From: Giampaolo Poletto <janospallibero.it>
Subject: Controversies and Subjectivity
Editor's note: This issue contains non-ISO-8859-1 characters.
To view the correct characters, go to http://linguistlist.org/issues/17/17-974.html.
Announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/16/16-3166.html
EDITORS: Barrotta, Pierluigi; Dascal, Marcelo
TITLE: Controversies and Subjectivity
SERIES: Controversies 1
PUBLISHER: John Benjamins
Giampaolo Poletto, doctoral student, Doctoral School in Linguistics,
University of Pécs, Hungary
The volume proposes a multidisciplinary and multiperspective
approach to examine the nature, role and relation of controversy and
of the subjectivity which is inherent to it, diachronically and
synchronically. The essays are mostly papers delivered at the
conference on subjectivity held in Pisa and Lucca, or have been
specifically designed for the present collection.
Dascal presents its scope, background and content, offering a
thematically interwoven critical overview of each contribution (pp.1-
29). Historically considered extraneous to scientific research and the
domain of objectivity, because arising out of subjectivity, through
mistakes, misjudgements and misbehaviors, controversies are here
assumed and proved to be intrinsic to and constitutive of rationality,
starting from their pervasiveness and their ties to a plurality of
subjects. The idea of an abstract being of reason is inadequate to
account for their complexity and diversity. The subject is now viewed
as concrete, multifaceted, made of different interacting components,
immersed in a sociocultural environment, characterized by
psychological aspects. These elements are supposed to somehow
interact with epistemic factors. New questions are thus posed, which a
variety of disciplines other than philosophy should investigate, in a
framework where the concept of rational controversies faces the
growing role of subjects. That posits the two main issues of this
tripartite book - controversies on the subject, subjects in
controversies - as tightly intermingled and somehow hardly
The six chapters of the first part specifically focus on controversies
internal to the subject.
Dascal (p.33-73) explores the processes of the debate with the self
and with others, in eight sections: taking examples from different
sources which show its nature and variety; discussing the metonymic
and metaphoric kinds of relation connecting intra- and inter-personal
debates; reconstructing typologies of those external and internal, from
Aristotle (1990, 1996) to a distinction between 'soft' and 'hard'
rationality, through the issue of self-deception, towards a view of a
sufficiently real self-debating multiple self.
Schulz (pp.75-90) comparatively and diachronically traces back to the
works of Plato (1969) and Aristotle, to accurately point out how the
metaphors of the agreement and disagreement with the self - by them
discussed in connection with a moral theory and described as a
conflict between reasons and desires, and as a form of reflexive
inconsistency - at large attain to the modern topic and phenomenon of
Leone (pp.91-114) analyses the relations between conversion and
controversy from an external and an internal viewpoint, as an object of
controversy and as a form of intra-subjective controversy. There are
differences, as to semiotic and temporal structures; similarities, as to
the representations of time and identity; intersections, in relation to the
concepts of the self as theatre and Bakhtin's interpretation of interior
language (1930); models, with reference to Horowitz's
psychodynamics (1988) and a metaphorical understanding of
psychological phenomena through sociological patterns; stories of
In an epistemological perspective, Ferreira (pp.115-125) proposes a
model for understanding the production of scientific theories
alternative to the normativist position, which, along with the logical
positivists, views the process of discovery of scientific theories as a
mere psychological phenomenon other than justification (see Popper,
1979). He rather supports the descriptivist one, which associates
revolutionary discoveries to contexts of crisis of rationality rather than
to normal science, and the interdisciplinary study of controversies and
subjectivity, for their contribution to the building of scientific knowledge.
Cossutta (pp.127-156) displays the results of his discursive analysis of
works by Plato, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius (1998), St. Augustine
(2004), Malebranche, Descartes. His goal is to shed light on the
controversial dimension of the diverse forms of inner speech, to see
whether they are to be considered the counterpart of or irreducibly
other than the external dimension of controversy, which consists in a
marked dialogical interaction, partly traceable in monological
discourse but without objective consistence, the way subjectivity
manifests in external forms of polemic not necessarily to its detriment.
Drawing on the standpoints of Plato, Descartes, Hume, Kant (1987),
Frogel (pp.157-169) talks about the subjectivity of judgement of the
philosopher as a critical thinker, in the light of its necessary relations
with truth: of self-agreement, descending from the subjective
judgement that something is true; of self-deception, possible in all
philosophical thinking due to the asymmetry of self-conviction; of
disagreement, consequently unavoidable in philosophical discourse.
