Re: [xmca] concept as gambit

From: Victor (
Date: Thu Nov 17 2005 - 23:35:28 PST

 I see that I understood your argument perfectly well.

"Artists of all time are like gamblers in Monte-Carlo and a blind lottery
draws certain ones and ruins the others. I do not believe in painting in
itself. A painting is not made by the painter but by those who look at it
and grant it their favor..." Marcel Duchamps.

    Duchamps makes the point that the subjective product (after all, it too
incorporates a goodly objective component) upon its introduction into social
intercourse, "the gambit" so to speak, is immediately transformed from the
special product of the subject into an element of objective discourse. It
is sublated into the ongoing interaction and lost or alienated from its
origins and becomes just one of the "subjects of production" of the
collectively produced social relation.

  Conversely, the idea that the subject (the self in the social
psychological language of GH Mead and Dewey) is essentially an entity
without properties other than those that accrue to it through social
interaction is exactly the point made by Ilyenkov in his exposition of the
formation of consciousness and of will as a function of social interaction.
The subjectivity of the conscious subject, he who reflects upon his
activities and thereby acquires a self, is not in the properties of the
product of his reflection but in the otherwise empty fact of his reflection.
This view is mirrored in Symbolic Interactionism of GH Mead and Dewey in
their presentation of the self, i.e. subjectivity as a psychological
condition, as propertyless, without specifiable characteristics or form.
Though they represent the process whereby subjectivity is manifested in
interaction in a non-dialectical form, their argument concerning the role
and relation of the self-the subject to social life is strikingly similar to
that of Marx's as interpreted by Ilyenkov; i.e. as the "locus" of the
process whereby the individual reflects upon his own and others activities
and adjusts his own in concordance with the others, individual and

    The "evaporation" of subjectivity in social interaction does not
necessarily involve the evaporation of the unique qualities of the
individual within the "conventionalized homogeneity" of normative society.
Quite the contrary is true. The individual persists, be it a single person,
a sub-unit, or a major division of the community of participants in the
interaction. Only his individuality is now no longer the special product of
the subjectivity of the person, sub-unit or major division, but of a
socially determined role or complex of roles that represents the laws and
principles of his relation to the community as a whole system.

    It is interesting that the European philosophic tradition regards being
as necessarily that which is described. It is in my view a certain
aristocratic bias that we inherit from elitist Hellenic philosophy; that
knowledge is the special domain of those who can gracefully discuss and
write their reflections as opposed to the common mass whose skills are those
of the hand and the eye. Subjectivity, like sensuality (the root experience
of materialism) represents a limit to objectivity, and as such as the
negation of objectivity. We cannot ever provide an entirely satisfactory
objective representation of the subjective or of the material, and this,
perhaps is the best justification for the necessity of their incorporation
in any scientific representation of the development of men and of their
relation to the world.

Victor Friedlander-Rakocz
----- Original Message -----
From: "Mary K. Bryson" <>
To: "XMCA" <>
Sent: Friday, November 18, 2005 6:38
Subject: Re: [xmca] concept as gambit

> On 11/17/05 8:03 PM, "Victor" <> wrote:
>> Sorry if I've misunderstood your message, but it appears to me that the
>> subjective (in the sense of strictly internal reflective activity),
> I am just going to focus on this part, as it has been a long arduous day,
> and this phrase along can be shown to perform exactly the point where
> subjectivity is differently construed...
> The "subjective" is not in my view, and I would argue, in CHAT world, and
> likewise in object-relations theory -- not "internal activity" -- what we
> call subjectivity is always-already external to, and in excess of, and
> maybe
> even a-priori external and relational. Within western modernism, we may
> have
> ways of talking about something like "self" or "subjectivity" where as an
> object of discourse, it is located "internally" -- most western folks act
> is
> if subjectivity of necessity is internal in order to be able to talk
> sensibly about something like agency, a Me who is unique --- cogito ergo
> sum
> and all that tradition...
> But if inter-subjectivity locates subjectivity transitively, across
> subjects
> and objects, then its representation as "internal" is analytically
> problematic.
> And so my interest in the work of Stetsenko, as I interpret her
> scholarship
> on "self" as leading activity and a cultural object within the realm of
> the
> social.
> Performance before competence, as Cazden reminds us...
> Mary
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