I'll print your reply and study it before addressing what you wrote in
detail, but generally speaking we all hold our favorite theories dear
to our hearts. But we don't think of them as such but rather "the way
"Self" is one of those ideas that are in the background of cultural
assumptions, along with other conventions that are worth questioning.
All the arguments for the "I" seem to derive from linguistics --
sentences require that any experience be the possesion or act of a
We know that this is not a universal requirement of every language.
Some cultures based on "dividuals" speak in terms of the group rather
than the solo subject.
The "I" was once a radical new idea.
Sent from my iPod
On Jan 11, 2010, at 11:01 PM, Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Nancy Gish wrote:
>> I don't disagree with any of this. But it seems to me really
>> concerned with what we mean by "self" or "I"--not whether some agency
>> must exist. I'm not addressing the meaning of "self" or the
>> of consciousness; I am simply pointing to the fact that to discuss it
>> all, there must exist (note passive voice) some residue of agency,
>> whatever you call it, that does the discussing or challenges the
>> definition. To claim there is only discourse would, I presume, mean
>> that discourse exists. But how if no agency discourses? I don't
>> any of the theories get at this, and I did, as I said, read a lot on
>> it once.
>> For example, if no "I" exists, who or what is your "you" who/that
>> thinks of it? That is the conundrum I am noting. And I do not think
>> it is simple at all--no one, in any case, seems to solve it.
> As Marcia says (my paraphrase) "Theories are a dimve a dozen." And
> so often someone invents a really catchy name for a few hundred of
> (e.g. "postmodernism"), then thousands or 10s of thousands of people
> pick their favorite plum out of the bundle and try to relate
> they come across to that plum. Then pretty soon (a generation, maybe a
> couple centuries, sometimes only a few years) someone makes a new
> of them, and off we go again.
> For a careful attempt to sort out the miscellany of tendencies that
> variously been labelled "postmodern," "post-structuralist," and
> "deconstion" see Tilottima Rajan, _ Deconstruction and the Remainders
> of Phenomenology: Sartre, Derrida, Foucault, Baudrillard_. Also see T.
> Rajan & Michael J. O'Discoll, eds., _After Poststructuralism: Writing
> the Inetellectual History of Theory_.
> That title is telling: Already one can look BACK on that ensemble of
> theorists and theories as _history_, past tense. (She is not being
> sarcastic: she regrets the passing, and has written an article which I
> locate an exact cite on just now called _The Moment of Thoery_.
> Incidentally, she points out in the first book cited that "thoery" was
> coined by Derrida et al as a way of doing philosophy without having to
> deal with Sartre. (Note: she is an admireer, even 'disciple,' of
> Derrida, but not a cultist.) Sartre introduced Heidegger to France,
> the generation of Derrida et al claimed he misinterpreted Being and
> Time; Rajan points out that he did _not_ misintepret it, he DISAGREED
> with it.
> As to the "self" -- that's been under critique for at least two
> centuries. Take a look at Marx's "Theses on Feuerbach," or at my
> "Citizen Angels: Civil Society and the Abstract Individual in Paradise
> Lost." About 80% of it is fluff, but the core holds. Satan presents
> himself as a cherub wandering around looking for tourist information;
> Uriel takes it all in stride, though a bit surprised. Note that in
> Milton's heaven we have angels who are strangers to each other: cf.
> Elizabeth & Wickham, contrast with Dante's heaven of Homer's gods.
> also, in the Grundrisse, refers to the "dot-like isolation of the mere
> free worker." This isolated individual, who comes from nowhere and
> by an abstract choice or act of will enter into relations with other
> equally abstract individuals coming from nowhere (consider implied
> writer/implied reader in the first sentence of Pride & Prejudice) --
> this indvidual or self is a creation of modern commodity production,
> Milton's epic of that individual gives some weight to Pound's aphorism
> that artists are the antennae of the race. But, incidentally,
> neoclassical economics still takes this individual as gospel, they
> it rational choice individualism, and contemporary economics is the
> pseudo-science of how such spooks relate to each other.
> To put it another way, there's a hell of a lot of complex history here
> and you just can't grab a writer her or there, give it a fancy name,
> say this is the way it is now.