Anne Chaumont – An impassable opacity


Should the study of subjectivity “evidently make use of cognitive neuroscience in order to progress”? [1] A reading the latest issue of Le Point on “The new frontiers of the brain” offers an interrogation of this evidence. So, if the lines of exploration of the brain continue to evolve in a remarkable way, the meeting between subjective discourse and objective observation then is a march towards this horizon for the benefit of “a clinical science of subjectivity “? [2]

What we notice in this reading, as such extimate to the field, is that, contrariwise, the more discoveries progress and the more complex the understandings, the more it is that homogeneity is pinned down in these scientific advances, accompanied by a discourse that reflects rather a great opacity at the heart of the subjective hazards of the development of humanity. This formula, which emerged at the core of an interview with the French consultant Ghislaine Dehaene, paediatrician and director of research at the CNRS [French National Centre for Scientific Research], is a striking testament to same: “Language apprehension is one of the most incredible ‘miracles’ of development.” [3] In My teaching, Lacan also noted the same mystery – “‘where does this language come from?’ […]I have no idea […] and besides, you do not know anything about it either “- but not without having first had the prerequisite confidence, at the risk of being shocking, to locate “the language apparatus […] somewhere in the brain like a spider”, emphasizing that it takes hold! [4]

The three contributions of this new issue of a-kephalos each demonstrates in a very rigorous way that unrepresentability and opacity as other names of the real will always remain a point of heterogeneous impassability in the study of subjectivity, in this field of the speaking body proven to be assigned to desire, – of notably an aesthetic sentiment – and to the enigma of the symptom.

And for those who would like to traverse this point, there is a huge risk of failing to be scientifically ethical when, for example, genetic data is being deduced from psychological differences between human beings. A very recent Science and Medicine Supplement in Le Monde thus relayed the concerns of leading researchers with respect to the return of a pseudo-scientific discourse involving the “misleading uses of quantitative genetics”. What is added very carefully is that this is all the more serious “in reference to topics with invested political stakes”! [5] And it is here in turn that their concerns are relayed.

Happy reading!

Translation: Raphael Montague

[1] “Que sait-on aujourd’hui du cerveau humain [What do we even know today about the brain]?”, interview with Lionel Naccache, Le Point–Santé, Special Issue, March-April 2019, p. 13.

[2] Ibid.

[3] « Les étonnantes capacités précoces du bébé », Le Point-Santé, op. cit, p. 34.

[4] Lacan J., My Teaching, London, Verso, 2008, p. 33.

[5] “Halte aux “Fake news” génétiques [Stop the “Fake News” Genetics]”, Tribune Science & Médecine In Le Monde the 25th April 2019, p. 7.

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