Draft paper for the conference: Democracy and Trust, Georgetown University, Nov 7-9, 1996 (still too long and still not quite finished yet in a few details).
Department of Communication
University of New Hampshire
'What can I rely on? I really want to say that a language-game is only possible if one trusts something (I did not say 'can trust something')' (1969, nos 508, 509) See footnote 1.
'Knowledge is in the end based on acknowledgement' (1969, no.378).
'Home is the place where, when you have to go there,/ They have to take you in/ I should have called it/ Something you somehow haven't to deserve' (Robert Frost, 'Death Of a Hired Hand,' 1969, p.??)
In our everyday conversations, we talk of democracy and trust as if in some primordial sense, they are already 'out there' in the world around us and we are already well acquainted with them. Yet currently, we are worried that somehow they are slipping out of our grasp. Hence our feeling that, if we studied them more, if we researched into them further, then we might be able to do something about out predicament, for it is our failure to grasp their true nature that prevents us from acting correctly or, at least, this is what we feel the case to be. As a result, in searching for what we think will be a proper understanding of them, we attempt, as philosophers, to formulate new concepts, and as social scientists, to invent explanatory theories, as to what, exactly, we think they 'are' See footnote 2. We then seek to argue in some way for the truth of these concepts or theories, for if we can establish it, we will then be justified in trying to apply them in practice. However, as Bernstein (1983) remarks (I think correctly): 'A community or polis is not something that can be made or engineered by some form of techne or by the administration of society. There is something of a circle here, comparable to the hermeneutical circle. The coming into being of a type of public life that can strengthen solidarity, and a commitment to rational persuasion presupposes the incipient forms of such communal life' (p.226). What then is to be done with respect to our current worries? 'We know what has been a typical response to this situation,' Bernstein continues: 'the idea that we can make, engineer, impose our collective will to form such communities. But this is precisely what cannot be done, and attempts to do so have been disastrous' (p.226). So why do we still persist in this approach? Why do we still seek to repress dialogue and to restrict, for a time at least, the kinds of ways of talking and thinking are thought appropriate to our ordinary experiences by providing new academic concepts and theories of them?
We persist in it, I think, because at the moment, we live inside a shared reality of a certain kind, one that leads us, both 'officially' and professionally, to approach and make sense of events occurring around us in a certain kind of way. Thus the dominant discourse in our academic culture currently leads us to talk of our world as if we are mentally seeing everything in it through, or in terms of, a certain kind of image (a Weltbild in Wittgenstein's (1969) terms): that of the unitary, socially inert, Cartesian-Newtonian world of elements of matter in motion, in which, among other things, we see our knowledge as being representational in nature and foundational in structure. Hence it is 'natural' for us, so to speak, to think of ourselves as subjects, set over against a world containing certain object-like, or object-ive 'things', and for us to talk of ourselves as only having knowledge of these 'things' and of acting with reference to them in terms of our 'inner representations' of them. We are not used to thinking of ourselves as also having certain, spontaneous, bodily reactions to them. Indeed, the different ways in which we are struck by certain events - that they call out from us certain kinds of involuntary reactions that, quite often, show or display us as treating our surroundings as being anything but socially inert or merely objective - does not strike us as being in any way crucial to our more intellectual understanding of things. As Wittgenstein (1953) puts it, the picture of us as acting always in relation to an 'inner representational processes' of some kind, 'stands in the way of us seeing' (no.305) many other important details of what we call our 'inner' lives, especially the importance in them of our spontaneous bodily reactions to events. Yet, if Wittgenstein (1980) is correct in his claim that: 'The origin and primitive form of the language-game is a reaction. Language - I want to say - is a refinement, 'in the beginning was the deed'' (p.31, the quote is from Goethe), then their role in our lives is crucial.
Thus below, following Vico (1968), Wittgenstein (1953, 1980), Volosinov (1973, 1976), and Bakhtin (1986, 1993), I want to explore the consequences of their claims that, prior to all our more abstract, orderly, and conceptual forms of thought and talk, and influencing all our ways of articulating them, are essentially only 'once occurrent' See footnote 3 poetic images. Where the images in question are not images 'of something', but are images 'through which' or 'in terms of which' we make a certain kind of sense of events occurring in our surroundings, a sense that is shared with others. Where we are able to do this because the images involved are not images 'in our heads', but are ones that we initially show or express to each other, involuntarily, in our bodily ways of humanly reacting or responding to such events. We speak of them as having a metaphorical quality, as seemingly involving an image in some way, for the way of acting 'carried in' our spontaneous reactions, often appears to have been be 'carried over' from another sphere of our lives See footnote 4.
Such mytho-poetic images are central to what Vico (1968) calls the sensus communis of a group or community: a shared sense which, he suggests, affords all its participants the possibility of coordinating their activities together in terms of a shared form of 'judgement without reflection' (para 142), i.e., a shared set of unthinkingly expressed, practical responses, to shared concrete circumstances. Although this common sense is made or created by us, and thus works to relate our judgments to 'human needs and utilities' (para 141), our making of it is clearly, suggests Vico, not a matter of individual, rational choice. But nor is it a matter of chance or necessity either. Something else is at work, sui generis, which operates 'without human discernment or counsel, and often against the designs of men' (para. 342). Later, we shall find this 'something else' in the special joint or dialogical nature of our social accomplishments: the fact that in simply responding spontaneously both to each other and aspects of our larger surroundings, our individual reactions are always a complex, interactive amalgam of interrelated, moment-by-moment changing influences, so that what you and I are doing at any one moment is always inextricably a part of, and shaped by, what overall we are doing - where what we are doing overall is uniquely created as an unintended consequence of our joint action in response to our joint circumstances (see Shotter, 1980, 1984, 1993a and b, 1995). Indeed, it is the inescapable continuous creation of novelties that is the hallmark of all dialogic relations. For, as Bakhtin (1986) puts it, due to the responsive nature of all dialogically voiced utterances, 'an utterance is never just a reflection or an expression of something already existing outside it that is given and final. It always creates something that never existed before, something absolutely new and unrepeatable, and, moreover, it always has some relation to value (the true, the good, the beautiful, and so forth). But something created is always created out of something given (language, an observed phenomenon of reality, an experienced feeling, the speaking subject himself, something finalized in his world view, and so forth). What is given is completely transformed in what is created' (pp.119-120).
Noting the unintended but nonetheless human character of the creative processes at work in our joint activities, Vico (1968) called them the workings of a 'divine or divinatory providence,' where by 'divine', he did not mean anything supernatural, anything external to the social activities of everyday life, an outside agency that imposed an order on them. He means merely to direct our attention to the fact that, hidden within our own practical social activities themselves, are 'natural provisions' for their own further evolution or development (or dissolution). In fact, as he points out, he draws the term ''divinity', from divinari, to divine, which is to understand what is hidden from men - the future - or what is hidden in them - their consciousness' (para. 342). Thus the processes at work are not mysterious ones. Indeed, he is insistent that 'that which did all this was mind, for men did it with intelligence; it was not fate, for they did it by choice; not chance, for the results of their always so acting are perpetually the same' (para.1108). Thus, as he sees it, at least some of our social activities are, by their very nature, automatically or naturally self-specifying and self-resourcing, in the sense that they create within themselves organized settings for their own further elaboration and development; they 'call out' sensible 'replies' from us, spontaneously (Mead, 1934).
In such circumstances as these, then, rather than us acting 'out of' any individual, inner plans or schemas of our own, we find ourselves acting 'into' our surroundings, in terms of 'its' callings and discouragements, 'its' invitations and oppositions, the opportunities and impediments, the aids and hindrances that 'it' offers us (Dewey, 1896). This is how it can come about that in such circumstances, although we may have no sense of following any explicit plans, purposes, or intentions to act in specific ways at specific times, we do nonetheless do so act, because, so to speak, we sense specific activities as being 'called out from us' or 'required of us' by the very nature of our changing situation - almost as if 'it' was itself a 'living agency'.
