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Sunday, 9 February 2014

Clarification

[Before I gave the paper in the previous post, I rewrote the third paragraph (of the actual text of the paper).  I think it makes the position a little clearer.  Here is the revised version.]

The conference rationale mentions the debate over the ‘creation of the individual’ and the counterview that early medieval people saw themselves primarily as members of groups.  In my estimation, both opinions are, mistaken.  The key, shared error seems to me to lie in thinking of groups as composed of individuals, in thinking of the individual as the fundamental 'atom' to which groups can be broken down.  Yet that atom is already split. A person has a series of identities, based on sex/gender, age, ethnicity, kindred or family, religion, profession and so on.  Everyone stands at a very particular, probably unique intersection of them.  But that is what forces us to reject the term individual.  The relationship between group and identity is complex and reciprocal, as I will argue.  It might be that the group analytically precedes the so-called individual.   Even in basic psychoanalysis, the ‘self’ is divided into conscious and unconscious and, in Lacanian terms, the subject is always split upon its entry into the world of the symbolic.  In recognition of this, the British philosopher Simon Critchley coins the term ‘dividual’.


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