File spoon-archives/habermas.archive/habermas_2001/habermas.0101, message 27


Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2001 09:33:45 -0800 (PST)
Subject: HAB: Nonconscious vs. Unconscious



--- kenneth.mackendrick-AT-utoronto.ca wrote (re: Balancing practicality
and self formativity, 12 Jan):

> ...what if repression far from simply blocking the verbalization of
conscious discourse...

G: As distinguished from *unconscious* discourse? Of course not;
there's no such thing. So, you must mean consciousness (since
discourse is a highly derived construction, far from mere
verbalization of anything)

K:...[repression] is also [consciousness's] indispensable
precondition? 

G: Respectfully, I say this is nonsense. (And it's a domesticated
version of your earlier claim to me that *trauma* is unavoidable,
which I associated with infant abuse, not an essential aspect of the
psyche).

K: > This would render any kind of "undistorted speech situation" a
conceptual impossibility....

G: In fact though, an undistorted situation is *quite* conceivable
(in a phrase: enough openness during enough time) ; you must mean
practical impossibility or unrealizable possibility. But this is
invalid, since the definition of undistorted speech implies a
condition that is, in principle, quite *practically* accessible
(given education and experience): analytic *skills* to question at
all relevant levels that concern a person, *opportunity* to question
and work through to understanding with local others, *openness* to
radically different views (that are credible); and so on (in accord
with JH's formal definition, which could be re-posted).

K:...In other words: if we can only be communicative *because* there
are certain things we cannot communicate or verbalize, then the
presupposition of undistorted speech is a logical fiction. 

G: If this isn't nonsense, then you must mean something analogous to:
If we can only shine a light in one direction at a time, then the
presupposition of omnipresent enlightenment is absurd. In fact
though, we can turn the light throughout space (necessarily having it
no longer shine where it did a few moments ago), and still *know*
what's out of the light (like a discourse that must proceed one theme
at a time, to be cogent). And also, of course, we're always at some
stage of development---and the psyche is largely an evolutionary
mystery in all events (for psychology, for philosophy of mind, not to
mention any given life's finitude). Meanwhile, epistemic means are
evolving (so much in the youth of humanity, whose scientificity is
merely a few centuries young). But this has nothing to do with
repression (rather: finitude); nor the impossibility of learning
(rather: family, education, democracy, etc.).


K: However, I'm feeling rather sympathetic to communicative theory
today - what kind of theory of systematically distorted speech might
be articulated on this basis?

G: I try to keep in mind that "systematically" (for JH) pertains
mainly to distributed social relations (dissimulation, false
pretenses disguised as good faith, force disguised as caring, etc.),
not a generalization of the psychoanalytic scene (subject-centered
concerns) to social relations. The psychoanalytic *process*
exemplifies a methodic correlate (for Critical Theory) to
hermeneutical processes in human sciences and empirical-analytic
processes in natural sciences. 

K...The implication being that we can only agree on one topic by
deliberately (or unconsciously) excluding something central to that
very topic...

G: Again, the difference between nonconscious and unconscious is
relevant. We do one thing at a time, but one thing can be a very
complex engagement (or project) in which given actions are
instrumental. But a project isn't unconscious just because it can't
all happen immediately.

> G: [Valuing imaginativeness] is an old theme in Analytical
psychology (the Jungian vein of psychoanalysis), which James Hillman
has expressed as a "re-Visioning" of psychology, for several decades.

K:> I can't stand Hillman... 

G: I only meant to indicate that the valuation of developmental
imaginativeness in psychoanalytic culture has been around a long
time. The Hillmans of the world attest that psychoanalysis is
commonly seen as the beginning of developmental psychology (contrary
to FvG's balking at this or your complaint vis-a-vis Habermas that,
in effect, he should be attending to something other than what's he's
attending to). 

Kindest regards,

Gary




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