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Making the Unconscious Conscious: Wittgenstein versus Freud Frank Cioffi Received: 5 January 2009 / Accepted: 9 February 2009

/ Published online: 16 June 2009 # Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2009 Abstract The common assimilation of Wittgenstein s philosophical procedure to Freu d s psychoanalytic method is a mistake. The concurrence of Freudian analysands is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition of their unconscious thoughts hav ing been detected. There are several sources of this error. One is the equivocal role Freud assign the patient s recognition of the correctness of his interpretat ion and in particular the part played by paradoxical reminiscence : another, the su rreptitious banalisation of Freud s procedure by followers the reinvention of psycho analysis as a phenomenological enterprise; still another, the appeal of the acti vity of giving fuller expression to one s tantalisingly vague and inexplicit thoug hts and suspicions. This activity has its own intrinsic value though it ought no t to be permitted to usurp the place of empirical investigation, as futile as th is often is. And yet both plausible hypotheses and felicitous further description s must yield in desirability to the attainment of a state of reconciliation to th e person one has become however this was caused and whatever this is suspected t o be. Keywords The unconscious . Self-knowledge . Wittgenstein . Freud Part One Why Wittgenstein s Assimilation of Freud s Procedure to his Own is a Banalisation of Psychoanalysis It may come as news to some of Wittgenstein s commentators that Wittgenstein s notio n of making the unconscious conscious is to be opposed to Freud s since they have taken them as equivalent and on what appears to be Wittgenstein s own F. Cioffi (*) University of Kent at Canterbury, Frank Cioffi, 6 ST. Dunstans Terrace, Canterbury, Kent CT2 8AX, UK e-mail:

authority (Baker 2004, 207). But not only is Wittgenstein s procedure antithetical to Freud s, Wittgenstein on several occasion shows an awareness of this. And yet in his Wittgenstein Dictionary Glock observes that among the similarities Wittge nstein detected between his philosophical procedure and psychoanalysis was that b oth try to bring out a patient s repressed worries and that the ultimate standard fo r articulating these worries is that the patient should recognize them (1996, 111 ). The view that the analysand s agreement is a requirement for the correctness of a psychoanalytic interpretation imputing unconscious thoughts, impulses, aims etc is a banalisation of Freud s procedure. In dubbing Wittgenstein s account of Freud a banalisation , I am extending the formula of the classical philologist, Sebastian Timpanaro: substitution of a simpler expression for a more difficult one (1976, 35 ) beyond words and word order to concepts. When, following Wittgenstein s Schlick-Di ktat remarks, his expositors assimilated his procedure of philosophical enlighte nment to Freud s making the unconscious conscious , they replaced Freud s complex and e soteric notion of the unconscious by a simpler and more familiar one. The authen tic non-banalised version, from which Wittgenstein s must be distinguished, is stat ed clearly (if somewhat too boldly, ignoring Freud s equivocations) by D. H. Lawre nce in the second chapter of Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious. Lawrence reject s the terms preconscious and subconscious as synonyms for unconscious because both t e terms would imply a sort of nascent consciousness, the shadowy half consciousne ss which precedes mental realisation ... By his unconscious (Freud) intends no s uch thing. (1961, 209) Wittgenstein shows his awareness of the antagonism between his procedure and Fre ud s in, among other places, the third of the aesthetic lectures where he rebukes Freud for advancing a hypothesis as to the meaning of a patient s dream instead of confining himself to assisting her in expressing it more adequately (LC 23). In the light of remarks like these, we must construe Wittgenstein when he likens F

reud s procedure to his own as confining this likeness to those occasions on which Freud gave the patient s say-so a role in the confirmation of the interpretation proffered. This reduces the appearance of contradiction between their respective procedures but they nevertheless remain markedly disparate even where both conf er eventual introspectibility on the content of an interpretation. In those remarks in which Wittgenstein describes Freud s interpretations as attemp ts to recapitulate unconscious thoughts, which the analysand must recognize as h is own, Wittgenstein was expressing a view of Freud, which several expositors of Freud share. But this account is profoundly revisionist sometimes candidly, somet imes surreptitiously so. One such revisionist account describes Freud s interpreta tions as focusing utterances , making conscious something which has been vaguely know n , suspected or felt , or something which is just outside the focus range of conscious ness (Jones, 1968,95). The most succinct way of demonstrating the erroneousness of this conception is t o invoke the phenomenon which Freud put forward on several occasions as paradigm atic of the operation of the unconscious post-hypnotic compliance. Although the su bject of a post-hypnotic order can be induced to recollect the occasion on which the order was given, the conviction that his apparently inexplicable act was in compliance with an hypnotic suggestion does not at all depend on this recollect ion. It is credited because, as Freud himself points out, the implantation of th e order was witnessed. The endorsement of the subject adds nothing. I want to ask not only why this mischaracterization of psychoanalysis came about but also to what extent it may nevertheless be desirable to bring the practice of psychoanalysis into line with the Diktat-Wittgensteinian and revisionist misc onception of it. What kind of thing had Wittgenstein in mind when he compared his procedure to Freud s? There is a hint in lecture three of the Lectures and Conver sations: someone says (as we often say in philosophy) I will tell you what is at the back of your mind: Oh yes. Quite so. The criterion for it being at the back of your mind is that when I tell you, you agree. (LC 18) In Moore s notes, Wittgenstein described Freud as doing what aesthetics does and goe s on to describe explanation in aesthetics as the giving of further descriptions r ather than causal hypotheses (Moore 1966, 308). What might be some philosophical candidates for Wittgensteinian further description ? These are remarks that I can imagine a Wittgensteinian addressing to an interlocutor: You think of someone else s toothache as hidden from you like the decay in the tooth which is producing it You think of thought as gaseous and lighter than air You think of meaning someone as like walking up to him; or as like pointing with your mind instead of your finger. You are puzzled as to how to conceive the mind when it thinks because you are looking for something which stands to thinking as the hand to writing or the mouth to speaking. When you say It is God s will you really mean this must be accepted and not struggled against . When you ask for a demonstration that there is value in the world what you really want is the will to pursue it. Anyone who recalls the kind of interpretation Freud gives his patients will reco gnize how epistemically unlike they are to the philosophical ones Wittgenstein h ad in mind (except on those occasions when Freud engages in a banalised version of his usual and distinctive practice and plays the role of father confessor). A nalysands may find gratification in being proffered interpretations which formul ate more precisely or felicitously what they had at the back of their minds but this is not what Freud took himself to be doing when he made the unconscious con scious.1 Further Descriptions Versus Hypotheses What does Wittgenstein mean by further description? Moore reports Wittgenstein as saying that reasons in aesthetics are of the nature of further descriptions (1966, 208) Though it is in some ways infelicitous to refer to the reasons for an aest

