The Unconscious as Infinite Sets: An Essay in Bi-Logic

The Unconscious as Infinite Sets: An Essay in Bi-Logic

The Unconscious as Infinite Sets: An Essay in Bi-Logic

The Unconscious as Infinite Sets: An Essay in Bi-Logic

Synopsis

A systematic effort to rethink Freud's theory of the unconscious, aiming to separate out the different forms of unconsciousness. The logico-mathematical treatment of the subject is made easy because every concept used is simple and simply explained from first principles. Each renewed explanation of the facts brings the emergence of new knowledge from old material of truly great importance to the clinician and the theorist alike. A highly original book that ought to be read by everyone interested in psychiatry or in Freudian psychology.

Excerpt

This book is undoubtedly Matte Blanco's most fundamental work. It has greatness and has been in print for nearly a quarter of a century, but frankly it is still shamefully ignored by most psychoanalysts and therapists. It is huge, and many lose courage when Matte says that it is written for psychoanalysts as well as for mathematical philosophers. But he was, through and through, a psychoanalyst with a great deal of clinical experience, and his friendly enthusiasm will carry you with him through many meeting places of abstract ideas. Once his basic approach is grasped, the book is 'unputdownable'. With his rare facility in psychiatry, psychoanalysis and mathematical logic, he produced, perhaps with the exception of Bion, the only fundamental account so far of the logical structures involved in emotions and the unconscious.

How can one get into his way of thinking? Perhaps a glance at his characteristic way of doing things can help. Matte was born and educated in Chile; he trained as a psychoanalyst and psychiatrist in England, worked in the United States, returned to Chile as a professor of psychiatry and psychoanalyst, then moved over thirty years ago to Rome to teach and practise. He was a high-born SpanishChilean aristocrat, with a proud lineage going back to heroes -- and, no doubt, villains -- hundreds of years ago. At the same time, he could get on enthusiastically without arrogance with anyone. He once said to me, "You know, Eric, I think people can best understand what I am saying by recognising that I am a Latin and thus very emotional. But, when I was about five, my father gave me a nickname which in English would be something like "little hairsplitter". That is me -- very emotional and logical at the same time.' This is what his bi-logic is about: it asks, what logic is in emotions, and what place does emotion have in logical thought?

The starting point of bi-logical thinking is described by Matte in the following pages. Put roughly, I think it sees the mind in a binary way, performing two utterly fundamental functions. First, when awake we must continuously register the 'sameness' of things around us in relation to things remembered from the past, such as 'This here is the same as that thing I saw the other day' etc. In effect, this use of memory, one of the great feats of humankind, saves . . .

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