By Simon Dentith
In Bakhtinian Thought, Simon Dentith offers a lucid and approachable creation to the paintings of Bakhtin and his circle, helpfully taking the reader throughout the many parts in their notion. Dentith shows the numerous issues of competition, trouble and significance. The e-book not just attracts jointly the usually disparately gathered writing of Bakhtin, but additionally that of Voloshinov and Medvedev, language theorists of commensurable value as well.
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Extra resources for Bakhtinian Thought: An Introductory Reader (Critical Readers in Theory and Practice)
MPL 10) Voloshinov’s materialist account of the sign, therefore, leads him to give a materialist account of language, and since all actual uses of language take us into the realm of value and ideology, we have here the potential for a materialist account of ideology also. The second predisposition is still more important, for it is a crucial presumption not only for Voloshinov but for Bakhtin also, one which underlies their accounts not only of language but of aesthetics as well. This is the assumption that language is a social phenomenon, though this anodyne formulation scarcely captures the radical implications that follow from this starting-point in Voloshinov’s hands.
If this line of argument is pushed far enough, Bakhtin emerges as an anti-systematic thinker, prepared to acknowledge the role of a systematic linguistics in its place, but allotting only a small and preparatory place to it. One way of understanding Voloshinov, by contrast, is to see him as wishing to extend the area in which systematic considerations apply, not merely to the area of linguistic regularity narrowly conceived, but out to the social inter actions in which utterances take on their force.
This is perhaps the least satisfactory aspect of the book, but Freud’s detachment of the unconscious actually provides Voloshinov with the occasion for some of his most interesting suggestions concerning the relationship of the life of the psyche to its social milieu. For in his most radical move, Voloshinov concedes a portion of psychic life directly to the physiological—he was, after all, a contemporary of Pavlov—but claims that for the rest the ‘“content of the psyche” is ideological through and through’ (FMC 24).