establishment of a prototypical action in 
reciprocity, as an ideal exchange  (Habermas 1973: 159-160).

The institutionalization of ego-identity, the legally sanctioned 
self-consciousness, is understood as a result of both processes: that of labour 
and that of the struggle for recognition. The labour processes enters into the 
struggle for recognition in such a manner that the result of this struggle, the 
legally recognized self-consciousness, retains the moment of liberation through 
labour. As Habermas notes, Hegel does not reduce interaction to labour, nor 
does he elevate labour to resolve it in interaction; he keeps the 
interconnection of the two in view, insofar as the dialectics of love and 
conflict cannot be separated from the successes of instrumental action and from 
the constitution of a cunning consciousness. The result of emancipation by 
means of labour enters into the norms under which we act complementarity 
(Habermas 1973: 161).

To summarize, Habermas finds in Hegel's Jena lectures a link between labour and 
interaction, as self-formative processes. Although this dialectic is dissolved 
in Hegel's later work, it provides the groundwork for a rigorous distinction 
between instrumental and communicative action: wherein which instrumental 
action is parasitical on communicative action.

Habermas's Return to Hegel, 1999

Habermas has, most recently, returned to his analysis of Hegel - since many of 
the debates surrounding his work are related to the Kant-Hegel axis (Habermas 
1999). He re-affirms that Hegel "was the first to put the transcendental 
subject back into context and to situate reason in social space and historical 
time" (Habermas 1999: 129). Habermas revisits this debate in light of the work 
of Michael Theunissen, focusing on the "repressed intersubjectivity" in Hegel 
from an epistemological angle (Habermas 1999: 129). This gist of Habermas's 
article is that the love- relation "provides the first pattern of mutual 
recognition and is moreover an important exemplification of the 
interpenetration of the universal, the particular and the individual" (Habermas 
1999: 130). This is followed by a reading of the Master and Slave as an 
introduction to the intersubjective constitution of objectivity; the way in 
which our knowledge of the objective world has a social nature.

Habermas notes, as he did in his earlier work, that in Hegel's Jena years, 
between 1803 and 1805, that "language is presented as the medium through which 
theoretical consciousness develops and work as the medium through which 
practical intelligence develops and the results of these twin powers persist 
only in the horizon of an intersubjectively shared world. Language and labour, 
then, form parts of the culture of a community or of the material 
infra-structure of society (Habermas 1999: 138). In the final analysis, 
according to Habermas, "for a language to be shared and a social practice to be 
joined one condition must be met. Participants who find themselves related to 
one other in an intersubjectively shared life-world must at the same time 
presuppose - and assume that everybody else presupposes - an independent world 
of objects that is the same for all of them" (Habermas 1999: 142). I can't 
help but think this presupposition has the status of a fantasy. Habermas calls 
it a pragmatic presupposition - that may be true - and that's fine, but we need 
to mull over what it means to operate according to presuppositions. If this is 
something that cannot be pragmatically escaped, then it seems to me that the 
idea of presuppositions itself is mistaken. We don't "presuppose" gravity - we 
just fall. So presuppositions must operate on another level - and I've 
suggested this is best examined in terms of fantasy, but, of course, this has 
different implications that the ones that Habermas discusses.

Habermas notes, that in Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit the 'struggle for 
recognition' appears quite differently than it did in his Jena years. Hegel's 
earlier version equated the 'struggle for recognition' as an equivalent of 
Hobbes' struggle of nature. In Hegel's master and slave narrative, the main 
argument is to prove that an impartial view is a necessary cognitive condition 
of the social constitution of self-consciousness: "being forced to work for the 
master, the socially dependent slave finally succeeds in turning the tables, 
thanks to the cognitive independence he acquires in virtue of what he learns 
from the work which he extends his control over nature" (Habermas 1999: 143). 
However this does not quite lead to the anticipated end of a reflexive and 
mutually symmetrical coordination of subjective perspectives in an impartial 
point of view, rather, both parties become "aware of the social nature of what 
they take to be objective knowledge and reasonable arguments" (Habermas 1999: 
144). Which is to say, as Habermas attributes to the insight of Terry Pinkard, 
"a subject cannot achieve self-consciousness without realizing the 'sociality 
of reason'" (Habermas 1999: 144). Hence, "only such intersubjectively binding 
standards can enable us to develop, from a presumably impartial point of view, 
the same opinions about the same things we encounter in 'the' world" (Habermas 
1999: 144).