The seven chapters of the second part shift to an insight on
subjectivity, through the implications and significance of the use of the
In Han-liang Chang's study (pp.173-184), intersubjectivity and
controversy are mutually implicative terms, the subjectivity of dialogue
is multi-faceted and multi-voiced, and the concept of ideologeme
(Kristeva, 1980) is crucial in the enquire on the relation between
ideology and discourse. The result of his analysis of a debate in the
third century BC China (Guo, 1975) points out: the potential
intersubjectivity of interlocutors, as textual and discursive functions;
the need for historicizing instances of verbal communication to
perceive the force of ideology.
Starting from Protagora's expression of the essence of controversy-
oriented thought (Diogenes Laertius, 1972) and through a historical
outline of the two-logoi subjectivist and objectivist tradition (see
Sloane, 1997; Tannen, 1990, among others), Cattani (pp.185-200)
suggests that: controversy both manifests and is a way to manage
uncertainty; objectivity may be deceptive and not always possible,
whereas subjectivity, ineluctable, to be accounted for and to be not
damaging, is to make a step towards the first plural person.
Szívós (pp.201-234) examines the period of Hellenism (322-330 BC),
in order to underline the first description of subjectivity as a state of
consciousness and reconstruct in detail, as a historian of philosophy,
the evolution of the academic-stoic debate. He applies: some
concepts of the general theory of controversy, namely emergent
process and result, extensive and intensive phases of the debate,
semantic debate; the categories of temporality and reification in
relation to the concept of subjectivity. Seven phases are enucleated
and the modifications of the two schools' standpoints are emphasized,
following the definition of the Greek concept of phantasia.
Among the aims of an interdisciplinary research project in which Fritz
has participated, there is the analysis of the pragmatic organization of
controversies in the 17th and 18th centuries. Through examples in
English, German, French, his paper (pp.235-250) focuses on the
function of first-person utterances as moves in the above period
controversies. Although they are guided by traditional rules and
principles, for instance to deal with realia rather than with personalia,
they display forms of expression of subjectivity and hint at a rhetoric of
individuality which is representative of the innovative spirit of that age.
Berkeley's position on subjective justification - generally perceived as
weak both in rhetoric and in philosophy - as a way to discover truth
(1929-30), introduces the study of Mishori (pp.251-262), who:
discusses the subjectivity manifested in the introspections of
empiricists; analyses moves of that sort; frames a typology of
introspective arguments - in particular reports, appeals, imagination-
employing experiments; emphasizes the multifaceted relevance of
examining the choice of arguments.
Along with Wittgenstein's notion of controversies (1927) as a supra-
personal family of language games, or forms of communication,
Gloning's essay (pp.263-281) describes linguistic aspects connected
to subjectivity in Early Modern polemics and discusses meta-polemic
attempts at eliminating or controlling personal involvement. The final
assumption, to be more thoroughly investigated, is that they hint at a
tendency towards politeness and respect developing in the late 17th
and 18th century.
Senderowicz (pp.283-300) applies a model of the epistemic function of
controversies to the actual debate between externalists and
individualists on the compatibility of externalism with self-knowledge,
critically referring to Dascal's notion, description and typology of
controversies (1998), and maintaining that they are confrontation of
positions, neither of which, along with Boghossian's view (1989),
provide an adequate account of the problem at stake. A conceptual
breakthrough exceeding what both envision is needed, which
remarkably emphasizes the function of controversies in the growth of
The five chapters of the third part address the role of subjectivity in
Barrotta (pp.303-324) analyses the debate between liberals and
communitarians and exposes three arguments in favour of the
fruitfulness of philosophical controversies: each party plays a double
role; they often concern complex and fuzzy standpoints; they evolve, if
interesting. The arguments support a further possible development of
the above controversy. The role played by the notion of the self is
crucial and provides the former with more pertinent replies to the
objections of the latter.
De-dichotomization is accounted for in the case study of Barghouti
(pp.325-336). In an inter-identity conflict related to asymmetry,
injustice and oppression, an alternative conceptualization brings about
ethical implications. One dichotomy - revenge vs. justice - functionally
arises to eventually solve another one - national vs. human identity.
The process of de-dichotomization: is moral as a dialogical and
transformative conceptual tool; is effective in a struggle to end
oppression (see Freire, 1972).
Gross (pp.337-352) provides a case study on the major and causal
role of emotions in public controversies, conceived and described as a
social drama (see Turner, 1978). They arise from a collective body of
participants in an event and are primarily expressions of group
solidarity rather than of an individual subjectivity.
Olivé (pp.353-370) addresses a multifaceted debate as a controversy
about science, and details on the influence of subjective factors: on
the issues discussed; on the argumentative strategies enacted; on the
rationality of the controversy; on its course. He identifies and
emphasizes genuine and non-genuine disagreements, rationally
solvable and productive for the course of the controversy the former,
unsolvable because groundless and just ideologically aimed at trying
to persuade the latter.
