PHRASE: "This jubilant assumption of his specular image by the child..."

"This jubilant assumption of his specular image by the child at the infans stage, still sunk in his motor incapacity and nursling dependence, would seem to exhibit in an exemplary situation the symbolic matrix in which the I is precipitated in a primordial form, before it is objectified in the dialectic of identification with the other, and before language restores to it, in the universal, its function as subject." (2)

Lacan is discussing the mirror stage of an infant from about the age of six months. The mirror stage discussed is when the infant sees himself as a reflection, as in a mirror, recognizes himself and is made happy by this recognition. Lacan sees this recognition as important because the infant is seeing himself in his purest form, as his thoughts about himself do not include thinking of himself as a "subject" or seeing himself through the eyes of "others". The infant is seeing himself without the social world becoming involved in his perception; he will spend his life, according to Lacan, comparing himself to the image he first saw when he was an infant, because the image seen at six months is the image that is left untainted by the rest of the social world. He will never be able to achieve the purity of the reflection he saw of himself at the infant stage, hence why Lacan calls it "the Ideal-I."

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