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Emile Benveniste

 

Explanations > Critical Theory > Theorists > Emile Benveniste

Description | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Emile Benveniste (1902-1976) was a French linguist who was one of the first to extend psychoanalysis into structuralist linguistics.

He argued that it was only 'in and through language that man constitutes himself as a subject'. Pronouns, or shifters, are necessary to signify subjectivity, but split the subject.

'I' is a signifier that designates the subject, but does not define it. 'I' is context dependent: when I say it, it does not mean the same person as when you say it. 'Ego is he who says ego'.

When 'I' speak the language, I am also being spoken by the language. I am thus not separate from the language. i do not stand separate or behind it, but appear through it.

Discussion

Benveniste is often ignored in favor of people like Lacan. In fact many ideas promoted by people later were initiated by Benveniste.

Lacan separated the ego from the subject of subconscious when he said 'I think where I am not, therefore I am where I do not think'.

See also

Identity, Subject

 

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