Wednesday, April 13, 2011

about lifeworldliness



When I wrote quickly in a recent posting that “there’s no prima facie incommensurability between regarding integrated symbolic life and economic activity,” I failed to express my point well, which had in mind a surmise about regarding symbolic life and economic activity as integrated.

Consider the “pragmatic 3-fold”:



Integral to Habermas’ view is an isomorphism of modality that, so to speak, goes all the way down. Economic life is actually carried out by persons living lives “together” in a workplace (lifeworld as part of systemic relations), and our dailiness is full of systemic elements, in a non-colonizing sense; e.g., all the technical aspects of life that one subscribes to. 


An important kind of distinction is between lifeworld and theorization of it. “The” lifeworld is a theorization of a living reality which is always a lifeworld. It’s not trivial to note that the lifeworld is about lives in a world. The world is either relative to particular lives, or it’s a conceptualization (an abstraction, a theorization). Classically, a novel is about a lifeworld, from which literary criticism may generalize in ways that would pertain to a conception of the lifeworld as such.

But the literal reality is that all sociality is embodied in persons. The life of the human world is only made of persons. Anything said about sociality is an abstraction or analytical construct on the interaction of persons. In the triad person-culture-society, only a person can be literally denoted.

If one is concerned about good integration of conceptualizations, one should need to look at the site of all integration, which is, so to speak, on a continuum with 2 poles: on the one hand, lives (in which all conceptual differences actively interplay as the living of a life) and, on the other hand, discursive integrations, which only exist in singular minds (by which texts become nebulously shared understandings always embodied by particular minds understanding or disagreeing with another mind).

For Habermas’ part, the commensurability of symbolic interaction and the economy traces back at least to JH’s essay on “Labor and Interaction” because he there expressed the general difference that Erik seemed to have in mind. But this difference merely goes back to there; it doesn’t originate there in Habermas’ thought, which was developing. His sense of the integration of action types in TCA is not overtly anticipated in “Labor and Interaction.” The locus of integration becomes a theory of action, which is discursively vested in the range of issues expressed by Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action, including the sense of individual development as reconstructive conception; the sense of discourse as a theory of justification; and the sense of philosophy as facilitator (“stand-in”) of discursive progress.

The fact, mentioned by Erik, that analytical differentiations can be made has no bearing on the ontic status of what’s differentiated. For example, aspects of a speech act can be analytically differentiated, but a speech act is a singular, presumably-cohering thing. 


All actions have an instrumental component, e.g., the lexical items used to say something. The grammar is rigorously systemizable, though lived fluidly (as we use fragments of the grammar to convey things idiomatically).

A favorite question of mine is this: Does individuation happen or is it done? Is individuation done through socialization; or is socialization done through individuation? If only persons literally exist, then the resulting individuation of an individual (which is not the mere reproduction of a social item, like cookie cutting) is done by the individual, so too the socialization that individuation includes.

Are you presuming a conventional sense of individuality when you believe that individuation is comprehended in socialization? How is post-conventional identity possible, unless socialization is done by individuation (rather than individuation by socialization)?—socialization contained in individuation (rather than individuation contained in socialization)? Is potential for reflection, imagination, creativity, and learning a mere socialization? Or is an individuation adapting social means to its own potential all the way down (back into the ontogeny of intrinsic interest and curiosity)? Individuational frame independence and eventual post-conventional perspectives are not basically an adaptive achievement. Individuation with potential for post-conventional perspective contains adaptive efficacy for its ownmost purposes. 


Accordingly, the real integration of person and economy is in the life of someone making a career, i.e., making a life relative to a career. Notions of work/life balance, functional partnership, and organizational collaborativeness provide the site (en-site) the real integration of person and economy (which is theorized systemically). Within that are dynamics leading to innovation, based in insight-building processes of inquiry, which economic organizations need for development. We have all kinds of conceptual generalities to say about that, generalizing into functional and systemic claims about emergent trends of social evolution, but it all originates from engaged persons interacting with means (complex symbolic systems and technologies).

When you think of cultural and social life, you should need to think about what literally is cultural or social. How that becomes reproduced is through elaborate emergent features of sites, organizations, arrays of understandings, etc. all only existing inasmuch as they’re understood by understanding persons doing things, individually and together, on common grounds. Sociality is about persons talking about what’s between persons. There is no such literal thing as society and culture, in the sense that there are literally persons.