hetic 1 Here is one of Freud s accounts of how the unconscious may become accessible: cer tain practices of mystics may succeed in upsetting the normal relations between the different regions of the mind, so that for example, the perceptual system be comes able to grasp relations in the deeper layers of the ego and the id which w ould otherwise be inaccessible to it (1933 New Introductory Lectures Anatomy of the Mental Personality ). This seems remote fr om Wittgenstein s correct expression of feeling . judgment as a further description, it is clear enough what Wittgenstein means. W hat Wittgenstein has centrally in mind is what he elsewhere describes as the pre dicament of being intrigued and wanting to describe (LC 37). The contrast between further descriptions and hypotheses emerges clearly in some remarks on Freudian dream interpretation in the third of the lectures on psycho logy and aesthetics, where among Wittgenstein s objections to Freud s dealings with dreams is that he advanced hypotheses concerning the source of the dream images when he ought to have confined himself to soliciting the dreamer s supplementary i mpression of these images. I have abridged the remarks so as to give prominence to this component in his objections: Freud does something which seems to me immensely wrong. He gives what he calls a n interpretation of dreams ... A patient, after saying that she had had a beauti ful dream, described a dream in which she descended from a height saw flowers an d shrubs, broke off the branch of a tree etc. Freud shows relations between the dream, the dream images and certain objects of a sexual nature ... (LC 23 24) In Freud s account of this dream (1900) we have both hypotheses and further descri ptions. But the further descriptions are the dreamer s and the hypotheses are Freu d s. Let us begin with the flowering branch. In the dream it is covered with red c amellia-like flowers. The flowering branch makes the dreamer think of the angel holding a lily spray in pictures of the Annunciation and of girls in white robes walking in Corpus Christi processions, when the streets are decorated with gree n branches. These constitute the dreamer s further descriptions. Freud writes the sam e branch which was carried like a lily was at the same time an allusion to Margue rite Gautier, the courtesan-heroine of Dumas play La Dame aux camelias, who wore a red camellia when she was menstruating and a white one when she was not. These are Freud s hypotheses. In the case of the flowery dream, the unconscious pre-exi sting image which became the flowering branch of the manifest dream was a phallu s, and the pre-existent image which became the camellias it sprouted, was the fl owers worn by La Dame aux camelias in Dumas play, whose colour indicated whether sh e was menstruating. But Freud did sometimes give a banalised account of his own method. Freud s accoun t of the manner in which contents formerly unconscious are made conscious to the patient has generated two distinct construals. One, that it is just a matter of the subject s eventual conviction that his condition error, symptom, dream image et c. is only compellingly explained by assuming the truth of the interpretation prop osed. The other, that when the repression is lifted the dreamer will experience, i.e., not merely concede but recognize, the operation of the motive (or ideatio n or cerebration) that the interpretation imputes to him. Which of these views i s centrally psychoanalytic? How did Freud himself think his interpretations were to be validated? Freud make s one suggestion as to how in the last chapter of the Studies on Hysteria when h e speaks of thoughts which the patient never remembers though he admits that the context calls for them inexorably (1895, 272). So the patient can only acquiesce in what the analyst has shown to be so. But in the same work he asks a patient, who acknowledges that she was in love with her employer, why she had not told Fr eud earlier and when she replies that she didn t know or didn t want to know but wanted to drive it out of my head and not think of it again , Freud comments: I have neve r managed to give a better descriptions of the strange state of mind in which on e knows and does not know a thing at the same time (1895, 117 n.1). So it was not just a matter of what the context called for inexorably but of what the patient c ould be brought to recall and recognize. The version making the unconscious cons

cious which invokes recognition by the patient is what I have termed a banalisati on. It is not, and given the nature of the interpretations Freud normally proffer s could not be, Freud s considered view. The conception of unconscious thoughts as thoughts that are merely schematic and unthematised or consciously held at bay is unequivocally rejected in a work of 1905 where Freud writes: opponents of the unconscious ... had never realised the idea that the unconscious is something which we do not know but which we are obl iged by compelling inferences to supply; they had understood it as something cap able of being conscious but which was not being thought of at the moment, which didn t occupy the focal point of attention (1905, 162). And in the first chapter of T he Ego and the Id, Freud writes: The thought which was previously unnoticed is no t recognized by consciousness but often seems entirely alien ;he goes on to compla in of the deplorable tactic of seeking refuge from the unconscious in what is unn oticed or scarcely noticed (1923, 16 n. 1). On the other hand in the Introductory Lectures we have: Well what do you do if I make an unintelligible utterance to you? You question me, is that not so? Why sh ould we not do the same thing to the dreamer question him as to what his dream mea ns? (1916 17, 100). And yet when Joseph Wortis objected to one of Freud s interpretat ions that he did not in the least feel that way he was accused of disbelieving in the unconscious (Wortis 1963, 102 3). Otto Fenichel in a review of Karen Horney be rates her for banalising Freud since by the unconscious, Horney means not clearly conscious whereas Freud means that of which the subject knows nothing whatsoever ( 1940, 115). Freud s making the unconscious conscious is not Wittgenstein s formulatin g the correct expression of feeling. When Freud speaks of making the unconscious conscious, thus producing a patient s sense of revelation as to the meaning of his symptoms or dreams, the patient s rec ognition cannot be assimilated to that of Wittgenstein s philosophical interlocuto r recognizing the source of a philosophical misconception. The patient spostinterpr etative experience is not the ground for the analyst s conviction that his interpr etation is correct, nor is it required before he can conclude that it is correct . There are several grounds for the failure of the analogy between the philosophic method Wittgenstein recommends and the role of the patient s agreement in Freud s p sychoanalysis. In the first place many of the phenomena Freud purports to accoun t for in his interpretations are not such that they could be confirmed or discon firmed by the patient s agreement. Let us suppose that one of Freud s patients actua lly said Now I know why my head aches: I displaced my wish to be deflowered upwar ds and transformed hymeneal pain into cranial pain . Would we credit it on her say -so? Nor would her inability to confirm it demonstrate that Freud must be mistak en. Wittgenstein finds an analogy between his method and that of psychoanalysis in t hat a simile operating in the unconscious can be made harmless by being articulat ed (Diktat fr Schlick 1932 quoted by Baker 2004, 207). The similes of whose influe nce Wittgenstein persuades his philosophical interlocutors are not like those wh ich figure in Freud s interpretations. The disclosure of the simile operating in th e unconscious means one thing to Wittgenstein and something quite different to Fr eud; Wittgenstein attempts to evince convincingly and felicitously a state of mi nd; Freud attempts to explain a symptom or a dream image. Freud s similes unlike W ittgenstein s are causes. The piercing glance to which one of his patients felt hers elf subjected is invoked by Freud to explain the pain in her head. Freud says of a patient who entertained unconscious defloration fantasies concerning any attr active young girl he encountered that since at university he failed to pass in bo tany now he carries on with it as a deflorator (Masson 1985, 345 6). So far we could have a Wittgensteinian further description if a strained one but Freud goes on, char acteristically, to tell us that the deflorator sweats as he deflowers , because it is hard work. This is no longer just a simile like He now collects girls as he on ce collected flowers but is a cause with material consequences. Moore reports Wittgenstein as saying of Freud: It is all excellent similes, e.g.

