Philosophy of the Arts


Processing an idea

I have always understood Lacan to be arguing that children at a certain age move from the imaginary to the symbolic, and that this transition takes place with their introduction to language. I may have misunderstood Lacan, but that is not what this entry is about. It is about processing an idea.
If there is such a transition it must be conceived from the point of view of the later stage, or: there is no such thing as an imaginary; the imaginary is a construct from the symbolic, it is a Munchhausen move. Assuming that the imaginary is in place before the entry into the symbolic entails a realism of the imaginary that we have no way of establishing.

The reference to fantasies of all-powerful thinking (a.o. in Freud and Wollheim) seems more to the point: i.e. to thinking that the mere thought of something brings it into being.

Wollheim, Richard. 1984. The Thread of Life. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press.

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