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Download Bakhtinian thought : an introductory reader by Bakhtin, Mikhail Mikhaĭlovich; Dentith, Simon; Bakhtin, M PDF

By Bakhtin, Mikhail Mikhaĭlovich; Dentith, Simon; Bakhtin, M

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Extra info for Bakhtinian thought : an introductory reader

Sample text

But signs are not confined to language; it is not only the articulate sounds the we make, or 22 VOLOSHINOV AND BAKHTIN ON LANGUAGE the graphic marks that we write, that carry meaning. Many of the material objects and artefacts that surround us can, in particular circumstances, carry meanings also (one example that Voloshinov provides is the meaning given to the material objects of bread and water in the Christian sacrament of communion). However, as soon as we are in the domain of meanings, we are also carried, willy-nilly, into the domain of ideology.

In notes made at the very end of his life, now published under the title ‘Towards a methodology for the human sciences’, Bakhtin draws a fundamental distinction between the ‘exact’ and the human sciences (SG 159–72). Where the exact sciences are monologic because they are concerned with objects of knowledge, the human sciences are necessarily dialogic because they are concerned with other subjects. But this distinction does not mean that Bakhtin repudiated scientific knowledge, either for itself or as a source of knowledge and analogies about human behaviour.

Secondly, and more importantly, it is worth having disputes only about substantial issues—canonical questions or questions of orthodoxy are really only ever interesting if they serve substantial questions. What matters about Bakhtin is not the extent or otherwise of his Marxist orthodoxy, but his capacity to articulate a poetics, and an account of language, which sees all utterances as at once implicated in social and historical particularity and also, by virtue of that very fact, capable of being engaged by other social and historical particularities—that is, you and me in a later period.

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