Monday, December 01, 2008

the two sorts of policework

There are two sorts of policework. In one you investigate crimes and try to establish who is responsible for them, in the other you identify suspicious characters and try to establish whether they have committed any crimes. So these two methods might appear to be represent the logic of induction used in contrary directions. Psychoanalysis is a heuristics of suspicion. It resembles the second kind of policework.

Sometimes an hour or so passes between me writing one sentence and writing the next sentence, such is the nature of working life. I find the fragmentary style this engenders quite appealing. It seems appropriate to the world of today. Don't be surprised if the police metaphor is suddenly dropped.

The argument in notes on Fourier is precisely psychoanalytical. The rhetotic of psychoanalysis has for a long time been unmoored from the domain of psychotherapy, which it no longer needs for support. Slavoj Zizek can sell his books psychoanalysing the products of complex social relations - films or historical events - precisely because the minimum requirement for the deployment of psychoanalytical rhetoric is a minimally paranoid spectator. Psychanalysis can proceed perfectly well without having to analyse the psyche.

Karl Marx thought Fourier deserved respect as a precursor of future proletarian literature and as a heterodox critic of bourgeois civilisation. Consequently aren't the notes on Fourier somewhat unfair?

Psychoanalysis has two aspects:

1. the multiplication of perspectives

2. the evaluation of these perspectives according to their degree of suspiciousness

the classic style of psychoanalytical explanation maintains a certain tension between disbelief and suspicion; that is, it plays on the discontinuity between the results of reasoning by two sorts of induction.

So, it can be assumed that we started off with a perfectly reasonable explanation for Fourier's utopian fantasies:

1. that Fourier really wanted to solve society's problems

we invented an alternative explanation:

2. that the problem Fourier is really trying to solve is the literary problem of the petit bourgeoisie

The first explanation is correct but falls short of a complete explanation. The heuristics of suspicion favour the second explanation - it makes Fourier's motives more suspicious. Psychoanalysis.

4 comments:

Le Colonel Chabert said...

Motives for suspicion perhapsnot innocent - authority and domination:

http://www.newleftreview.org/?view=1969

Soul and History
What is unclear, however, is how Hegel thinks the intrapersonal development of self-consciousness, through what is only metaphorically a master-slave dialectic, is related to the interpersonal relations of actual masters and slaves in history. Since each implies the other—undeveloped consciousness is the cause of slavery and slavery causes the consciousness to develop—there must be some relationship, but what is it? Hegel does not give a direct answer, but it is nevertheless possible to argue that a particular type of relationship is implied both by the internal structure of the argument, and by the Aristotelian framework within which it is conceived. For Aristotle, the concept of slavery applied equally to the relation of the soul to the body and the master and to the slave—or tyrant to subject. For Hegel, the concept of slavery applied equally to the relation of the master self-consciousness to the servile self-consciousness and to the relations of actual masters and slaves—or tyrants and subjects. For Aristotle, the external relationship of master and slave is dependent upon and effected through the internal relationship between soul and body. Specifically, slaves are distinguished by a deficiency in their internal constitution which makes their souls incapable of mastering their bodies, and so makes their bodies properly subject to the souls of those who are capable of such mastery.

For Hegel, too, the external relation of master and slave depends on an internal one, namely that of self-consciousness to itself. If Hegel’s argument follows Aristotle—as it does up to this point, save that the role of soul and body has been transferred to master self-consciousness and servile self-consciousness—then slaves would be distinguished by some deficiency in self-consciousness such that of the duplicated self-consciousnesses, one could not master and enslave the other and so required another self-consciousness to do so. In which case, the external relation of master to slave would be effected through the master self-consciousness of one individual enslaving the self-consciousness of another, with the result that the master-slave dialectic would be simultaneously interand intrapersonal, being between different persons related as a single individual.

The plausibility of the above interpretation is suggested not only by its congruity with the Aristotelian framework within which Hegel’s argument is constructed, but by the fact that it is difficult to make sense of Hegel’s oscillation between the interand the intrapersonal without assuming that the master-slave dialectic is not just a case of self-consciousness relating to itself as though it were two persons, but also of two persons relating as though they were one self-consciousness. Evidence that this is so is provided by Hegel’s first tentative account of the relation of master and slave in the System of Ethical Life. Although Hegel is thinking of mastery and slavery in terms of interpersonal relations, he nevertheless maintains that within the relation of master and slave ‘the former is related to the latter as cause; indifferent itself, it is the latter’s life and soul or spirit’. [72] This definition, which recalls Aristotle’s account of slavery where the master is to the slave as soul to body, and so causes the action of which the slave is the instrument just as ‘the soul is the cause. . .of the living body’, [73] is restated still more explicitly in the Propaedeutic, where it is said that the slave ‘lacks a self and has another self [the master’s] in place of his own’. [74]

