Does the unquestionable decline of the patriarchal - some would say paternalist - nucleus of our Western societies entail an inevitable failure of the paternal function? Or, and this is the thesis I will be advancing, are we not witnessing rather the decline of social, ideological, and thus imaginary forms of predominance which, although they have undoubtedly served as a mask for the paternal function, do not, however, constitute its essential task - a task I would define as that of introducing the subject into the symbolic filiation of the generations by wrenching him away from purely natural or biological determinations. In other words, it is a question of turning the human subject, who is a being of nature, into a being of culture. If my hypothesis proves to be true, and notwithstanding the changes that have occurred in the social and imaginary functions of the father, then it may be said that the paternal function continues to play, in synergy with the maternal function, a determining role in the socialization of the human subject. If this is indeed the case, then it is necessary to turn towards a broader idea of a parental function of symbolization and socialization of the subject, one that is concordant, moreover, with the remark formulated by Freud concerning the father of personal prehistory, a figure he likens to the parents taken as a whole.
Keywords: Paternal function, idealized father, masculine domination, difference of the Sexes