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Napolitano, F. (1990). Comparability in Psychoanalysis. Rivista Psicoanal., 36(1):96-122.

(1990). Rivista di Psicoanalisi, 36(1):96-122

Comparability in Psychoanalysis Language Translation

Francesco Napolitano

The problem of the comparability of scientific data first makes its mark with full import in the Ancient Greek world, with the discovery of the irrationally of the square root of two. The incommensurability (i.e. the lack of a common unit of measure) that the Pythagoreans discovered as existing between the side and the diagonal of the unit square consists in the incomparability of side and diagonal when using the logical relations that yield rational numbers. Given the previous belief that these relations were capable of generating all numbers, the discovery of new and strange numbers (now called “irrational”) that bear no logical relation with any known number was disquieting. The doxographers convey a tremor of this disquiet, which was potent enough to split the Pythagoreans irreversibly into two opposing currents. The first saw the discovery of incomparability as the categoric downfall of religious and scientific rationality and therefore believed that the discovery should remain the secret of a small number of initiates.

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