But, as our societies continue to develop, the containment of all our activities within such a shared, taken-for-granted, 'living', mytho-poetic sensus communis, Weltbild, or ethos can easily be lost. Our attention can be turned away from it, and we can become fixated instead, on intellectually constructed devices and procedures. Indeed, at a practical level, we can easily eliminate opportunities for people 'just to converse with each other' as a waste time. As a result, we can fall prey to what Vico (1968) calls a second barbarism of reflection - a barbarism worse, he feels, than our initial barbarism (that he called a barbarism of sense): 'For the latter displayed a generous savagery, against which one could defend oneself or take flight or be on one's guard; but the former, with vile savagery, under soft words and embraces, plots against the life and fortune of friends and intimates' (para.1106). Peoples who have reached this low point - 'of premeditative malice,' as he puts it - become once again sensible only to 'the sheer necessities of life' (para.1106), and must once again, if they are to survive, become attentive and sensitive to the providential structure of their surroundings. To an extent, these, I think, are our times now.
Thus, if we are to overcome its biases and limitations, to see how our current, static and fixed forms of thought 'stand in the way' of us seeing them for what they are, we must revise, or re- vision, not our theories but our practices. For, embodied in them, unnoticed, in the ways of perceiving, acting, speaking, thinking, communicating, judging, and valuing they contain, is a whole background sensus communis or Weltbild that determines for us our general ways of 'being ordinary' and what we find strange or extra- ordinary, as well as what we think of as the imaginary, the nonexistent, the impossible, as well as a whole range of further things we do not even notice See footnote 5. In fact, more than this, they render certain things, events, and situations 'rationally- invisible' to us (to invert a phrase of Garfinkel's (1967, p.vii)); they lead us to overlook certain things rather than to look over them, and thus they render them in accessible to rational discourse and debate. Indeed, in our case, it is precisely the unordered, diffuse, back and forth flow of background, practical, talk- entwined, sensuous activity between us - the context of everyday, dialogically structured activity into which we address all our final appeals in accounting for our actions (Mills, 1940; Scott and Lyman, 1968) to the others around us - that is rendered rationally- invisible to us, to which we do not know how collectively to attend.
Thus it is against this background - to do with our failure to attend to the providential possibilities still dialogically available to us in our current circumstances, for us to return to a shared sensus communis - that I want to suggest how we might set the scene for the creative emergence in our society, not just of democratic dialogues in our conference and committee rooms, but for the development of dialogically structured democratic practices in many other spheres of our lives: in our work practices, our medical, health care, and therapeutic practices, jurisprudence, our practices in teaching, administration, social planning, and in many of the other activities we have ordered socially as practices - including our more informal conversations with each other 'on the street', so to speak. In wanting to set the scene in this way, instead of seeing the present moment as presenting us with 'an intellectual problem' - 'the erosion of trust' - to which we must first seek a 'theoretical solution' which we might try later to 'put into practice,' I want to take a quite different, much more directly practical approach: I am more interested in what we might call a 'poetics of practices.' Where the task of such a poetics is to bring into collective view, so to speak, the moments within which we can find fleeting hints of embryonic forms of democracy and trust still at work in our current practices in our ordinary, everyday lives. And, by providing a vocabulary through which we can both attend to, and further articulate such hints, it can help us dwell See footnote 6 on the (possibly rich) opportunities they might offer us for their further development, as well as what might prevent such developments from occurring. But we can only do this if, at the same time, we can stop ourselves from always wanting to look beyond problematic phenomena, to explain them in terms of supposed or hypothetical entities or events, and learn to dwell on them more and to look endlessly into their details for possibilities we might previously have missed. Thus it is precisely to the nature of the providential possibilities still available to us in our dialogically structured, mytho-poetic realities, that I now want to turn.
Let me begin here by noting that the very way talking I adopted above - of us as living 'inside' a shared 'living' reality - has something of an awkward feel to it. For until very recently, in line with our Cartesian sensibilities, we moderns have talked of reality, not as a reality, but as a single, unique, basic Reality that, as subjects, we are not inside but are set over against. We have viewed ourselves as separated from it, and as only being able to observe it from a distance, as an unresponsive object - although it yielded to our manipulations as third-person outsiders, it did not respond to us as first or second-person interactants. To us, it has been an External World; it has not been present to us as a space of yet further possibilities for our own Being; we have not been 'at home' in it; we seem to need 'experts' to guide and regulate our dealings with it. Indeed, although our current 'official' acceptance of it might seem to have displaced previous (religious) orders of authority, only those with the appropriate kind of essentially mathematical knowledge can now be said to have a proper knowledge of its nature. Thus officially, in treating it as constituted only of the abstract stuff we call matter, we have thought of it as being properly known only in terms of the measurable properties of its elements, namely, their spatial extent, their mass, and their velocity. Officially, we are not supposed to feel ourselves as having an internal relation to such a reality, as having our being 'within' or 'inside' it: to feel that our way of being is in some way related to what 'its' nature 'is' - such that if 'it' were to change so would 'we' - is unintelligible to us. Talk of this kind feels strange; we are not quite yet cognizant of what it might mean to say such things. But let me persist in it for a while. For in exploring the dialogically structured development of a practical sociality, instead of questioning what might go on inside individual people's heads, I want to explore the character of what our collective heads might go on inside of!
What might it be like to live inside a humanly constructed, social responsive, dialogical reality? For us, living on the face of the earth, looking up through the sky out into space, viewing satellite TV-pictures of cloud formations daily, we have no official expectations that anywhere in the clouds surrounding us are human-like spirits or God-persons. While our governments fund all kinds of projects in the atmosphere and space above us, the search for spirits or gods is not one of them. The matter surrounding us is utterly socially inert... we feel. But what if we were like the first people Vico (1968) depicts in his Scienza Nuova, living more like mute animals in an unbroken flow of responsivity to our surroundings, in which at first, as Vico puts it, 'each new sensation cancels the last one' (para. 703)? How, without the model of a written texts before us, and of meanings as static pictures (representations) to help us, might we imagine the nature of the mental activity of these first people? How might we (if we were they) come to create and sustain within the moving flow of continually changing reactivity between us, 'places' (topoi) that could be 'found again'? How might recognizably distinct, but socially shared feelings related to our responses to our surroundings, be formed, feelings which were memorable to all of us involved and which could be 'found again', so to speak?
Modern theories of knowledge begin with us as already having a mind inside our heads, and with certain things being present to it, e.g., Descartes begins with self-evidently true, clear, and simple innate ideas. Vico, however, begins by asking: 'How is it that the mind comes to have anything present to it at all?' (Verene, 1981) See footnote 7. Or, to put it another way: 'How is it that we come to have a realm of activity, seemingly within us, that we can call the mental, or the inner?' And he goes on to answer this question in, what for us, is a quite unexpected manner: 'We find,' he says, 'that the principle of [the] origins both of languages and of letters lies in the fact that the early gentile people, by a demonstrated necessity of nature, were poets who spoke in poetic characters. This discovery, which is the master key of this Science, has cost us the persistent research of almost all our literary life, because with our civilized natures we moderns cannot at all imagine and can understand only by great toil the poetic nature of these first men' (para.34). But to understand what he means here - by saying that the early people were, by necessity, poets (Greek poitetes = one who makes, a maker, an artificer) - we must, I think, divide the process of making involved into two parts: i) The first is to do with the forming what Vico calls a sensory topic, the original possibility of everyone in a group being able to feel the same movement within themselves in the same way again. And ii) the second is to do with the forming of what he calls an imaginary universal, a corporeal image which is 'rooted' in the sensory topic and which 'shapes' its first, socially shared, determinate form of responsive expression in relation to it.
