Re: [xmca] ego, self, etc.

From: Paul Dillon <phd_crit_think who-is-at>
Date: Sat Feb 02 2008 - 20:47:06 PST

Yeah Martin,
  I haven't read ahead my inbox to see if Andy's already responded but I agree that if we correlate Bourdieu's foci to the categories of Hegel's Phenomenology, they are the already developed forms of Subjective and Objective Spirt. But then I don't think Bourdieu would agree that their is an Absolute Knowledge in any Hegelian sense. Andy surely can address this better than I.
  But I have a problem with your interpretation of the passage from sense certainty to more developed forms of consciousness. As I read what you've written, the dimension of violence in the process is totally absent. Violence plays a very important role in Hegel's dialectic and at two totally crucial points of transition: the first being that of the Master-Slave dialectic, in which the problem of solipsism is resolved through the subordination of one "self-consciousness" to another.
    The relation of both self-consciousnesses is in this way so constituted that they prove themselves and each other through a life-and-death struggle. They must enter into this struggle, for they must bring their certainty of themselves, the certainty of being for themselves, to the level of objective truth, and make this a fact both in the case of the other and in their own case as well. And it is solely by risking life that freedom is obtained; only thus is it tried and proved that the essential nature of self-consciousness is not bare existence, is not the merely immediate form in which it at first makes its appearance, is not its mere absorption in the expanse of life. Rather it is thereby guaranteed that there is nothing present but what might be taken as a vanishing moment — that self-consciousness is merely pure self-existence, being-for-self. The individual, who has not staked his life, may, no doubt, be recognized as a Person; but he has not attained the truth of
 this recognition as an independent self-consciousness. In the same way each must aim at the death of the other, as it risks its own life thereby; for that other is to it of no more worth than itself; the other’s reality is presented to the former as an external other, as outside itself; it must cancel that externality. The other is a purely existent consciousness and entangled in manifold ways; it must view its otherness as pure existence for itself or as absolute negation.
   The second place where violence plays a fundamental role in the transition for absolute freedom to the sphere of morality, the mmovement from pure-self- interest to the recognition that the ground of self interest is the moral order. Again Hegel is poetic:
    The sole and only work and deed accomplished by universal freedom is therefore death — a death that achieves nothing, embraces nothing within its grasp; for what is negated is the unachieved, unfulfilled punctual entity of the absolutely free self. It is thus the most cold-blooded and meaningless death of all, with no more significance than cleaving a head of cabbage or swallowing a draught of water.
  These elements of struggle -to=the=death and "fear and trembling" and submission before the threat (immanence/possibiility) of death, desire of death for all, institutionalized threats of violence, etc need to be addressed to bring Hegel's dialecdtic down to earth, where as we all know, the business of death is at the forefront of things.

Martin Packer <> wrote:
  On 2/2/08 12:21 AM, "Paul Dillon"

> As I understand it, the concept of habitus only acquires theoretical meaning
> in relation to a specific field of activity developed around the acquisition
> of different types of capital. Habitus would be totally abstract without
> field and of course incapable of providing an alternative to anything.


You're quite right: I should have said that habitus and field *together*
offer an alternative to the representational model. The whole point is that
they are defined relationally, in order to enable us to think about
relational phenomena. So it's always habitus/field.

As I grasp it, Hegel's account of the development (Bildung) of consciousness
is something like this: First, we take things to be just the way they appear
to be. Then, we come to experience a distinction between things are they
appear and things as they are, which requires consciousness of self. We
eventually become conscious of the way our own consciousness has been shaped
by our biography and by our own society &shy; we come to see society as an
objective reality. Then we become conscious of the way society is itself a
product of human activity &shy; and that humans have evolved. And finally we
become aware that we ourselves are a manifestation of something larger.
[Unfinished task: see whether Vygotsky describes the same progession]

Bourdieu is locating himself somewhere advanced in this progression: he
grasps the ways that society is reproduced in human activity. Habitus/Field
is designed to capture this dynamic. The people he studies, in contrast, he
sees as being subject to a necessary "illusio" that is pretty much a state
of sense-certainty: things are just as they appear to be. Reflexive
sociology offers a kind of "socio-analysis" that enables people to see that
they have alternatives, that what seems natural is not. Reflexivity is about
≥uncovering the social at the heart of the individual, the impersonal
beneath the intimate, the universal buried within the most particular≤


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Received on Sat Feb 2 20:50 PST 2008

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