Splitting the list? and Totality

Jukka Laari jlaari at tukki.jyu.fi
Thu Nov 17 06:43:50 MST 1994


On Wed, 16 Nov 1994, Jonathan P. Beasley-Murray wrote:

> I was also thinking about this recently in reading Jameson's
> _The Political Unconscious_ in which one slogan with which I would
> heartily agree ("Always Historicize") seems to be equated with another of
> which I am much more wary ("Always Totalize" though he never quite puts
> it like this).

What if historicizing is always (?) totalizing? And what if that could
mean in modern vocabulary 'context specific analysis' or something like
that?

I mean that one can think 'abstractly', that is, without considering the
relations of subject under consideration to other subjects and their
relations to some other subjects etc. Or one can think 'concretely' by
taking into consideration those relations etc...

After all, we all have our own totalities in our heads, don't we? In some
funny way our conception of, say, island of Reunion has something to do
with how we spend our weekends. Although the connection in that
particular case isn't very clear...

On the other hand, there is real danger with totalizing thinking as
Jonathan said. But that is not a 'cognitive' or 'epistemological'
problem, rather a practico-moral one: how should we relate to our
conceptions and knowledge? With Soviet marxism the problem was something
like that: they considered their truths as absolute and objective ones,
which gave them right (or so they believed) to act the way they did (I'm
referring to stalinism), instead of thinking truths as constructs -
historical, contingent constructs, which have their own conditions and
limits.

Yours: Jukka Laari


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