Re: [xmca] subjectivity

From: Andy Blunden (
Date: Mon Oct 31 2005 - 20:24:57 PST

   Of the things we have learnt from the CHAT tradition:
     * who we are as individuals is a product of activity,
     * the "unit of analysis" needs to be "activity," rather than taking
       the individual as unit of analysis and adding individuals together
       to make social relations, etc.
     * relations between "individuals" are only possible because
       individuals are already material systems of activity, but if we
       talk (as Anna does) about inter-subjective relations, i.e., direct
       relations between two "psyches," then we can only be talking about
       telepathy or some kind of mysticism, because one psyche can only
       communicate with another by means of some kind of material
     * the CHAT tradition is well placed in terms of its basic
       theoretical resources, to overcome objectivism, better placed than
       any of the individualist currents found in the capitalist world.

   There is an important difference between conceiving social relations,
   psychology, learning etc., as relations between psyches which happens
   to be influenced by activity, culture, history, etc., and concepts of
   subjectivity which include individuals, culture and practical
   interaction within a single unit of analysis.
   The idea as the psyche as an independent entity with a reality of its
   own is an illusion. To recognise this does not necessarily entail
   flopping over into an objectivist position which marginalises the
   agency of individuals.
   Anna is right in identifying a problem of objectivism in the CHAT
   tradition, but this same objectivism is sound in structuralism,
   poststructuralism and other non-Soviet currents of theory. To abandon
   what is distinctive about the Soviet tradition in favour of the same
   individualist foundation that is used by for example the
   poststructuralists will only mean jumping out of the frying pan into
   the fire.
   We do need to tackle the problem of the "death of the subject", but we
   need to recognise that this phenomenon is not a product or exclusive
   problem of CHAT theory. It has its root in social conditions, in
   culture and history.
   At 03:52 AM 1/11/2005 +0000, you wrote:

     I don't quite follow you, but I respect your thoughts. Would you
     expand on this when you have a moment?
> The problem is, IMHO, that once we define the relevant
     structure as
> inter-individual and intra-individual, we have moved away
     from the
> insights which have given the CHAT tradition its great
     strength. This
> posing of the problem makes the individual the basic unit of
> and discounts the existence of mediation (i.e. the "CH" part
     of CHAT)
> at a fundamental level. Personally, I think this is the
     wrong way to
> go to find a solution to the objectivist tendencies in CHAT.
> Andy

    Andy Blunden, on behalf of the Victorian Peace Network, Phone (+61)
                                03-9380 9435
             Alexander Surmava's Tour - September/October 2006


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