A couple of comments:

1. Habermas-Hegel present us with an interesting paradox. The self can only 
achieve self-consciousness by being mirrored by another. What this suggests, 
however, is not only that language is the medium of our recognitions, but also 
that mimesis and mimetic behaviour plays a key role in communication (in a 
previous post I distinguished between reflective and non-reflective forms of 
mimesis) [for an interesting book on mimesis - see Michael Taussig - Mimesis 
and Alterity].

2. I think we need the Lord and Bondsman dialectic rather than the Jena 
dialectic that Habermas discusses - which, it seems to me, is consistent with 
the charge that Habermas and Wellmer sanction against Gadamer: that the radical 
Enlightenment remembers what hermeutics forgets - that existing relations are 
relations of domination. We do not enter into mutual relationships, language is 
note a 'complete' language came as we enter into it through social development. 
Habermas argues that the complete language game serves as a counterfactual 
presupposition - but I'm worried about this. Is there not a spectre of anxiety 
that haunts 'totality?' In this, I'm asking the question of indeterminacy... 
and how this accompanies our pragmatic attitudes.

3. Here we also encounter the key Hegelian problem of how we are to think 
Substance simultaneously as posited by subjects and as an In-itself: how is it 
possible for individuals to posit their social Substance by means of their 
social activity, but to posit it precisely as an In-itself, as an independent, 
presupposed foundation of their activity? As Zizek notes, "Lacan's Hegelian 
solution to this impasse is paradoxical and very refined. He accepts the 
communitarian critique of nominalist individualism, according to which it is 
illegitimate to reduce social Substance to the interaction of individuals: the 
spiritual Substance of a community is always already here as the foundation of 
the individuals' interaction, as its ultimate frame of reference, so it can 
never be generated from this interaction. The passage from individuals' 
interaction to social Substance involves a leap, a kind of leap of faith, which 
can never be accounted for by the individual's strategic reasoning about the 
intentions of other individuals: no matter how intricate and reflective this 
reasoning, the gap of a fundamental impossibility forever separates the 
interaction of individuals from the In-itself of the spiritual substance. 
However, the conclusion Lacan draws from this impossibility is not the obvious 
one: his point is not that since one cannot derive spiritual Substance from the 
interaction of individuals, one has to presuppose it as an In-itself which 
precedes this interaction. In an (unacknowledged) Hegelian way, Lacan asserts 
that it is this very impossibility which links an individual to his spiritual 
substance: the collective substance emerges because individuals can never fully 
co-ordinate their intentions, become transparent to one another.... In short, 
impossibility is primordial, and the spiritual substance is the virtual 
supplement to this impossibility: if individuals where able to co-ordinate 
their intentions via shared knowledge, there would be no need for the big 
Other, for the spiritual Substance as a spectral entity experienced by every 
individual as an external In-itself - the Habermasian intersubjectivity, the 
interaction of subjects grounded in the rules of rational argumentation, would 
suffice" (Zizek, The Indivisible Remainder, 1996: 138).

