Psychology OR Man(1)
Knowledge shall NOT, finally, know the knower. Psychology knows otherwise; Freud told them so!! The vast majority of psychologists agree with Freud, possibly without knowing their debt to him or their agreement with him. Foucault (the current holder of the Chair of The History and Systems of Thought, College De France) in his analysis of Freud concludes: no one in the human sciences (psychology is at times part of this array) is out of his debt. Thus everyone (so holding in psychology) is linked with the paradox which surrounds Freud. Freud the giant; the first major theorist to break with the Classical Age's enforced silence on madness; Freud the first to systematically listen to madness; Freud the first not to condemn madness into silence; the first to pronounce that in interchange with the knower, the knower can be known; silenced this very knower in the rescue. Freud opened up (Foucault lets us see) a discourse with difference (madness), spoke to/with difference as his theory allowed him to speak, and ordered that difference within which is every person; part of the thought of all, and part of all which is thought. It is that wide hand which Freud had; a further reason for the appropriateness of Foucault's suggestion: 'no one is out of his debt.' The paradox, of course, is that rescue brought silence, robbed the knower of the very possibility of knowing as knower (the internal paradox: that the interdict from the Vedas-is immediately confirmed by the denier: by Freud) as a double reductionism was offered by Freud: biological and theoretical. The illogic of reductionism, as knowledge, has not fully entered the marrow of psychological claims (be they 'models,' 'paradigms,' or displacements). Freud killed the possibility of the authority of the knower knowing, as only via 'biology' and Freud's theory can one know. Thus the hoax (which generally goes unnoticed), of the claim that via psychotherapy/analytics (or whatever contemporary or ancient paraphrase) 'one' can know oneself.
But suppose: 'one' is zero. The argot which allows primacy to the 'one of one' relationship has totally swallowed Freud. Let me give an FDA caveat to this ingestion. This mongrel claim (see: the ordinary language philosophers) that an account of 'psychotherapeutic' interchange is 'one on one,' reveals hope dragged out as knowledge (remember Mr. Dawson's quoting Koch on this bit of legerdemain). One careful account (impossible for Freud the reductionist) of the exchange termed therapy is: 'One on zero.' (This phrase emerged in one of my lectures.) The 'zero' is you, me, everyone, or that part of everyperson ('just that part' Freud was after) which is different; that which in the Classical Age (as Foucault has demonstrated) wasn't there (remember G. Stein 'On Oakland'); and which in the Modern age was locked into 'existence' by the Modern episteme. That very presence, the knower, radicalized (as we now say) the episteme, signaled (among other facets) the Modern episteme's total break with the Classical discourse (hence the sleight of hand comparisons of Kuhn and Foucault). The knower (Foucault's MAN-an expanded definition of that critical term in a moment) is authorized in the Modern age as inalienable authority, along with and separate from the authority of science. The knower, called forth in the break with the discourse of the Classical age, saw as his legend the demise of a single authority, namely; the word. Representation was the calendar of the Classical age. The 'word knew.'
Take the word 'medicine.' In the classical age (Foucault allows us to notice) seeing/saying are still one fundamental level of language. 'Bile pied up in the body,' 'blood had become impoverished, thickened'; what was said (e.g. re: Bile, re: Blood) and what was 'there' are united in a manner totally unlike the medical dialog of the modern age. (Certainly there are remnants in the Modern age: e.g. the doctor/patient encounter//relationship; seen by Foucault as re-emergence via 'the pale powers of matrimonial fantasies'...'to so much non-thought.' The verbal performance (a critical term for Foucault) for the physician of the classical age was: 'What is the matter with you?' For the physician of the Modern age the query changed to: 'Where does it hurt?' In the Modern age verbal performance and object have the kind of independence which for example Wittgenstein gave it in his post-Tractatus work. In Freud, the gaze brings its own constant light: see the Oedipus complex.
