I Am You?: The Misrecognized Post Structuralist Subject

1123 words - 5 pages

Jacques Lacan and Louis Althusser, post-structuralist philosophers and intellectual theorists, have expanded the confines of the human subject (Pauker). Addressing it from opposite academic disciplines they deal with many similar topics however expressed in different ways. As each independently discusses the self awareness of the human subject, many ties can be formed between these two theorists, both arguing that a subject is misrecognized and constructed differently to the traditional Cartesian Subject. Beginning with Lacan’s “The Mirror Stage,” he uses psychoanalysis to develop a new understanding of the intellectual development in babies, as he explains that when a child from six to ...view middle of the document...

This intellectual development in a child’s psyche is needed to differentiate itself from the other, as the child can see itself as its own entity. The form of misrecognition can also be found in Althusser’s theory of interpellation. Amid the scene of the policeman hailing an individual, the process of interpellation is also subjected to misrecognition, not through sight, but language. As the police officer hails, “Hey you there!” the individual “recognized that the hail was ‘really’ addressed to him [sic]” (Althusser 55). The ‘you’ is acknowledged to mean the individual, who is then interpellated into the subject, the presence of the ‘you’ misrecognizes the individual as the other, but also the subject (Althusser 55). Here the subject is broken apart by language, as ‘you’ defines both the subject and the other, adequately summarized by the statement, I am you (Pauker). Lacan and Althusser both situate the subject in its relation to the other. Without the other, the subject would have no basis to constitute itself as different, the misrecognizing of the individual is this exact process to situate the individual into the position of the subject or other.
These essay not only offer an awareness of the human subject but are used as a departure from traditional Cartesian Theory. Developed by René Descartes, the Cartesian subject was believed to exist on one main claim “I think, therefore I am,” establishing the world view that language is carried out by the subject, as it is an entity in which creates the world (Pauker). Lacan and Althusser disagree and disintegrate this idea of the Cartesian Subject for the integration of a subject inside language and ideology, as both theorists take a post-structuralist position (Pauker). Beginning with Lacan, he states that, “…before it is objectified in the dialectic of identification with the other, and before language restores to it, in the universal, its function as subject,” explaining the existence of the subject is meaningless until its entry into language where the subject can then reflect and articulate his/her ideas inside society (Lacan 72). Lacan is reversing the theory of the Cartesian subject, constituting that the subject cannot function as such until it has the ability to participate in society through language. Althusser in contrast develops the creation of the subject not through their...

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