4. With this in mind, we can read Hegel's "causality of fate" with Lacan. Of 
course we should note the similarity here between Lacan and Habermas. For 
Lacan, the moment you think, the choice is lost... and for Habermas, the moment 
you speak, the choice (the normative ideals within communication) is forfeit 
(ie. you automatically enter into the consensually-oriented pragamtics). This 
strange similarity however has very different implications. For Lacan, the 
'mirror image' is a fixed (and identifiable) place... for Habermas this ideal 
is merely presupposed. If we do a strict correlation: the "transcendence 
within" in communication assumes an ideal communicative community - which is 
imaginary. Two different logics can be seen here. For Habermas, this 
transcendence within provides a certain transcendental constraint on discourse 
for the community. For Lacan, this point is a starting point for all subsequent 
deceptions. In a way, Habermas's notion of systematically distorted 
communication is the necessary consequence of the imaginary starting point. 
Communication cannot be anything but systematically distorted, in the same way 
that the 'hall of mirrors' in Lacan becomes the source of all misrecognitions. 
The problem is, Habermas equates this imaginary starting point as the guiding 
form of objectivity. Lacan, on the other hand, equates this imaginary starting 
point as the guiding form of alienation and misrecognition. So, for Habermas, 
once we assume this viewpoint, distortions disappear. For Lacan, once we assume 
this viewpoint, 'reality' becomes impossible.

5. The Unbeknownst Return to Kant. Habermas argues that self-consciousness is a 
derivative of communication, the synergetic production of self- consciousness 
through an interchange of perspectives. What is radical about Habermas's 
maneuver here is how he deploys "communication" as an "always already" 
regulative ideal. Communication is, a priori, fit for the task of 
individuation. Whereas Kant mistaken (according to Habermas) attributed 
autonomy to the subject, Habermas now attributes "autonomy" to communication 
(in the sense of "communicative freedom"). It is here, through Hegel, that 
Habermas equates Freud's psychoanalysis with Hegel's dialectic of the moral 
life: "The criminal recognizes in his victim his own annihilated essence; in 
this self- reflection the abstractly divorced parties recognize the destroyed 
moral totality as their common basis and thereby return to it" (Habermas 1971: 
236). Benhabib, in a particularly striking formulation which illustrates the 
extend of Hegel's influence on Habermas's reading of psychoanalysis, writes 	
The psychoanalytic notion of fate is interpreted as the silent force of those 
experiences that shape the spoken word. The communicative concept of autonomy 
implies that what resists articulation, even to oneself, originates in the dark 
recesses of the psyche and has not lost its "paleosymbolic linguistically" 
(Benhabib, Critique, Norm and Utopia, 1986: 338). The causality of fate is the 
betrayal of mutual reciprocity, the proximity of the causality of nature and 
psychical life. This insight is what leads Habermas to connect the emancipatory 
"passion for critique" with Hegel's dialectic of moral life. Neurosis, in 
effect, diminishes self-consciousness and, for that matter, communicative 
competence. However, we should be careful here because behind Habermas's 
"return to Hegel via Freud" is a smuggled "return to Kant" that remains 
unacknowledged at this point (Zizek, Plague of Fantasies, 1994: 25-26). Crucial 
to Habermas analysis is his argument that "the ego's flight from itself is an 
operation that is carried out in and with language. Otherwise it would not be 
possible to reverse the defensive process hermeneutically, via the analysis of 
language" (Habermas 1971: 241). This notion, of the potential reversal of 
defensive gestures, leads Habermas to take issue with Freud's distinction 
between word-presentations and thing- presentations, which he regards as 
problematic: "the assumption of a non-linguistic substratum, in which these 
ideas severed from language are 'carried out,' is unsatisfactory. In addition, 
it is not clear according to what rules (other than grammatical rules) 
unconscious ideas could be connected with verbal residues..." (Habermas 1971: 
241). Habermas notion of a "reversal" of the defensive process is crucial here. 
One was once free and undistorted, becomes privatized, and slips into the 
unconscious, hardened in an apparently quasi- natural form. Psychoanalysis, 
according to Habermas, provides a means to reverse this process. Because the 
process of privatization first occurs in language, its reversal, for Habermas, 
is also linguistic: we can bring it back in an unmutilated form. Habermas must 
understand this reversal, in principle, in the most strict sense. In theory, at 
least, there can be no remainder or trace of the distortion residing in the 
original (normal) form. For Habermas, the criterion of 'normality' resides in 
the universality of the conscious intention of signification that governs all 
forms of expression. Where Kant places the transcendental "I" - Habermas places 
interaction. For Habermas, "ordinary language' is always already Kantian. As 
Zizek summarizes: "the coincidence of true motivations with expressed meaning 
and the concomitant translation of all motivations into the language of public 
communication" (Zizek, The Metastases of Enjoyment, 1994: 26). As such, 
Habermas's notion of the unconscious is derivative, derived from public 
communication. The instance of a non-linguistic aspect of the unconscious must 
necessarily be denied. Any non-linguistic substratum to the unconscious would 
be problematic for Habermas's claim that psychoanalysis reverses public 
communication: since the "lost object" would always return in a different form. 
The "word" retrieved would not have the same characteristics as it did prior to 
its privatization. If this is, in fact, the case, then "publicity" itself must 
be understood as a particular "deformation,"or at least institution, of 
interaction. In order to do this, Habermas must suppress any encounter with the 
register of the imaginary as a non-intersubjective Other. Publicity, for 
Habermas, serves as the sum linguistic constitution of all possible subjects. 
Introducing the idea of the imaginary, as a mediator between symbolic exchange 
and interaction, plays havoc with the way in which Habermas conceives 
monological and dialogical processes and his strict separation of labour and 
interaction. In fact, any monological exercise would, in this sense, already be 
dialogical (between the subject and the other).

