The relationship between the unconscious and languageJune 27, 2021
Lacan says that the unconscious is structured like language.
This formulation is a very concise expression of his theoretical work and attempt to reconstruct psychoanalysis. The language meant is language as Structuralist linguistics explains it. Therefore, it is clear that a way is followed in accordance with the explanation of language by structural linguistics. According to the structuralist model, we can briefly describe language as follows: Language is a unique structure or system that determines meanings with its own distinctions and creates meanings. Accordingly, semantic distinctions are determined only by the distribution and roles of the elements within the language structure or system. That is, language is a system of signs and has no external reference. When Lacan applies this to psychoanalysis, his conclusion is that the Unconscious is a peculiar structure or system, just like Language. The unconscious does not have an essential connection with the outside world, there is a kind of system of signs that determine the meaning differences with their inner-elements. As Althusser has pointed out,
“Lacan considers the linguistic sign and the symbol of psychoanalysis to be the same thing”.
Tongue; sociality, culture and therefore the laws and prohibitions expressing them. Therefore, the human child, who is included in the cultural order through language, that is, through the symbolic system, will be shaped by this order (Symbolism) at a stage when he is not aware of anything and cannot decide anything, he will internalize its most basic value judgments and elements, and in this way, he will step into being a human. The transition to the symbolic system of language is here synonymous with the transition to the cultural order. In this transition from being a biological being to a thinking being, the individual-subject is encoded as a cultural code.
Through Language, the subject thus finds himself marked as a signifier in the symbolic order and gains his subjectivity in this way. From this moment on, the individual-subject as a symbol is a part or element of the order. In this context, language regulates the subject’s relationship with reality, with himself, with others. The introduction to Culture through language expresses the formation of the unconscious and the establishment of subjectivity. This is made possible by going through the Oedipus Complex. According to Lacan, identification with language, that is, the acquisition of symbolic codes of entry into culture, takes place in the same order and plane as the Oedipus phase.
The place where this transition takes place is the family. It is no longer meaningful to think of the family as a family in this context; It is the carrier of the cultural structure and the creator at the individual level, that is, it is the ground for the realization, concretization and materialization of the symbolic order. The child enters the cultural order by passing through the language through the family. In this case, it is possible to determine that certain cultural discourses and ideological structures are not merely intellectual designs or projects, but material structures that are carried by language and adapted through family. The theory of ideology that Althusser is trying to create is particularly nourished by Lacan’s explanations in this direction. Because, as understood here, the explanation of the formation of the unconscious through language both opens the door to a theory of the subject and creates a new opportunity to rethink the ideology on this ground.
In these contexts, the place of structuralist anthropology can also be pointed out: as Levi-Strauss has shown in describing cultural structures whose simplest forms are kinship relations, cultural elements have a structure that fits perfectly with the determination of linguistic elements in terms of their relations with each other. In addition, these cultural elements are also defined in the order of language (Language) and a culture is transferred from old generations to new ones in this way. Thus, by entering the order of the symbol, the individual gains his own cultural position, above all his position in the structure of the family, which is a cultural institution. Thus, the individual becomes a differentiated subject within the order of the culture. The decisive dimension of the discourse stems from this. Thus, the introduction to language is the introduction to culture, and at the same time, this process gives, in Lacan’s analysis, an explanation of the formation and function of the unconscious.