We shall find the resources we need in characterizing both these issues in the following paradigm (poetic) example: In paras.377-391 of the New Science, Vico discusses what he calls the 'civil history' of the saying that it was 'From Jove that the muse began.' Taking it seriously, he suggests that fear of thunder indeed functioned to give rise both to the first sensory topic and to the first imaginative universal. For, as everyone runs to shelter from the thunder, all in a state of fear, they all do in fact come to act in the same way in the same circumstances. What the 'inner mechanisms' are that bring this about, is not Vico's concern here. His concern here is with the 'outer', practical, social conditions conducive to such a possibility. And here, it is the fear induced activity shared in common which provides the first fixed reference point which people can 'find again' within themselves and know that for all practical purposes, the others around them 'feel the same'.
But this is only a half of the story. How should one respond to such a fear? For, to be struck by this kind of fear, is not to be struck by the fear of an immediately present dangerous event, to with one can respond in an effective manner. For the fear of thunder is 'not a fear awakened in men by other men, but fear awakened in men by themselves' (no.382). While they can escape from the thunder into their caves and hideaways, they cannot escape from their fear of it that easily, for it is a sound that seems in some way to point beyond itself. When people hear it, they become confused and disoriented, they move furtively and with concern for each other - the thunder's presence is the unspoken explanation of their actions. And often, 'when men are ignorant of the natural causes producing things, and cannot explain them by analogy,' says Vico, 'they attribute their own nature to them See footnote 8' (axiom, para.180). They respond as if its sounds are big but unintelligible words, emanating from a big body in the sky. But how can they respond or reply to such words? What can they do to make them stop? What can be done to please the great body from which such great sounds issue? Although they could not yet speak about such things to each other, in their mimetic ways of fearfully responding to the noise - gesturing it to go away, grumbling and shouting back at it, etc., and in then further responding to each others fearful ways of responding to it - they could come to establish amongst ourselves, suggests Vico (1968), not only a shared way of acting (the fearful flight), but also, shared forms of corporeal expression (shared ways of further responding or 'replying' to the thunder). Thus at this point, he suggests:
'... the first theological poets created the first divine fable, the greatest they ever created: that of Jove, king and father of men and gods, in the act of hurling the lightening bolt; an image so popular, disturbing, and instructive that its creators themselves believed in it, and feared, revered and worshipped it in frightful religions... They believed that Jove commanded by signs, that such signs were real words, and that nature was the language of Jove' (para.379).
Thus, as Vico sees it, the key to us understanding the nature of human institutions and practices, in practice, is not the concept. Before concepts come spontaneous human responses of a distinct kind to a particular circumstance, responses 'carried in' one's embodied ways of moving or reacting to events in one's surroundings that one has 'carried over' See footnote 9 from elsewhere.
Thus Vico's first people responded to the sky around them, not as a socially inert environment, but as a vast, living body - the body of Jove - that was also (or so it seemed them) must be responsive to them in some way. Their first sense of what was happening around them was thus 'shaped' by them answering or responding to thunder in a particular practical way, through the mute poetic image of Jove - a way of acting they created 'by virtue of a wholly corporeal imagination' (para.376). Thus, irrespective of any ideas as such they might have had in their heads, as a result of them all humanly responding in the same way to thunder - as if great words were issuing from a vast sky-formed body - these first people jointly created the first aspect of a practical sensus communis between them. Where it is important to note here that, as Volosinov (1973) puts it: 'the formative and organizing center [giving shape to their actions] is not within [them] but outside. It is not experience that organizes expression, but the other way around - expression organizes experience. Expression is what first gives experience its form and specificity of direction' (p.85).
The sensory topic - or perhaps better, the collective sensuous activity - from which the image of Jove originated, is thus a 'common place' See footnote 10 (topos), a movement, a way of acting, within which it is possible to 're-feel' the complex mixture of all the influences at work at those times when 'Jove' is active. And, as such complex feelings are slowly transformed and articulated into more ritualized and ordered forms of expression, the original inarticulate but collectively shared feelings remain as 'standards' against which more explicit forms may be judged as to the adequacy, or not, of their characterizations.
What Vico outlines above then, is a poetic image in terms of which one might understand the mute, extraordinary, common sense basis for an articulate language - where such a basis constitutes the unsystematized, primordial contents of (what we have come to call) the human mind, its basic paradigms or prototypes. Where, as Wittgenstein (1953) says about the functioning of such a paradigm or prototype:
'In the language-game it is not something that is represented, but it is a means of representation ... something with which comparison is made' (no.50).
They are the original kinds of expression against which the adequacy of our concepts may be judged. Where, if the practice of comparing is conducted dialogically, each comparison made, will move us to attend to the details of our surroundings in different ways. So, to repeat, our concepts cannot be of any help to us in grasping the nature of our own humanly constructed institutions and practices, for our concepts are further differentiations, so to speak, of an already distinct form of activity 'carried in' our embodied ways of responding to our surroundings often 'carried over' from another sphere of activity. So although it may seem as if a person's responses are being 'shaped' by them individually referring to an 'inner' image of some kind, this is not so. The 'image' (if image is the right word here), is 'in' their acting. And 'its' nature can only be revealed in a study, not of what they say in their attempts to reflect upon it, but of how 'it' necessarily 'shapes' those of their everyday, social activities in which it is involved, in practice - an influence which is only revealed in the 'grammar' of such activities. Hence the relevance of Wittgenstein's (1953) claims that: 'Grammar tells us what kind of object anything is...' (no.373); or, that you must 'let the use of words teach you their meaning' (p.220). Hence, rather than an image that we can mentally 'see', the 'rooting' of our activity in a sensory topic is much more as Wittgenstein (1969) puts it, when he says that: 'Giving grounds... justifying the evidence, comes to an end; - but the end is not certain propositions striking us as true, i.e., it is not a kind of seeing on our part; it is our acting, which lies at the bottom of the language-game' (1969, no.204) - it is what Vico calls a corporeal image that we carry in the 'ungrounded way of acting' (1969, no.110) within which we have our communal way of being.
Thus, it seems to me, that Wittgenstein's remarks here, aim at a target very similar to Vico's: that prior to any attempt to explain a person's actions, we must first come to an overall grasp in some way (a poetic problem to which we shall have to return See footnote 11) of their Weltbild - 'the substratum of all my enquiring and asserting,' says Wittgenstein says of himself (1969, no.162). We must somehow characterize the overall style of the movement, in the flow of activity between us, within which all our arguing, our testing of hypotheses, our claims to truth and our assessment of the evidence in their support, and so on, have their life, and exist as further differentiations within it. It is the character of this background 'bustle of life' (1980, II, no.625), 'the whole hurly-burly' (1980, II, no.629), that is certain for us. Literally, we do not know how intelligibly how to doubt it, for all our intelligible doubts must be formulated in its terms.
Indeed, in questioning the explanations given by Frazer, in his Golden Bough, for the nature of certain ritual observances in supposed 'primitive' cultures, he remarks that 'Frazer's account of the magical and religious notions... makes these notions appear as mistakes' (p.1). And he continues: 'Even the idea of trying to explain the practice - say the killing of the priest-king - seems to me wrong-headed. All that Frazer does is to make this practice plausible to people who think as he does' (p.1). If we are to grasp what is going on here, we need another approach: we need a grasp of the original reactive forms of expression organizing people's experience. To see how misleading Frazer's explanatory accounts are, Wittgenstein (1979) suggests, we can easily ourselves imagine so-called 'primitive' practices, 'and it would only be by chance if they where not actually to be found somewhere' (p.5). For instance: 'Think how after Schubert's death his brother cut certain of Schubert's scores into small pieces and gave his favorite pupils these pieces of a few bars each. As a sign of piety this action is just as comprehensible to us as the other one of keeping the scores undisturbed and accessible to no-one,' he suggests. 'And if Schubert's brother had burnt the scores we could still understand this as a sign of piety' (p.5). In acting in these different ways, we would be expressing to those around us how we stood in relation to certain events, our 'evaluative position' in relation to theirs; we would be 'displaying' to them what relational possibilities we were prepared to afford them - certain, momentary invitations, discouragements, openings, resistances, and suchlike, of a particular kind - for 'going on' with us, in practice, in our shared circumstances.
