Re: [xmca] social-societal

From: Wolff-Michael Roth (
Date: Tue Nov 08 2005 - 16:26:08 PST

Hi all,
it was me who made the point to you--perhaps there were others. The
issue is that Marx writes about "Gesellschaft" and
"gesellschaftlich", meaning society and societal. For Marx this is
important, because you immediately get into your analysis society
that mediates not the social, which means, you get the effect of
class and other inequalities as mediating aspect.
        It is also important to Marx, and he got it from Hegel, in the sense
that society is the new entity that needs to be supported and kept
going, and by contributing to the collective survival, that is, the
survival of society, we make possible our own survival without
actually having to scrounge for food in the forests. This is where
the idea of division of labor comes in and the notion of motive,
which is exactly societal BECAUSE it contributes to the survival of
the collectivity. It's not that we sit together--two or three people--
and make up motives of activity. All motives can ultimately be led
back to the central motive, survival, but which now occurs at the
collective level, because with it, we also guarantee the satisfaction
of our individual needs.
        All of this gets lost when you translate gesellschaftlich with social.
        By the way, Klaus Holzkamp was the person to take exactly this
agenda further, grounded in Leont'ev as Yrjö, but focusing on the
nature of consciousness, and in particular the relationship between
individual and collective consciousness.
        In my reading, this is where we need to look for further
inspiration, because others--like the dialectical philosophers Paul
Ricœur and Emmanuel Levinas--come suprisingly close to the analyses
that Holzkamp provides.
The notion of social does not lead us to dialectics, societal yes,
because then we can talk about possibilities of action, which get us
immediately to the general (action possibility) and particular
(concrete action).



On 8-Nov-05, at 10:41 AM, Mike Cole wrote:

> Sasha-- Just one note where there is misunderstanding in the
> conversation.
> The issue of social/societal makes a difference to many.I wish who
> discussed
> exactly this issue at ISCAR. Social, in Anglo-US discouse, is often
> a way of
> reducing "THE SOCIAL" to two people having a phone conversation,
> any sort of
> interaction. The term societal has been invoked as a way of
> blocking this
> form
> of reductionism.
> Could somone, other than Anna who uses the term subjectivity and
> knows well
> how to use it in their work please respond to the misgivings about
> its use
> that
> I tried asking about some days ago? And Joe asked about in a
> different way
> today?
> I think that it might help us sort out misunderstandings from
> disagreements.
> mike
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