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A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
For the Degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

Graduate Program in Humanities
York University
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

May 2014

©William J. Urban 2014


This study assumes the subject's pursuit of meaning is generally incapacitating and should be suspended. It aims to demonstrate how such a suspension is theoretically accomplished by utilizing Lacan's formulae of sexuation integrated with his work in discourse theory and topology.

Part I places this study into context by examining scholarship from the established fields of hermeneutics, phenomenology, (post)structuralism, aesthetic theory and psychoanalysis in order to extract out their respective theory of meaning. These theories reveal that an historical struggle with meaning has been underway since the Reformation and reaches near crisis proportions in the 20th century. On the one hand this crisis is mollified by the rise of Heideggerian-Gadamerian hermeneutical phenomenology which questions traditional epistemological approaches to the text using a new ontological conceptualization of meaning and a conscious rejection of methodology. On the other hand this crisis is exacerbated when the ubiquitous nature of meaning is itself challenged by (post)structuralism's discovery of the signifier which inscribes a limit to meaning, and by the domains of sense and nonsense newly opened up by aesthetic theory. These historical developments culminate in the field of psychoanalysis which most consequentially delimits a cause of meaning said to be closely linked to the core of subjectivity.

Part II extends these findings by rigorously constructing out of the Lacanian sexuated formulae a decidedly non-hermeneutical phenomenological approach useful in demonstrating the sexual nature of meaning. Explicated in their static state by way of an account of their original derivation from the Aristotelian logical square, it is argued that these four formulae are relevant to basic concerns of textual theory inclusive of the hermeneutical circle of meaning. These formulae are then set into motion by integrating them with Lacan's four discourses to demonstrate the breakdown of meaning. Finally, the cuts and sutures of two-dimensional space that is topology as set down in L'étourdit are performed to confirm how the very field of meaning is ultimately suspended from a nonsensical singular point known in Lacanian psychoanalysis as objet a. The contention is that by occupying this point the subject frees himself from the debilitating grip of meaning.


For my father ir mano motina.


I would like to thank the members of my committee for their thoughtful comments and suggestions. Gratitude is also expressed to the editors of the Avello Publishing Journal for their kind permission to reuse material initially published in their inaugural issue from 2011.

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