So, for instance, in venerating or celebrating something, we are showing others that it is not something that we use merely as a means to a particular end, but that it is something to which we return time and again (as we academics continually return to our favorite texts), not only to remind ourselves of what our form of life actually is, but as a (dialogical) aid in coming to a grasp of yet further significant details of our lives. Where the outcome of such venerations and celebrations, it needs to be noted, is not a cognitive but a practical outcome: in dialogically interacting yet again with our texts, we find ourselves reacting to them in yet again new ways - for yet 'another first time,' to use a nice phrase of Garfinkel's (1967, p.9). Where each new reaction is, or can be, the origin of a new language-game.
Thus, as Wittgenstein sees it, if Frazer is seeking to understand why other strange peoples act as they do, he is looking in the wrong place. Instead of seeking something changeless and eternal, but hypothetical behind appearances, he should be seeking the Weltbild 'shown' in the grammar of appearances, in the very 'shape' of the unfolding movement of their activities. Thus, when Frazer remarks that certain observances 'are dictated by fear of the ghost of the slain seems certain..,' (quoted in Wittgenstein, 1979, p.8), he finds Frazer strangely at odds with himself: he seems to want a solution to a mystery when in fact he already, to an extent, has the solution. Indeed, he illustrates that he already has some understanding of such 'superstitious' observances by his use of the word 'ghost': 'He evidently understands this superstition well enough,' remarks Wittgenstein (1979), 'since he uses a familiar superstitious word to describe it. Or rather, he might have seen from this that there is something in us too that speaks in support of those observances by the savages. -If I, who do not believe that somewhere or other there are superhuman beings which we might call gods - if I say 'I fear the wrath of the gods', then this shows that with these words I can mean something or express something that need not be connected with that belief' (p.8). And he remarks elsewhere in this connection:
'...the difficulty - I might say - is not that of finding the solution but rather that of recognizing as the solution something that looks as if it were only a preliminary to it... This is connected, I believe, with our wrongly expecting an explanation, whereas the solution of the difficulty is a description, if we give it the right [dialogical] place in our considerations. If we dwell upon it, and do not try to get beyond it. The difficulty here is: to stop' (1981, no.314, my addition).
For in not attempting to see either behind an event or phenomenon or beyond it, but by dwelling on it and looking endlessly into it, and, as a result, continually responding to it, dialogically, we can endlessly create within ourselves, not new insights, but new reactions -new origins for new language-games, new sensory topics which, of course, will at first need new poetic forms of articulation, and new forms of understanding... and it is to these topics that I will now turn.
Above, I suggested that it was precisely fleeting events in the diffuse, back and forth flow of the practical, talk-entwined activity between us, that were rendered rationally-invisible to us by the current structure of our academic practices of inquiry - currently they require us to search for explanations beyond appearances, when, at least in the first instance, greater attention to the character of our own involvement in the affairs going on around us would seem to be required. Entailed here, is an involved, practical-perceptual task to do with being attentive to the details of an ongoing activity rather than one of an uninvolved, cognitive-theoretical kind, to do with thinking and talking about activities already completed. Here, I think, is where the major relevance of Wittgenstein's works lies. They offer us individualistic and scientistic moderns - obsessed with knowledge and with information -something radically new: methods for a renewal of our sense of connectness and relatedness, both with each other, and with our larger surroundings. But how should we come to a grasp of what these methods are? And where, and when are they to be applied?
His writings are not easy to read or to understand. They are written as a sequence of numbered remarks, not always apparently connected with each other. They point or gesture toward ends that are somewhat alien to our current preoccupations. They are in fact written in terms of 'striking similes' and 'arresting moments', they have a 'poetic' quality. Their function is, he says, to change our 'way of looking at things' (1953, no.144), to give 'prominence to distinctions which our ordinary forms of language easily make us overlook' (1953, no.132). Indeed, as he says, he is not concerned 'to hunt out new facts; it is, rather, of the essence of our investigation that... we want to understand something that is already in plain view. For this is what we seem in some sense not to understand' (1953, no.89). And, through his 'poetic' remarks, he wants to draw our attention to 'observations which no one has doubted, but which have escaped remark only because they are always before our eyes' (1953, no.415). Indeed, he wants us, I suggest, to see what our talk entwined practices in fact look like... in practice, rather than in theory. And if we are to do this, we require a new intellectual practice, a new 'movement in thought' (19???, ??): for we want to understand how, from unique, fleeting, only once occurrent, primitive origins, we can construct new language-games, and hence new forms of life, between us. It is these kind of joint, dialogical accomplishments that we don't know how to see for what they are. And what Wittgenstein draws to our attention is that, strangely, that we can gain the new kind of practical understanding required, by the use of many of the self- same methods as those we use in us gaining this practical kind of understanding in the first place in our everyday lives - the methods those around us used in our childhood, in 'instructing' us in how to be the kind of persons required in our community (Vygotsky, 1978, 1986; Shotter, 1974, 1984, 1993a and b). That is: he can use the self-same methods for drawing our attention to how people draw each other's attention to things, as they themselves (that is, we all) in fact use!
This, then, gives us an important clue to Wittgenstein's methods. For, although they are as many and as various as those we use in life itself, they do in fact all have something in common: they all work in just the same way as our 'directive', 'instructive', 'organizational', and 'educative' forms of talk in everyday life work. For example, we 'give commands' ('Do this,' 'Don't do that'); we 'point things out' to people ('Look at this!'); 'remind' them ('Think what happened last time'); 'change their perspective' ('Look at it like this'); 'organize' their behavior ('First, take a right, then...'); and so on. All these instructive forms of talk 'move' us, in practice, to do something we would not otherwise do: in 'gesturing' or 'pointing' toward something in our circumstances, they cause us to relate ourselves to our circumstances in a new and different way. Where it is the gestural function of these instructive forms of talk that is their key feature. It is this that gives them their life, their function within our lives in 'calling out' new, dialogically responsive reactions from us of a kind shared by the others around us. They work in Vico's (1968) sense, in establishing new sensory topics from out of which new 'ways of going on' can be developed. While for Wittgenstein (1953), these are the language-games we use in establishing our forms of life: the games consist in the initial instructive remarks of others to us that are, so to speak, mind-making remarks, working to form the common Weltbild in terms of which we will come to see and act in the world to an extent as those around us do. But still... why do their utterances - and Wittgenstein's remarks - work on us as they do?
Returning yet again to Vico (1968), let us remind ourselves that what was special about thunder, was that it generated a fear that could not be responded to in any routine way; people responded to it in ways 'carried over' from elsewhere in their lives. This, I think, gives us one clue to the working of Wittgenstein's remarks - which, incidently, he calls perhaps not 'mind-making' but 'reminders' (1953, no.127), i.e, they re-mind us afresh. For one thing that his remarks do, is to arrest or interrupt (or 'deconstruct') the spontaneous, unself-conscious flow of our ongoing activity, and to give 'prominence to distinctions which our ordinary forms of language easily make us overlook' (1953, no.132). That is, they work to show us other possibilities present in a circumstance that we had previously ignored. Where, in imagining something new, a person is 'now ... inclined to regard a given case differently: that is, to compare it with this rather than that set of pictures. I have changed his way of looking at thing' (1953, no.144), he says - or, we might say, induced a new movement of thought with him or her.
This leads us to a second method, one that emphasizes the 'poetic' nature of the activity here: By the careful use of selected images, similes, analogies, metaphors, or 'pictures', which are either of a 'striking' nature, or are used in a 'striking' manner. They are not used as models to represent states of affairs, but 'as objects of comparison which are meant to throw light on the facts of our language by way of not only similarities, but also dissimilarities' (1953, no.130). These 'striking' moments, I think, are crucial: they are the sources of new, primitive reactions from which new language-games can begin. Where, 'the primitive reaction may have been a glance or a gesture, but it may also have been a word' (1953, p.218) See footnote 12. It is upon the 'poetic' (poiesis = making) power of such moments as that, not only the whole of his philosophy rests, but the whole of ours too. For it is in such moments as these - when we are finally struck by what seems to be a taken for granted truth uttered by a disputant - that our arguments come at least to a temporary halt. Thus, I think, we should take his claim - that 'philosophy ought really only to be written as a poetic composition' (1980, p.24) - seriously.
