Magnifying Lacan’s “Mirror Image” (1949) to Develop the Undeveloped Notion of ‘Being-Towards-Birth’ in Heidegger’s Being and Time (1927) (239-260)

Rajesh Sampath

ABSTRACT: This essay will attempt a line-by-line reading of Lacan’s famous “The Mirror Image as Formative I Function as Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience” (1949) published in the collected volume of essays, Ecrits (1966). The article attempts to show that Lacan’s essay opens a space of primordiality, whereby we can revisit Heidegger’s critique of subjectivity and the Cogito, terms that originate with Descartes and evolves to Kant’s Critiques of dogmatic metaphysics, particularly in Heidegger’s Being and Time. These are steps Heidegger takes to set up his attempted critique of Hegel, who in turn tries to surpass the history of philosophy rooted in modern subjectivity, particularly in his Phenomenology of Spirit (1807). However, missing in Lacan’s essay and what remains un-articulated in Heidegger’s Being and Time is the following: relation between time, movement, and the space of primordiality where all notions of factical existence dissolve. Being born in time, developing in time, being in or at time, and being-towards-death, as Heidegger struggles to deconstruct – by way of his unique appropriation of phenomenology in Being and Time – can be questioned. Indeed, what Heidegger fails to develop, and he admits it explicitly, is the other side of his ‘one-sided’ treatment in the investigation: he only analyzed death as a possibility of Dasein’s greatest possibility to ‘be-Whole’ authentically (1962, 277) and completely neglected ‘being-towards-birth’ as the ‘other end’ of Dasein’s movement (1962, 425). We will argue that one is never born as a biological fact of existence, a social construction assigned at physical birth, like a gender or sex, or any religious notions of a created being from God the Creator, or any notions of rebirth, reincarnation, or resurrection, namely from religions in the West, like Roman Catholic Christianity, and the East, like Hinduism. Rather, ‘being-towards-birth’ in relation to the linear time of flowing now-points (past as no longer now, present as now, future as yet to be now), or ‘being-within-time,’ (Heidegger 1962, 457) is temporalized other than a dateable origin in spatialized time or history.

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