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[xmca] Frameworks for Dialogic Perspectives

Hi Greg [and everyone else contributing to the recent posts.]

I want to thank you for your encouraging comments.  As I mentioned It felt
risky to open up this topic that I personally feel is meaningful but may
not resonate with others. It continues my personal quest to understand what
I call the "encapsulated self" and all the various frameworks that may add
insight to this quest.  The cultural historical framework is a perspective
which offers deep insight  when inquiring into the "nature" or "truth" or
"trap" of this way of being/becoming a person.

 I went off topic [of Lentiev] in my previous post, taking my personal
response to the "style" of Leontiev's writing & posted a response but
did not link my personal reflections to the topic of Leontiev's historical
contribution to the CHAT framework. Therefore I'm starting a new thread on
the multiple frameworks or perspectives loosely assembled as a "family
resemblance" the frameworks circling around the topic of "semiotic
remediation as DISCOURSE practice"  How central are the concepts "agency"
Identity" and "recognition" to this new constellation of perspectives
called "semiotic remediation" and what are the links to cultural-historical
theory and sociogenesis?  I want to explore if Gadamer can be included
within this new constellation and his way of inviting us to become

Greg you wrote

IMHO, you're hitting the heart of the matter with recognition and
agency - self-assertion vs. self-emptying seems a nice way to think
about the central problematic (and I agree with your preference for
the latter). If you are interested in developing a more more
self-emptying Kyoto-like notion of recognition, I've got a couple of
suggestions (and I'm sure I've made these suggestions in a different
context before, so apologies for redundancy).
First, I'd strongly encourage a read of Robert Williams' Ethics of
Recognition. In Williams' read of Hegel, you find an articulation of
recognition that is much more like the Kyoto understanding of
recognition and which is against the crass version you get from the
existentialists where recognition always about a fight or struggle for
recognition. As evidence of the cultural tendency toward
self-assertion, it is very telling that one small paragraph in Hegel's
oeuvre would get picked up as the thing that most people for most of
the 20th century would equate with Hegel's notion of "recognition."
But that approach is shortsighted and Williams really nails this
point. (although I am persuaded by Willaims' interpretation, I don't
have any skin in the game of whether or not this is a more or less
"authentic" interpretation of Hegel - I just happen to believe that
the position Williams articulates is far more productive than the
struggle-for-recognition model that has been on offer from the
Second, to provide some further support for this claim, I'd also
suggest checking out Johann Georg Hamann, who is said to have been a
significant influence on Hegel (but don't read Isaiah Berlin's stuff
on Hamann, he misses the point). Hamann didn't really publish much. He
was most noted for his letters to his friend, Immanuel Kant and in
which he repeatedly tells Kant that he's got it all wrong (and does it
in a style that makes the point through medium as well as, if not more
than, message - a point which itself speaks to one of his central
points about the importance of poetics). In these letters, Hamann has
a wonderful sense of the intractability of human life, and the
fundamental wrong-headedness of the desire for sovereign agency. I'd
be happy to share more if there is any interest.
Oh, and I forgot there is a third author of interest in this regard,
Patchen Markell's Bound by Recognition gives a compelling portrait of
what he calls "the impropriety of action" - the sense in which our
actions are not our property alone. Markell's book argues that tragedy
(and its twin, comedy) derives from this very human problem. Also
great stuff.
All three of these readings I suggest as a way of pointing out that
within Western traditions there is a trope that is closer to
self-emptying than self-asserting. Unfortunately it doesn't articulate
as well with Enlightenment perspectives because it is often, as with
Hamann, articulated through Christianity. This presents something of a
marketing problem since the Enlightenment put Christianity as a thing
of the past and as the kind of believing that small minded people do
(the kind that tote guns and don't believe in evolution), and thus a
not very appealing thing for most Westerner's "natural" (i.e.
"cultural") inclination to self-assertion. So I think that as a matter
of packaging, Buddhism, with its stripped down religious ideology,
probably has more appeal to most post-Enlightenment Western thinkers.
And I wanted to add that I feel like your posts are speaking directly
to me and maybe we can carry on this conversation in more detail
somewhere down the road (in a different thread, I suspect). So many
thanks for your words (even if they weren't "intended" for me - a
fortuitous impropriety to be sure!).
Anyway, hope all is well,

Greg, I've copied your statement in its entirety as I want to invite
further reflections on what you referred to as the "trope" within Western
perspectives linking recognition and agency with the notion of
self-emptying I appreciated your suggestions on further readings and I
will follow up on these 3 suggestions.  I'm also now taking up your offer
to carry on this conversation, but in a new thread.

