You are on page 1of 2


Alain Vanier
According to Jacques Lacan, sexuation, as distinct ro! "iological se#ualit$,
designates t%e &a$ in &%ic% t%e su"'ect is inscri"ed in t%e dierence "et&een t%e se#es,
s(eciicall$ in ter!s o t%e unconscious and castration, t%at is, as )in%a"iting language)
*Lacan, +,,-, (. -/0.
Lacan (resented t%e co!(lete ta"le o t%e or!ulas o se#uation on Marc% +1,
+,21, during one o t%e lectures o %is se!inar Encore *+,234+,210, "ut as earl$ as +,2+
%e "egan to use %is o&n s$!"ols or t%e logical quantiiers and t%e unction 5# *igure +0.
Lacan6s c%oice o t%e ter! se#uation, and not se#ualit$, indicates t%at "eing
recogni7ed as a !an or &o!an is a !atter o t%e signiier.
T%e (%allus is situated as a s$!"ol, t%e signiier o castration and t%us also o
desire. T%e La& t%at is trans!itted "$ t%e at%er and t%at states t%e (ro%i"ition against
incest is also t%e oundation o desire. And t%is is t%e La& o castration, &%ic% Lacan
designated in %is gra(% as t%e (%allic unction, 5#.
To construct t%ese or!ulas, Lacan relied on t%e Aristotelian logic according to
&%ic% (ro(ositions are categori7ed in our classes8 t%e uni9ersal air!ati9e, t%e uni9ersal
negati9e, t%e (articular air!ati9e, and t%e (articular negati9e. :ut Lacan ado(ted !odern
s$!"ols or t%ese categories, &%ic% are "ased on t%e uni9ersal quantiier, and t%e
e#istential quantiier,
On t%e let side o t%e ta"le, t%ere a((ears t%e or!ula 5#, or all # 5 o # *all !en
are su"!itted to t%e (%allic unction, t%at is, castration0. :ut !odern logic %as
de!onstrated t%e necessit$ o a (articular negati9e, 5# *t%ere e#ists at least one t%at is not
su"!itted to t%e (%allic unction0, in order to ound t%e uni9ersal air!ati9e. T%is is t%e
%$(ot%esis t%at Sig!und Freud de9elo(ed in %is !$t% o t%e (ri!al at%er in Totem and
Taboo *+,+34+,+1a0, and also in %is argu!ent t%at Moses &as not a Je& in Moses and
Monotheism *+,1,a08 t%ere al&a$s e#ists one &%o is an e#ce(tion. T%is is %o& !an is
inscri"ed8 "$ t%e (%allic unction, "ut on t%e condition t%at t%is unction )is li!ited due to t%e
e#istence o an # "$ &%ic% t%e unction 5# is negated) *Lacan, (. 2,0. T%is is t%e unction o
t%e at%er.
T%e ot%er side o t%e ta"le concerns t%e )&o!an (ortion o s(ea;ing "eings) *(.
-/0. T%e u((er line is read as ollo&s8 t%ere does not e#ist an$ # t%at does not all under t%e
(%allic unction. In ot%er &ords, castration unctions or all &o!en. :ut on t%e lo&er line
Lacan introduced a negation !ar;ed "$ t%e "arring o t%e uni9ersal quantiier, &%ic% is
quite inconcei9a"le ro! t%e (ers(ecti9e o or!al logic. Lacan (ro(osed t%at it "e read as
T%e &o!an6s side o t%e ta"le )&ill not allo& or an$ uni9ersalit$) *(. -/0. <o!an is
not &%oll$ &it%in t%e (%allic unction. On t%is side t%ere is no e#ce(tion t%at could ser9e as
t%e "asis or a set o &o!en. It is ro! t%is act t%at Lacan deri9ed t%e or!ula, )<o!an
doesn6t e#ist.) T%is or!ula lea9es no roo! or an$ idea o an )essence) o e!ininit$.
:elo& t%e ta"le o or!ulas, t%ere is a )scanded indication o &%at is in question) *(.
-/0. On t%e !asculine side, t%ere is t%e "arred su"'ect )and t%e F t%at (ro(s %i! u( as
signiier) *(. -/0. For t%e !ale is onl$ a"le to reac% %is (artner, t%e Ot%er, t%roug%
castration and t%e !ediation o t%e o"'ect a as its eect. T%is is indicated "$ t%e arro& t%at
crosses ro! t%e !ale side to t%e e!ale side, &%ic% also re(roduces t%e Lacanian or!ula
o antas$. On t%e e!inine side, &o!an is dou"led8 s%e %as a relation &it% F, insoar as a
!an incarnates it or %er. :ut s%e is not &%oll$ in t%at relation. S%e also %as a relation to t%e
signiier o A, t%e signiier t%at t%e Ot%er &ould need i a set o &o!en &ere going to "e
or!ed. <o!an6s 'ouissance is t%us di9ided "et&een (%allic 'ouissance, lin;ed to castration
and a((earing on t%e gra(% as F, and an Ot%er 'ouissance t%at is unique to %er. T%us t%ere
is neit%er s$!!etr$ "et&een t%e t&o sides o t%e ta"le, nor an$ co!(le!entarit$ "et&een
t%e se#es.
See also: =ra(% o >esire? Jouissance *Lacan0? Mat%e!e? @%allus? Se# dierences.
Lacan, Jacques. *+,2/4+,2+0. Le séminaire-livre XVIII, d6un discours qui ne serait
as du semblant. AOn a discourse t%at !ig%t not "e a se!"lanceB *un(u"lis%ed se!inar0.
. *+,2+4+,230. Le séminaire-livre XIX, ! ! ! ou ire "! ! ! or #orse$.*un(u"lis%ed
. *+,,-0. The seminar o% &acques Lacan, boo' XX, on %eminine sexualit(: The limits
o% love and 'no#led)e, encore. *:ruce Fin;, Trans.0 Ne& Cor;8 Norton. *Original &or;
(u"lis%ed +,234+,210