The Italian Connection Part 2

A Continuation of the Debate Between Two Italian Lacanian Analysts

From Perrella to Sciacchitano
Padua, 11th September 1997

Dear Antonello,
This exchange of letters seems important to me, because it gives us an opportunity to clarify points that do not concern only us. This is why I shall respond to your objections point per point, again, begging you to reply. Most certainly we will not manage to find ourselves in agreement on everything (and I cannot see why we should). Still, perhaps we could find agreement on the fundamental points, so the game seems to me all to be played yet.
Naturally, I completely agree with you on some points. There can be no doubt, for example, that the evangelical quotation to which you make reference expresses a truly ethical position. There can be no doubt, also, that you have every right to feel regret when – referring to the fact than among our confreres (as they curiously say in French) there are few who have an interested in such an ‘intellectual’ programme – you conclude that ‘they do not think’. On the other hand, I am not sure whether it is enough to have an experience of the unconscious in order to acquire a capacity for thinking. It seems to me that, instead, those who refuse to think would find it quite difficult to undertake an analysis. Further, sometimes it seems as if ending and analysis and possibly becoming an analyst leads to loosing the habit… For example, are all those who let themselves be sustained by an imaginary adhesion to a certain psychoanalytic creed still thinking? I have had to ask myself this question because I have witnessed too many psychoanalytic conferences where nothing else was done than to enunciate the lacanian lecture.
But now I come to the first important point of disagreement with you. When we say that these people do not think, are we expressing an ethical judgement? If we were you would have caught me with my hand in the bag – as you say you have done when you accuse me of contradicting myself, believing that for an analyst it is a sign of cowardice not to take a political position in relation to law 56. But this is not at all the case, either for me or for you, because ethically no one can or must judge someone else’s act. The only truly ethical imperative is the evangelical one not to judge. Now, when I suggest that cowardice could be the position partly held by many of us (perhaps even myself), am I expressing an ethical judgement? Absolutely not, because this is a moral matter. Of course, this last word is redundant among us psychoanalysts, although we do not do well to continue talking about ethics in a way that makes morals seem like its opposite. Morals, instead, contains criteria of general judgement on behaviours and acts that are not only inevitable, but also absolutely necessary. Indeed, in as much as they are formulated in words judgements are always general. This is why it is not only difficult but even impossible to judge ethically.