The playwright Arthur Miller remarked that Protestantism was a large factor in preventing social revolution in the US during and after the 1930s Great Depression. The doctrine of Sola Fide had its hand in the origins of modern science, philosophy and psychopathology. "Average" because it's what Willy Loman could not say of himself, "Protestant" because it's the root of most of what I feel interested to write about, well or badly.
Saturday, 3 January 2015
Psychoanalysis and philosophy (psychoanalysis is not science)
One way that psychoanalysis can (as Rudiger Safranski says, somewhere in his biographical study of Heidegger) un-do, or under-determine philosophy.
Psychotherapy and psychoanalysis?
These are bodies of thought and practice based on a ideas about the human organism and formation of the personality.
Think of the child who comes from a place of complete satiation (warmth, nutrition, containment) into the world of light, cold and hunger, utterly dependent on mother.
What of the personality?
What about the omniscience of the infant?
There is no sense of a boundary between the infant self and the world.
What appears to the baby is it's world.
Urges are there. And I believe there are also fantasies,
Biological urges, yes. But not wholly determining for the organism. Fantasies too. Fantasy is in the realm of significance, and of meaning.
Karl Popper was called to investigate the status of science and claims to 'knowledge', and doubted the claim of psychoanalysis to be a 'science'.
Somewhere in his critique, he comes to a point about human theorising. The earliest kind of theorising, he says, resides in some kind of "biological expectation". There is no infinite regress in human theorising, because it starts with expectation in the organism, which can be either met or not met. This includes, Popper says, the expectation of parental love. Not exactly an 'urge', or, to use Freud's term, a 'drive'.
It's hard to stay in touch with the stresses and impulses that brought me to really need philosophical enquiry like that of Karl Popper. At some level I felt under attack, and in my view a quality running through Popper's work is that of defensiveness. To read him is to have the impression of someone under attack. His whole effort of thought is aimed against certain claims to true knowledge in the form of 'science'. He addressed his critique of those claims to the claimants, scientists, but in doing so, he did not want to be seen to be laying the grounds for the elimination of the prestige of science. He did not want to alienate his audience, scientist-philosophers, and on the contrary wanted to have their blessing. He wanted to be seen by that group, his target audience, to have a better philosophy of science than theirs, but his was a philosophy which asserts that there is no certain knowledge. (Although Marjorie Grene pointed out that Popper asserted certain knowledge of what we do NOT know - and I think - from the little I've read of her - she rightly questioned the obsession of philosophy with knowing, episteme). He was caught between wanting to anticipate and then demolish and then improve on every counter argument that could be thrown at him by the scientist-philosophers who upheld the notion of true knowledge ( = mathematical science), and then, to ensure continuation of the prestige of science, and in a rather grandiose sense to re-bestow this himself and therefore retain the feeling of being in its glow, work even harder trying to shore up the sanctity of science with his emphasis on a demarcation between science and 'non-science'. The result was an unfortunate lack of concern in Popper's work with showing or exploring what legitimates the claims to knowledge of 'non-science'.
When I was reaching for Popper's philosophy, I felt under attack. And there were, not equivalent, but parallel forces at work in myself: I wanted to demolish claims to knowledge of a powerful institution (my father) but also to be seen by that institution to be upholding a better theory of knowledge, and even more urgently, to not be seen to be irrational or 'irrationalist'! I pressed Popper on the institution, as it manifested in my own mind, as a way of saying "Your claim to knowledge, and hence your prestige, and your sense of justified de-valuation of non-science, is based on a false idea!", but was not able to leave it at that: I had to have the institution, force the institution, to acknowledge that its claim to knowledge is false, correct its views (so to speak) and therefore not have a breach with the institution. I needed to have the institution love and understand me.
Theorising goes on to which our knowledge, Popper claims, conforms. We are already theorising when we test or observe the world. His philosophy is Kantian. We are actively processing our perceptions. There is a mental component of all which we take to be knowledge of our world. That is how the idea of 'biological expectation' surfaces in Popper's work.