The Ethics of Addressivity and Answerability: Otherness and Bakhtin's Non-Alibi for Being

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General Focus and Chapter Thesis Questions raised in/following the discussion Dialogic Strategies Questions, Comments, Concerns
The aims of this chapter are to
(1) identify addressivity as a key concept in the thesis
(2) address the significance of ethics as a pivotal concern in dialogic sensibility
(3) to raise the emergence of a dialogic subjectivity
(4) to raise (rather than resolve) the question: What is the prime mover of this approach? Is it an ethical claim, i.e. that dialogic subjects are good--more equitable. Or is it a pragmatic claim, where ethics comes in later: Collaborative practice produces dialogic subjects; failing to acknowledge this subjectivity at the level of authorship (and output) is unethical--which is why we need an intersubjective/dialogic theory of art.
(a) Engage with the monologic aspect of the other as posited in the presentation - offer other perceptions/theories of otherness - Levinas' other, Nancy's other (reask the question put to Simon Critchley about the problems of thinking about a "split" subject...)
(b) There needs to be a question that connects this position with attitude (perspective) in ways that fail to recognize material conditions beyond the subject's control - assumes, also, the subject is rational - or worse yet, "ought" to be rational - this focus on the "ought to" characterizing Bakhtin's philosophy anticipates the next presentation.
(a) Declares that while there may be no alibi for being, there's benefit in using "agent provocateurs" to stimulate discussions in situations like this one, especially at the beginning of the barcamp when there's a lack of familiarity. And so Anscombe has primed people to comment - and encouraged them to prepare specific responses.

(b) Observes the general absence of ethics in the barcamp thus far.
(c) Focus on human others is important here - lay the foundations for later discussions on other kinds of otherness (ANT +) - this connects to the rub between "literal" and "metaphoric" dialogue in the thesis.
(d) This is also the place to introduce Nealon's critique of the Bakhtinian Other - and how his particular notion of responsibility it ultimately selfish. (And this is what Anscombe is, in a way, enacting through her deployment of others to facilitate the discussion.)
(e) A question about Anscombe's use of agent provocateurs - How exactly did she ask you do it?

This presentation is a turning point in the thesis because it
(a) raises the issue of intersubjectivity
(b) approaches it from a philosophical perspective, thereby moving the debate from linguistics/pragmatics into philosophy/psychology
(c)identifies a two-fold bias in the research:
(1) focus on the subjectivity as the subject's experience of self - the research cannot account for the other, as the other's subjectivity isn't accessible - Dealing this significant "unknown" that's an important tenet of dialogic practice.
(2) focus on subjectivity - as distinct from the subject.

Anticipating questions around the relationship between ethics and aesthetics in dialogic (becoming). I really don't like the term "becoming" - it's too loaded - it connotes Deleuze in particular. Perhaps there's an alternative, and less loaded expression in process philosophy. Or perhaps positing a term like "emergence" will suffice.

Presentation Outline and Annotations:

Facilitator's introduction:

Presentation Proper: Introduction (modeled on "Modern Moral Philosophy") Here's the original text:

I will begin by stating three theses which I present in this paper. The first is that it is not profitable for us at present to do moral philosophy; that should be laid aside at any rate until we have an adequate philosophy of psychology, in which we are conspicuously lacking. The second is that the concepts of obligation, and duty‑-moral obligation and moral duty, that is to say‑-and of what is morally right and wrong, and of the moral sense of "ought," ought to be jettisoned if this is psychologically possible; because they are survivals, or derivatives from survivals, from an earlier conception of ethics which no longer generally survives, and are only harmful without it. My third thesis is that the differences between the well‑known English writers on moral philosophy from Sidgwick to the present day are of little importance.

Outline of the theses in this presentation:
First Thesis: Drawing on Bakhtin and furthering Dyson's discussion - dialogue depends on addressivity and answerability and these "dynamics" (this is my word, not Anscombe's) indicate an engagement with an other--specifically a human other. Dialogue is an encounter with otherness - it's about negotiating difference.
Second Thesis: As an encounter with otherness, the ethics of engagement that dialogue entails require specific consideration as socially situated - Hence to specifics of this engagement are contingent and complex.
Third Thesis: The situated nature of engagement does not, however, make the ethics of engagement completely relativist on Bakhtin's view. He instead holds that we're ultimately responsible for our engagement with an other--in all the complexity this engagement entails. This position is articulated in his thesis of "non-alibi for being" i.e. that no one can live my life in my place - I'm always (eventually) accountable for my own actions. (Though I'm reading this "accountability" as much in terms of understanding as judgment.)
Critically, this responsibility for engagement (understood as "response" in the form of "being as event") is not about "right or wrong" behaviour in an absolute sense. Bakhtin contests any totalizing systems. Instead, it is based on an experience of the self in relation to the other as (spatio-temporaly) situated. Hence what is consistent in Bakhtin's scheme is not a code of action that anticipates/determines a particular outcome--and against which this outcome can be measured. Instead it is a posture for engagement that precedes any action while also anticipating the subject's eventual accountability.
For Bakhtin, this consciousness-in-anticipation-of-accountability relates to the judeo-christian superaddressee: God. However, it seems possible to secularize this perspective in terms of personal "becoming": the subject's responsibility to her self for her own subjectivity-in-process as a subjectivity that's ultimately socially situated (?).
One of the fascinating tensions that shape dialogue are the ways in which what's happening inside the subject relates to what's happening outside the subject and how the subject's subjectivity is constituted through the interplay between these overlapping realms. Dialogue is, in part, an attempt to negotiate the threshold between/among these spheres of influence, while also acknowledging the spheres as themselves are willfully unstable. This makes dialogue dynamic; ultimately, it's a movement instead of an outcome.

Substantiating These Theses: (Still very partial)

  • Address Nealon's reading of Bakhtin's and Levinas's encounter with otherness, especially his claim that Bakhtin's approach is ultimately self-serving. What might an alternative entail? Is it a question of the subject returning something of its subjectivity to the world? Is this where art could be of such supreme importance? Could dialogic art be about mapping the responses comprising subjectivity in a way that (a) makes this subjectivity available to others; and (b) does so in a way that "calls" or "addresses" a "third party" other's response? This seems connected to meta-cognition.
  • Example in Practice: Victor Frankl - "Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." - Critique of this: Largely attitudinal - doesn't sufficiently take into consideration real-world conditions. (This should be taken up in the discussion following the barcamp.)
  • Bakhtin's Art and Answerability and his Dostoevsky book.

Presenter Biog Rationale for selection
This presenter is loosely based on the persona of GEM Anscombe, a deceased analytic philosopher.
Anscombe, was a British analytic philosopher. A student of Ludwig Wittgenstein, she became an authority on his work and edited and translated many books drawn from his writings, above all his Philosophical Investigations. She wrote on the philosophy of mind, philosophy of action, philosophical logic, philosophy of language, and ethics. Anscombe's 1958 article "Modern Moral Philosophy" introduced the term "consequentialism" into the language of analytic philosophy; it had a seminal influence on contemporary virtue ethics, as did some of her subsequent articles. Her monograph Intention is generally recognized as her greatest and most influential work, and the continuing philosophical interest in the concepts of intention, action and practical reasoning can be said to have taken its main impetus from this work. source I'll be writing "through" her paper Modern Moral Philosophy - There's also something about her demeanor that reminds me of Kathy Bates and I'm hoping to capture this no-nonsense approach.

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