'One on Zero' (though admittedly coined by me as a quick reply to student alliteration) seems to tell the mark about 'psychotherapy.' Szasz has spoke about the Myth of Psychotherapy, and has kept that article's title for a forthcoming book. Szasz seems to be moving from his earlier Ryleian position to a Wittgensteinian one when he terms psychotherapy as independent, both of the psyche and of therapy, but replete as: conversation. Szasz, in his efforts to clarify psychological claims uses the work of the Ordinary Language Philosophers, Mill, and Laissez-faire economics. In Szasz's use of this trilogy, the unifying force is: 'To let be.' The 'let be' notion is the double integral of the Ordinary Language Philosophy view. 'Things (word/sentence/object) are what they are.' 'Value lies outside of the world' (of factual knowledge). The second (and smaller integral) is that of: clarification. Freud too insists on clarification, and Wittgenstein is therefore often compared to Freud. Wittgenstein too speaks of sickness (re language) seeming for some to (further) cement a bridge to Freud. Their common ground is language, though the announced similarity is vitiated by Freud's concern with 'thought,' with reductionism, with prior causes, with continuity, with teleology, with theory, etc. Two great men touching fingers for a second is the most I dare venture.
Nothing in the ordinary language philosophies, Mill, and/or laissez-faire economics seems capable of rescue of psychotherapy (now understood as 'conversation'). The 'let be' injunction, and that is precisely what 'psychotherapy' can NOT advocate, fits institutional practice no more than it fits private practice. Thus, Szasz's distinction between institutional practice/private practice seems strained (while important because of the obvious differences in control of human beings // see: psychology's most famous animal trainer, B. F. Skinner). If psychotherapy is remaindered to 'conversation,' private practice is voided. If Szasz leaves conversation to professionals, he stands among Benda's traitorous clerks. To license (as in psychiatry/psychology) conversation seems to violate basic precepts of our founding documents (free speech/derived powers), and to do exactly what Foucault sees happening; namely kill MAN.
In search of a designation of psychotherapy (other than the attractive one of conversation) one can offer what Dr. Ralph has offered for 'psychology in application,' namely: litany, police practice, fraud, chauvinism. All of the aforementioned can be taught (professors have no fear-your courses are safe), can be tested for, can form curricula. If the Classical age is your forte, if robbing of language is your joy, if the guarantees of our founding documents are but a nuisance, by all means write about and practice psychotherapy. Please notice that while Foucault allows psychoanalysis to be ordered under 'knowledge,' he excludes it as science. So there you are, with your christian science, as Dr. Ralph suggested. That too (christian science) can be learned, can be taught, is wanted-so what! Is it enough to use your office, your affiliation to rationalize your sound? Remember Mr. Dawson, psychology is NOT what psychologists Do! Howler, yes-sense, No!
Allow me to take another turn, to make you look at the monumental travesty: psychology speaking as MAN. The turn is the work of Foucault. Unlike Santayana's famous quote Foucault directs us to 'archeology;' as he claims to be doing neither History nor Philosophy. The touchpoint between the two men is that without clarification of the penumbra of the discourse (used here in a general/not Foucaultian sense) what is said/is, remains unclear. Archeology is the technique through which Foucault ferrets out the 'unconscious' of discourse (not to be confused with the unconscious of Freud-though there is a touchpoint as well), allowing the user (insert psychology) to see 'for the first time' (T. S. Elliot) the full of the verbal performance (insert psychological claim/statement). Archeology allows one to notice just what it is that is/must be said and can be said in no other way (archeology is not a substitute for the empirical-does not generate empirical knowledge).
In the absence of archeological clarification (in our case) the psychologist will verbally perform without the consciousness that what is given (verbally performed) is given precisely because 'that and only that' can be voiced in that particular discourse. The telling point: an end to will, choice, solipsism, phenomenology; an end to a priori causes; an end to hidden meanings. No room for the 'good heart' (of the individual clinician-except as nonsense), no room for the 'I won't cop out-power to the people' claim of the therapist; no room for virginal consciousness raising; no room for entering therapy as sex; no room for 'the family' as the unity of therapy; no room for 'the marriage' as counsel; for the 'governing' confines are the parameters of the discourse.
(An aside: This is one of the points in common between Kuhn and Foucault; the other significant similarity is the total break between epistemes/paradigms. Dialog across epistemes is not possible, nor is it possible to mix dialogs within epistemes. Kuhn, of course, has no 'archeology,' and therefore a Kuhnian analysis is not interchangeable with a Foucaultian analysis of discourse.)