These methods work, not only to call our attention to otherwise unnoticed distinctions and relations for the first time, but also, to suggest new connections and relations with the rest of our proceedings. This brings us to a third method that is sometimes important: For, by noticing how what occurs differs in a distinctive way from what we otherwise would expect, such comparisons can work, he notes, to establish 'an order in our knowledge of the use of language: an order with a particular end in view; one of many possible orders; not the order' (1953, no.132).
Indeed, his use of comparisons - of differences that make a difference (Bateson, 1972) - is closely related to what he thinks is involved in giving descriptions (which one can then dwell on). For, in commenting on how we justify our claims in aesthetics - that, say, a work of art has certain features - is by providing descriptions, where, what a description does, 'is to draw our attention to certain features, to place things side by side so as to exhibit these features... Our attention is drawn to certain features, and from that point forward we see that feature' (1979, pp.38-39).
But if we are to come to a practical grasp of how all the new features brought to our attention 'hang together', a grasp that we can 'show' in our practices even if we cannot 'empty it out', so to speak, in a single picture, we need a fourth method: Problems of this kind are solved, 'not by giving new information, but by arranging what we have always known' (1953, no.109), so that, as we pass from one comparison to the next, we gradually come to a sense of the whole - just as, say, as in reading a well written novel, we get a feel for the 'shape' of its plot, such that we have few difficulties in outlining to anyone who asks us about it. Thus, here, his notion of a 'perspicuous representation (portrayal) = Ger: übersichlichte Darstellung)' is central: 'A main source of our failure to understand is that we do not command a clear view of our use of words,' he suggests. 'Our grammar is lacking in this sort of perspicuity. A perspicuous representation [portrayal] produces just that understanding which consists in 'seeing connexions'. Hence the importance of finding and inventing intermediate cases,' he says (1953, no.122). Thus, if we are 'to find our way about' inside our own linguistic forms of life, we need to grasp their inner 'landscape', their 'grammatical geographies', so to speak: Where, 'what we find out in philosophy is trivial; it does not teach us new facts, only science does that. But the proper synopsis of these trivialities is enormously difficult, and has immense importance. Philosophy is in fact the synopsis of trivialities' (1980b, p.26).
One of the points of his remarks, then, is to direct our attention toward the unnoticed, spontaneous reactions and responses we 'carry over' (perhaps mistakenly) from one sphere of our activities into another. That is, his methods are aimed helping us grasp something as yet unseen in the emerging articulation of our own speech entwined activities as they unfold in our very ears (if not before our very eyes!). Where as others 'see in the essence, not something that already lies open to view and becomes surveyable by a rearrangement, but something that lies beneath the surface... and which analysis digs out' (1953, no.92). Thus his striking similes, his contrasts and comparisons, etc., work to draw to our attention aspects of our own activities with which we are already in fact conversant, but of which we need to remind ourselves. And it is in their very nature as poetic utterances, that in 'striking' us, they 'move' us toward a new way of 'looking over' the play of appearances unfolding before us: instead of trying to see beyond the events concerned to what in theory they 'really are', we see them relationally and practically, as being embedded in a network of possible connections with and relations to their surroundings, 'pointing toward' the (possibly proper and appropriate) roles they might actually play in our lives.
But how are we to discover if a certain form of expression, a way of talking 'carried over' from one sphere of activity in our lives to another, is also an appropriate (and proper) form of expression in a second sphere? How are we to avoid 'misunderstandings concerning the use of words, caused, among other things, by certain analogies between forms of expression in different regions of language' (1953, no.90)? For often, 'a simile that has been absorbed into the forms of our language produces a false appearance, and this disquiets us. 'But this isn't how it is!' - we say. 'Yet this is how it has to be!'', remarks Wittgenstein (1953, no.112). And it is toward disquiets of this kind that I want to turn to here. For it seems to me that all the important questions we face, to do with the nature of trust and democracy, arise for us out of similar such feelings of disquiet, but at the same time, we find it very difficult to give voice to them, to formulate them in such a way as to express the character of the disquiet appropriately. Our language often seems inadequate to many of its crucial details. Indeed, as Bakhtin (1984) remarks: 'Every social trend in every epoch has its own special sense of discursive possibilities... When there is no access to one's own personal 'ultimate' word, then every thought, feeling, experience must be refracted through someone else's style, someone else's manner, with which it cannot immediately be merged without reservation, with distance, without refraction. If there is at the disposal of a given epoch some authoritative and stabilized medium of refraction, then conventionalized discourse in one or another of its varieties will dominate...' (p.202). This, perhaps, is our epoch now. For we seem unable as individuals, to avoid (in any simple way) using the pictures which lie in our language and which repeat themselves to us inexorably (1953, no.115). Our disquiets are with our forms of expressions. How can we free ourselves from our own self- entrapments?
One way of exploring our disquiets with a form of expression's appropriateness would seem to be, Wittgenstein suggests, to always ask oneself: 'is the word ever actually used in this way in the language-game which is its original home?' (1953, no.116) - that is, we must return to the original kind of everyday activity within which the use of the forms of expression in question emerged, and explore the detailed relations between them and the surrounding circumstances of their use. And this, I think, is where Bakhtin's and Volosinov's work on the dialogical nature of our practical understandings in such circumstances as these becomes especially relevant: for it turns our attention away from the repeatable, monological nature of the linguistic forms we utter, and focuses our attention both on them as unique, only 'once occurrent' events, and also on the way in which as such they are always 'shaped' by their dialogical relations to their surroundings. In other words, rather than as patterns of already spoken words, they suggest we attend to people's speakings of their words, to their utterances as a dialogical activity. Then, instead of seeing people's words as objects with supposed already fixed but 'hidden' representational meanings that must be inferred, we can begin to see their speakings as having a more practical meaning out in the world between speakers: 'There is no reason for saying that meaning belongs to a word as such. In essence, meaning belongs to a word in its position between speakers; that is, meaning is realized only in the process of active, responsive understanding. Meaning does not reside in the word or in the soul of the speaker or in the soul of the listener' (Volosinov, 1973, p.102). 'The immediate social situation and the broader social milieu wholly determine - and determine from within, so to speak - the structure of an utterance' (Volosinov, 1973, p.86).
Indeed, in line with Wittgenstein's (1953) objections to thinking of understanding as a hidden, mental process See footnote 13, like him they also both see understanding as an aspect of our practical activities... : 'All real and integral understanding is actively responsive, and constitutes nothing other than the initial preparatory stage of response (in whatever form it may be actualized). And the speaker himself is oriented precisely toward such an actively responsive understanding. He does not expect passive understanding that, so to speak, only duplicates his own idea See footnote 14 in someone else's mind' (Bakhtin, 1986, p.69). This kind of actively responsive understanding, in practice, in dialogue with others, is clearly of a quite different kind to the passive kind of representational understanding we seek in our more contemplative moments, when alone with ourselves, in our intellectual activities. But even here, we need not be wholly monological beings. Of particular interest to us in this respect, given our concern with us feeling free to voice our own disquiets adequately, is the way in which we often feel the need, as Bakhtin (1984) puts it, to voice our utterances 'with a sideward glance' (p.208) toward certain absent others; that is, we speak not just with an awareness of how our immediate listeners are responding to what we say, but with a sense of how these absent others who are in some way significant to us might respond too. As an example, Bakhtin (1984) discusses the speech of Makar Devushkin, a poor man, a copying clerk, depicted by Dostoevsky in one of his stories in Poor Folk: 'In most cases Makar Devushkin's speech about himself is determined by the reflected discourse of another, 'other person', a stranger... [Makar Devushkin] is a poor man, but a man 'with ambition'... [and] he constantly senses the 'ill look' of this other upon him, a glance which is either reproachful or - perhaps even worse - mocking... Under this other's glance even Devushkin's speech cringes' (p.206). Both his anger and resentment at the responses of this stranger/other to Devushkin's words are present in his words even as he utters them.
