Blanco, I. M. (1986). Understanding Matte Blanco

February 26, 2018 | Author: ofanimenoch | Category: Logic, Sigmund Freud, Truth, Hermeneutics, Thought
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Matte Blanco...


(1986). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis 67: 251-254

Understanding Matte Blanco Ignacio Matte Blanco DEAR SIR, 1. I have read Ross Skelton's letter (IJPA, 66: 504–5) many times and, to my surprise, I have increasingly discovered new things in it. I also have come to understand better his point of view. Why this slowness? The answer (in my case): emotion both blocked and stimulated my understanding. I think I have reason to believe that something similar is happening to him. And I am happy about it, for, if the spatial appointment I spoke about in my previous reply has not yet taken place, we now are, in my opinion, much nearer to one another. I hope this letter will help in this sense. I am pleased and grateful to him for his appreciation of my efforts: 'very thorough', 'I have no quarrel with this imaginative perspective …' 'M.B.'s interesting work', and other comments as well. And I am happy that he is trying to find 'a satisfactory weaker version' of the principle of symmetry in order 'to achieve consistency'. 2. Regarding this latter point, may I say that I believe that a weaker and two-valued logically consistent version of the principle of symmetry will leave the unconscious out. Personally I am exploring another alternative: is it possible to conceive a wider logic which may have symmetrical logic and two-valued logic as aspects of it? 3. I shall now concentrate on this remark of his: 'Matte Blanco seems not to have understood my single, though I believe crucial criticism of Bilogic, namely that it is inconsistent'. If we can arrive at an agreement about this question, then there would be no serious problems between our points of view. Let's try. 3.1. I do not question his assertion that even if there is only one contradiction between the principles of a given system, the system falls apart. I would like to make some additional general comments about it but I do not think it is essential here. What is pertinent is the fact that the bilogical system he is talking about is not the concept of bi-logic I have put forward. If he reads, or rereads, the pages of my book that I indicated in my previous reply, he will find the answer to his assertion. 3.2. However, it seems fair to remember that he has based his comments exclusively on my original paper and on the book. The last of the two was published in 1975. In the meantime I have had many years of further study, clinical experience to test and develop the ideas put forward; and reflection. So I now shall add some additional remarks which, I hope, will bridge the difference that still separates us. 4.1. Two-valued logic and, if I am not wrong, all other logica so far developed by man are, each, based on one set of rules. For this reason each of them may be called a unitary logic. I coined the term bi-logic to refer to a system which is submitted to two sets of rules: those of two-valued logic (it could also be another, for instance three-valued logic) and those of symmetrical logic. I understand that this is very strange, and, therefore, hard for a logician to swallow. But, in my opinion, it reflects very faithfully the behaviour of the unconscious and Freud's description of it. All the characteristics of the unconscious described by Freud are bi-logical structures. 4.1.1. May I point out that, as he finds that 3 out of 4 of 'M.B.'s explanations' are doubtful, also the first, i.e. absence of time should, from his point of view, be just as doubtful as the other three he mentions: if he reads 7.1. of my previous reply he will see that Freud (implicitly) and I (explicitly) describe absence of time as a bi-logical structure. It is not my fault but the 'fault' of the unconscious which, after all, has the 'right' to behave in non-conformity with the rules that so far were known to man … until Freud came along and

October 1985 - 251 -

very explicitly described this behaviour and pointed out that it did not respect (two-valued) logic. Incidentally, though Ross Skelton explicitly directs his criticisms to me, it can, in my opinion, be said that his remarks could apply with equal right to Freud and to the unconscious. In order to be unambiguous I think he should establish whether he thinks that it is my formulation that is not a true reflection of Freud's discoveries, and give the reasons for this. From what he writes I personally am unable to know whether this is what he means or, alternately that it is Freud who makes inaccurate statements about the unconscious. I must add that I do not believe that he is criticizing the unconscious for daring to neglect the rules of WARNING! This text is printed for the personal use of the owner of the PEP Archive CD and is copyright to the Journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to copy, distribute or circulate it in any form whatsoever.