To the remark that 'really Foucault is just using Freud's unconscious' (whether that remark is used as rescue of therapy, or as ignorance) let me reply: that Foucault's unconscious unlike Freud's unconscious, is neither theory, nor vector, nor force, nor teleology but ambience of discourse. A parallel to Foucault's unconscious is Wittgenstein's rule/meaning/object.
Foucault argues: ...A moment would come when, from animality (the girding conception of 'madness' in the Classical age) would be deduced the idea of mechanistic psychology ...where the blindness (of madness) became the psychological effect of a moral fault; AND thereby comprises what had been (in the Classical age) essential in the experience of unreason. What had been blindness would become unconsciousness, what had been error would become fault, and everything in madness that designated the paradoxical manifestation of non-being would become the natural punishment of a moral evil. In short, that whole vertical hierarchy which constituted the structure of Classical madness, from the cycle of material causes to the transcendence of delirium, would now collapse and spread over the surface of a domain which psychology and morality would soon occupy together and contest with each other. ...The "scientific psychiatry/psychology as MAN" of the nineteenth century became possible. ...It was in these "diseases of the nerves" and in these 'hysterias,' which would soon provoke its irony, that this psychiatry/psychology took its origin.
(An aside: To drop the medical model is to drop 'nothing' since medicine was never a founding condition of the discourse (psychiatry/psychology as MAN). The putative rescue of to/as psychology (via the removal of the medical model) is but fraud and ignorance. Szasz, generally credited with being the high priest of this error (voiding of the medical model and by return: the rescue of "clinical psychology"), has actually avoided this pitfall by being a Ryleian/Million/Laissez-faire economist, and recently by depicting 'psychotherapy' as conversation.)
To continue with the archeology of Psychology as MAN. Foucault allows that: ...the nineteenth century, by investing the famous "moral methods," has brought madness and its cure into the domain of guilt. The distinction between the physical and the moral becomes a practical concept in the medicine of the mind ONLY when the problematics of madness shifts to a interrogation of the subject responsible. The purely moral space, which is then defined, gives the exact measurements of that psychological inwardness where modern man seeks both his depth and his truth...Psychology, as a means of curing, is henceforth organized around punishment...A purely psychological medicine (of course neither medicine nor psychology) was made possible only when madness was alienated in guilt... In the Classical period, it is futile to try to distinguish physical therapeutics from psychological medications, for the simple reason that psychology did not exist. When the consumption of bitters was prescribed, for example, it was not a question of physical treatment, since it was the soul as well as the body that was to be scoured... When, in the years that followed, this great experience of unreason, whose unity is characteristic of the Classical period, was dissociated, when madness, entirely confined within a moral intuition, was nothing more than disease, then the distinction we have just established assumed another meaning; what had belonged to disease pertained to the organic, and what had belonged to unreason, to the transcendence of its discourse, was relegated to the psychological. And it is precisely here that psychology was born-NOT as the truth of madness, but as a sign that madness was henceforth nothing but a phenomenon adrift, insignificant upon the undefined surface of nature ...An enigma without any truth EXCEPT THAT WHICH COULD REDUCE IT (rise Freud-rise you saviors in psychological drag).
Psychology is born. Thus, in the modern world, what had been the great irreparable confrontation of reason and unreason became the secret thrust of instincts against the solidity of the family institution and against its most archaic symbols. Foucault lets us see that the language of Freud took over a foundation of silence rationalized around transgression. He states: ...When Freud, in psychoanalysis, cautiously reinstitutes exchange, henceforth eroded into monologue (remember my 'one on zero'), should we be astonished that the formulations he hears are always those of transgression? In this inveterate silence, transgression has taken over the very sources of speech. (See the demise of, e.g., 1st amendment guarantees, as well as the demise of the authority of the individual: the basis of all power in a free society.)
Foucault continues ...Freed from the chains that made it a purely observed object, madness lost, paradoxically, the essence of its liberty, which was solitary exaltation... ...an ordinary police tribunal sat permanently (vis-a-vis the patient) ...the doctor (read psychologist) is not there (vis-a-vis the patient) by virtue of a medical skill or power that he possesses in himself and that would be justified by a body of objective knowledge. It is not as a scientist that homo medicus (read psychologist) has authority. ...If the medical profession (psychology) is required, it is as a juridical and moral guarantee, NOT in the name of science.
