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Re: [xmca] Re: Six key points on sociocultural models of development

Both Althusser and Foucault have made such powerful contributions to criticism that one can not but read and learn. That said I have always reacted negatively to Althusser and somewhat ambivalently to Foucault, mainly because of their anti-humanism, in both cases but obviously especially Althusser. I think in my post on Fichte I mentioned that I thought ALthusser's notion of interpellation originated from Fichte, but both interpellation and subjectification express (to me) the negative side of being a zoon politikon. I see from what you have written how you have simply turned those notions around and used them as emancipatory ideas. It always intrigued me how such a pessimistic and objectivist idea as Foucault's could inspire such powerfully emancipatory movements as did Foucault's. Thank you for spelling that out for me. I guess just neither of them were going in the direction I have wanted to go. I hate the metaphor of "mining" but I guess you have successfuly mined some good ore from them.

I have my early reflections on reading Althusser and Foucault here:


Gregory Allan Thompson wrote:
I was happy to see that Larry had provoked you to write more than one screen. Glad he did since I always appreciate your insight into this Hegelian ground of recognition.

As for your comment about post-modernist writing on recognition, I wanted to add a couple more authors to consider.
But first, I wanted to mention that I agree with Larry that Bakhtin is an important figure to consider. He has a notion of "consummation" (as in, "your gaze consummates me") that has not been adequately considered in US scholarship, at least. It is clearly a kin concept to Hegel's recognition and one to be mined further (much more prosaic too and one that is written with all the passion of a Bakhtin). And Thomas is certainly writing in the tradition of recognition as a psychological need. For him it is one of the four wishes that motivate people. But I agree that this is a different concept of recognition than what Hegel was after.

So getting on to the postmodern authors that I would locate in the Hegelian tradition, Andy, I wonder if you would include Althusser and Foucault in your list of folks who rely on a mysterious interpsychic process? To be clear, I see Althusser's idea of "interpellation" and Foucault's notion of "subjectification" as their attempts at Hegel's notion of recognition. What, I think, often gets lost (particularly in American readings of them) is the positive side of these processes - subjectification is a process of "subjecting to" but it is also a process of "making a subject of". As such, it holds a key resolution to the individual/social dichotomy that has been such a bugbear to those in the West - the appearance of a necessary opposition between individual and society (as if). So I see Foucault's take as pointing to the fact that subjectification is a dual process that by submitting to the social (a submission that can't be complete), the individual attains subject-hood. Or t!
 o !
put it another way, the possibilities of the individual are certainly restricted by "entering into" the social, but there are also all kinds of new possibilities that are opened up by doing so (and as I mentioned somewhere before in an XMCA post, I trace this line of thinking back to Rousseau).

But here in the US, the vast majority read these texts as demonstration of the power of the group OVER AND ABOVE the individual. That's only half the story, imho. The other half being that the social group opens new possibilities for the individual. Thus, the flipside of capillary power is that there is power (and possibility) everywhere. It isn't easy to actualize the possibilities, but they are, well, nonetheless possible.

I would also suggest that Foucault's notion of subjectification seems like a notion that nicely captures the mediatedness of recognition. In Foucault's case, this mediation occurs, at least in part, via scientific discourses about persons.

I'm not sure that any of this does anything for Larry's concerns (other than the Bakhtin), but I wondered what your thoughts were on Althusser and Foucault, Andy. Maybe too much to ask?


On Wed, Jun 22, 2011 at 12:03 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

Larry, as I see it, the idea of desire for recognition originated in the
Young Hegel's master-slave dialectic, but that was of course just the

Hegel's original version dealt with the confrontation between two subjects
for which there exists no mediation at all. This is a very strange
circumstance, but a scenario Hegel needed in order to expound his idea of
modernity and the state. It could refer to two peoples coming into contact
for the first time, e.g. colonialism, or a brand new social movement
confronting the establishment. The two subjects manage to mediate their
interaction by each splitting in two, their needs and the means of their
satisfaction become differentiated, and mediation happens by the needs (or
labour) of one mediating between the needs and labour of the other. One or
another vesion, successively attenuated appears in every version of Hegel's

In a 1805 version of his system, he envisage the circulation of the
products of labour on the market as a form of recognition. But both the
fire-and-brimstone version in the Phenomenolohgy and the commodity version
are attenuated in later works. In the Philosophy of Right, recognition
happens via self-organised professional associations, the family, local
quasi-state organisations and so on - some kind of participatory democracy.
He explicitly warns against taking the master-servant relation as relevant
to life within a nation-state. But in his Subjective Spirit, he takes the
relation of Recognition as the foundation of self-consciousness and the
emergence of intellect.

GH Mead based his I/Me dialectic explicitly on Hegel's master-slave
relation, in as much as it relies on the self-sundering of the person into
subject and object, but without all the fire and brimstone.

More recent trends of recognition readings or Hegel - "intersubjectivity" -
just don't know or care about the notion of mediation. The self is not split
as it is for Hegel and Mead, but body and soul are merged into one
integrated subject. IMHO the whole process relies on some mysterious
interpsychic process, and is simply reflective of the postmodern condition
of individual powerlessness.

Hope that helps Larry.

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*Andy Blunden*
Joint Editor MCA: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~db=all~content=g932564744
Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857
MIA: http://www.marxists.org

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