The Three Impossible Professions: Philosophy, Politics and Psychoanalysis


According to Freud’s well known text ’Analysis Terminable and Interminable’ published in 1937, there are the three key impossible professions:

  1. government (mastery, authority, leadership… politics)
  2. education (upbringing, raising children, teaching… philosophy)
  3. analysis or specifically psychoanalysis

There is an inherent impossibility of turning those into the form of a profession, since to have a profession signals towards obtaining a technique, a method of conduct which is then applied within that field, an acquisition of precise habits, automatically repeated forms of behavior which turn into that person’s second nature, something whose application points always towards an inner impossibility within the logic of the mode of functioning.

In the three areas of politics, philosophy and psychoanalysis, the absence of an universally applicable approach is often marked by a very profound sense of contingency attached to their functioning, since they always concern a particular case of conduct relative to a given situation.

There is also the striking fact of these three areas of human thought and practice themselves being inherently mutually exclusive: a certain reading, writing, practice or engagement is always either philosophical, political, or analytical. Their relation always being that of a profound parallax (to reference Karatani & Žižek), where one kind of a subjective stance towards something automatically means that the same object of inquiry cannot be seen from the other two subjective stances at the very same time, following the dichotomy of either/or.

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