Reflections on Authority: A Dialogue between Hannah Arendt and Jacques Lacan


  • Gabriela Gomes Costardi Universidade de São Paulo
  • Paulo Cesar Endo Universidade de São Paulo



autoridade, verdade, política, psicanálise


This article aims to formulate a notion of authority regarding the psychoanalytic treatment of Lacanian orientation. To do this, we dialogue with Hannah Arendt’s theory. First, we address the distinction between authority in the private and public spheres. Considering that authority is an effect of the hierarchy, which is established from the difference between its levels, it is presented in a natural way in the private sphere, which welcomes the differences. In the public sphere, equality is the determining factor, making it necessary to establish the difference. Then we approach the Roman strategy for establishing authority in politics, namely, its source is an external element to the relationship between rulers and ruled, in this case, the foundation of the city of Rome. Finally, we emphasize the conception of political authority established by the actors of the American Revolution, who shifted the source of authority from the founding act of the ancestors to their own founding act, which is represented by the Constitution of the United States as a result of mutual commitments established between the actors of that body politic. Thus, Arendt postulates that authority results from a hierarchy and that its source is external to the relationship between leaders and leaders, even if that source is not placed as a superior or absolute parameter, but derives from the mutual commitment between individuals acting in concert. From there, we analyze the relation between authority and truth in the Lacanian work, considering that the latter derives from the division between the grammatical and enunciation subjects, which means to maintain this notion in the field of language and to refuse the necessity of a metalanguage. In addition, we take into account the author’s propositions on the authorization of the analyst. Finally, we conclude that legitimate authority in psychoanalytic treatment comes from the manifestation of the truth of the subject of the unconscious as a third place in relation to the analyzer and the analyst, as well as the relation of truth to the transmissible knowledge that takes place at the end of the analysis. Our methodology is the bibliographical research, guided by the search for inspiration of the Lacanian-oriented psychoanalysis by Arendtian political theory.


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Biografia do Autor

Gabriela Gomes Costardi, Universidade de São Paulo

Lacanian psychoanalyst based in Los Angeles and affiliated with the Los Angeles and Colorado Forums of the Lacanian Field. She has researched on Lacanian Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Political Theory. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of São Paulo - Brazil.

Paulo Cesar Endo, Universidade de São Paulo

Psychoanalyst, researcher and professor at University of São Paulo. Professor at Institute of Psychology (IPUSP) and at Post-graduate programm of Humanities, Rights and Other Legitimacies (FFLCH-USP). Head of Research Group on Human Rights, Democracy, Politics and Memory at Advanced Studies Institute of University of São Paulo.


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Como Citar

Costardi, G. G., & Endo, P. C. (2018). Reflections on Authority: A Dialogue between Hannah Arendt and Jacques Lacan. Revista Subjetividades, 18(Esp), 33–43.



Edição Especial: A psicanálise e as formas do político