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The Tautological Supposition

Introduced into our literature by Giegerich,1 the tautological presupposition is a heuristic device that puts Hegel’s definition of truth as the identity of identity and difference into the operational terms of a praxis even as it equips the interpreter to thinkingly “see through” the externality and sensate immediacy of the representational form of myths, fairytales, dreams and other cultural productions such that the single situation or soul truth that they express can be known from within.

As the etymology of the word implies, interpretation in this mode is a matter of “saying” (légein) “the same” (tautón), that is, of discerning in apparently very different and even opposite characters that sameness that they nuance as internal moments of one another.

Consider, for example, a dream in which the figure of the dreamer is beset by a murderer.  A possible first reaction to such a dream might be to take it literally on the model of a similar event in real life. This, however, would not take us very far. Real life is a world of existing beings in external relationships—which is what makes an act like murder possible in the first place. The dream, by contrast, is an internal drama of imaginal figures that reflect one another in a manner that bears allegorical significance. Far from being an external, independent, and self-identical entity, the dream’s murderer is a mental figure that is essential to the depiction of the truth that the dream is presenting. He is the dream-I’s own murderer, or paying tribute to the notional substance that they together portray, we could even say, “the true murderer.”

It is the same with the figures in a fairytale or myth. Bluebeard is not an external other with respect to the maiden he frightens.2 Nor is Hades for Persephone. Rather, like those hands in the M.C. Escher drawing that sketch themselves, both are mutually-constituting figures whose relations to each other, far from being like the relations of separate and distinct people in the social world, are like the relations that letters have in the making of a word or that words have in the making of a sentence. As jumbled as they may seem to the interpreter who cannot yet see the forest for the trees, it is only through our reading them in the “saying the same” manner of the tautological presupposition that we can fathom what they imply with respect to consciousness and show with regards to the soul’s life. And here we may be reminded of a statement of Giegerich’s that succinctly expresses the tautological presupposition in the form of an adage: “But for psychology there is no Other. Or the Other that there is ‘the soul’s’ own other, its internal other, that is to say, itself as other.”3

The tautological presupposition again comes to our aid when considering the significance of plot developments and scene changes. Here, as before, it is not a matter of external relations, i.e., of one situation passing into another. For when tautologically reflected into the sameness that they nuance, what the imagining mind has diversely represented as subsequent events and scene changes may be seen though as the bringing out into the open of the inherent implications of the single situation that has been operative from the outset.

Greg Mogenson



1 W. Giegerich, The Soul’s Logical Life: Towards a Rigorous Notion of Psychology (Frankfurt am Main:Peter Lang, 1998), pp. 119-123. For a thorough-going example of interpretative use of the tautologicalpresupposition see chapter 6 of this book.2 W. Giegerich, “The Animus as Negation and as the Soul’s Own Other: The Soul’s Threefold Stancetoward Its Experience of Its Other,” in Soul-Violence, CEP, Vol. III, pp. 111-167.3 W. Giegerich, D.L. Miller, G. Mogenson, Dialectics and Analytical Psychology: The El Capitan CanyonSeminar (New Orleans: Spring Journal Books, 2005), p. 26. For examples of interpretative use of thetautological presupposition see chapters 1 & 2 of this book.

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