Intersubjectivity

Seamus Malone redye at dorsai.dorsai.org
Fri Jul 21 15:52:52 MDT 1995


On Thu, 20 Jul 1995, KERRY wrote:

> Jon Beasley-Murray <jpb8 at acpub.duke.edu>
> 	Excuse me for "butting in".
>
> :OK, Seamus, let's go with this.  I'm happy with "intersubjectivity" as a
> :term, but I'm not sure what it means (or, rather, how it can be
> :used) pragmatically and in specific situations--analyses or whatever.
>
>
> Dfn:	Intersubjectivity - the capacity of knowing what another person
> actually intended.
>
> 	The term is used most frequently in discussions concerning "meaning".
> How it is acquired or transmitted (more or less).

Well, that is not at all how I mean it, or as I understand it used
(particularly in relation to Bakhtin) I understand it to mean that any
subjectivity is the effect of a series of socially-collectively maintained
relationships, generally within an (enforced) system of representaion- or
a system for negotiation of an absent term- I am very sceptical from the
position of a cultural producer and a Marxist of the reduction of this
(as it has been within Psycho-Analytically influenced (Althusserian)
thinkers) to language- the semiotic is the whole of lived experience- the
whole sensual-phenomenal relation to the world and it is for me
ultimately determined in relations of force- the control of the
productive apparatus- the structures which transform our environment to
produce value.

>
> :What does "articulated in the field of historical change" mean, for
> 	    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^	
> :example, when it isn't just an abstract gesture towards that fact that
> :"everything's very complex"?
>
> 	The idea is that meaning of any concept needs to be grounded within the
> historical/material reality of the times which it is constituted.  Some
> concepts change over time (the meaning of the term has a particular connotation
> for each historical "era").  The "family" is one that not only has changed over
> time, but it also has varying ideolgical meanings within a given time.
>
I think that's pretty much what I meant.
>
> :I don't think it's worth just gesturing at theory without putting it to
> :use.  The question seems to be how to understand agency without falling
> :back on individual subjectivity--or models that imply such subjectivity
> :(with autonomous brains--the intellectuals, the party...).  How do groups
> :of people, and bits of people, or agglomerations of bits of people, go
> :about things, undergo and effect changes?

I think this is exactly why the concept of intersubjectivity is so
important- it shows how we must understand subjectivity as a collective
historical process of production. At this point we understand for example
how the produciotn of a concept of subjectiivity which came out of the
enlightenment and the bourgeois revolutions enabled the discourse of
"rights" and the concept of this alienated atomic subject- this makes
possible (because of its material or histocial-phenomenological)
contradictions a new struggle from the position of the proletarian
subject whihc did not exist until this juncture- this moment of
collective historical production. The raw material was there as much as
the raw material for computers has been on beaches for millions of years,
but it had to be socially and collectively enacted in the struggles of
bourgeois revolutions.
 >
> :What, for a start, is a marxist theory of subjectivity?  (and I guess we
> :can take that to include intersubjectivity)
>
\> 	It would seem to me that Marxism has am implicit theory of
> intersubjectivty - materialism.  As meaning and intent are grounded and arise
> out of the relations between people who are situated in particular locations of
> their material reality which constitute their "consciousness", the theory
> necessarily is implied, IMO.
>
> :important to look at in this regard: I think it's similar to (or at least on
> :the same plane as) what Bourdieu means when he discusses habit, and the
> :bodily or mechanical inculcations of the habitus.  Though he's far too
> :pessimistic for my taste.
>
I'm not as familiar with this as I'd like to be, as you know- I have
found it interesting looking at Benjamin, who I don't think is
pessimistic (except in the short term-rip) and his use of material
history in the artifact or the antique or trash as a way of recording the
historical breaks and therby verify and validating what ideology hides,
the very unique nature of our historical moment- the uncertainty and the
possibility that capital cannot account for and which it has historically
feared, living as it does under a law of equivalence- as it was in the
begining....

> 	His analysis seems a bit too structuralist leaning, downplaying
> agency or limiting agency within the status quo and thereby resistance becomes
> truncated.  Though "habit" as a concept of the unconscious/uncritical
> day-to-day manner in which people live is useful in coming to an understanding
> of the difficulties of organizing that resistance.
>
> 	Well, excuse me for "jumping" and I hope that I'm not "butting in".
>
> kerry
>
>
>      --- from list marxism at lists.village.virginia.edu ---
>

Seamus Malone
redye at amanda.dorsai.org
http://www.dorsai.org/~redye


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