[xmca] Subject and Self

From: Paul Dillon <phd_crit_think who-is-at yahoo.com>
Date: Tue Dec 18 2007 - 21:34:14 PST

  Since you are addressing the foundations of CHAT in your article I'm wondering why the equation between individual (self) and subject seems implicit.
  What happens when we ask about the subject of the capitalist society or even like Hegel history, as a whole?? Who is the subject of our social system as a whole? Sinced Rousseau we have the idea that the people are represented through their democratic institutions? Some subject that!!! I think we're on more solid ground when we understand the subject to be a contradictory unity, that no indivdual is ever the subject of an activity system and that the relative balance of power between the contradictory and competing forces in a subject/agent don't share any common "consciousness" of the process.. It's commonplace that the winners write the histories. But it's these histories that human individuals internalize.
  At the social level the subject would seem to be a dialectical unity, e.g. capital and labor, whose contradictions and relative forces determine the object and the instruments of the systems of activity systems integrated in "society"as a whole. How could such a social subject (ie, agent determing object and outcome), be "self-conscious" in the commonplace sense applied to the self-conscious of a human individual? Would that mean that every individual understood his or her position in the socio-historical process,, an element of the subject of that process, as constituting his or her own innermost self as understood in terms of say Maslow, for example? Or is it that there is no conscious social subject? Then how could it be possble that any individual be conscious? Or is it that humans are stuggling to wake up?
  I really have a problem with the equation of "subject" and "self". I find that it makes more sense to consider the social subject as a contradictory unity rather than as some monological identit;. The idea of conscious agency totally abandoned. Society is made up of systems of activity systems and the fundamental contradictions of the "subject", say capital and labor, propagate through all the levels until we arrive at the wee babe learning in ways that are defined by the unconscious (echoing marx here) forces, the agents of what's going on, the subjects, of human history, sturggling to deal with the probllem ofr waking up from the nightmare.
  Self and subject really need to be distingushed. I can't see how they have much in common.

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Received on Tue Dec 18 21:38 PST 2007

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