In this article, I reconsider the philosophical significance of Jacques Lacan’s reading of Freud in light of Jean-Paul Sartre’s early critique of Freudian psychoanalysis. Since direct comparisons between the work of Sartre and Lacan are sparse in the English literature, Betty Cannon’s comprehensive treatment proves to be an invaluable resource in opening up this line of inquiry. I claim that one reason for the limited attention given to comparisons of their work is the continued strength of the polemics between humanism and structuralism. Lacan’s structuralism is regularly indicted by humanists for failing to provide a conception of subjective responsibility in the way that Sartre’s humanism does. Taking Cannon’s critique of Lacanian psychoanalysis on this issue as a point of departure, I argue that a conception of subjective responsibility can be found throughout Lacan’s work, serving as a point of common ground upon which further inquiry—particularly of Sartre’s later work—might begin.
Blake Scott is pursuing a master’s degree in philosophy at the University of Windsor. His research interests currently include social and political philosophy, phenomenology, argumentation theory, and rhetoric.