Henderikus J. Stam
University of Calgary, Canada

E-mail:stam@ucalgary.ca

 

ADDRESSING ONESELF AS ANOTHER:
WHO IS SPEAKING, WHO IS LISTENING?

 

To be constituted in language, argues Judith Butler, is the result of being called a name. Yet, to be called a name can also be a form of injury. This dependence on the address of the other both sustains us and makes us vulnerable. It also makes us radically incomplete subjects, yet all the while subjects capable of addressing and recognizing others. This capacity to come to be through a radical dependency on the other is at once the source of human sociality and continually frustrates our individuality. The notion of the dialogical self can be understood as one attempt to represent this conflict of our sociality and dependency. I wish to pursue this line of argumentation in my presentation further by, on the one hand, evaluating Butler's argument that it is from within the terms of language that the body comes to have a meaningful existence while, on the other hand, the discontinuities between the body and language threaten our coherence as autonomous subjects. It is from within this threat that potential dialogical positions emerge as a way to reconcile the irreconcilable.