When Lacan asserts that ethics belongs to the Real, is it not that—to put it in Kantian terms—he is claiming that, in our fleeting temporal phenomenal reality with no ultimate ontological grounding, the ethical, the unconditional demand of duty, is our only contact with the Eternal (noumenal)? The question is thus not simply that of how Ought emerges out of Is, the positive order of Being, or how to assert the ethical as external— irreducible—to the order of Being (the Levinasian topic of “beyond Being”), but that of the place of Ought within the very order of Being: within what ontology is the ethical dimension proper possible without being reduced to an epiphenomenon (in the style of Spinoza, for whom Ought simply indicates the limitation of our knowledge)? In other words, it is misleading to ask how we can overcome the gap that separates Being from Ought, Sein from Sollen, facticity from the domain of norms: there is no need for an additional “synthesis” here—the question to be asked, rather, is: how does the dimension of Sollen emerge in the midst of Being, how does the positivity of Being engender the Ought? This explanation of how the gap emerges is already the sought-for synthesis, just as it is meaningless to supplant psychoanalysis with “psycho-synthesis”—psycho-analysis already is this “synthesis.”
Parallax View, page 49.
Understanding, precisely in its aspect of analyzing, tearing the unity of a thing or process apart, is here celebrated as “the most astonishing and greatest of all powers, or rather the absolute power”—as such, it is, surprisingly (for those who stick to the commonly held view of dialectics), characterized in exactly the same terms as Spirit which is, with regard to the opposition between Understanding and Reason, clearly on the side of Reason: “Spirit is, in its simple truth, consciousness, and forces its moments apart.” Everything turns on how we are to understand this identity-and-difference between Understanding and Reason: it is not that Reason adds something to the separating power of Understanding, re-establishing (at some “higher level”) the organic unity of what Understanding has sundered, supplementing analysis with synthesis; Reason is, in a way, not more but less than Understanding, it is—to put it in the well-known terms of Hegel’s opposition between what one wants to say and what one actually says—what Understanding, in its activity, really does, in contrast to what it wants or means to do. Reason is therefore not another faculty supplementing Understanding’s “one-sidedness”: the very idea that there is something (the core of the substantial content of the analyzed thing) which eludes Understanding, a trans-rational Beyond out of its reach, is the fundamental illusion of Understanding. In other words, all we have to do to get from Understanding to Reason is to subtract from Understanding its constitutive illusion.
Understanding is not too abstract or violent, it is, on the contrary, as Hegel remarked of Kant, too soft towards things, too afraid to locate its violent movement of tearing things apart in the things themselves. In a way, it is epistemology versus ontology: the illusion of Understanding is that its own analytical power—the power to make “an accident as such … obtain an existence all its own, gain freedom and independence on its own account”—is only an “abstraction,” something external to “true reality” which persists out there intact in its inaccessible fullness. In other words, it is the standard critical view of Understanding and its power of abstraction (that it is just an impotent intellectual exercise which misses the wealth of reality) which contains the core illusion of Understanding. To put it in yet another way, the mistake of Understanding is to perceive its own negative activity (of separating, tearing things apart) only in its negative aspect, ignoring its “positive” (productive) aspect—Reason is Understanding itself in its productive aspect.
(In a strict homology to this Hegelian logic, it is meaningless to demand that psycho-analysis should be supplemented by psycho-synthesis, re-establishing the organic unity of the person shattered by psychoanalysis: psychoanalysis already is this synthesis.)
Less Than Nothing, page 276.