This highlights what is especially distinctive about dialogical phenomena: as soon as a second living person responds to the activities of a first (while acting in relation to an environment common to them both), we have a circumstance in which the second person can never be wholly the author of their own activities - their activities must always be partly shaped by the activities of the others around them. Thus, the overall outcome of people's dialogically interrelated activities is such that no single individual alone can be held wholly responsible for what happens between them; nor can it ever be traced back to any wholly external causes either! It emerges from within the relations they have to each other, and from the way in which these relations structure their relations to the rest of their surroundings. Where, due to their dialogically responsive nature, what emerges from these relations is an indeterminate mixture, an interweaving of influences from many different sources. Thus, just as Vico's first people 'show' in their ways of responding to thunder, ways they 'carry over' from their responding to each other, so we also 'show' in the 'grammar' of our actions certain dialogically shared ways of acting we 'carry over' from other spheres of activity in our lives also.
In other words, as we have already seen, it is as if all our ways of acting contain certain Weltbilder or images within them 'carried over' from an original sphere of activity in our lives. Here, however, instead of talking of our activities as containing Weltbilder, I want to talk of them as occurring within dialogical or relational realities, of them as occurring within comprehensive realities that are created and sustained 'in' the flow of activity both between all those involved, and between them and their surrounding circumstances, where the 'reality' in question functions, as I mentioned above, almost as if it is itself a 'living agency'. Here, Bakhtin (1986) talks of all our dialogues as if taking place 'against the background of the responsive understanding of an invisibly present third party who stands above all the participants in the dialogue... The aforementioned third party is not any mystical or metaphysical being (although, given a certain understanding of the world, he can be expressed as such) - he is a constitutive aspect of the whole utterance, who, under deeper analysis, can be revealed in it' (pp.126-127). And in our dialogical relations to our surroundings also, 'something absolutely new appears here: the supraperson, the supra-I, that is, the witness and the judge of the whole human being, of the whole I, and consequently someone who is no longer the person, no longer the I, but the other' (p.137) - the 'living' agency of our circumstances that besides exerting a normative influence on us, also functions as the source of all our other kinds of judgment See footnote 15. And to repeat, why our recognition and characterization of the influence they exert is important, is that they constitute the overall style of the movement in the flow of activity between us, the flow of activity within which all our other intellectual motions have their life and exist as further differentiations within it. Everything we do or say is conducted from within one or another such dialogically created and continually re-created reality. Furthermore, we act out toward each other and our circumstances from within a momentary (scenic) sense of occupying a particular position or place within such a reality. Where we occupy this position as if in relation to a whole further set of other such possible positions in a particular, momentarily existing, potentially shareable, mental or inner landscape - a landscape not in our heads but 'carried in' our way of acting.
Thus, what any supposed inner experience is for us, is not a matter of us first experiencing it wholly within ourselves, and then giving it outward expression: 'We do not see or feel an experience - we understand it. This means that in the process of introspection we engage our experience into a context made up of other signs we understand,' says Volosinov (1973, p.36). Thus, for instance, our experience of hunger, the meaning of the feeling within us, and our expression of it, will be determined for us by the whole evaluative context within which we responsively express ourselves, and the others around us responsively understand our expressions. For: 'One can apprehend one's hunger apologetically, irritably, angrily, indignantly, etc... Which way the intoning of the inner sensation of hunger will go depends upon the hungry person's general social standing... [While] the immediate social context will determine possible addressees, friends or foes, toward whom the consciousness and experience of hunger will be oriented: whether it will involve dissatisfaction with cruel Nature, with oneself, with society, with a specific group within society, with a specific person, and so on. Of course, various degrees of perceptibility, distinctiveness, and differentiation in the social orientation of an experience are possible; but without some kind of evaluative orientation there is no experience' (p.87).
This turn to the moment-by-moment unfolding details of our living, practical, dialogical relations is crucial: for such relations exhibit some very unexpected and surprising properties which, clearly, have not yet been sufficiently explored, and which once understood, open up quite different ways of dealing with social issues than those we currently employ. Indeed, as we have now seen over and over again, the key to us understanding human institutions and practices, in practice, cannot be achieved through the formulation of concepts or theories. They both are after the fact, and beside the point. They are after the fact, as we formulate our theories and concepts from within ways of acting that we have often 'carried over' from elsewhere in our lives, and it is the character of these ways of acting that is at issue; and they are beside the point, in that they propose a single, contestable picture of what in another sense, a comprehensive, practical sense, we all already understand perfectly well. It is no wonder that if we turn to the nature of the concept of democracy, that we find, as Gallie (1962) puts it, that it is an essentially contested concept, and as such, attempts to instantiate it inevitably give rise, not only to endless disputes and seemingly irresolvable 'stand offs', but also to sustaining the conditions within which such disputes will in fact continue to arise! Are there any alternatives?
I think there are. But as a preliminary to attempting to outline their nature, I would like to turn first to issues related to what we might call the phenomenology of democracy and trust: Above, I suggested that all the important questions we face here, arise for us out of feelings of disquiet of some kind that we find difficult to formulate as specific experiences. In outlining the kinds of difficulties that might arise, I want for a moment to explore the 'landscape', so to speak, of what a democratic community might be like, and the nature of the opportunities it offers to everyone involved in it, to an extent, to raise questions as to what kind of person they have become (in relation to the others around them), and the kind of people they feel they ought to be instead. In doing this, I want also to explore how the normative influences regulating the intelligibility and legitimacy of this questioning can be diffusely located in the flow of activity between them all, equally, so that none have grounds to dismiss another's suffering or to avoid taking their worries seriously, or grounds for feeling that they are living in a reality that is not somehow their own.
To grow up and to qualify as a self-determining, autonomous person with one's own identity - to feel that one has grown up to be 'someone', someone who 'counts' in one's society - it is not enough just to grow up as a human being within that society. For even as a participating member of it, one can still remain, either dependent upon other members of it in some way, or under their domination in some other way. To be a person and to qualify for certain rights as a free, autonomous individual, one must also be able to show in one's actions certain social competencies, i.e., to fulfill certain duties and to be accountable to others in the sense of being able to justify one's actions to them, when challenged, in relation to the 'social reality' of the society of which one is a member (Shotter, 1984). Being someone in this sense is a linguistic achievement of a rhetorical kind. But this is still not enough to provide one with a 'sense of belonging', with a sense of 'being at home' in the reality which one's actions help to reproduce. To live within a community which one senses as being one's own, as 'mine' as well as 'yours', as 'ours' rather than 'theirs', a community for which one feels able to be answerable, one must be more than just a routine reproducer of it; one must in a real sense also play a part in its creative reproduction and sustenance as a 'living' tradition. Where, as MacIntyre (1981) puts it, 'a living tradition ... is an historically extended, socially embodied argument, and an argument precisely in part about the goods which constitute that tradition' (p.207). And where a 'dead' tradition, we might suggest, is one sustained by a form of life in which the final form of everything is already supposedly known, and thus, all difficulties are problems that, with enough effort and insight, can be routinely solved. In such a 'dead' form of life, there can be no more surprises, no more utterly unique, unrepeatable, first time events. Indeed, in such a form of life there would also be no occasions for wonder and celebration, occasions when we would just be content to look endlessly into the amazing diversity of our surroundings, to acknowledge the fact of their astounding detail, and to explore their possible relations to our lives: '...traditionalism is the dead faith of the living,' suggest Bellah et al (1985, p.140).
