Re: [xmca] Historical Development

From: David Kellogg <vaughndogblack who-is-at>
Date: Wed Feb 20 2008 - 12:51:40 PST

I do prefer "personal" to "individual", and I prefer "personality" to "individuality". Here's why.
  One of the chief crimes of dualism is the assumption that the self is a kind of ghost, a replication of the human body made out of spiritual, psychological, or even sociological substances. Hence it is divided from other selves. And just as human bodies turn into large and unwieldy lumps of meat and bone when we cut them up, this ghostly substance cannot be divided without transforming it into something else. Hence, it is individual.
  Both of these problems seem (to me) to disappear when we use "personal" and "personality" instead. The self is not a ghostly replication of a human body but a porous interface between one member of the herd and the rest of the herd. The self does have structure; just as a novel has various voices which are organized by a single authorial voice, the self consists of various functions such as memory, attention, logic, etc. which are organized by volition, by the principle of deliberate and free choice. A self can choose to be conscious of itself as a whole, but for most practical purposes this is really not necessary. For most practical purposes, a self is every bit as "dividual" as its various functions.
  Fortunately for us, because it is the variability of the RELATIONSHIP between these functions that really brings about development. And here is where I think I really DO side with Bakhurst. The reason why we need to study the history of the self is to explain how the relationship between the various functions of the self varies and by varying produces free will and volition.
  For me, it is impossible to talk about free will and volition without talking about concrete choices (that's what the bit about "recognition of necessity" means to me). That is why I was arguing that role play represents an increase in free will over rote activities: in rote activities, free will is all or nothing, repeating or not repeating. But in role play there is repetition and variation within the role.
  For example, Mina can say "no" or she can say "no" and give a reason. Mina can decide that she is younger than Minsu and has a crush on a boy in her class and that is why she doesn't want to wear a coat, or when Minsu decides that he is older than Mina and rather conservative in his views on what a well dressed younger sister looks like.
  When the emerging principle of variation is applied to the roles themselves, we have variation of variation, variation squared. This yields abstract rules, for example in role-switching and turn-taking. But rules too can be varied, and this is what gives rise to dialogism and negotiability, which for me is the true source of word meaning.
  I do not accept that word meanings are fundamentally a set of routines, or discourse roles, or abstract rules, although all of these play a part in learning them. I think that words like "I" and "you", words like "apple" and "table" and words like "growth" and "acceleration" all represent something very like what Marx describes with use value and exchange value, namely a shift in the balance between referential meaning on the one hand and signifying meaning on the other.
  That's why I think Bakhurst's right; the whole method comes from Marx. But we can only really clearly see this when we discard "activity" as the fundamental unit of analysis and go back to LSV and word meanings. Word meanings always involve the interface between persons; they are what make up personality.
  "Personality" is one kind of interface, but "individual" is a very different one. At least to me!
  David Kellogg
  Seoul National University of Education

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Received on Wed Feb 20 12:54 PST 2008

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