Through near exhaustive effort, I've tried, at least in some way, to illustrate 
the Habermas's reading of Freud is indebted to his reading of Hegel, which, in 
turn, is informed by the real locus of Habermas's identification: Kant. Part of 
the summary here is from rough notes and I've tried to clean them up. 
Everything else has been added ad hoc.

> G: Habermas talks about validity, of course, rather than simply truth.
> K: For Habermas, so it would seem, Lacan is guilty of an objectivist fallacy. 
> G: Bingo.

It isn't that simple. For Lacan, it is not the analyst who 'knows the truth.' 
This is precisely the kind of transference that Lacanian analysis seeks to 
break with. The truth, for Lacan, is the truth of desire - which is radically 
unique for each subject. The 'truth' has been articulated when the analysand 
can go on verbalizing with the analyst... To formulate truth in terms of 
validity, then, is appropriate but awkward. There is much to be thought about 
here - between Habermas and Lacan.

> K: If we understand the genesis of a symptom, we can control it. 

> G: No: If we understand a symptom, it dissolves as symptom and becomes an 
element in an explanation of the cause of the symptom. If we understand the 
genesis of a symptom, we understand the cause of the symptom. 

If I'm not mistaken, when we understand the cause of the symptom it dissovles 
as symptom... in other words, it ceases to be a cause - the causal relationship 
is "overcome" or "reversed." This implies control over the 
cause-which-ceases-to-be-a-cause. I think Gadamer calls this "the miracle of 
understanding." I worried here, but stand to be accurately corrected, that 
"reflection" is analogous to a "magic power." Of course Habermas would reject 
this... but...

> G: See, if Lacan weren't operating (by your light) with a objectivist sense 
of truth, there wouldn't be the need for separating truth from praxis (which is 

Again, I'll stress that being able to verbalize ones life history does not mean 
that ones life history is within ones power. Just because I know why I duck 
whenever I see the colour red, doesn't mean I'll stop ducking. Full disclosure, 
exhaustive explanation - doesn't necessarily entail autonomy.

> G: You have misunderstood Habermas "here" (in your presentation, as well as 
in your recollection of Habermas' point). Rationality and communication are 
linked through the *entire* VALIDITY BASIS of speech, which involves all 
dimensions of language and hinges on cognitive world relations which are 
subjective, intersubjective, and objectivating. 

Ok, I'm working on this one. Every since FvG raised the question of validity 
I've been thinking about it... but I'm still thinking...

Thanks for your labour. I'm still working through it all.


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