logic. Considering that the three alternatives are quite different from one another, his not establishing whether there is a difference and, if so, what it is, results in treating all three alternatives as though they were the same: a symmetrization. To avoid this it would have been necessary to clarify his view of the three alternatives. As just said, I exclude that he wishes to criticize the unconscious. But if there is anybody who does not respect the laws of logic he is not Freud nor myself but precisely the unconscious. If such is the case, as Freud is sure it is and I am convinced by him, then one would ask (to put it with the words of a well-known song): 'what should we do with the drunken sailor?' My own answer: invent bi-logic. Put in more general terms: the alternative to this impasse is to accept that there are things in nature that cannot be understood in terms of only two-valued logic. 4.2. I am not surprised that he may have done a symmetrization, nor do I mean this as a criticism, for I am fully aware that most of us think most of the time bi-logically (certainly myself included, and have intentionally given a personal example in the first paragraph of this letter). It is sufficient to look around or read the newspapers to become aware of this. The differences of opinion between people are mostly due to the choice of different bi-logical structures. 4.3. I am convinced that in science we must try to respect two-valued logic. Not in art. My efforts have been directed, as I now put it, to express in terms of two-valued logic, the violations of this logic seen in the behaviour of the unconscious. 5. I hope two comparisons may help to give some account of my work after The Unconscious as Infinite Sets was written: 5.1. Imagine a man who lives in two neighbouring countries, at times in one, other times in the other. He has both nationalities. Each country has a constitution different from that of the other, though they may have some aspects in common. This case, is, therefore, an example of two different sets of rules of behaviour. Imagine that one country is ruled by bi-valent logic and the other by symmetrical logic. When the man is in one of the countries he must respect its rules. So, as he goes from one to another, he alternates between the respect for asymmetrical logic with that for symmetrical logic. When this type of behaviour is found I have proposed to call it an Alassi bilogical structure. 5.2. Second example: the air. Its two main components, oxygen and nitrogen, are always together and always distinguishable and separate from one another. This permits the existence of life. Were they to combine to form bi-oxide of nitrogen, all (aerobic) life would disappear. In the same manner, if one wants to create a new logic by combining symmetrical and two-valued logic, into a unitary logic, the result would be a freak. Such a system is not viable. Whereas two neighbouring and even friendly countries can have constitutions which, at times, contradict one another. This is, if I understand him rightly, what Ross Skelton criticizes me for. It is understandable that he should do so because he, like all logicians, works with unitary logic. But I plead not guilty because, in order to be faithful to what I see in my patients and to Freud's admirable descriptions, I have found no alternative to conceiving the intertwining but never-fusing of symmetrical and bivalent logic: precisely bi-logic. 5.2.1. What I have just said points, in my opinion, to a very, very crucial point: if there is in nature something which does not respect two-valued logic, what can man do to understand it? Deny its existence? Proclaim that it is a rebel and should be punished? Try to see whether we can, in some way, understand it with the help of two-valued logic, even if there are aspects of it that will be (possibly, but not surely, forever) beyond understanding? Try to find another conception of logic which can make clear such 'rebel something'? I - 252 -

believe this latter is the most 'reasonable' thing to do. I have tried to do it by putting forward a new concept: bi-logic. 5.2.2. The reader will see that the second example, in contrast to the previous one, refers to a sim-ultaneous co-presence or intertwining of as-symmetrical logic and sy-mmetrical logic. I have called this a Simassi structure. When Freud says that the processes in the unconscious are a-temoral, he is not contradicting himself but simply describing a Simassi structure in terms which respect bivalent logic. It is not Freud nor myself but the Simassi structure which lacks respect for bivalent logic while still respecting it: obedient and rebel all the time. 5.3. So far I have found twelve different types of co-presence and intertwining of both logics but I have never found what Ross Skelton attributes to me. This has led me (before I knew of Ross Skelton's first paper about my work) to postulate what I have called the constitutive antinomy of man; the co-presence of two modes of being, each solitary and incompatible with the other.1 Yet always together! 5.4. I have also found that the mathematical infinite is a Simassi structure. Considering that the mathematical concept of the infinite is an essential tool for understanding nature, one is led to suspect that the principle of symmetry also, somehow, is present in the world at large: a new epistemology that stems from Freud's thoughtful research. 5.4.1. Note that if what I have just said about the infinite is right, then the unconscious is not the only rebel in this world: the infinite also is. So far I have not been able to find in the literature a satisfactory explanation, in terms of two-valued logic, of the WARNING! This text is printed for the personal use of the owner of the PEP Archive CD and is copyright to the Journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to copy, distribute or circulate it in any form whatsoever.

fact that two-valued logical thinking leads to the following antinomy: even numbers are at the same time as many and half as many as natural numbers. All the explanations that I have so far seen (: that this is not so, that, in the infinite, even numbers are just as many and in the finite they are half as many, etc.) seem to me very contorted, not clear and not acceptable. I believe, instead, that in this case we are in front of a 'fact of nature' that does not fit in with two-valued logic. Just as physics went from Euclidean to non-Euclidean geometry, why not try a change of logic when, in order to understand nature, one finds that something does not function in two-valued logic? 6. A few brief comments: 6.1. However irritating this may be, the principle of contradiction is not always valid in the unconscious. Neither in bi-logic. This does not lead to chaos but to a fascinating and entirely new type of order. There are several comments I should like to make here, but … 6.2. His concept of truth is a concept valid in two-valued logic. One can frequently see that for any given question there is one logico-bivalent truth and a potentially infinite number of bilogical truths. It is sufficient to read newspapers of different orientations to become convinced of this assertion. Every one of us is convinced of the truth of his own opinions and if we study why one thinks in this way, we will discover that, from his (bi-logical) point of view, he is right. This is a problem which deserves a prolonged study. Somewhere, sometime, Roger Money-Kyrle made an illuminating comment about the fact that (if I remember rightly), of all the various explanations that may be given to a certain thing, the unconscious may choose any of them except the true one. As can be seen this is much in keeping with what I am saying. The point I wish to make is that, however respectable two-valued logic is, it is not necessarily the only paladin of ultimate truth. 6.2.1. Consider this: can a father be as old as his son? If we apply our logical criteria the immediate reply is: no, because the relation 'father' and its inverse, 'son', are asymmetrical, imply time, etc. Consider now the logic of the Trinity, leaving aside whether one is theist or atheist, because this is not relevant at this moment. Can a son be born from the father 'before all centuries'? If the answer is yea, this means that both are a-temporal. The relation father–son, as we know it in bivalent logic, presupposes time. So one asks: is it possible to conceive an asymmetrical relation father–son which does not presuppose time? If so, can this relation be understood in terms of two-valued logic? If not, does that mean that this conception is self-contradictory? My own answer is: I have no understanding at all of the logic of the Trinity but

