Anthropie: Beside the Pleasure Principle (2021)
According to Lacan the notion of discourse should both be associated with and distinguished from those of speech and language. By way of approximation, we could suggest that discourse lies in between the virtuality of language as a differential system of oppositions among signifiers and the actuality of speech as expressed by an individual subject. On the one hand, discourse is primarily a discourse without speech, or actual utterances, and their “thirst for meaning”. It is supported and maintained by language as a virtual signifying structure fundamentally unconcerned with meaning. Yet, on the other hand, discourse cannot be reduced to the virtual signifying structure. In fact, speech lodges itself within discourse and not simply language tout-court. Discourse can thus overall be defined as a linguistic structure that “goes well beyond speech”, where speech “is always more or less occasional”. However, at the same time, it is as a particular operation of language – which, for Lacan, is not the only possible outcome of the linguistic structure – that discourse “governs anything that at any given moment is capable of emerging as speech”
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