Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 633–644

Culture, Truth, and Science After Lacan


DOI: 10.1007/s11673-015-9664-2

Cite this article as:
Gillett, G. Bioethical Inquiry (2015) 12: 633. doi:10.1007/s11673-015-9664-2


Truth and knowledge are conceptually related and there is a way of construing both that implies that they cannot be solely derived from a description that restricts itself to a set of scientific facts. In the first section of this essay, I analyse truth as a relation between a praxis, ways of knowing, and the world. In the second section, I invoke the third thing—the objective reality on which we triangulate as knowing subjects for the purpose of complex scientific endeavours like medical science and clinical care. Such praxes develop robust methods of “keeping in touch” with disease and illness (like biomarkers). An analysis drawing on philosophical semantics motivates the needed (anti-scientistic) account of meaning and truth (and therefore knowledge) and underpins the following argument: (i) the formulation and dissemination of knowledge rests on language; (ii) language is selective in what it represents in any given situation; (iii) the praxes of a given (sub)culture are based on this selectivity; but (iv) human health and illness involve whole human beings in a human life-world; therefore, (v) medical knowledge should reflectively transcend, where required, biomedical science towards a more inclusive view. Parts three and four argue that a post-structuralist (Lacanian) account of the human subject can avoid both scientism and idealism or unconstrained relativism.


Culture Scientific truth Philosophical semantics Lacan 

Copyright information

© Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Pty Ltd. 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Otago Bioethics CentreUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

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