Re: [xmca] subjectivity question

From: Andy Blunden (
Date: Thu Nov 10 2005 - 19:25:12 PST

   Look, I apologise if I have misrepresented Foucault and Butler.
   I certainly did not mean to present "simple and dogmatic
   alternatives", I was just trying to be succinct, and I never even
   mentioned Marx.
   Perhaps you could elaborate for me and others, Martin?
   At 09:54 PM 10/11/2005 -0500, you wrote:

     This really does not do justice to Foucault (or Butler). The
     Cartesian) subject was just as much an illusion to Marx, for one
     thing. The
     affinities between Foucault and Marx are complex and subtle (as are
     differences), and healthier reading than many simple and dogmatic
     On 11/10/05 9:12 PM, "Andy Blunden" <> wrote:
> I agree Mary, that for an understanding of the meaning of
> in today's context, poststructuralists like Judith Butler
     and Michel
> Foucault (and Cavarero ?I think?) are indispensable, as they
     are the
> main critics of subjectivity still today. But I really do
     think at
> least a health warning needs to be attached to such a
> viz., that for these writers "subjectivity" means what I
     at least
> would call "subject position", and not anything like what
     either Anna
> Stetsenko or I, for example, would call "subjectivity."
> Poststructuralists claim to have "deconstructed the subject",
     for them
> it is an illusion. To Judith Butler's credit, she does
     indeed claim
> and promote the capacity of individual people and groups to
     change the
> discourses and narratives (structures) which determine them,
     but as I
> see it at any rate, this possibility, open to an
     individual to
> intervene in the structures which determine their
     consciousness is not
> so much an afterthought - to say that would be missing the
     point - but
> it is at the margins. (Much like those kind of leftists who
     say that
> the state control everything, but still envisage the
     possibility of
> overthrowing the state.)
> I think poststructuralism is a powerful theory, but don't you
     find it
> very "objectivist" as well, Mary?
> I wish I could offer an alternative reading list, but I
     find that
> those writers who are currently promoting subjectivity
     (e.g. Frank
> Ferudi, James Heartfield, Charles Taylor) I cannot recommend
> "health warnings" either.
> Andy
> PS. Everything people on this list have to say about *how* to
> I always read with the greatest attention, because XMCA is
     really the
> most outstandingly successful and productive list that
     exists. I will
> try to do better.
> At 08:32 AM 10/11/2005 -0800, you wrote:
> Two short books would, I think, provide an excellent
     overview of
> contemporary thinking about this vexed matter of
> "subjectivitity",
> and the relationality of self and others, and of course,
     self as
> Other to
> itself...
> Judith Butler, Giving an Account of Oneself, 2005,
> University Press
> Adriana Cavarero, (1997), Relating Narratives:
     Storytelling and
> selfhood,
> Routledge
> But for the sake of completeness, I would have to add,
> Foucault's
> later work, The Hermaneutics of the Subject, 2001, Palgrave
     -- kind
> of
> fascinating because, published posthumously, these are
> transcriptions of Foucault lecturing at the University.
> A little contemplative reading is, I think, more helpful
     here than
> trying to
> summarize about 300 years of work in an email -- and
     actually, if
> you just
> read the Butler text, which is less than 150 pages, you will
     get it
> all.
> Mary
> ---------------
> Mary K. Bryson, Associate Professor and Graduate
     Coordinator, ECPS,
> Faculty
> of Education, University of British Columbia
> Research Profile
> [1]
> On 11/9/05 8:52 AM, "Mike Cole" <> wrote:
>> Mary-- I found the message where I raised questions about the
> of the
>> term,
>> subjectivity. The question I am raising is one that I
> brooded about for
>> a long
>> time without ever seeking to bring the discourses
> subjectivity is a
>> key term
>> and discourses that use terms like psyche, mind, etc. that
> to come from
>> different
>> places/times.
>> This may not be productive for people to discuss if others
> clear on it
>> but I am not
>> so would benefit from such a discussion.
>> mike
>> ------------
