Psychoanalysis and the law beyond the Oedipus : a study in legal fictions
The present thesis considers the function of law in the political from the perspective of psychoanalysis, a discipline which foregrounds the subject. Drawing from the Lacanian contributions to psychoanalytic theory, I begin by assessing the validity of the Oedipal hypothesis for the purposes of understanding the dynamics of collective life. My analysis of civilisation in psychoanalytic terms will expose the subject as the seat of 'certain key phenomena which, despite their deeply intimate character, play themselves out in the field of law, in the confines of the institution, or again in the political realm: essentially, culpability, belief and love. I will argue that, although these phenomena irretrievably obstruct the rational unfolding of discourse, they also impel the precipitation of the subject's attachment to the political, and permit the consolidation thereof through the medium of transference. Yet, and in contradistinction to other strands of psychoanalytic jurisprudence, in this work psychoanalysis will be used neither as an hermeneutic tool nor as an analogical model. Indeed, my purpose is to evidence the existence of a certain continuity between the unconscious as discourse and the political order. This continuity between the unconscious and the political will be presented in terms of the logic of exception, which structures the subject's relation to language, and which Lacan identified as the structural core of the Oedipus complex. I will then apply Lacan's hypothesis of the exceptional structure of discourse to the theories of three political thinkers, chosen for the distinctness of their approach: Legendre, Bentham and Foucault. Finally, I will argue for the dispensability of the function of the Ideal, parasitic occupier of what should remain the structurally `empty' place of exception.