Theory and authority

November 7, 1997

I AM sure Raymond Tallis is right that as a moral individual Jacques Lacan was a monster (THES, October 31).

The trouble is that if you demand card-carrying sanity and decency from your thinkers, the list of Europe's greatest rapidly diminishes. Kant, insanely obsessed with routine? Nietzsche (say no more)? Heidegger (oh dear!)? Althusser (actually certified)?

So why does Professor Tallis make the absurd claim that the intellectual authority of Lacan (or anyone) derives "almost completely from the authority of the man" when it comes from their insight and their arguments?

Professor Tallis might ask himself why Lacan particularly gets under his skin ("crackpot", "charlatan" etc).

Antony Easthope Manchester Metropolitan University

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