Certainty – Uncertainty continued

January 17, 2008

Certainty and its relationship to the Other: Zizek uses George Soros as his example of this. Soros is either manipulating the money markets (El Shaddai?) and so in a direct relationship to many people’s well-being or he is relieving people’s distress (Elohim?) with money from his massive charity foundation. He ricochets between these two positions and he is generating certainty from both positions. The UK government is in a similar position with the amount of ‘protective’ legislation they have passed onto the statute books especially in the area of mental health.

A different perspective on certainty is those who are addicted to it. I am thinking of a subject who spent much of his time searching the internet for the image which complied with his rules. This imaginary world was so powerful that he although he is educated to degree standard forgot that the police can trace you. When the world where he enjoyed control of his enjoyment collapsed, he was very scared.
A personal example: When Dave Snowden suggested I became guest editor, it sounded like a good idea. On 6th January when I was supposed to start, I panicked. I could not relate to the Other of the cognitive-edge blog. I had exited from a relationship with Dave into free fall. I therefore invented a relationship to cognitive-edge’s invitation and became able to blog.
What I don’t know is whether my imaginary cognitive-edge Other is related to anyone out there. This situation would be improved if I could go on line and check 1) whether my technician, Dave, has actually posted the first blog and 2) whether there are any responses. In this respect, I am behaving rather like my previous example. Anyone who has been involved in any of the government’s ‘consultations’ will recognise this process. Consultations are in name only. They are there to prove that the government’s actions are correct. Thus certainty implies a rigid relationship to the Other – an Other which guarantees uniformity. Difference is excluded.

Uncertainty and its relationship to the Other: If you are in a relationship with an Other (YHWH) that does not guarantee truth, then meaning can fail, results cannot be predicted, and there are no oughts to relationships as they are based on trust or transference. Graciela Brodsky gives an account of uncertainty and psychoanalysis. The original includes a story . Some edited points:

Unpredictability in psychoanalysis can be considered, in fact, as a particular case of one of Murphy’s laws, which says ‘nothing will go as predicted.’ In the context of Murphy’s laws, this principle is the corollary of the number one law, which says, ‘if anything can go wrong, it will.’ Often, in psychoanalysis, if nothing is going as expected, then things are going well.

The unpredictable can’t be eliminated from analytical practice.

Knowledge in itself can only give room to surprise when knowledge fails; here is the relationship of surprise with truth.

Unpredictability, which is proposed as a principle in Lacanian practice, has a long history It goes back to Roman law. There’s a clause which is specific to international law and private contracts: the rebus sic stantibus. It indicates that an exceptional change of circumstance may affect the validity of treaties. It’s what is known as the unpredictability clause.

I suspect that the principle of uncertainty – the relationship to an Other who fails – is not acknowledged by many governments and people who do not want the risk of taking responsibility for their own position. Results are not predictable, knowledge fails, and position change.

Tomorrow: cbt and evidence-based practice unless uncertainty strikes again.

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