In other words, if a community is to sustain living traditions within its forms of life, its forms of life must afford opportunities not only for what one might call second-order discussions or arguments, i.e., arguments about what should be argued about, and why, but also opportunities for the occurrence of unique, essentially poetic, events that lead us to acknowledge within them, aspects of our circumstances that up till now have passed us by unnoticed. Thus, to be a free but responsible member of a social institution with a 'living' tradition to it, is already have an obligation to sustain the conditions making one's identity as such within it possible; one must not just draw upon its resources, one must also contribute to their critical evaluation and creative reproduction, to their renewal by participating both in such second-order discussions, and in its poetic moments.
However, for one to feel able to play a proper part in such forms of talk, to feel that one's expressions and formulations, whether ultimately accepted or not, will at least be at first welcomed and listened to seriously, one must feel able to speak without having to struggle to have one's voice heard; one must be able to speak without, like Makar Devushkin, having to speak with a cringe in one's voice at the anticipated 'ill looks' of another. One must feel that an 'invitation to speak' already exists in virtue simply of having grown up a member of the group. One must not first have to prove oneself qualified before one can join the communal discourse. Thus a part of a sense of 'belonging', of a sense of being 'at home' in one's own community, is that one has an automatic right of initial access to the community simply in virtue of having contributed, in developing oneself as a member of it, to the development of its ways of making sense. To have to live under terms set only by others is always to feel not just different, but inadequate in relation to the others around one - as if lacking access to the basic, taken for granted, ungrounded ways of acting, from within which all those who seem already to possess a life- time's unconditional membership of the community act. In other words, if we are all the have a sense of participating in a 'reality' just as much 'mine' as 'yours', just as much 'ours' as 'theirs', then one must not feel oneself blocked from opening up one's sensed disquiets to dialogical inquiry. This does not mean that one will unthinkingly feel a sense of total harmony with those around one, or that one will always find oneself immediately intelligible to them. Far from it. It means that one must continually live out one's life within a number of conflicting and competing forms of life with their associated language games. But it does mean having a sense of not being an intrusive alien, of being able to realize one's true self in the world (rather than only in one's dreams), of being able to speak out from one's own actual living involvement in the communal life of the polis at large. This, I think, is a part of what one wants when one wants to live in a democracy, in wanting to be a citizen in a State with a civil society to it: we seek as sense of belonging, a sense of feeling 'at home' with the others around us, without somehow having first to deserve it. Under what conditions might such a sense of unconditional belonging arise?
Without attempting to argue the point in detail here, I want to suggest that it is only within a continuing dialogical flow of relational, responsive activity - a flow not blocked by the continual occurrence of authoritative words (Bakhtin, 1981) See footnote 16 - that such a sense of belonging can arise. In other words, in the more practical view of things that I have taken, democracy and trust are not entities as such, but aspects of our responsive understandings that are expressed and elaborated in our practices, in dialogue... democracy, not a singular phenomenon... escaping from our own dialogically constructed entrapments... And further -noting the disputes and seemingly irresolvable 'stand offs' resulting from attempts to institute any concepts of democracy - I want to suggest that such a continuing flow of dialogical activity can only be sustained if all such attempts to structure our relations with each other in terms of individuals formulating concepts and arguing for their instantiation are abandoned! But what else might we do instead?
Returning to Wittgenstein, we can note that the main target of his critique is, not so much the ways of speaking and acting we carry over inappropriately from one sphere to another in our daily lives, but the background ways of speaking and acting that shape the form of our inquiries in our more disciplined intellectual inquiries. And in his work, he provides us with the practical methods for undoing, deconstructing, or just simply 'seeing' the fleeting details of the processes at work that go into shaping their interwoven nature - the unweaving of an activity into its separate stands. For an overall characterization of the kind of processes involved in shaping our concepts in our intellectual practices, I know of none better than that given in Marx and Engel's (1977) The German Ideology, in their account of how it seems that in a given epoch certain abstract 'ruling ideas' hold sway - honor and loyalty during the time the aristocracy was dominant, and freedom and equality during the dominance of the bourgeoisie. The whole 'trick,' as they call it, of proving the hegemony of abstract ideas in history See footnote 17 is achieved in the following three moves (I have restated these moves in more general terms): 1) separate what people do and say both from the actual people doing and saying it, and from the contexts in which it occurs; 2) find an theoretical order or a pattern in the 'data' now so constituted; and 3) attribute the bringing about of the 'discovered' order to a theoretical agency. We can then go on to seek yet further 'data' to prove the existence of the theoretical agency in question: something know as 'cognitive dissonance' is perhaps the most well known illusory agency invented in psychology, while 'learned helplessness' is perhaps a second, but many others such exist throughout the whole of the social sciences. What such inventions do, of course, is render rationally-invisible the dialogical processes involved in their production, in other words, the social and political conditions of domination currently at work in our social lives See footnote 18. Following Krippendorff (1995), we can call these three moves, respectively: 1) abstraction, 2) systematization, and 3) mythologization. And overall we can note, that the outcome they achieve is, in Bakhtin's (1986) terms, monologization: that is, our 'primary dialogic relations to others' words are... obliterated... I do not converse with them - I react to them mechanically, as a thing reacts to external stimuli' (pp.163-164). 'Monologue is finalized and deaf to the other's response, does not expect it and does not acknowledge in it any decisive force... Monologue pretends to be the ultimate word' (Bakhtin , 1984, p.293). What Wittgenstein does for us, aided and abetted by Bakhtin and Volosinov, and Vico too, is to show us how to re-dialogize (ugh!) what scholars and philosophers have monologized. Although Wittgenstein would balk at producing a methodology as such - he spoke only of methods - using his methods, we can outline a methodology for the re-dialogization of what have become for us 'authoritative words.' The methodology as Krippendorff (1995) outlines it is: 1) de-mythologize, 2) de- systematize, and 3) de-abstract.
1) De-mythologizing: Returning to the talk we use in our theoretical definitions, particularly the metaphors, that lock us into monological ways of talking, that make us focus on mythic entities in a mysterious hidden realm and prevent us from focusing on the dialogical moments within which the primary phenomena occur. Here, we must focus on the entailments of the metaphors used by theoreticians, to reveal the ways in which they work to locate important influences solely in individuals or their environments, and conceal their own workings by concealing dialogical processes. 2) De-systematizing: Once we have re-located the phenomena in question back into their own contexts, we can also begin to revert back to everyday, local ways of talking, ways of talking that make sense to those using them at the moment of their use. Systematic, disciplinary discourses, in being organized in terms of a central concept or picture, e.g., all psychological words in cognitive psychology, for instance, must be given a meaning in terms of computational processes, prevent words from having purely local meanings in momentary contexts. And 3) De-abstracting: Here we must begin again to notice fleeting embodied reactions, first-person expressions within a historical flow of activity: 'It is certainly possible to be convinced by evidence that someone is in such-and-such a state of mind, the, for instance, he is not pretending. But 'evidence' here includes 'imponderable' evidence... Imponderable evidence includes subtleties of glance, of gesture, of tone. I may recognize a genuine loving look, distinguish it from a pretended one... But I may be quite incapable of describing the difference' (1953, p.228). And, of course, a task here can then be, to study the ways of acting in these moments 'carried over' from elsewhere in our lives: many of us are now beginning these studies in many areas (Sabat and Harré, 19??; Jacoby and Ochs, 1995; Katz and Shotter, 1996; and many others).