Negative aspects of controversies are counterbalanced by their
intellectual and somehow physical productivity, in Sharon-Zisser's
contribution (pp.371-393). Their discernible structure (see Heidegger,
1975) is assumed to dwell in a more fundamental one, whose
components implicate subjectivity and entail affinities with the archaic,
in a psychoanalytic perspective. A constitutively archaic form of
transmission in itself, as poetry, could thus represent a way to access
the deep structures of controversy.
The volume is valuable for the studies collected, the multiperspective
overview displayed, its interdisciplinary approach, which opens to
contributions at least in two directions other than more investigations
on controversies and subjectivity: further applications of linguistic
disciplines to the analysis of philosophical texts; further research
conducted on a variety of phenomena, events, texts, etc., from a
Aristotle, 1990. Retórica, transl., intro., and notes by Q.Racionero.
Aristotle, 1996. Nicomachean Ethics, transl. H.Rackman, intro. S.Watt.
Ware, Hertford-shire: Wordsworth.
Augustine, 2004. Two Books of Soliloquies. In C. C.Star (Ed.), Early
Church Fathers, Nicene et post-Nicene Series. www.cczl.org/fathers2.
Bakhtin, M., 1930. ''Konstrukcija vyskazyvanija''. Literaturnaja
učeba, 3. 65-87.
Berkeley, G., 1929-30. Philosophical Correspondence with Samuel
Johnson. In D.Armstrong (Ed.).
Boghossian, P., 1989. ''Content and self-knowledge''. Philosophical
Topics. 17 (1), 5-26.
Dascal, M., 1998. ''The study of controversies and the theory and
history of science''. Science in Context. 11 (2), 147-154.
Diogenes Laertius, 1972. Lives of Eminent Philosophers, transl.
R.D.Hicks. Loeb Classical Library, London: Heinemann.
Freire, P., 1972. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Herder &
Guo, Q., 1975. Zhuangzi jishi (Collected Annotations of Zhuangzi).
Heidegger, M., 1975. ''Building dwelling thinking''. In Poetry,
Language, Thought, transl. A.Hofstadter. New York: Harper and Row.
Horowitz, M. J., 1988. Introduction to Psychodynamics - A New
Synthesis. New York: Basic Books.
Kant, I., (1987 ). Critique of Judgement, transl. W.S.Pluhar.
Kristeva, J., 1980. Desire in Language. A Semiotic Approach to
Literature and Art. transl. A.Rothwell. New Haven and London: Yale
Marcus Aurelius, 1998. Ecrits pour lui-même, Vol.1, transl. P.Hadot.
Paris: Les Belles Lettres.
Plato, 1969. Plato in Twelve Volumes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard
University Press; London: William Heinemann Ltd.
Popper, K. R. 1979. Objective Knowledge. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Sloane, T., 1997. On the contrary: The Protocol of Traditional
Rhetoric. Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press.
Tannen, D., 1999. The Argument Culture. New York: Ballantine Books.
Turner, V. (1978 ). Dramas, Fields, and Metaphors: Symbolic
Actions in Human Society. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Wittgenstein, L., 1967. Philosophische Untersuchungen. Frankfurt
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Giampaolo Poletto is a doctoral student at the Doctoral School in
Linguistics of the University of Pécs, in Hungary. His linguistic fields of
interest are discourse analysis, pragmatics, applied linguistics. His
research focuses on humor as a discursive strategy for young
learners of Italian, in a cross-sectional and cross-cultural context.
This Year the LINGUIST List hopes to raise $52,932. This money will go to help keep the
List running by supporting all of our Student Editors for the coming year.
See below for donation instructions, and don't forget to check out our Fund Drive 2006
LINGUIST List Cruise for some Fund Drive fun!
There are many ways to donate to LINGUIST!
You can donate right now using our secure credit card form.
Alternatively you can also pledge right now and pay later.
For all information on donating and pledging, including information on how to donate by
check, money order, or wire transfer, please visit:
The LINGUIST List is under the umbrella of Eastern Michigan University and as such can
receive donations through the EMU Foundation, which is a registered 501(c) Non Profit
organization. Our Federal Tax number is 38-6005986. These donations can be offset against
your federal and sometimes your state tax return (U.S. tax payers only). For more
information visit the IRS Web-Site, or contact your financial advisor.
Many companies also offer a gift matching program, such that they will match any gift
you make to a non-profit organization. Normally this entails your contacting your human
resources department and sending us a form that the EMU Foundation fills in and returns
to your employer. This is generally a simple administrative procedure that doubles the
value of your gift to LINGUIST, without costing you an extra penny. Please take a moment
to check if your company operates such a program.
