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[Perspectives] Different ways of seeing

In December, 1817, the physician-turned-poet John Keats wrote to his brother about the concept of “Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason”. Keats felt that this openness was the quality of the true artist, of whom for him the epitome was William Shakespeare. He sought a flexibility and openness to the complexity of the world, which would enable the poet to achieve beauty and truth. In the 20th century, social theorist Roberto Unger used the idea of negative capability to resist hierarchies and divisions, whereas Wilfred Bion applied the idea to the openness which he felt should be a feature of the psychoanalytical encounter.