A NEW SUBJECTIVITY

In his book Communicative Praxis and the Space of Subjectivity, Calvin Schrag acknowledges the necessity of deconstructing our misconstrued and alienated notion of subjectivity –“that epistemological space of interior minds and exterior realities, private thoughts and publicknowledge” that we have occupied so disastrously since Descartes. But he departs from the deconstructivist conclusion that sees humankind inevitably destined to enter a “twilight of subjectivity” in which the self is rendered homeless. Instead, Schrag sees the deconstruction of a misconceived notion of subjectivity not as an end in itself but rather as the “first revolution” that provides a clearing for a “second revolution”: “the recovery and restoration of the subject within a new horizon of subjectivity.”

“The proper site for such a recovery,” Schrag writes “is the holistic space of communicative praxis, in which the performances of speech, writing and action are situated. The emerging subjectivity within this space will be that of a subject transfigured and transformed, a decentered subjectivity, bearing the wisdom gleaned from the arduous venture of deconstruction as a task never completed but rather to be performed again and again.” On entering discourse “the logos is decentered and situated within the play of speaker and hearer as they seek concensus on that which is talked about.”

Jean Paul Sartre, in his later thinking, became increasingly interested in the relationship of the individual to the group and the historical praxis that emerged from that relation, writing (Sartre’s Second Critique) “the group-in-fusion is the resurrection of freedom.” Sartre argues that this fusion “has nothing in it of magic–simply the re-interiorization of a lost reciprocity” –a mode of interior relatedness that was reduced to an external “structure of seriality” by capitalism in giving over worker control of the means of production to “others.”

Henry Miller too looked to the time when “a totally new conception of individuality will be born, one in which the collective life is the dominant note. The consolidation of the new individuality, rooted in the collective, will dissolve the haunting problem of power. A dynamic equilibrium, based upon the recognition of a new creative center, will establish itself, permitting the free play of all the fluid, potent forces located within the human corpus.” “This new civilization,” Miller prophecied, “will not be another civilization–it will be the open stretch of realization which all the past civilizations have pointed to.”