> 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 necessity
> 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 find
> 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 every
so often someone invents a really catchy name for a few hundred of them
(e.g. "postmodernism"), then thousands or 10s of thousands of people
pick their favorite plum out of the bundle and try to relate everything
they come across to that plum. Then pretty soon (a generation, maybe a
couple centuries, sometimes only a few years) someone makes a new bundle
of them, and off we go again.
For a careful attempt to sort out the miscellany of tendencies that have
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, and
the generation of Derrida et al claimed he misinterpreted Being and
Time; Rajan points out that he did _not_ misintepret it, he DISAGREED
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. Marx
also, in the Grundrisse, refers to the "dot-like isolation of the mere
free worker." This isolated individual, who comes from nowhere and must
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, and
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 call
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, and
say this is the way it is now.