the comparison of a dream to a rebus . But for Wittgenstein the rebus-like charact er of dreams is internally related to them. Rebus is a simile, which, when applied t o a dream episode, need only be mentioned for us to recognize its felicity. But for Freud the rebus-like character of dreams is, an initially hidden, and then a rduously excogitated feature of dream formation. For Freud the statement that dr eams are rebus-like is a discovery like the deciphering of the Rosetta stone but for Wittgenstein it is like pointing out that we can discern a face in the cont ours of the moon. For Wittgenstein the term rebus would figure in a further descri ption, for Freud it is a hypothesis. For Freud a dream image isn t a rebus because we find this a felicitous term for the impression it makes on us but because of the manner in which it came about, however it may impress us. Showing us clearly where we had been the whole time or telling us what was at the b ack of our minds or what was among our crush of thoughts or what it was that intrigu ed us, is not what Freud took himself to be doing when he imputed repressed uncon scious ideation to a patient as an explanation of her condition. Why have so man y of those who addressed this issue thought otherwise? One reason is that Freud s vocabulary sometimes encourages their misconstrual because of the way in which i t can comprise epistemically disparate relations. E.g., the term condensation . In a dream concerning a paper sent him by a medical colleague who admired Ibsen and which Freud thought written in too emotional a style, Freud describes its st yle as positively Norekdal , a phrase his waking self finds incomprehensible. At las t I saw that the monstrosity was composed of two names Nora and Ekdal characters in t wo well-known plays of Ibsen s (1900, 296). To bring out the epistemic distinctiveness of this explanation, imagine an alter native context in which the phrase norekdal might have been used by Freud in an at tempt at humorous derision of his colleague s paper. If someone slow on the uptake asked Freud to explain his remark, what Freud would then produce in clarificati on would be Wittgensteinian further description and Freud would then stand in an entirely different relation to it from that in which he stood to his interpreta tion of the dream-nonsense word norekdal . Though both occurrences of the word are instances of what Freud calls condensation , one was an inference the other not. In the case of the wordplay Freud would be offering the hearer a paraphrase for wh ich the expression condensation was a felicitous mnemonic, a good way of representi ng a fact (Moore 1966, 309). But condensation as it occurs in Freud s interpretatio n of his dream is an inference not a further description , however well-founded it might be.2 The Concept of Paradoxical Reminiscence and Paradoxical Recognition Paradoxical reminiscence is my term for the remembering of repressed material, whi ch had always been in a state of repression and thus never experienced. Freud s mo st explicit account of paradoxical reminiscence occurs in a paper of 1914 in whi ch he says it particularly often happens that something is remembered which never cou ld have been forgotten because it was never at any time noticed, never was conscio us (1914, 149). (Wittgenstein s Blue Book reference to the discovery of conscious th oughts which were unconscious may be an allusion to paradoxical reminiscence [BB 57].) The obvious objection to conferring on the patient the power to validate the ana lyst s interpretation when this pertained to matters which had never been consciou s was made by Sartre in Being and Nothingness: how could he compare it to his pre sent state since that is out of reach, and since he never had any knowledge of i t? (1969, 574). Sartre here was imputing to Freud the notion of paradoxical remin iscence and objecting to its coherence. Alfred North Whitehead on the other hand seems to find no difficulty with the notion. In Science and the Modern World, W hitehead took account of the phenomena I have called paradoxical reminiscence: We certainly do take account of things of which at the time we have no explicit co gnition. We can even have a cognitive memory of the taking account without havin g a contemporaneous cognition (1948, 67). Though Freud only intermittently invokes the patient s recognition of an unconscio us which was never conscious he still leaves it unclear whether when he does not , the thoughts Freud imputes to the patient are accepted because the context call

s for them inexorably (1895, 272) or because they are recognised as those which t hey remember trying to drive out of their heads (1895, 117 n.1)? Some commentators on the unconscious are so intent on being celebratory that the y leave us unclear as to the epistemic nature of the discovery they are celebrat ing. I have argued elsewhere that this fuzziness may not be entirely disinterest ed. The gravitational pull of the father confessor model and of the desire to ma ke obscure intimations more explicit may be resisted in spite of their welcome f amiliarity because the assumption that our repressed sexual and egoistic impulse s are deeply unconscious and alien is one which promises to spare us a lot of sq uirming and wriggling. What the unbanalised notion of the deep unconscious accom plishes, with 2 At least one analyst has noticed this. Donald Spence in a review of Schafer s A New Language for Psychoanalysis, quoted Schafer as to the analyst s need to invoke some unseen mechanism when the patient is not ready to acknowledge his own respo nsibility. Spence illustrates the way in which Schafer s half-hearted revisionism c hallenges the underlying analytic contract by citing the terms in which he describ es a patient: Unfailingly, though still apprehensively, she avoids remembering th ose events of her childhood to which she reacted in a traumatized fashion . Spence comments: Note the use of the verb avoid . Does Schafer mean that the patient has m ade a conscious decision not to remember, and that once the avoidance is pointed out, it will be corrected? Probably not; but if he holds with a dynamic unconsc ious, he cannot turn round and hold the patient s responsible. (1976). our connivance, is a species of exorcism, which takes the sting out of our shame ful perverse and vindictive fantasising by banishing it to a realm of which we a re innocently oblivious (Cioffi 2004, 376 81). How then, does Freud make the unconscious conscious? One of the notions that nee ds addressing is that of the inner change which according to Freud must precede re cognition of the unconscious content of the interpretation proffered before it c an be, not merely accepted, but recognized as having occupied the patient s mind, at least peripherally, on some previous occasion. The notion of the inner change i s introduced in a passage on the two kinds of knowledge which the patient gains in analysis or the two kinds of ignorance from which he suffered, one of which c ould be corrected by valid inference, the other not. (1916 17, 15) (This distincti on seems to be a variant on the familiar philosophical one between knowledge by acquaintance and knowledge by description.) The problem the notion of the second kind of knowledge, the post inner change kind, raises is how one can have knowled ge by acquaintance of that with which one was never consciously acquainted; i.e., i s paradoxical reminiscence intelligible? Whatever view we take of this issue, the notion of paradoxical reminiscence dest roys any analogy between the corroborative experience of Freud s patients and that of Wittgenstein s pupil-interlocutor. But there is a more general disanalogy. Eve n without the notion of paradoxical reminiscence the agreement of a patient cann ot be assimilated to that of Wittgenstein s philosopher-pupil because the patient s recognition supervenes on an interlude of total unawareness unlike the recogniti on accorded the misleading simile, at the back of his mind ,by Wittgenstein s pupil. Did Freud Sometimes Proffer Further Descriptions and thus Banalise his Own Disco very? How can we tell whether in proffering a particular psychoanalytic interpretation Freud is advancing an account which he believes the patient is capable of direc tly appreciating, i.e., verifying introspectively , or rather, one which the patien t is only compelled by evidence to accept? The Rat Man is obviously producing a further description when he explains his vi olation of the rule against leaving the couch by saying that he could not lie co mfortably while heaping such filthy abuse on Freud and his family. It is less ob vious whether Freud was producing a rival further description or an hypothesis w hen he contradicted him by saying that his real reason was to put himself out of reach lest Freud fetch him a clip on the ear. Freud tells us that the Rat Man s own account of his action of replacing a small s tone he had previously obsessively removed from a roadway on the implausible gro

und that it might overturn the carriage in which his fiance was shortly to travel was a spurious rationalisation. The Rat Man had maintained that he replaced the stone because recognizing the irrationality of his action in removing it he was determined to oppose his compulsions and weaken their power. For Freud it was a victory for his unconscious hatred of his fiancee and constituted a symbolic co nsummation of this. It is difficult to see how other than as a hypothesis about strictly unconscious processes Freud s account is to be taken. Difficult but not i mpossible. We need only imagine that the Rat Man s response to Freud s suggestion th at his motive was hostility was to recall at some point that it was with a feeli ng of what he now recognized as vengeful satisfaction that he replaced the stone . Not only have we no grounds for thinking that this is how things went but in t he case of other of the Rat Man s compulsive symptoms, their unconscious roots are so elaborate that we could make no sense of their being at the back of the pati ent s mind waiting to be summoned to awareness by the analysts proffered interpreta tion (1909 passim).

On the other hand Dora s allusion to Frau K s beautiful white body is more likely to h ave stood to her homoerotic feelings for Frau K as a thought to its further elab oration, i.e., a further description than as the conscious effect of an unconsci ous erotic impulse. But for just this reason it is not a properly psychoanalytic interpretation. How did Wittgenstein come to the erroneous conclusion that Freud s interpretations were not hypotheses but were doing what aesthetics does , proffering further descri ptions? It arose in part through treating Freud s joke reductions as paradigmatic of Freudian interpretation whereas they are inassimilable to what is distinctive in Freud s account of the meaning of dreams and symptoms. Wittgenstein said of Freud s joke book that it was a good book for looking for phil osophical mistakes . Here is an example of what he might have meant. This is Freud s energic formula for that subclass of laughables, which he calls humour : an economy in the expenditure of feeling (as contrasted with jokes, an economy in the expend iture of repression or inhibition and the comic, an economy in the expenditure of thought ). Freud gives as an example of what he means by economy in the expenditure of feeling , a specimen of gallows humour a man about to be hanged on a Monday morn ing remarks, A fine way to start the week (1905, 229). Freud s energic analysis woul d thus run: When we are told a man is about to be hanged we anticipate an occasi on for feeling compassion but we get a quip instead and so we are left with an u nexpended amount of affect. Here the affect economised is pity. Freud s philosophic al mistake is to imply that it could have been something else that his description of the condition of the psychic apparatus under circumstances in which economy of affect occurs could have grounds independent of the account given by the person who laughed. If Freud were advancing a genuine hypothesis we would have no diff iculty in imagining that he was mistaken and that the feeling economised was not pity but contempt, say. So Freud s theoretical, energic account is just the pheno menological fact jargonised and projected beneath the appearances it purports to explain. Even if we could look forward to a time when a libido-meter or psychoa nalytascope would enable us to determine what subterranean processes of cathexis and counter-cathexis were taking place when we laughed at a joke we would still need to have recourse to old-fashioned methods of paraphrase to make clear to o urselves just what it was that we found amusing. Thus even when Freud s accounts o f jokes are not mistaken they are explanatorily redundant. They are further desc riptions and not hypotheses. But it does not follow that therefore his interpret ations of dreams or symptoms are equally so. The Probative Value of the Patient s Endorsement I have argued that a patient s recognition of his derepressed unconscious is unlik e a philosopher s acknowledgement that his feelings have been correctly expressed because Freud s unconscious is extra-marginal not marginal , to employ William James ste ms (1960,233 4). They are hypotheses as to what lies beyond consciousness and not formulations of what might have lain at its periphery.

Adolf Grnbaum has a different objection to Freud s invocation of the patient s say-so as a criterion of correctness than those I have invoked. He appears not to noti ce the inappropriateness of agreement as a criterion given the nature of the int erpretations to be corroborated e.g. hysterical conversion. He appeals rather to the scepticism about first-person psychological explanation to which he thinks us entitled even when it is conscious motives, thoughts, and feelings etc, which are being invoked. He writes, Though the subject often does have direct and gene rally reliable access to the individual content of his mental states he/she has only inferential access just like outside observers to such causal linkages as actua lly connect some of his own mental states (Grnbaum 1985, 279). Isn t this a travesty of our mental lives? Has Grnbaum never tapped his foot to mus ic? When Grnbaum scratches himself does he infer the relation between his itching and his scratching? We can see why Pinocchio had to infer the connection betwee n his lengthening nose and the lies he was telling. Is this how Grnbaum thinks he stands to his tapping foot? Is the say-so of the subject as to the significance of an opaque action really a s questionable when it pertains to a conscious as to a formerly conscious but re pressed thought? I read somewhere probably Macaulay that during the reign of George I, English Jacobites would express their subversive views by limping whenever th ey toasted the Hanoverian King George. This would signal that their real loyalty was to James, thus: L stood for Louis 14th at whose court James lived in exile, I s tood for James (the Latin spelling) M for Mary of Modena his wife, and P for the Pri nce of Wales, their son. Would Grnbaum insist that in conferring this significanc e on the perplexing accompaniment to their toast they were really making an infe rence? Similarly with the Italian irredentists who expressed their hostility to Austrian rule by shouting Verdi! Verdi! at the performance of his operas, the secr et subversive meaning being Vittorio Emmanuel re de Italia! Could they have been i n error; could an observer been as well placed to construe their shouts? Consider the scene of the boy crossing a field in the first chapter of Swallows and Amazons. His veerings and swoopings would puzzle an onlooker until he realis ed that the boy was imagining he was a sailboat responding to changes in the dir ection and force of the wind. Are we to credit that the boy was inferring the re lation between the movement of his arms and his imagining himself a sailboat? In cases like these there is no scope for the sceptical doubts that Grnbaum enjoins . In his lecture on descriptions Wittgenstein alludes to the odd fact that we someti mes imitate someone else and recalled once walking down a street and thinking I a m now walking exactly like Russell (LC 39). Although this has analogues in the ps ychoanalytic use of identification, its epistemic status is not comparable. For example we are told that the tablecloth lady of Introductory lectures 17 and 18, in running from one room to another in which she enacted her ritual, was identi fying with her husband s behaviour in running from his room to hers on their disas trous wedding night (Freud 1916 17). We can see why Grnbaum might find her agreemen t with this an insufficient ground for accepting it but there is no scope for do ubt in Wittgenstein s identification of the subject of his mimicry. The case for s cepticism in the psychoanalytic case is quite other than Grnbaum takes it to be.

A colleague once confided that when feeling particularly inadequate he scratched himself like the Mifune character in Rashomon and felt somewhat better for it. Can the right epistemic response to this be that though he knew he was scratchin g himself (Grnbaum s content ) he could only infer, like any outside observer that he w s doing so in mimicry of Mifune (Grnbaum s causal linkage )? My colleague s remark about Mifune reminded me that if when seated at my desk overlooking the rooftops of C anterbury, I put my feet up and lean back in my chair, hands clasped behind my h ead, I became momentarily oblivious of the cosy chimney pots and became instead Raymond Chandler s Philip Marlowe pensively contemplating the neon glow of the mean streets. Does imputing my momentary fantasy to my posture involve me in a surre ptitious inference? However we resolve this issue as to when and why in everyday life the agreement of the subject certifies a conjecture as correct it can have no bearing on the validational problems raised by the Freudian explanatory invo

cation of unconscious motives, impulses, thoughts etc. The correct objection to the invocation of avowal in the Freudian cases of uncon scious identification is that these cannot be assimilated to the everyday ones b ecause the relation in which the analysand stands to the figure unconsciously id entified with differs epistemically from that in which the fantasisers in my exa mples stood to Mifune and Philip Marlowe. In the case of the conscious mimicry, unlike that of the tablecloth lady, there was no interval of complete inaccessib ility, no false though truthful denial. The disanalogy precludes the assimilatio n of everyday psychological explanations to psychoanalytic ones.3 The Reinvention of Psychoanalysis as a Phenomenological Enterprise: Freud as an A rticulator of Worries Wittgenstein s mistaken assimilation of Freud s procedure to his own may have been p rompted by those occasions on which Freud apparently adopts a banalised version of his own theory thus replacing unconscious states of affairs which exist indep endently of the patient s concurrence with those of which the patient was sublimin ally aware and of whose truth his acknowledgement is constitutive. This misconst rual has some contemporary relevance for, alerted by Wittgenstein s 3 In Philip Roth s autobiography The Facts, when a taxi is taking the narrator to th e morgue to identify his estranged wife s body, the cabbie comments on his buoyant demeanour and Roth suddenly becomes aware that he has been cheerily whistling. R oth was manifesting what Wittgenstein calls the characteristic expression-behaviou r for joy and thus providing others with grounds for imputing that state to him; But was Roth himself unconsciously inferring from his whistling that he was not bereft by the death of his wife. There are philosophers and psychologists who th ink it likely. Here is an example of someone apparently illustrating the anomalo us case in which the meaning of an action is consciously rather than unconscious ly inferred by an agent. W N P Barbellion recorded in his journal that he endure d an hour s torture of indecision over whether to go and propose marriage to his g irlfriend or to the Fabian Society and hear Bernard Shaw. He writes found myself slowly, mournfully, putting on hat and coat. You can t shave in a hat and coat so I concluded I had decided on Shaw (1948, 182-83). Isn t this a Wittgensteinian gram matical joke? emphasis on the contrast between hypotheses and further descriptions, it becomes blatant that many self-styled Freudians have deserted what was distinctive in F reud s conception of the unconscious, the idea of mental processes which could onl y be identified by a procedure of arduous inference and which pertain to matters which could be completely alien to the subject. It isn t merely theoretical remarks like Freud s baffling claim that the dreamer kno ws the meaning of his dream which appear to intermittently commit him to an unco nscious about which one could get clear in Wittgenstein s sense, but those exchanges with patients where he appears to be getting clear about a mental state, arrivi ng at a further description of it, merely by formulating what was at the back of th eir minds . Such episodes appear to give some warrant to the revisionist s banalisat ion. An example is Freud s telling Dora that her anger at Herr K s sexual advances w as not a manifestation of affronted modesty but rather of wounded vanity in that she recognized the phrases he employed were those he had used in seducing the g overness of his children ( What thought you dare he treat me like a servant ) (Cioff i 1998,62 66). Statements like this belong to Wittgenstein s category of questions which are not settled as hypotheses are settled but in entirely different way; more in the for m what is in my mind when I say so and so (LC 18). This is also true of Dora s melan choly, her feelings of resentment towards her father, and towards Frau and Herr K. But it cannot hold of the tickle in her throat, her genital catarrh, and her limp. The assimilation of these two disparate classes of interpretanda constitut e what Wittgenstein called Freud s abominable mess. The tendency of contemporary psychoanalysts to work with a weakened, banalised c oncept of the unconscious is illustrated by Janet Malcolm s pseudonymous but paradi gmatic analyst in her New Yorker articles on psychoanalysis. He speaks of bringi ng out stuff... barely on the fringes of his patient s consciousness (1982, 72). If th

is is what he did, he was not practicing psychoanalysis. How is bringing out stuff ... barely on the fringes of his patient s consciousness to be distinguished from th e procedure the anti-Freudian, Aaron Beck tells us he adopted when he abandoned psychoanalysis and decided to confine himself to pathogenic thoughts which operat e at the margins of consciousness ? Even in the literalist heyday of the unconscious we find (in a work once used in the training of analysts) an explanation of a certain class of phobias which is closer to Wittgenstein s further description than to the hypotheses he disdains: C ertain persons are afraid of seeing cripples or of witnessing accidents because they do not wish to be reminded of what might happen to me (Fenichel, 1966, 196). T his is obviously a further description of their phobic state and for that very r eason Freud would have denied it the capacity to produce symptoms and would prob ably have treated it as a rationalisation of castration anxiety. Another instance of oblivious banalisation is provided by a researcher in psycho therapy, Allen Bergin. Bergin characterises good psychoanalytic interpretation as re sponding to client affect just below the surface and labelling, identifying or e mphasizing it rather than telling the patient about feelings he "really has" when he is not experiencing them. He says that analysts, in common with non-analytic t herapists, followed this procedure of good interpretation (1966, 241). In so far as they did they had momentarily ceased practicing psychoanalysis. It may be true that every Freudian has a phenomenologist inside him struggling to e merge, but this does not justify obscuring the distinction between them4. Summary and Conclusion to Part One One source of the disanalogy between an analysand s relation to an interpretation and Wittgenstein s interlocutor s agreement to suggestions as to the source of a phi losophical misconception is that in the psychoanalytic case the diagnosis is oft en not the kind of thing which the say-so of the patient could confirm, e.g. con version hysteria. What distinguishes a psychoanalytic patient s recognition of the correctness of an interpretation from Wittgenstein s interlocutor in cases other than conversion is that the experience that leads the patient to agree need never have been, even peripherally, conscious and that even where the repressed was once conscious it later passed into a state in which the patient could not recognize it if it were put to him. Moreover, nowhere does Freud imply that an interpretation must be i ncorrect if a patient fails to endorse it. That the patient stand in a more inti mate relation to his unconscious than just intellectual conviction is required f or therapeutic purposes not probative ones. In his notebooks Wittgenstein gives expression to a profoundly characteristic ut terance: If the place I want to get to could only be reached by a ladder I would give up trying to get there. For the place I really have to get to, is the place I am already at now (CV 7). Wittgenstein s conflicting construals of psychoanalysi s suggest that it was for him both the ladder he abjured and the means of remain ing where he was. Part Two: When should Further Descriptions be Preferred to Hypotheses? Why all this fuss about the mystery of the unconscious? What about the mystery of the conscious? What do they know about that? James Joyce Just what are Hypotheses in Rivalry with? The thesis that Freud seeks for causal explanations in a context where this is in appropriate (Johnston 1989,49 50) is one often found among Wittgensteinian commenta tors on Freud. Paul Johnston says that what is appropriate instead is 4 Robert Fliess gives an account of making the unconscious conscious which appea rs at first to support the Wittgensteinian and revisionist construal. He writes that the alteration in the patient s personality will ultimately enable him to veri fy introspectively the hitherto unacceptable statement about himself . However in the same preface Fliess disqualifies the patient in a way which shows how alien the unbanalised Freudian view of the role of the patient s concurrence is to the W ittgensteinian one: Although the discovery of the unconscious has actually deprive d the nave observer of his last province, he is as yet unaware of his deposition. Unacquainted with his incompetence, he believe himself, on the strength of poss

essing a psyche, capable of evaluating a psychological statement. v).

(Fliess 1950, x

arranging what we already know. But this encounters a strong and apparently coge nt objection. The analyst Charles Hanly for example objects that arrangements of the facts of hysteria would not have added anything to the understanding of its genesis This is so, but is it all there is to be said? Not all of Freud s interpreta tions were of hysterical symptoms. Is there in other cases an alternative context? One which invites us to clarify w ithout explaining as Monk puts it (1990, 511). When is this the appropriate conte xt in a enquiry which ostensibly addresses diagnostic and explanatory issues? Th e task this question sets us is the difficult one of determining when a hypothes is trumps a further description and when a further description can only be trump ed by a further, further description. We sometimes appear to be confronted by a choice between explanation without und erstanding and understanding without explanation. An existential psychotherapist, Rollo May maintains (in the International Encyclopedia of Social Science entry on existential psychology) that psychoanalytic explanation precludes understandi ng of that which it explains (May 1968). What might have induced him to say this ? I think similar considerations were at work as those, which moved Wittgenstein to deny that an hypothesis as to his condition would confer peace or calm on someon e troubled by love (GB 123). Even if we take calm/peace to refer to the relief of intellectual perplexity rather than to spiritual tranquillity we can still see w hat would prompt someone to dismiss the pertinence of hypotheses: & There were an insufficient number of convolutions in the Frankenstein monster s brain thus it is argued in James Whale s film, a life of brutality, violence and murder . & "Something about me that explains everything" says Bob Mitchum of a childhood trauma he has repressed in Raoul Walsh s Pursued the first Freudian western. There is a tendency to think that of these two explanations only the invocation of the missing wrinkles in the monster s brain necessarily fails to render the phe nomenon explained perspicuous. But Wittgenstein s remark on the love-troubled one can be construed to imply that repressed childhood traumas are as incapable of c onferring genuine understanding as brain wrinkles since they are no less externa l, i.e., not immanent to the current experience of the subject. This may seem an arbitrary restriction on what can count as an explanation and both brain wrinkl es and infantile traumas ought to count as providing it. But although explanatio ns as external that is, as transcendent to the self-awareness of the subject as cere bral idiosyncrasies or infantile traumas may sometimes be what the context calls for there is a demand that they nevertheless fail to meet. They cannot confer t he kind of perspicuity which results when the explanatory revelation is continuo us with pre-reflective awareness, something analogous to the successful attempt to recall a momentarily forgotten name (Wittgenstein s analogy) or recapturing the momentarily forgotten purpose which took us from one room to another. Thus it was the fact that the causes invoked by psychoanalysis were not immanent to the experience explained which moved those in the phenomenological tradition to deny them the capacity to render the condition of the subject intelligible t o him. On occasion, clarity about my feelings as to what befell me and the view I should take of its putative consequences matters more than what these really w ere: who or what I blame more than who or what was really to blame. And these wo uld seem to be matters that a-causal, a-hypothetical discourse might be adequate to. It was the same externality as that to which existential therapists object, which incited Wittgenstein to describe Freud as doing something immensely wrong i n his interpretation of the flowery dream (LC 23). Suppose that in the search for self-understanding we confined ourselves to what Wittgenstein chastised Freud for failing to confine himself to in his dealing wi th the flowery dreamer. What would we lose if we abandoned hypotheses for furthe r descriptions? States of mind which are troubling can take us in either of two directions, that of determining their causal origins or that of articulating mor

e fully their troubling or perplexing aspects. This latter enterprise, which is characteristic of Wittgenstein, constitutes a banalisation of Freud s procedure th ough it has compensating merits. The implication of Wittgenstein s criticism of Freud s dealings with the flowery dre amer are that we should confine ourselves to doing what Freud did when he explai ned what made a joke funny and eschew what he was doing when he told the flowery dreamer that her dream was bawdy even though she did not recognize it as such. We can easily imagine that taking the conversation with the flowery dreamer in the direction of the passionless marriage implicit in some of her remarks might be for her a more illuminating course than determining the unconscious antecedents of the image of the flowering branch, however diagnostically profitable this lat ter might be. It must be conceded however that to adopt such a course would mean abandoning many of the traditional diagnostic goals of psychopathology. The Prerogatives and Limits of Banalisation Rush Rhees s suggestion that someone s bewilderment at the sort of person he turned o ut to be might be assuaged by the same means as those which would enable him to f ormulate what he felt as he listened to Mozart s Requiem (1971, 23) may seem extra vagant but there is a way of reducing its apparent extravagance. Our self-feelin g has unarticulated, occluded formal relations which may be brought into focus a nd illuminated in the way in which a felicitous further description illuminates an aesthetic experience. There are occasions when my life and the self that lived it stand to me like tho se experiences which Wittgenstein felt seemed to be saying something and set him t he task of discovering what it was that they were saying (BB 185). Suppose that for these experiences we substitute that peculiar and yet familiar intentional o bject, one s own self. The self we are attempting to fathom need not figure as merel y an explanandum the antecedent conditions of which we are in search of but as a complex intentional object whose aspects we are striving to discriminate and ar ticulate and towards which we are trying to clarify our feelings. We don t only ha ve a need to know why or how we became the particular person we are but also for a deeper or more comprehensive grasp of in what this particularity consists the e lucidation of our self-feeling something which a knowledge of its unconscious dete rminants or organic causes cannot confer. The problem that the person I have tur ned out to be presents need not take the form Why have I become thus-andthus? But r ather What is this thus-and-thus that I have become? In the first of the Introductory Lectures Freud speaks of the information require d by the analysis as concerning what is most intimate in his mental life, everythi ng that as a socially independent person he must conceal from other people and b eyond that everything that he will not admit to himself (1916 17, 18). It is precis ely the subject s attempts to evince this aspect of his intimate mental life, whic h answer to Wittgenstein s a-causal, self-clarificatory, further description accou nt. What would an analysis conducted along Wittgenstein s a-causal, non-explanatory li nes look like? It would confine itself to those items in Freud s list, which a fat her confessor would expect his penitent to be conversant with, e.g., those matte rs that he attempted to conceal from others things ill done or done to others harm . These rarely require dream interpretation or free association for their discernm ent. What is wrong with this mode of banalisation of Freud s procedure is not its lack of candour as to its deviation from psychoanalysis proper but its lack of candou r as to its explanatory limitations. Developmental Questions and the Limits on the Explanatory Power of Further Descr iptions In his essay Disposition and Memory Stuart Hampshire speaks of the discovery that a memory of something in the past has been continuously the reason for inclinatio n and conduct, unknown to the subject and without his having been aware of the m emory as a memory (1982, 85). Hampshire seems to be invoking the strictly Freudia n claim to uncover episodes occluded rather than immanent. But if we banalise Ha mpshire s thesis we can easily supply plausible instances. It is said that Prosper

Merime imputed his austere reserve to a childhood episode when on being rebuked by his parents he broke into tears and was mocked by them for it. From that mome nt he resolved never to so expose himself by displaying his feelings. We need not suppose that this resolve was continuously in mind but only that if he were reminded of it he might become aware of the influence of the episode in a more intimate way than that in which the properly repressed episode is acknowl edged to have exerted its influence on the authority of the evidence produced by the analyst. This phenomenon of something being continuously the reason without the subject s c ontinuous awareness, though recognizable in retrospect, is analogous to one desc ribed by Wittgenstein in connection with logical grammar: When formulating a rule we always have the feeling; that is something you have known all along. We can do only one thing clearly articulate the rule we have been applying unawares (WVC). Can t this notion of following a rule unawares be extended to our lives in general ? May we not, in living, have been following rules, which need only be clearly a rticulated for some of the characterological and behavioural perplexities, which beset us to be resolved? But sometimes a banalised version of discovering the u nconscious of this kind which confines us to the already known via a fuller reca ll of our evanescent reveries and ruminations may not cover the case as neatly a s it did Merime s. A reconstruction of our developmental history which takes us beyond what we can be brought to recall can teach us what we once were, if not how we became what w e now are. The more we learn of our child natures and experiences the more intel ligible our later life becomes. We may then feel ourselves to have had to a larg e extent the life appropriate to such a nature as our early history though beyond recall reveals ours to have been. A reconstruction of a person s childhood may thus reveal that there is less novelty than at first appears in the makeup of the adu lt. Albert Schweizer used to baby-sit Sartre, who was a cousin, and relates that the infant Sartre would habitually urinate while in his pram though given ample opportunity to urinate while out of it. Schweizer saw something emblematic in t his Even at that age Sartre was still Sartre though he leaves it to us to work out the exact points of analogy between big Sartre and little Sartre. But though there are those who may find certain traits or activities of the adult Sartre rendered less surprising when they learn of his infantile obstinacy with respect to his soiling activities this will not have been due to an arrangement of what they al ready knew but through what Dilthey calls the roundabout way of understanding. The Explanatory Value of the Past and Dilthey s Round About Way of Understanding The answer to our explanatory perplexities may lie in experiences which we canno t be said to know even in the wide sense of their ultimately figuring as memorie s, i.e. in episodes beyond the power of anamnesis and only reconstructible throug h the testimony of third parties. This is an analyst, Leslie Farber, speaking of his attempt to understand his own life: As I survey this pastness that belongs t o me alone, that is life-so-far... what Ilongtofindis something thematic in the mo ving parts. (1976) Proust speaks in a similar connection of the most permanent and intimate part of me; the lever whose incessant movements controlled all the res t and of his longing for a fuller understanding of this most intimate part . These desires for self-understanding could readily lend themselves to an a-hypot hetical, back of mindedness, bersicht construal but this may not yield the perspi cuity which is sought. If a procedure which restricts itself to the arrangement of what we already know is not adequate to the task of finding something thematic in the moving parts , the lever whose incessant movements controlled all the rest , might not Dilthey s round about way of understanding be so? Dilthey writes: What once we were, how we developed and become what we are, we learn from the way in whic h we acted, the plans we once adopted, the way in which we made ourselves felt i n our vocation ... from old dead letters, from judgments on us which were spoken long ago (1962, 71). Dilthey is asking us to consider those features of our past to which we stand as a biographer might. Wittgenstein tells us that someone troubled by love would not be consoled by an

explanation. Consider Hobbes s poignant observation concerning love that those fare better in it that cared less than those that care more . Though we are likely to have played both roles in our time let us imagine that we were consistently amon g those that cared more: Is seeking an explanation in what we do not already kno w necessarily misguided? We can see why someone would have no interest in the ne ural correlates of his infatuation (as Margalit observes [1992, 314]).5 But it i s not obvious why an explanation, which attempted to demonstrate the similaritie s between his current love object and his childhood ones, might not have been gr eeted as pertinent. Suppose there was an overlap of which the love-troubled one was oblivious between the terms in which he described his current love object an d those in which he described his past ones. Might not pointing this out to him have ameliorated his perplexity, if not his anguish? There is another way in which the external, roundabout way of understanding may en lighten us. Even though developmental revelations do not take the form of uncove ring episodes that confer perspicuity on the characterological conundrums that b eset us, as they did on Merime s reserve, uncovering a non-perspicuous cause may ye t resolve an empirical hermeneutic issue by foreclosing it. If someone is discov ered to have been pushed we need no longer speculate as to why he jumped. It must be conceded that there are entire classes of problems which lie beyond t he power of anamnesis to resolve. There are certain changes in our life-mode of which there can be no perspicuous experiential account. For example, only the in vocation of hidden physiological processes can explain why the male child passes from comparative unresponsiveness to women s bodies to obsessive interest in them . And why with advancing age this interest wanes. The psychiatrist, Richard Hunter (the co-author of The Madness of George the Thi rd) maintained that Patients and relatives confuse the history of their illness w ith what they think made them ill (1973, 19). Were this shown to be so would not a great advance in self-understanding have occurred? When Yeats wrote: Mere growi ng old that brought chilled blood / this sweetness brought ,hewas contemplating an explanatory hypothesis. Where was the error in this? The Past as Cause Versus the Past as Psychological Fixed Star There is also a non-explanatory invocation of the past, a sorting out of one s fee lings about some past episode rather than an attempt to trace its repercussions. The memory of a past episode may have a suggestiveness to be pondered and eluci dated and not just causal consequences to be assessed. A familiar instance of the use of the past to elucidate rather than explain the present is that of Marcel in La Recherche, repeatedly adverting to his mother s go od night kiss to make a point about his feelings for Albertine. For example he e xplains his alarm at the prospect of being left by Albertine by invoking an anal ogous alarm occasioned by a separation from his mother. Of course there could ha ve been a causal relation between his feelings about Albertine s goodnight kiss an d those about his mother s many years earlier, but Marcel s concern was to register and convey those feelings and not to venture a causal explanation of them. By co ntrast, when Marcel traces the fatal decline of his will to the new regimen of ind ulgence 5 In an essay on Wittgenstein s Remarks on Frazer Avishai Margalit writes that some one who is suffering the pains of love is more likely to find satisfaction in un derstanding his situation through reading about the sorrows of Werther than thro ugh an explanation about the endogenous opiates that mediates his addiction . He g oes on to argue that a compulsive gambler might nevertheless find more satisfacti on in reading about the opiates mediating his addiction to gambling that in a li terary evocation of that addiction. (1992, 314). initiated on the night he disobeyed his mother s order and insisted on staying up until she bestowed her kiss ( a black date in the calendar ), we have understandable misgivings as to his authority for pronouncing on such a momentous developmenta l issue. I may be authoritative as to whether I live my life like an unprepared schoolboy fearful that he may be called on before the period ends. But not as to the exte

nt that my apprehensive nature is due to an occasion when as a schoolboy I under went the trauma of being called upon unprepared and publicly humiliated. Explain ing and evincing/evoking are distinct enterprises. If someone comes to feel that there is in his relation to his wife something of his relation to his mother th is cannot be made any more the case by tracing it to his infantile relation to h is mother or any less the case by failing to. A remark of Roy Schafer sin Language and Insight (1978) illustrates the confusion be tween these two epistemically distinct tasks with respect to the past, assessing its repercussions or possessing it more fully. Schafer writes: Trauma is given m eaning by its victim: analysts promote insight into the profoundly disturbing se nse that the analysand has given to the traumatic event . This obscures the differ ence between a past episode as a putatively pathogenic cause with repercussions to be assessed and a past episode as an intentional object of reminiscence with a nature to be elucidated. It is only if our concern is with what Wittgenstein c alls the correct expression of the patients feeling that they have epistemic author ity with respect to it. Thomas Nagel is among those who are unwilling to concede this limitation on intr ospection and reflection, for though he speaks of the aim of analysis as causal knowledge he also speaks of its distinctively inner character and holds that it is a matter of the patient s own self-understanding and is essentially perceptual (1994) . Faculties it has not Pleased our Creator to give us Kierkegaard s famous observation that Life must be lived forward but can only be un derstood backwards is excessively sanguine. There are important aspects of our li ves infatuations and disenchantments that are no more amenable to being understood b ackwards than they were forwards as incomprehensible viewed retrospectively as the y were surprising and unforeseeable. Scepticism as to the likelihood of attainin g to reconstructions which will resolve the narrative-explanatory puzzles that b eset us in this area, is not unreasonable though sometimes too total. Dr Johnson said of a particularly intractable counterfactual issue of this kind that its r esolution required faculties it has not pleased our creator to give us. This is a sentiment which we are often tempted to when frequenting the puzzles presented b y biographies or psychoanalytic case histories. When is it justified? One case where it seems justified and seems to have a repr esentative character is provided though inadvertently by Wittgenstein himself. He ask s us to imagine that on an occasion on which he was walking along a riverbank wi th a friend, Taylor, the friend extended his arm pushing Wittgenstein into the r iver. Wittgenstein asks under what conditions we would say that Taylor deliberat ely, though unconsciously, pushed Wittgenstein into the river. He asks us to ima gine that Taylor s analyst persuades him that an unconscious animus was as work, t hough Taylor sincerely denies having pushed Wittgenstein in and insists it was a n accident. Wittgenstein takes too complacent a view of the resolvability of the puzzle by asserting that both accounts Taylor s and his analyst s could be true. This i s to give too authoritative a status to Taylor s sincere denial that he pushed Wit tgenstein in. The analyst s account and Taylor s could not both be true. Taylor coul d not continue to give his self-exonerating answer after he had been persuaded o f the truth of the analyst s explanation. What would be consistent with the truth of the analyst s account that Taylor uncon sciously pushed him in is a further description of the apprehension and dismay Tay lor experienced at the sight of Wittgenstein floundering in the water. What is n ot consistent with the analyst s account is Taylor s statement that it was an accide nt. And attempting to decide which of these was the case tempts us to invoke Joh nson s dictum. Even if Taylor confessed to a subliminal feeling of satisfaction at seeing Wittgenstein floundering in the water this would not resolve the issue s ince this post hoc relish is perfectly compatible with the drenching having been the outcome of an unintentional movement on Taylor s part.6 Paul Steinberg, an Auschwitz survivor, wonders of some of his less admirable cha racter traits whether they were the work of the camp or the result of a motherles s childhood bereft of tenderness. Both Perhaps (2002, 161). But that there are su