Sleepwalking and Slavery
However, it was not only Aristotle who offered a model of how two persons might function as one. Hegel’s description of one person being the soul of another also looks forward to his account of the relation of magnetizer and somnambulist in the Philosophy of Mind. The practice of animal magnetism, or mesmerism, in which the magnetist would place the patient into a magnetic sleep or trance so that they were subject to the magnetizer’s will was described by Kluge, one of Hegel’s sources, in terms of the mastery (Herrschaft) which the magnetizer exercised over the patient, [75] and Hegel’s remarks on the topic are significant both because they echo his first definition of the master-slave relation, and because in describing two persons as related so that one becomes the consciousness of the other they constitute a direct parallel to his other accounts of master and slave. According to Hegel,

"The patient in this condition is accordingly made, and continues to be, subject to the power of another person, the magnetizer; so that when the two are thus in psychical rapport, the selfless individual, not really a ‘person’, has for his subjective consciousness the consciousness of the other. This latter self-possessed individual is thus the effective subjective soul of the former, and the genius which may even supply him with a train of ideas. [76]"


In animal magnetism, therefore, we have an example of the way in which two separate individuals may come to function as one when one forfeits the freedom rooted in consciousness and the other becomes his consciousness, soul, and genius. [77] The relationship between them is then what Hegel calls a magical relationship, [78] i.e. a relationship in which one mind exercises unmediated influence over another, as does man over the animals, and the soul over the body when, in habit, it makes the body ‘a subservient, unresisting instrument of its will’. [79] Since the relations of soul to body and man to animal were standard Aristotelian analogues of the master-slave relation, this strongly suggests that Hegel thought of the relation of magnetizer to somnambulist in terms equivalent not only to his own account of master and slave but to Aristotle’s as well.

But unlike Aristotle’s theory of slavery, the theory of animal magnetism offered an account of how the selfless individual might gain from this loss of individual identity. According to Walther’s Physiologie des Menschen, a German medical textbook contemporary with Hegel’s Phenomenology, when two individuals are in magnetic rapport they experience an ‘intimate community of action such that one soul is in both of them’ except that ‘on one side there is an active and on the other a passive rapport’. However, Walther continues, ‘this relation can also be reversed in an instant and the somnambulist magnetize the magnetizer’. [80] So although the structure of the magnetic relation might be identical to that of Aristotle’s master and slave in that one person became part of another and one soul governed two bodies, it held within it the potential for that relationship to be overturned, and the positions reversed. [81] This possibility was implicit in the ambiguous position of the somnambulist: although, the somnambulist might be a selfless individual possessed by the soul, or consciousness, of the magnetizer, his individual soul was not so much annihilated as dissolved in the universal soul of the world. As Walther observed, ‘in magnetic sleep the soul is in intimate communion with the universal world soul’. [82] So although the somnambulist’s individual soul is functionally replaced by that of the magnetizer, it also participates in the universal soul which is shared with that of the magnetizer, with the result that, as Walther put it, ‘that which separates and divides them no longer exists’, and, by implication, the question of which of the two is dominant and which subordinate becomes secondary.

Pure Universality
Hegel rehearses the commonplace distinction between the individual and universal conceptions of the soul in his account of magnetism. [83] But for him, there is no straightforward exchange of individuality for universality in magnetic sleep, because the somnambulist loses full consciousness only to achieve a limited form of universality at a lower psychic level. [84] Despite this shift, it is not difficult to see the parallel with the master-slave dialectic where the slave exchanges individuality for universality at the same psychic level, namely that of self-consciousness. Just as the consciousness of the somnambulist becomes ‘an inward consciousness’ so, after the fight, the slave is ‘a consciousness forced back into itself’.

catmint said...

Fourier's answer to the problem of why people would carry out revolting work in an ideal society - because they enjoy doing it - isn't too far from cynical explanations of why foxhunting, say, isn't really cruel - because the foxes enjoy it! - apparently. Providence puts forward its own arguments - obviating the need to engage in tawdry polemics - apparently.

catmint said...

Fourier thinks the so called "caballistic passions" are perfectly natural. But if he's motivated by personal gain - and who isn't - this is a strange way to go about things. I'm not exactly sold on my own theory - it's more or less mock Deridesque: "the problems outlined in Fourier's ideal society are first of all problems of literature"

I suppose the issue Malcolm Bull is running up against with his excursion into Hegel's opinions on animal magnetism is whether GWF should or should not be aforded an exaggerate respect denied, for one reason or other to a Fourier or a Swedenborg. Which is a good question.

catmint said...

...whether Hegel should or should not be afforded an exaggerated respect...