By Paul Kockelman
This ebook deals either a naturalistic and significant idea of symptoms, minds, and meaning-in-the-world. It presents a reconstructive instead of deconstructive conception of the person, one that either analytically separates and theoretically synthesizes quite a number schools which are usually careworn and conflated: company (understood as a causal capacity), subjectivity (understood as a representational capacity), selfhood (understood as a reflexive capacity), and personhood (understood as a sociopolitical potential attendant on being an agent, topic, or self). It argues that those amenities are top understood from a semiotic stance that supersedes the standard intentional stance. And, in so doing, it bargains a pragmatism-grounded method of that means and mediation that's basic adequate to account for strategies which are as embodied and embedded as they're articulated and enminded. specifically, whereas this idea is targeted on human-specific modes of that means, it additionally deals a basic idea of that means, such that the brokers, matters and selves in query needn't consistently, or maybe frequently, map onto folks. And whereas this concept foregrounds brokers, folks, matters and selves, it does this by means of theorizing techniques that frequently stay within the history of such (often erroneously) individuated figures: ontologies (akin to tradition, yet generalized throughout agentive collectivities), interplay (not purely among humans, but additionally among humans and issues, and whatever open air or in-between), and infrastructure (akin to context, yet generalized to incorporate mediation at any measure of remove).
Paul Kockelman, affiliate Professor of Anthropology, Barnard university and Columbia collage.
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Additional info for Agent, Person, Subject, Self: A Theory of Ontology, Interaction, and Infrastructure
And the object is the function of the instrument: both the form of the tool (qua sign) and the wielding of the form (qua interpretant) point to this function. The agent, then, is simply someone who can sense and instigate, such that what is instigated (pounding in a nail) makes sense in the context of what is sensed (the assemblage of wood and steel) from the standpoint of the agent given the features of the object. Whether or not the agent wields the form for the sake of its creator’s intended function is not that important: sometimes the intended and actual functions converge, sometimes they diverge.
Indeed, one particularly colorful quote of Nietzsche’s might serve well as the epigram for this chapter (serving as it does both to detour more optimistic readings and to counter potential misreadings); indeed, it seems to presciently capture the lion’s share of insight generated by twentieth-century critical theory: But purposes and utilities are only signs that a will to power has become master of something less powerful and imposed upon it the character of a function; and the entire history of a “thing,” an organ, a custom can in this way be a continuous sign-chain of ever new interpretations and adaptations whose causes do not even have to be related to one another but, on the contrary, in some cases succeed and alternate with one another in a purely chance fashion.
The agent, then, is simply someone who can sense and instigate, such that what is instigated (pounding in a nail) makes sense in the context of what is sensed (the assemblage of wood and steel) from the standpoint of the agent given the features of the object. Whether or not the agent wields the form for the sake of its creator’s intended function is not that important: sometimes the intended and actual functions converge, sometimes they diverge. An agent with different interests (say, someone unable to reach the small of their back to scratch) could, of course, find (or, rather, “frame”) a very different function in the same assemblage of wood and steel.
Agent, Person, Subject, Self: A Theory of Ontology, Interaction, and Infrastructure by Paul Kockelman