I mentioned "self-emptying" as an attitude, or posture, or stance towards
dialogical ways of dwelling in the world.  I also read the recent post of
Lenin's reflections on pragmatism and wonder how he would respond to the
dialogical "turn" in social studies??

You mentioned 3 authors who are exploring these themes in a less
self-assertive style.  Another author I would add to this list is Gadamer
and his notion of "understanding".  Christine in her thread was calling us
to be more "playful" in our putting alternative perspectives and discourses
into conversation with each other. It is in this spirit of approaching
these themes playfully as an approach to "understanding" that I want to
bring in Gadamer [and the Kyoto School at a later time].

To set the stage for this conversation I want to invite in Paul Prior and
Julie Hengst. These scholars have engaged in exploring dialogical themes in
their edited book "Exploring Semiotic Remediation as Discourse Practice".
This book introduces multiple frameworks as supporting what they see as the
emerging tradition of semiotic remediation. I propose Gadamer's approach to
hermeneutical understanding may express a "family resemblance" to semiotic

I need to first introduce Paul Prior an & Julie Hengst  who are
articulating "semiotic remediation as discourse practice".

They situate the works of Voloshinov and Bakhtin as producing the key
dialogic insight:

{Language and signs need to be UNDERSTOOD as concrete, historical,
situated, and social phenomena.  Not ABSTRACT depersonalized unsituated

 Linguistics typically represents sentences as produced using lexical
resources in accordance with its RULES for combining and ordering. They
explore the system of language in which sentences are embedded.

In contrast to this abstract distancing [experience-far] description
of sentences within languages [as an object] Bakhtin defined an "utterance"
as the combination of

- what is historically produced by an EMBODIED interested person in a
meaningful situation
- and what is interpreted ACTIVELY AND RESPONSIVELY by those who RECEIVE
the utterance.

This second point emphasizes the agentic aspect of language production as
dialogical using the concepts "responsively" & "receive" and it is these
concepts that need deepening.

Paul and Julie, in their edited book, are documenting the far-reaching
implications for theories of discourse of engaging with BOTH aspects of the
above listed features of "utterances" - history & intersubjectivity.

Voloshinov explored the way we constantly take up others' signs, use them,
and to varying degree make the other's utterances our own. This exploration
opens up the critical question of "sociogenesis" as a concept that UNITES
individual learning and social formation as questions of siuated and
mediated practice.

Paul and Julie draw our attenton to the insight that Voloshinov and Bakhtin
not only articulated dialogic activity as the GROUND FOR communication, but
also as THE site where people BECOME who they are and where sociocultural
FORMATIONS [church, state, profession] are constantly being made and remade.

Paul and Julie then introduce their concept of "semiotic remediation" which
is in line with Voloshinov's call for a dialogic theory of signs.  They
point out that often this approach is used to explore "elements of language
practice" as its object.  Paul and Julie's book extends this focus on
language to explore the concept of "sociogenesis" where people become the
KIND of people they are

Where does Gadamr possibly fit into this new emerging "semiotic
remediation" paradigm or perspective or framework??  I believe it is his
use of the concept "hermeneutical understanding" in contrast to the
concepts "explanation" or "construction" for exploring dialogical themes.
Gadamer's notion of understanding is not an attempt to transpose ourselves
INTO THE MIND of the other but rather to try to transpose ourselves INTO
THE PERSPECTIVE of the other within which the other has formed his views.
The listener or reader tries to understand HOW what the other person is
saying could be 'right' from within the other's subject matter.  Not to get
inside and relive the others experiences but to understand the others
perspective that EMERGES within the play of conversation & dialogue.
Philosophical hermeneutics, as a practice and method is the ART of
REACHING an understanding. [COMING TO an understanding]  For Gadamer,
reading a text, like listening to an utterance,  is another form of
conversation and coming to an understanding.

