Re: [xmca] concept as gambit

From: Victor (
Date: Fri Nov 18 2005 - 23:17:52 PST


First, I suggest that convention is defined by anonymous roles and norms
only on higher levels of abstraction. The conventions of more intimate,
i.e. concrete social interaction, does specify roles and norms in a much
more complex form and can indicate a more diverse and temporal array of
roles, including roles specific to particular individuals in specified
social situations. For example, In a classroom situation, where students
have had time to develop regular social relations, the norms and roles of
classroom behaviour extend far beyond the abstract teacher-student
convention as described in official and semi-official texts on correct
classroom behaviour. These "local" conventions will usually include the
development of special social relations between groups of students, between
individual students, and a diversity of normal relations between different
students and the instructor. Social convention in general does not
necessarily contradict the possibility of personal and intimate social
relations characterized by deeply felt concerns, but only by those abstract
norms and roles that are imposed on the interaction from on high by
administrators and other organizational specialists whose relation to the
educational system are usually very different from those of the
student/teacher community of the class room.

     The point of the paragraph you found hard to understand is that the
evaporation of subjectivity does not necessarily mean the evaporation of
individuality. As you put it, "Object-relations theory has the advantage of
adding a developmental dimension in which it is clear that the individual
arises *from* society", in social interaction, especially of the more
concrete kind, we condense and find ourselves as social beings. We learn
from others who we are and transmit to them who they are, and in this way
collaborate in establishing, disestablishing and reestablishing the
normative relations between us. The conscious individual is a product first,
of social life as a universal and second, of the enacted interactions of
communities of collaborating individuals. As such the individual as an
array of special or unique properties is a social product.

     I'm writing this following an earlier message in which I "unpack'
subjectivity, so this continuation is more or less a reiteration of that

     Subjectivity is a social product of men's material interdependence on
one another in contradiction with a poverty of "organic means" for
achieving the collaboration necessary for material survival of individual
and group. The significance of this state of affairs is that the history
(and prehistory) of human development is one of the invention and
enhancement of the means for learning from each other and the concomitant
augmentation of the famous "intelligence" of humankind. The means for
learning from one another is the multiplicity of socially originated
languages we use to transmit and assimilate information, the intelligence is
in large part the accumulated knowledge produced and shared by generations
of collaboration between cooperating individuals, it is in the learning (and
instructing) activity itself that subjectivity becomes important.

  The invention and development of the means to transmit and assimilate
information within the community, language, is also the primary vehicle that
enables men to transform the stream of experience into distinctive objects
and thereby to regard experience, including experience of self as an object
separated from the immediacy of actual activity. Now, while language, the
external means of communication, is symbolic, i.e. tailored to the special
demands of interaction rather than to the forms of activity it represents,
the corresponding internally identified object evoked by language use is
more likely to be an image of the material experience (now an object)
designated by the language form. All this still is concerned with the
objectivity of social life.

      Subjectivity, consciousness and will, is made possible by the
evocation of an internal image (the imagined object) by external language
forms. By transforming the stream of experience into an array of distinct
objects, including experience of our own activities, we can build an
internal model of our relation, mechanical, chemist, and teleological
(remember Sasha's message concerning these) to the social situation of
interest. By converting the internal model into a communicable mode, mostly
in a language form, we produce a socially objective form that incorporates
and thereby interjects the internal model into the interactional situation.
The subjectivity is not in the language forms or in the images they evoke;
these are objective social formations, or even in the internal subjective
product; these are simply an organized array of objects; but rather in the
activity of building a subjective product from the objects suggested by
social communications. I hope my previous message will adequately complete
the argument.

Victor Friedlander-Rakocz
----- Original Message -----
From: "Martin Packer" <>
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
Sent: Friday, November 18, 2005 21:06
Subject: Re: [xmca] concept as gambit

> Victor
> ...and I find it hard to read the paragraph I have copied below without it
> seeming that you are saying the individual exists *prior* to society, and
> is
> in danger of getting lost when entering into social relations. (A view of
> the artist as unique, solitary creator, who on showing their special work
> to
> the public loses control of its significance.) Object-relations theory has
> the advantage of adding a developmental dimension in which it is clear
> that
> the individual arises *from* society.
> It is true that from certain viewpoints any society is a 'conventionalized
> homogeneity,' defining and defined by anonymous roles and norms. But from
> another viewpoint our most important social relations (and arguably all of
> them to some degree) are personal and intimate, characterized by deeply
> felt
> concerns rather than role prescriptions. (Cf Dreyfus' 'Being-in-the-world'
> on the distinction between 'constitutive conformity' and 'conformism.')
> Thought about this way it becomes clearer that we don't simply 'evaporate'
> in social interaction; we also condense and find ourselves.
> Martin
> On 11/18/05 2:35 AM, "Victor" <> wrote:
>> 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.
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