Re: Bakhtin: Toward a methodology for the human sciences

From: Phil Chappell (
Date: Wed Jan 07 2004 - 04:58:43 PST

On Jan 5, 2004, at 2:27 AM, Eugene Matusov wrote:
Please share your observations and thoughts while reading this short

Eugene, Bill and All,
Bakhtin's essay, which I haven't read for quite some time, reminds me
of his powerful theories of intertextuality and dialogicality. In his
exposition of a methodology for the human sciences as opposed to the
natural sciences, the latter which he claims is a monologic form of
knowledge in the sense of one subject contemplating a voiceless thing,
Bakhtin foregrounds the boundaries between text and context in a truly
historical sense. A simple utterance from his essay left me pondering
for quite some time..."The text lives only by coming into contact with
another text (with context). Only at this point does a light flash,
illuminating both the posterior and anterior, joining a given text to a
dialogue". I'm not sure how much background knowledge of Bakhtin's
works is needed to be stimulated by this comment in terms of
methodology and research reporting, but it's a pretty sound
distillation of his thinking (in a post-modern sense??). In the human
sciences, a methodology that specifies context as being a uniquely
human construct - humans undertaking social activities in their
everyday lives that necessitates individual actions organised around
situated collective activity for me suits a dialogic form of inquiry.

Well, that's what I think ;-) and thanks for bringing this essay of
Bakhtin's out again, Eugene.


P.S I also love the excerpt of Boris Pasternak's poem, "August" that
Bakhtin quotes...

Farewell, spread of the wings out-straightened
The free stubbornness of pure flight,
The word that gives the world its image,
Creation: miracles of light.

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