The critique of Gadamer is that his approach is "conservative" and supports
"tradition" at the expense of emancipation.  I want to summarize Donna
Orange's answer to this statement of Gadamer as a conservative. [from her
book "Thinking for Clinicians: Philosophical Resources"]

She points out that Gadamer's perspective serves a DOUBLE FUNCTION. Though
oriented towards increased understanding, its dialogic process disquiets,
disturbs, and unsettles our PREVIOUS points of view.  It is this second
feature of disturbing and unsettling that is can be seen as functioning as
a critique of received knowledge.  Donna identifies 3 critical features of
a Gadamerian approach.
1) The refusal of all forms of authoritarian communication [while
recognizing the legitimate authority of tradition]
2) An unmasking of the pretensions of interpretive expertise, as having a
god's eye view of the mind of the other
3) A theory of EMERGENT and self-correcting understanding. He
differentiates a less rigourous hermeneutic based on an assumption that we
can come to an understanding and a more rigourous lifework based on the
assumption that misunderstanding WILL OCCUR as a matter of course and so
understanding must be willed and sought at every point.  [human nature as
inherently ambivalent]

These 3 features of a Gadamerian approach are the elements that allows
Donna to refute the charge that his methodology is too conservative and not
"troubling" Cadamer's dialogic challenges all received historical
perspectives which must be "put in play" within generative conversations.

Gadamer would not ask us to "imagine ourselves INTO the mind of the other"
through the means of empathy. That is not how Gadamer understands
understanding. A Gadamerian approach occurs in an ACTUAL and HISTORICALLY
SITUATED engagement with the other to whom we listen and converse. And what
we hear often constitutes a challenge to our preconceived prejudgements.
This can be very unsettling and upsetting but from a Gadamerian perspective
this "troubling" is not turned away from.

Gadamers "fusion of horizons" ONLY occurs if both persons in the
conversation are willing to risk their prejudices, organizing principles,
emotional convictions, or what Gadamer calls our BINDING EXPECTATIONS.

Gadamer's method is a method of "trust" and "hope" and is prepared to
WELCOME the other into conversation.  We enter into these generative
conversations KNOWING our ideologies and emotional convictions will not
survive a dialogical encounter intact.  Dialogue CREATES DISRUPTIONS.

Donna Orange calls this form of dialogue working from a hermeneutical
SPIRIT [attitude or stance] of living emancipatory critique. Gadamer wrote,

"The task of bringing people to a self-understanding of themselves may help
US to gain our FREEDOM in RELATION TO everything that has taken us in
unquestioningly".  To take this attitude to dialogue is to enter into
dialogue as SERIOUS PLAY but actually be playful and light hearted in our
approach to dialogue.

Greg, I hope this exploration of Gadamer as inviting us into a
hermeneutical "perspective" can add to our conversation on "self-emptying"
as a possible stance [attitude] that will help unsettle [playfully] some
more certain and received perspectives.

in the spirit of the season I also want to bring in one further concept to
this thread. The concept of "compassion" and its relation to perspectives
and a hermeneutical attitude. Greg you mention since the Enlightenment we
have an ambivalent relation to religious sentiments but the themes that
they grappled with [though possibly suspect epistemologically] still speak
to the reality of human suffeing that I believe must be addressed in ANY
perspective aout social theory and socigenesis.  Why is "compassion" a
theme at the heart of religious perspectives?  Charles Taylor argues we
must bring recognition into view as a human good. Talor's argument is that
we are PROFOUNDLY VULNERABLE to the ways in which we are perceived [or
misperceived] and characterized by others. He argues that receiving
recognition from another is a "vital human need" a PRECONDITION of
effective agency.

If suffering is a central aspect of our being/becoming what is the place of

[Note passion and patient both share the root which means "suffering" and
therefore compassion means "suffering with"]

now in counselling [my role description] there is a struggle to distance
from the "medical model" of responding to patients [suffering persons] that
sees them through an analytical lens in contrast to an approach of "being
with".  This difference in "attitude" or stance [3rd person observing
versus 1st person compassion is I believe an ambivalence being played out
 in all aspects of modernity.  When reading within the framework of
"semiotic remediation" how central are the multiple frameworks within this
family assemblage  to embracing "compassion" as central to their projects.
I would propose that Gadamer's embracing of "perspectives" and "fusion of
horizons" has the room and space to help us develop "compassionate
hermeneuts" as "a practice" within semiotic remediation frameworks that
does offer a way through functionalist notions towards Christines focus on
"transformations".  How central to transformations [as sociogeneis] is the
dialogic conversation within semiotic remediation?  How central is the
notion of "compassion" [suffering with] as a corrective to "analyis" that
is distancing rather than analysis that is compassionate?  To be
compassionate does it require "self-emptying as a practice to develop a
certain KIND of disposition.

In the spirit of the season a continuing hermeneutical conversation.

To everyone on the site have a wonderful holiday

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