A questão da verdade na produção de conhecimento sobre sofrimento psíquico

Dissertation, University of Sao Paulo (2020)
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ABSTRACT BEER, P. A. C. The matter of truth in knowledge production about psychic suffering: considerations from Ian Hacking and Jacques Lacan. 2020. 250p. Thesis (PhD) – Instituto de Psicologia, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, 2020. The thesis aims to reaffirm the importance of the debate around the matter of truth in relation to the production of knowledge concerning psychic suffering. Its point of departure is the understanding that the matter of truth contains two main appearances: as employed to legitimize produced knowledge while establishing normative patterns, and as presenting itself in a critical form as a disruptive element to established knowledge. As such, it is a discussion that embraces both an affirmation of knowledge’s necessary character and of its variability. It will be argued in the above sense that the term “truth” must be taken as an inclusive and reciprocal gathering of epistemological, ontological, ethical and political elements. Ian Hacking’s historicized understanding of science enables such a consideration of contingent bases to scientific practice, while still producing necessary knowledge. It thus becomes is possible to establish a field in which normative understandings about scientific praxis might be criticized without it resulting in any kind of refusal or disqualification of the relevant, produced knowledge. Hacking’s proposition of a “historical ontology” and of a “dynamic nominalism” also represents an important contribution to the accumulation of knowledge production about psychic suffering debate, by affirming the ontological effects of knowledge. The way as truth is mobilized within Lacanian psychoanalysis flows from that standpoint, seen as focused on three main elements: truth’s autonomy towards the subject, (truth speaks), the opposing and temporary character of a positivized truth facing established knowledge ,(truth as critique), and the negative dimension of truth which relates to the inexhaustibility of this dialectical process of negations, (truth as radical difference). It is argued that it is possible to sustain a particular reasoning style, (in Hacking’s terms), for psychoanalysis, which is based on radical negativity. It is further argued, that the above rationalities in question work with a historicized understanding of knowledge that does not have any external (nor internal) criteria to warrant its truth. However, psychoanalysis takes negativity — arguably the base of knowledge’s variability and of truth’s disruptive character — beyond Hacking’s philosophy of science, and can thus offer even wider possibilities of thinking about the causality of psychic suffering. Even if with different intensities, both approaches signal the necessity of ethical and political implication in knowledge’s production and employment. Once there is no epistemological warranty to knowledge, its production value reverts to social agreements and ethical positioning. There is, therefore, the necessity of considering power relations. Finally, it is argued that the radical negativity sustained from psychoanalysis locates the political as an actually necessary field, inescapable by the very fact that it is not possible to crystalize any form of truth which is not the affirmation of radical difference. It is maintained then that introducing the matter of truth has as horizon the production of a kind of knowledge about psychic suffering which puts into question, at all time, its epistemological, ontological, ethical and political assumptions.

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Paulo Antonio de Campos Beer
Universidade de São Paulo


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