Selves and Others

John McCreery (JLM@TWICS.COM)
Thu, 2 Nov 1995 08:20:53 +0900

Edwina Tavorsky writes,

>>John has four categories of self-other relationships. There is the
(1) No interaction. Apart from the fact that one needs the Other to
be aware of the Self (Lacan's Mirror). (2) Power-Over interaction.
Discussed by such as Foucault, Said. (3) Hegelian transformation of
the Self-Other, where interactions are based within a goal-directed
agenda. (4) A more conscious type of Type 1; I have no name for it at

I think that what Edwina has done is, in fact, to expand the list. My first
category, the Cartesian/scientific self, corresponds to her type 4. This self
highly conscious of the Other but attempts to avoid influencing the Other
in order to achieve an accurate representation of the Other.

Edwina's type 1 is a new category. The Other exists but the Self is
indifferent to the Other's existence (numbed perhaps by too much
television, or preoccupation with her own affairs).

Edwina's type 2, the Power-Over interaction, is a good fit for my
political/technological/ modernist artist Self. This Self aims to control the

Edwina's type 3, the "Hegelian transformation of the Self-Other" --I must
confess, I'm not sure what it is. (This reflects my ignorance of Hegel and a
prejudice against facile thesis-antithesis-synthesis arguments, which is all
I associate with Hegel. I am certainly NOT saying that this is the kind of
argument that Edwina is advancing.)

The Emersonian self described by Stanley Cavell is, as I noted before, an
Exemplary Self. Like the Power-Over Self, this Self has a vision of how
itself and the world could be better. This Self, however, deliberately
refrains from attempting to impose its will on the Other. At most it offers
itself as a model the Other might want to follow.

The Gentle Individual described by Yamazaki Masakazu (now I've got the
name right) is not an "accidental awareness." It is, if anything,
characterized by a highly deliberate and cultivated awareness of the sort
found, for example, in Japanese tea ceremony where acceptance of the
form is a precondition for a steadily deepening appreciation each time the
ceremony is performed.

Edwina's comments do, moreover, stimulate me to add two more

The Merchant Self. Here the Other's difference is accepted because it
creates the possibility of negotiation leading to a deal, an exchange of
values that should, in principle, benefit both parties. The ethics of this
are described in Donald McCloskey's "Bourgeouis Virtue."

The Consumer Self. Here the Other is commoditized, an image to be
devoured and metabolized by a self that is, like the Emersonian self,
constantly trying to improve itself, but lacks a vision of its own.

I wonder what selves our next round will reveal?

John McCreery