>> Second, and on a very different tack. I would really
> help
>> understanding warrants for claims about another person or
>> "subjectivity."
>> I am a member of modern academic culture, so of course I have
> general idea
>> of what the term means from its uses, as in Anna's paper, but
> cultural
>> studies more broadly. But, perhaps because of my training as
> behaviorist,
>> or perhaps because of my training as a student of
> Luria's, many
>> uses
>> of the term make me nervous, and that extends to Anna's paper
> your
>> discussion with Martin (for whom the term is more comfortable,
> believe --
>> Please, Martin, Anna, Andy, Mary, and others join in here).
>> Danzinger recounts how it came about that a researcher in
> German
>> laboratory in the 1880's-1990's came to be called "the
> the person
>> whose
>> psychological states/perceptions/elements
> consciousness/....... his (it
>> was all hims at the time) research-partner was, in
> with the
>> subject,
>> trying to obtain "scientific evidence" about. In simple terms,
> was the
>> problem of how you could know what someone else
> thinking/feeling.
>> Luria writes about his disillusion with various attempts to
> this
>> problem. He specifed, in The Nature of Human Conflicts, and
> in his
>> autobiography,
>> a method in which the researcher created a situation where
> and the
>> "subject" were coordinated in a cultural medium. The behavior
> both was
>> voluntary, not reflexive. Once they achieve highly
> joint
>> actions, the researcher introduces a highly selected change
> the
>> situation and
>> determines if this change results in a change in the
> actions of
>> the "subject." ONLY when there is selective,
> DIS-coordination
>> of the coordinated joint activity is there a warrant for a
> about the
>> other person's thought/feeling.
>> Peg Griffin and I sought to extend this idea into the
> and
>> remediation of reading difficulties of children with, I
> reasonable
>> success. Bruner and
>> others used it, without acknowledgement or recognition of
> general
>> importance so far as I know, in studies where, for
> infants are
>> first habituated
>> to a series of stimuli while their "signature" rhythmic
> is recorded
>> and then a small change of interest (phoeme,
> configuration...) is
>> introduced
>> to see if the suckig is disrupted.
>> I can give other examples from rare, but naturally
> events I have
>> participated in.
>> But in general, what are the warrants for claims about
> person's or
>> another people's subjectivity? Last night on National
> Radio I heard a
>> Palastinian and other people writing "in diaspora" speak of
> fence as
>> huge influence on his feeling of being walled out of his
> country. The
>> people from various parts
>> of Africa rioting in Paris are clearly outraged over
> treatment by the
>> French and I see their anger in their actions. But what can
> claim to know
>> about their
>> subjectivity (their anger is objectively visible to me)? What
> my
>> daughter, who has lived in Eastern Madagascar at various
> in her
>> life, gotten
>> extraordinarily ill from helping grow rice in
> participated in cattle
>> sacrifice, grieved at the death of her Malagasy ancestors,
> about
>> Malagasy
>> subjectivity? Behind my back,the BBC is showing anyone who
> watch the
>> subjectivity of Latin Americans outraged at American
> What can I
>> know about their subjectivity other than its
> manifestations?
>> This is not a known answer question. I would appreciate help
> coming to
>> terms with the use of this term. I believe it must be used
> great care
>> and the
>> possibility of claims being incorrect. Luria wanted to be able
>> distinguish what people said from what they "felt." In
> paper, the
>> terms subjectivity
>> and intersubjectivity are central. What is being meant by what
> being
>> written?
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> Andy Blunden, on behalf of the Victorian Peace Network, Phone
> 03-9380 9435
> Alexander Surmava's Tour - September/October 2006
> References
> 1. [2]
> 2. [3]
> 3. [4]
> 4. [5]
> 5. [6]
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    Andy Blunden, on behalf of the Victorian Peace Network, Phone (+61)
                                03-9380 9435
             Alexander Surmava's Tour - September/October 2006


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