The subject – By Marcelo Pakman

This post is also available in: Spanish

You vindicate singularity against stereotype or, if you prefer, individuals against models.

Not of the individual, but of the singularity. Because one of the interestingly micropolitical maneuvers that have happened has been identifying singularity as something which belongs to the individual. But the singularity of experience, that which is unique in our experience, isn’t necessarily something which is an inside which is coincidental with the limits of the individual skin.

And through there you reach a notion of the subject which is related to subjection and the determinacies of knowledge and power. Meaning by power something one exerts, in Michel Foucault’s sense.

Exactly. The Foucaultian project, as I understand it, was to demolish the subject of Philosophy by showing all of its subjections. And his maximal project was to get rid of that subject, but not the was Althusser did. He also wanted to get rid of the subject, but he replaced it with an idealized one, even though it may be paradoxical to say this in Althusser’s case: the social subject, the scientific subject and, finally, the subject of the party.

But that, in Althusser, is a part of the teleological conception of history, of the idea of happiness which has to come necessarily, in order to state the necessity of human action and of will.

Yes. And the question of will is very important because it is a project which is, to a great extent, strong-willed. And in that’s where he ends up having a lot in common with historical projects which have nothing to do with Marxism. For example with the protestant world-view, where will reigns supreme.

You seem to like etymology, but you don’t use it for the notion of subject which refers, originally, to a grammatical category.

At some stage I mention the idea of a the subject as a substance and how, even as the concept held, the qualities of that substance got progressively diluted. But the subject of philosophy, which is the subject of psychoanalysis, is the one that reigns in psychotherapy, it’s like a secular version of the unknown transcendent God. It’s always in some corner, ruling over everything that happens.

What I was referring to was the grammatical character, that first moment in which God and language become confused.

It’s true that I start from some etymologies, but in the case of the concept of a subject, I was more interested in the dissolution of the divine. The way in which the concept of a subject goes forward, just as the concept of God declines. While God is dying, the concept of a the subject becomes healthier and healthier. It grows. In parallel to the temporal rule of Man, in capital letters. There still was no feminism back then.

This would be the subject of knowledge, which expels God from biology, astronomy, history. An epistemological subject.

Indeed, an epistemological subject. I also make reference to a precedent of the subject, still without that name. It’s the importance that Saint Thomas attached to the idea of the soul having to possess an identity. Identity was very important, because it was that which allowed something to be saved. There would be nothing to save if there wasn’t a clearly defined identity.

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