Life – By Marcelo Pakman

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What is, then, life?

The worst thing we could do in this conversation would be to end it with a definition. One of the strongest ways in which we are oriented in reality… because we are oriented in reality as if we were pieces of metal, we are all in a magnetic field which, before we even realize, orients us in a given direction. For example, towards the need to give clear and distinct definitions of things. I think it’s better to keep a certain ambiguity in things even as fundamental as life. We know life isn’t only what biology says. We know it’s not only what systems theory says. We know it’s more than that. When asked about such things, Bateason used to say something very beautiful: “to think systemically is always something else.”

You vindicate singularity, in opposition to constructivism.

Well, we’d have to specify the constructivism we’re talking about.

The one you quote in your book: Bateson, Von Foerster, for example.

Bateson and Von Foerster were very important in the field of systemic psychotherapy. And they were because they pointed out, even though they didn’t explore it the same way I do, but they did point out a territory which has some affinities to my worries. When you told me about Philosophy To Go before, you said they ask questions nobody asks anymore. It’s a nice way of defining psychotherapy. The job of psychotherapy is this, to ask what Heinz von Foerster used to call “the legitimate questions.” That is, the ones without an answer.

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