Thank you very much for your support of LINGUIST!
We would like to thank all of the publishers and subscribers who
donated prizes for this year's Fund Drive games, puzzles, and
Publisher Prize Donors:
Estudios de Sociolingüística
The Linguistic Association of Finland
The Surrey Morphology Group
Subscriber Prize Donors:
Paul G. Chapin
Dr. Gabriel Dorta
Suzette Haden Elgin
Elly van Gelderen
Loraine K. Obler, Ph.D
Ana María Ortega and María Luisa Pérez
The LINGUIST List Hall of Fame
ANGELS ($1000 and over)
MAINSTAYS ($100 to $1000)
A. Henderson, S. Moran, G. Stamm
Arienne M. Dwyer
Barbara H Partee
Bernadine W. Raiskums
CaroLyn Green Hartnett
Cynthia Tia Linn Johnson
D Terence Langendoen
Dr. MJ Hardman
Elaine J. Francis and Alexander L. Francis
Ellen Woolford and John McCarthy
elly van gelderen
Emily M. Bender
Geoff Nathan and Margaret Winters
Helen Aristar-Dry & Anthony Aristar
Jason Boston and Marisa Ferrara
Kristy Beers Fägersten
Monica Macaulay and Joe Salmons
Pacific Languages Unit, USP
Pius ten Hacken
Stefan Th. Gries
University of Pennsylvania Linguistics Club
- Plus 5 anonymous donors
SUPPORTERS ($50 to $100)
Aaron Huey Sonnenschein
Adam and Andy Ussishkin and Wedel
Alice Turk & Bert Remijsen
Andrea C. Schalley
Carol A. Klee
Christina Villafana Dalcher
Claus D. Pusch
Francesca Del Gobbo
Georgetown University - Graduate Student Linguistics Association
Hernan Emilio Perez
Job M. van Zuijlen
Josep M. Fontana and Louise McNally
kar lok Leung
Kathleen M. Ward
Pier Marco Bertinetto
Roderick A. Jacobs
Student Linguistics Asso, the Ohio State University
Susan Windisch Brown
Thor Sigurd Nilsen
Wolfgang J. Meyer
- Plus 4 anonymous donors
DONORS (Up to $50)
Brook Danielle Lillehaugen
Christel de Bruijn
Donald F. Reindl
E. Allyn Smith
Elisabeth COTTIER FÁBIÁN
Janneke ter Beek
Jorge E Porras
Pierre Francois Cintas
Raffaella Zanuttini and Bob Frank
Sandra W. Smith
Susan D Fischer
V J Fedson
Xose Luis Regueira-Fernandez
Yuri & Mio Backhaus
- Plus 11 anonymous donors
MAJOR SUPPORTING PUBLISHERS
Cambridge University Press
Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd
Edinburgh University Press
European Language Resources Association
Georgetown University Press
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
Mouton de Gruyter
Oxford University Press
OTHER SUPPORTING PUBLISHERS
Graduate Linguistic Students' Assoc. Umass
International Pragmatics Assoc.
Kingston Press Ltd
Linguistic Assoc. of Finland
MIT Working Papers in Linguistics
Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics / Landelijke
St. Jerome Publishing Ltd.
Utrecht institute of Linguistics
Arizona State University
Birkbeck, University of London
CACI International Inc.
City University of Hong Kong
Dublin City University
EML Research gGmbH
European Academy Bozen/Bolzano
European Bioinformatics Institute
European Science Foundation ESF
Franklin Electronic Publishers, Inc.
Harvard University Institute of English Language
International Linguistic Association
Language Analysis Systems, Inc.
Michigan State University
National Security Agency
National Tsing Hua University
Northeastern Illinois University
OFAI - Austrian Research Inst. for AI
Simon Fraser University
SYSTRAN Software Inc.
Szanca Solutions, Inc.
Thomson Legal & Regulatory
University of Alberta
University of British Columbia
University of Calgary
University of Cambridge
University of Chicago
University of Cincinnati
University of Cyprus
University of Edinburgh
University of Florida
University of Fribourg, Suisse
University of Geneva - ETI
University of Goettingen
University of Hamburg
University of Heidelberg
University of Helsinki
University of Illinois
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)
University of Konstanz
University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban
University of Leipzig
University of Maryland
University of Maryland, College Park
University of Melbourne
University of Michigan
University of Oregon
University of Pittsburgh
University of Potsdam
University of Reading
University of Rochester
University of Southampton
University of Southern Denmark
University of Texas at Austin
University of Victoria
Université de Neuchâtel
Université du Québec à Montréal
Voice Signal Technologies
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue