We can discuss some consequences of this sort of direction. For example, in my view, it is possible to hold the thesis that the lacanian not-whole is the ‘one that is not’ Platonic. Be it as is may be, at this point it should not be difficult for you to understand why Cantor’s whole (the wholeness of all wholes) or Russell’s whole (the whole of all the wholes that do not ‘auto-belong’ to one another) are wholes unlike any other. In fact, they are not-wholes; in other words, they are ‘proper classes’. Of these one cannot say that they are ‘one’, because it is impossible to predicate something like a whole about them – at least, not without falling into contradiction. These, in fact, cannot be thought of as elements of other totalities (try it!). In other words, there is not a predication to which they may be subjects.
How come? Here is the good stuff. I am led to think that the previous analysis is naturally false. The not-whole does not exist. It is an effect of language, of its discrete structure of elementary signifiers. Language reveals itself as limited; it does not consist of predicating everything about everything. But from this to say that the not-whole does not exist, or, equivalently, that God does exist, it’s a scabrous step. Firstly, because we end up directly into the religious discourse; secondly, because we cannot get out of language. The reason for this is not the dominance of the linguistic register, as a certain Lacan seems to hold. The reason for it is that, in order to be able to say ‘I get out of language’, one would need first to posit language as a whole. But, in my opinion, natural language, whatever natural language, is a ‘proper class’ just as the whole of Cantor or Russell, only more interesting.
To come to the problems that are humanly possible to confront, one of the greatest is the articulation between ‘one’ as an element (a level that I call ‘intensional’) and ‘one’ as a whole (a level that I call ‘extensional’). The analyst’s interest lies in distinguishing between ‘one’ as a linguistic element and ‘one’ as an imaginary corporal totality – the first always ‘one’, the second… not always.
I am very curious to read your reply about the Platonic and Aristotelian ways of thinking of ‘one’. On Sunday I will announce your good intentions to aut aut (1).
(1) Italian philosophical journal, of which Sciacchitano was editor for a period of time.
From Sciacchitano to Perrella
Milan, 8th September 1997
At last I find time to reply to your letter, which, as I said in a previous email, intrigues me. I will come to the point immediately, avoiding polemics on details where your argument seems weak. These are points that, if you wish, you yourself will try to reinforce (for example, where you say that no one can say what ethics is, but, earlier, you make reference to the cowardice of analysts who do not take a political position, as you do. So you do know what ethics is?).
I think that the discrepancy between our positions occurs where you affirm: ‘Psychoanalysis is a matter of formation (not less!), that is to say, of the possibility to save at least some crumbs of the moral and social principles that have been transmitted to us, and that, in turn, we have the duty to transmit to others. If psychoanalysis is not for this, what is it for?’