...the essential nucleus of madness ...was a microcosm in which were symbolized the massive structure of bourgeois society and values. (An aside: discourse/praxis is NOT to be understood via the much used term "ideology." Foucault rejects this effort, on similar grounds on which Wittgenstein rejects 'values' as an explication of 'words/sentences' or earlier: of propositions/simples. What is/is (for Wittgenstein and similarly for Foucault) the world 'is what is,' and all value lies outside of it; what's more what is/is accidental (thus into metaphysics/nonsense go: purposes, meanings, will and such accounts as ideology. Warning: do not confuse the 'archeological' inclusion of bourgeois ideology (as forming discourse) with 'ideology' as explicator of discourse. Foucault's persistent (and Wittgensteinian) derision of 'ideology' is of ideology as explicator of discourse. (Further aside: The term ideology seems to vie with Kuhn's paradigm for inexplicability.)
To continue with Foucault's analysis: ...the authority he (the psychiatrist/psychologist) has borrowed from order, morality, and the family now seems to derive from himself (remember: psychology is NOT what psychologists do) ...the objectivity (of psychiatric/psychological praxis) was from the start a reification of a magical nature... ...accomplished with the complicity of the patient...beginning from a transparent and clear moral practice, gradually forgotten in its origins and its meaning, ...soon madness itself would be held responsible for such anomalies... (what was offered then was) ...cures without basis, which must be recognized as not being false cures... but as true cures of FALSE ILLNESSES.
For Foucault MAN is: to think again what has been thought/verbally performed-thus essentially empirico-and also transcendental; to think again, while rooted in what is available-the time and space, the setting, the surround: for Foucault, Life, Labor, Language. What the modern episteme authorized for the first time in Western history was the finitude of each moment as thought/said by MAN. MAN is that ...living being who, from within the life to which he entirely belongs, and by which he is traversed in his whole being, constitutes representations by means of which he lives, and on the basis of which he possesses that strange capacity of being able to represent to himself precisely that life ...who provides himself with a representation of language itself.
Unlike psychology's conventional depictions, Foucault works out in devastating detail that: MAN can not be understood as: (borrowing from biology) ...possessing functions-receiving stimuli (physiological ones, but also social, interhuman, and cultural ones, reacting to them, adapting himself, evolving, submitting to the demands of an environment, coming to terms with the modification it imposes, seeking to erase imbalance, acting in accordance with regularities, having in short, conditions of existence and the possibility of finding average norms of adjustment which permit him to perform his functions ...All this Foucault argues is but an appearance on the projected surface of biology: thus a double reductionism to biologism/scientism. Foucault allows us to see that on the projected surface of economics (another reductionism) MAN APPEARS as having needs, desires, as seeking to satisfy them, and therefore as having interests, desiring profits, entering into opposition with other men; in short he appears in an irreducible situation of conflict. Foucault thru his archaeological analysis brings us (psychology) face to face with Ghosts (Ibsen behold) out of which we (psychology) pretend substance.
(An aside: the decades of work on 'reductionism' have seemingly not entered our (psychology's) analytics.)
Foucault continues: ...(on the projected surface of economic) MAN is depicted as if he evades these conflicts, he escapes from them or succeeds in dominating them, in finding a solution that will-on one level at least, and for a time-appease their contradictions; he establishes a body of rules which are both a limitation of the conflict and a result of it.
...on the projected surface of language (another reductionism), man's behavior appears as an attempt to say something; his slightest gestures, even their involuntary mechanisms and their failures, have a meaning; and everything he arranges around him by way of objects, rites, customs, discourse, all the traces he leaves behind him, constitute a coherent whole and a system of signs.
(An aside: what now of the various schools/views of psychology? What now, given the archeological explication of Foucault, of 'what we know psychology to be'? How is it that psychological efforts to speak of MAN, and more devastating, to speak as MAN, fall outside of science; and even (as Foucault allows) as psychological verbal performance falls within knowledge, that knowledge falls outside of the Modern discourse, the very discourse which gave it birth, which allowed it to emerge as 'proper verbal performance'?)
Reply: For Foucault it is not simply a matter of reductionism, of scientism, or of reification, but it is because psychological discourse of/as MAN fails to meet the requirements of science in the Modern episteme, as well as the requirements of science in the Classical episteme. To restate: Psychological discourse (of/as MAN) is neither science now nor was it science then-even if psychology (as science) had existed in the Classical age-the usage we now have as psychology does not meet the standards of science of the Classical age. Psychology today does however imitate the philosophical statements of the 18th Century.
Further: as knowledge (which Foucault allows to psychology 'of Man,' as he does to the other Human Sciences), psychology can not speak 'as MAN'; since only Man (each individual) can speak 'as MAN.' The Finitude (which is MAN) prevents even that individual from restating what had been stated (shades of Gertrude Stein, of Wittgenstein, of Derrida). Remember again, that the authority which 'issued' MAN allowed that speaker an inviolability, an inalienable status. An obvious tie (here) to the vesting to each and every person those 'self evident truths' and 'powers' to which the state is subordinate and only derivative-an obvious tie to the cornerstones of our founding documents. No wonder that Psychology is seen as the least liberal of the 'human sciences,' and psychologists as the first among totalitarians.
Let me touch on another related critical question. Why is the progress in the science of psychology so slow? Foucault's reply is that: neither the 'complexity of man' (a common hiding place for the admitted lack of progress in psychology); nor the misuse of statistics and of design (another conventional criticism used to rationalize the admitted lack of progress in psychology); nor the absence of adequately refined mathematics (an oft expressed lament-Foucault offers superb detail of the rush into mathesis-as error); none of these have kept psychology in arrears; nor have they kept the mound of scientific knowledge in psychology to a child's sandcastle. What retards psychology is its attempts to speak of/as MAN. (Wittgenstein has long ago offered a similar account.) Clearly (given Foucault/Wittgenstein) a radical reordering of what is psychology is long overdue.
Since MAN is not of psychology, what is left? Macro-neurology? Macro-Cybernetics? Macro-Linguistics? This question nettles; and the best that I have been able to offer to date is: chronology (episodic/continuous). This 'chronology' would be a step different from literature; but if Wittgenstein holds, this chronology could say/depth grammar: nothing.
What future does Foucault see for MAN? Given the ascending authority of Science, of the so called Human Sciences, of the State; given the nod to psychology-Foucault suggests that MAN will ...be erased like a face drawn in the sand at the edge of the sea.
For those interested in the guarantees of the founding documents of our nation, that would indeed be "beyond freedom and dignity."
I have attempted to sketch for you Foucault's arguments: 1. That neither science nor psychology can speak of/as MAN; 2. That the human sciences (those parts of psychology, linguistics, sociology, ethnology, et al, which attempt to speak of/as MAN are not science, but imitation of the philosophical discourse of the 18th century, and 3. That the standard explanations for the lack of progress of the science of psychology are delusion. I am suggesting that to speak of/as MAN is to violate the guarantees of our founding documents: the guarantee of equality (which I read as the inviolability of differences), and the guarantee that power to govern (e.g. speak) rests solely in the people (which I read: in the individual). Since a professed aim of psychology is to draw man into science, into nomotheticness, thus into sameness, a collision course has existed ever since that aim was enunciated at the birth of psychology. The archaeological analysis of Foucault has exposed the double folly of that aim.
For those of you who would push aside Foucault, to rescue psychology (whatever that is): let me alert you to another older combat, Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein takes man (the language user) out of nature-thus out of the grasp of science. He eliminates, as factual discourse, any part of psychology involving language usage. Wrestle with that. You might try it on the mat of promise, with Fodor, or on the sketch pad with Quine.
An invitation. Foucault will be a Distinguished Visiting Scholar on our campus during the week of October 17-join us in a dialog with him. Let me leave you then, with the beginning.
Knowledge shall not, finally, know the knower. And, add to that: whatever Psychology is, MAN is not a part of it.
1. Aron, H. (1977, September). Psychology OR man. In Dawson R. E., Ralph, K., Sharma, S. L., Aron, H., Psychology OR Man: Neither Nor Either or. Symposium conducted at the meeting of the American Psychological Association.