1 This is the title of a paper read at Verona in 1982. - 253 -

I fail to see that it contradicts two-valued logic: it is just outside its territory. Mutatis mutandi, the logic of the unconscious as described by Freud in the five characteristics, does not enter into two-valued logic but that does not mean that it is false: it is fit to describe a new territory never explored before Freud. And I believe that my logical description of Freud's discoveries is a faithful rendering of them. 6.2.2. Not to forget: one can get a better understanding of the inter-relations of the two logics and, consequently, that of the two modes, by considering the fact that symmetrical logic is anaclitic to two-valued logic (cfr. I. M. B. The Unc. as inf. sets, p. 55–58, esp. p. 58). On the other hand, as P. Bria has pointed out (loc. cit. Italian translation, p. XXXVII), two-valued logic is also anaclitic to symmetrical logic, because it needs it for the functions of abstraction and generalization. This is not the place to develop this question and I will only say that further reflection about the fact that both logics (and both modes of being) are mutually anaclitic could, to borrow the words that Freud used in another context (S.E. 17, p. 74) 'offer an approach to the most profound discoveries' about the nature of unconscious phenomena, of the structure of man and of logic. 6.3. Hermeneutics: the art or science of interpretation. I agree that bi-logic is a form of hermeneutics. My question: is there any product of the human mind that is totally free of hermeneutics? To refer to our present problem: is there any logic which, in some way, is not a form of interpretation? An example may help. In a small book about the theory of relativity 'within the reach of everybody' (his own words) Einstein points out that There are objects in nature which correspond more or less exactly to the notions of Geometry and which undoubtedly, by themselves alone, have given birth to it. Geometry tries to go away from this origin in order to enclose its edifice as much as possible in the domain of logic.2

Now, as is well known, Euclidean geometry is permeated with notions of logic. Possibly these notions were born with it.

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For many centuries this geometry was accepted as corresponding to the world from which it was 'born'. The theory of relativity displaced this primacy to non-Euclidean geometry. This change left completely intact the undiscussed position of two-valued logic, at least until recently. The question arises whether it is the only logic possible in our thinking. I am of the opinion that Freud's discoveries have shown that this is not so. Two-valued logic remains the queen for thinking but in the manifestations of emotion and of the so-called unconscious it must share its reign with symmetrical logic. Finally, it seems fair to say that no human product can ever claim to be the depositary of ultimate truth. Our knowledge of the world, and logic is included in it, can never pretend that nothing will be added to the truths it expresses. This does not mean that such truths will be superseded: only completed and integrated in a still larger view. 7. To end: I have had quite a variety of emotions when reading both papers of Ross Skelton and when writing my answers: I re-wrote them many times. This is the first occasion I have had to enter into conversation with somebody through a third person, Sir, i.e. the editor: a very elegant English custom which may provoke (as in my case) friendly feelings of admiration for its subtlety, together with amusement and simpatia (Spanish meaning). In keeping with this custom, may I say: I am grateful to you, Sir, for the opportunity given me by acting, somehow, as a mirror who reflects the opinions of each one of us to send it to the other. As in the meantime I have developed respect for Ross Skelton's thinking and for his honesty, may I say, Sir, that I have a desire to go to the other side of the mirror and meet Ross Skelton in person, for I dare to believe that we have much in common. It would be nice if this meeting happens together with you. Thank you. Yours sincerely,

2 A. Einstein: La theorie de la relativité, restrainte et generalisée (mise à portée de tout le monde). Paris: Gauthier-Villars, 1921, pp. 2–3. - 254 -

Article Citation [Who Cited This?] Blanco, I. M. (1986). Understanding Matte Blanco. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis 67: 251-254

WARNING! This text is printed for the personal use of the owner of the PEP Archive CD and is copyright to the Journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to copy, distribute or circulate it in any form whatsoever.

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