ch explanatorily intractable phenomena does not warrant abandoning the hope for empirical explanation. In his review of a biography of Virginia Woolf, P. N. Furbank expresses sceptici sm about causal explanation in biography. He invokes Wittgenstein s view on the ir relevance of causal hypotheses in aesthetics and argues that this objection can be extended and that it is arguable that biographers (like historians) might do w ell to eschew causal explanations in general (1998). This is too sweeping. We can occasionally rise above pure guesswork. When a bullfinch sings like a canary I am entitled to suspect that it was reared with canaries. And when I confirm that it was raised with canaries, scepticism as to the connection, though possible, is wanton. Something analogous is sometimes available in the case of humans. The problem is that there are no explicitly formulated rules which will enable u s to determine when an homology is good enough to warrant the imputation of a ca usal relation between two discreet bits of behaviour widely separated in time. T he judgment whether the degree of homology is sufficient to warrant an imputatio n of causal connection is often pretty subjective and so we are left with our ri val intuitions. Even the subject himself may feel compelled to take this view. J ean Genet s brusque reply to an interviewer who asked what difference it would hav e made to his development had he not been incarcerated for thieving at an early age was: Ask God. I have no idea. 6 Candidates for Dr. Johnson s dictum are not uncommon Freud s wolf man was unable t o resolve himself on the question whether his sister s childhood seduction of him influenced his neuroses and all his later relations with women. But must that nec essarily have such consequences? Perhaps it also happened to other little boys a nd had no effect. I don t know... (Obholzer 1982, 37). However the unlikelihood of discovering cogent causal relations between the past and future of particular individuals is not in itself sufficient ground for aba ndoning empirical enquiry for a more elaborate expression of self-feeling. We can sometimes find good grounds for imputing certain adult vicissitudes to ce rtain early influences. There was an investigation into the relation between mar ital breakdown and the position of the spouses in their family s sibling structure . If I may Micawberize the result: A man with a sister older than himself marries a woman with a brother younger than herself. Result: harmony. A man with a sister younger than himself marries a woman with a brother younger than herself. Result: discord. What possible objection could there be to undertaking enquiries of this kind? Wh at in the context of Freud or any other therapist or biographer could preclude the search for comparable data? Dr Johnson s dictum must not be resorted to too mecha nically. Thematisation: The Intrinsic Value Placed on the Correct Expression of Feeling But the value of an analysis need not depend on diagnostic success. Analysands o ften testify that their analytic hours had a value for them independent of any u lterior explanatory outcome. One spoke of her gratitude at the succinct way in w hich her therapist had summed up her predicament. Stephen Mulhall comments on th is mode of gratification: A human being in a state of deep despair may come acros s Marlowe s line in Dr. Faustus ( perpetual cloud descends ) and acknowledge it as a u niquely appropriate articulation of the state of mind in which he finds himself ( 1990, 67). But articulating a state of mind and leaving it at that is not always as innocuous and appropriate. It can slip into the synaesthetic inanities D. H. Lawrence mocked in certain modernist novels: Is my aura a blend of frankincense and orange pekoe and boot blacking or is it my rrh and bacon fat and Shetland tweed? asks every character and when the answer co mes it is none of these, it is abysmal chlorocoryambasis, the audience quivers all over, and murmurs: that s just how I feel myself. (1936, 517) The gratification and relief attendant on uniquely appropriate articulation is not sought only with respect to painful or traumatic matters (as in the Ancient Mar iner s and till my ghastly tale is told, this heart within me burns .) Oliver Sacks c omments on an encephalitis patient in remission who responded to Sacks question: W

hat sit like being the way you are? in terms which make explicit the intrinsic valu e which may be found in thematisation: Again and again, with his penetrating desc riptions, his imaginative metaphors, or his great stock of poetic images, Mr. L. would try to evoke the nature of his own being and experience (1976, 242). The d esire to record or express what it s like being the way you are is entertained by ma ny whose situation is not as extreme and dramatic as Mr L s. Robert Graves wrote a poem ( The Cool Web of Language ) about the baleful effects of inarticulacy and the beneficent powers of utterance extending them beyond the a breaction of the strictly traumatic ( A cool web of language winds us in / Retreat from too much joy or too much fear ). Thomas Mann s Tonio Kroeger also manifests a desire to speak away life and the world: Knowledge of the soul would unfailingly make us melancholy if the pleasures of expression did not keep us alert and of g ood cheer. What is uttered is finished and done with. If the whole world could b e expressed it could be saved (1955, 147). I conclude that there are those for whom thematisation via further description ( Wittgenstein s correct expression of feeling ) facilitates escape from the assaults o f experience in general, immersing them in Robert Grave s cool web of language and t his helps to account for the predilection to eschew empirical enquiry for more a dequate or felicitous expression. But all this does not warrant an abandonment of hypotheses for further descripti ons. What would? A profound scepticism as to the likelihood of a successful outc ome of causal investigation at least with respect to the ideographic problems whic h beset us whose solution we may feel ultimately compelled to acknowledge requir e faculties it has not pleased our creator to give us. Peace Without Self-Understanding The anguish of Wittgenstein s love-troubled one may have been not only explanation -unassuageable but overview-unassuageable as well. For the most an overview migh t have done for him was make him better acquainted with what it was he had to re concile himself to and not necessarily reconcile him to it. Rush Rhees speaks of himself as bewildered at the person he had become. What would we lose if for Rhees s epistemic term bewildered we substituted the nonepistemic dism ayed ? Why should our reaction to the dismaying person we find ourselves to have b ecome necessarily profit from any epistemic advance, whether explanatory or self -clarificatory? Our misunderstood desire might have been neither for knowledge o f who is to blame nor a clearer sense of whom or what it is that we blame but ra ther for the ability to forgo blaming. I am a fool but I am all I ve got reflects a character in a novel I read. This is an enviable attitude and one for the attainment of which it is not only a matter o f indifference whether he was born foolish or gradually became so but even wheth er he can gain a more comprehensive grasp of the forms his foolishness takes, su ch as an overview might afford. What is required rather is a more charitable rel ation to his foolishness. What the prospective analysand may beseeking is asecular version of Baudelaire s f amous prayer: O Seigneur Donnez moi la force et le courage de contempler mon c ur e t mon corps sans dgot ; i.e., Reconcile me to the person I have become and I will for go both explanatory resolution of the characterological anomalies I present and a comprehensive grasp of their range. Conclusion Drury tells us that when he was qualifying in psychiatry, he loaned Wittgenstein a psychiatric textbook of which Wittgenstein said that it was an excellent book a nd that he liked the spirit in which it was written , adding only the proviso don t ev er let yourself think that all human problems can be solved in this way (1981, 16 5). The book in question was Sargent and Slater s Introduction to Physical Methods of Treatment in Psychiatry. The book s epigraph, taken from Henry Maudsley, gives a succinct account of the spirit in which it was written : The observation and classification of mental disorders have been so exclusively psychological that we have not sincerely realised the fact that they illustrate the same pathological principles as other diseases, are produced in the same way

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