I began with Richard Bernstein's (1983) suggestion that the incipient forms of the affective ties that bind individuals together into a community must somehow already exist, if only we knew how to recognize them: 'What we desperately need today,' he continued, 'is to be more like the fox that the hedgehog - to seize upon those experiences and struggles in which there are still glimmers of solidarity and the promise of dialogical communities in which there can be genuine mutual participation and where reciprocal wooing and persuasion can still prevail' (p.228). And the hedgehog's concern with lots of little things instead of one big thing, is the approach I have taken here. Rather than seeking an overall understanding of democracy and trust theoretically, in terms of what their supposed 'function' is, or, as things to be researched into by the usual empirical methods - that is, treating them monologically, as already existing, fixed and inert 'things' to which we as individuals can simply 'refer', or talk 'about' - I have taken a very different tack. I have begun to explore them as aspects of our dialogical relations to each other: that is, to explore what is involved in us creating and sustaining in the ongoing flow of responsive and relational activity between us, a shared 'reality' of a trusted kind - where that 'reality' is sustained by our behavior having a certain 'style of movement' or a 'grammar' to it within that flow.
And, by providing a vocabulary through which we can both attend to, and further articulate such hints, I have sort to outline some methods that might help us to dwell on the (possibly rich) opportunities they might offer us for their own further development, as well as what might prevent such developments from taking place. But we can only do this if, at the same time, we can stop ourselves from always wanting to look beyond problematic phenomena, to explain them in terms of supposed or hypothetical entities or events. Such an approach, inevitably, leads to a contested selection, by an individual or by a group, of a limited number of aspects as being representative of the whole, with other groups selecting other aspects. Equally inevitably, the groups tire of fighting and discover once again aspects of their common humanity. Wittgenstein's methods - and they are now being implemented in practice in many spheres (e.g., in work practices; Toulmin and Gustavsen, 1996) - can help us to learn to dwell on the unnoticed opportunities in our current ongoing practices, to build more democratic ways of proceeding from within them. If we do this, we can turn, as Gustavsen (1996) puts it, to 'the idea of inquiry as a collaborative effort with people rather than an investigation of them...' (p.90, my emphases). In, in such circumstances, a situation emerges in which: 'Change and development are permanent and widespread parts of the activities of the organizations [and] are initiated, steered, and run as a part of the ordinary, ongoing activities.' And: 'The individual organization is in principle able to provide the resources needed for steering and executing its own development process. External resources have largely support functions.' In other words, as we turn to a more dialogical way of organizing workplace activities, the need for outside 'experts' diminishes, people become their own best 'consultants'. And they learn to do this, by learning to look endlessly into the details of their own activities for possibilities that might previously have been missed as to how the might be improved. If we cannot learn to do this, if we continue to deaden ourselves to the living movements of creativity all around us, we shall once again fail to notice what is providentially already there in our surroundings, before our very eyes, for the democratic renewal of our lives together.
All date only references are to Wittgenstein's works.
Footnote: 2 Luhman's (1979) account of trust is a case in point. He argues that trust must be understood functionally, as a means of allowing individuals to deal with complexity and uncertain futures: 'To show trust is to anticipate the future. It is to behave as if the future were certain' (p.10). In particular, trust 'strengthens the capacity of the present for understanding and reducing complexity: it strengthens states as opposed to event and thus makes it possible to live and act with greater complexity in relation to events' (p.15). In other words, he produces an explanatory theory of how trust, in our modern times, should be supposed to work. However, all he succeeds in doing, is substituting a single, particular picture of trust - of trust as a merely technical matter, to do with coping with complexity -for the comprehensive sense of trust we all to an extent exhibit 'in' the grammar of our daily affairs. It is an image, not a picture of trust that we require, and moreover, a dialogical image that will help us to articulate how we 'exhibit' trust between us in a myriad of detailed ways in practice. Luhman's picture of trust is monological in the sense that all we can do with it is agree that it is right or wrong.
The phrase is Bakhtin's (1993, p.2).
In discussing pain, Wittgenstein (1953) discusses the role of the something that seems to be there 'accompanying my cry of pain' (no.296), he calls it, not a picture, but an image of the pain. Where, 'the image of pain certainly enters into the language game in a sense; only not as a picture' (no.300). It is there as a sensuous image 'in' the grammar of our acting, and 'inclines' us toward saying this rather that 'about' what we feel 'its' nature 'is', but it is not itself present to us as a picture.
The real foundations of his enquiry do not strike a man at all. Unless that fact has at some time struck him' (Wittgenstein, 1953, no.129).
Wittgenstein (1981) talks of treating certain puzzling or mysterious phenomena, not as requiring an explanation, but as simply requiring our acknowledgement of them simply as wondrous... ??? (no.??). Such an event is, or should be, a proto-phenomenon for us, the starting point for our studies. If we 'give it the right place in our considerations. If we dwell upon it, and do not try to get beyond it' (Wittgenstein, 1981, no.314), it will revel new aspects of itself endlessly to us. Once one has a grasp of these details, then and only then is it appropriate to seek explanations for how they seem to be related to each other. I discuss issues of relevance to the above remark further below.
Those who know Verene's (1981) book will recognize its influence throughout almost the whole of this article.
We, of course, still talk of the body of a text, its headings and footnotes, chapters (Latin, caput=head).
Here, of course, I have in mind the Greek: metapherein = to carry over. The metaphor is 'in' the acting.
Rather than a static place, it is a dynamic stability, and arresting or moving moment.
The task is, of course, how to move from what Vico calls a 'corporeal image,' an image implicit only in the 'shape' of the practices between us, to an image whose 'shape' we can sense wholly within ourselves as individuals in some way. Although what is required is not a Weltanschauung, i.e., a single, unified way or style of seeing imposed on phenomena by the looker, but a sensuous, synoptic grasp of a whole array of distinct, concrete, possibilities. We seek what Wittgenstein (1953) calls a 'perspicuous representation,' that is 'just that kind of understanding which consists in 'seeing connexions' ('Zusammenhänge sehen')' (no.122). Where, to come to such a grasp, you can only let the details of your own practices 'teach you their meaning' (1953, p.220).
'The objectors to unconscious thoughts did not see that they were not objecting to the newly discovered psychological reactions, but to the way in which they were described. The psychoanalysts on the other hand were misled by their own way of expression into thinking that they had done more than discover new psychological reactions; that they had, in a sense, discovered conscious thoughts that were unconscious' (1965, p.57).
See, for instance, Wittgenstein (1953) remarks nos. 152-154.
Here, Bakhtin (1986) is referring to Saussure's (19....) diagram, in which two partners are depicted in speech communication. About it, he says: 'One cannot say that these diagrams are false or that they do not correspond to certain aspects of reality. But when they are put forth as the actual whole of speech communication, they become a scientific fiction... A passive understanding of the meaning of perceived speech is only an abstract aspect of the whole of actively responsive understanding, when is then actualized in a subsequent response that is actually articulated' (p.68).
Eldridge (forthcoming), in discussing whether animism - the belief that anything other than human beings can be subjects of feeling and consciousness - is something that has been largely outgrown, discusses the tendencies still alive within us, to which we appeal both in our moral lives and in our appreciation of works of art. With respect, for instance, to our appraisal of works of art, he comments that: 'there is a sense of submission of one's imagination and feeling to a higher, impersonal power, to a non- empirical rational purposiveness that obscurely manifests itself both within and without (the supersensible substrate of humanity and nature). Something like this sense of what is going on is what makes talk of art as praise and creation intelligible for us. If any such account of making and responding to art makes sense, then there must in some sense be a rational, purposive ordering of things, even though such an ordering is not an object of theoretical judgment' (MS, p.17).
Where an authoritative word is one that 'demands we acknowledge it, that we make it our own' (Bakhtin, 1981, p.342)
It is only too easy for thinkers following these moves, to conclude, as Marx and Engels (1977) point out, 'that the philosophers, the thinkers as such, have at all times been dominant in history' (p.67). As Vico (1968) sees it, the order of development of human institutions was: 'first the forests, after that the huts, then the villages, next the cities, and finally the academies' (para.239). It is thus a conceit of scholars 'who will have it that what they know must have been eminently understood from the beginning of the world' (para.330). Civil society was up and running long before there were any 'ruling ideas.'
As a result of these moves, 'all materialistic elements have been removed from history and now full rein can be given to the speculative steed' (Marx and Engels, 1977, p.67).
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