Materializing Bakhtin: The Bakhtin Circle and Social Theory by C. Brandist, G. Tihanov

By C. Brandist, G. Tihanov

This quantity brings jointly 9 essays by means of tested and new students from Russia, Britain and North the US to discover the ancient contexts and present relevance of the paintings of the Bakhtin Circle for social concept, philosophy, heritage and linguistics.

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But what is revealed here to a certain extent goes against Bakhtin’s position, for it is due to a lack of dialogical understanding that Hegel’s voice is left (or rendered) 26 Bakhtin and Hegel ‘monological’. Indeed, we can hardly accept Bakhtin’s critique on this point, because of his own principles regarding the nature of dialogue itself, which always require us to understand any kind of speech act according to our response or answer (as well as its own status as a rejoinder). Reflecting on the more general problem of ‘speech genres’, Bakhtin remarks: The boundaries of each concrete utterance as a unit of speech communication are determined by a change of speaking subjects, that is, a change of speakers.

8 Moreover, the process that Bakhtin calls ‘monologization’ is a prerequisite for a singular consciousness to enter into either a dialogue or a monologue. This process is at work, for instance, in aesthetic creation, in a way that entails, in Bakhtin’s words, a ‘gradual obliteration of authors as bearers of others’ words’. He describes as follows: Others’ words become anonymous and are assimilated (in reworked form, of course); consciousness is monologized. Primary dialogic relations to others’ words are also obliterated – they are, as it were, taken in, absorbed into assimilated others’ words (passing through the stage of ‘one’s own/others’ words’).

41 One might think that the respective aims of Bakhtin and Hegel are very different, to the extent that understanding, as it is conceived by Bakhtin, asks for an opening of history more than a ‘definitive’ judgement of it. But the relation of Bakhtin to Hegel is nevertheless still significant in this respect: the Hegelian ‘closure’ of history clinging, like any utterance in a dialogue situation, to a necessary ‘new opening’, calls for the formation (Bildung) of a new form of spirit. Understanding is necessarily achieved in the form of an expression, and this expression in turn calls for understanding.

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