THE SUBJECT OF CRITIQUE
Printed in Forum Kritische Psychologie 47/2004, 73-98 as "Das Subjekt der Kritik"
Morten Nissen, Ph.D.
of the cold
in March, winter returns
In the garden, the newly-pruned apple trees
Hover like furred ghosts
Under hard frost and full moon. In here,
A branch is in blossom.
Malinovski: Heart of the Winter, 1980
aim of this paper is to contribute to an understanding and development of the
general theory of Critical Psychology (CP), regarding, in particular, the
internal relations between the concepts of "critique" and "the
may seem a straightforward project; one that promises to walk along well-trodden
paths. After all, this is an editor of a journal named Outlines
- Critical Social Studies writing what he hopes will become a contribution
to a journal named Forum kritische
Psychologie, using a "Science of the Subject" as common
theoretical framework. But, perhaps indicative of some aspects of the way we
seem to like to work with theories, even these, our very title concepts, the
ones which identify and organize our endeavors, are far from clear-cut and
simple. In fact they signify deep and important, and thus contested, tenets of
Modern thinking, and our traditions for discussing this theoretical background
are not as proud as we sometimes imagine.
we consider, first, the idea of "critique": the occasional reflections
on the theme in our journals (such as Markard, 2000, Nissen & Dreier, 1999)
hardly do any more than scratch its surface. Neither did Holzkamp himself in the
foundational period of CP (Holzkamp, 1971). CP, further, is percieved to be
developing a Marxist critical tradition, but the obvious legacy of Critical
rarely discussed – except as the error of combining Psychoanalysis and Marxism
– and the way any Marxist idea of critique inevitably forms part of a
philosophical current that at least dates back to Kant has been left largely
my point is not to discuss, let alone remedy, the relative philosophical
ignorance of any science, even a theoretically critical "science of
such as CP,
that must take the division of labor between the sciences as its starting point
and is condemned to always only be partly aware of its own foundations. Rather,
I have two other reasons for mentioning this at the beginning of this paper.
is that I need to perform a balanced disclaimer: I know that I, too, am in the
business of scratching surfaces here, and that so, if my arguments are countered
by disdainful references to certain missing depths (why haven't I read a, b, or
c …?) I may be able to ward them off with reference to certain others (but
have you read x, y, z…), but the end
result would be slightly frustrating. A certain humility is called for when one
realizes that critical psychology is the kind of science that continuously
propels itself into the no-man's-lands beyond the trenches facing cultural
sciences, sociology, and above all philosophy.
second reason is that this propelling is not at all a function of some abstract
academic virtue of reflective learnedness, nor of a naļve megalomania. It is a
necessary consequence of the encounter with the subject-matter itself: the
subject. The concept of "the subject" in CP is itself an audacious
remodelling of one of the pivotal categories of modern philosophy (Enlightenment
as discussed in German Idealism as taken up in Marxism) with a relatively skinny
theoretical argument that seems to primarily serve to denote and delineate what
is called a "paradigm".
characterization of the "Science of the Subject" is not in any way
meant to be disrespectful. I only write this article because I am convinced that
that "skinny theoretical argument" holds at least the germ cells to a
theory of the subject which contains and surpasses both structuralist and
phenomenological approaches, or, to put it in contemporary terms, both a theory
of subjectification and of the conduct of everyday life. But the core ideas
about the subject, in my view, need to be reconsidered and developed.
since in most – though, significantly, not all – texts in CP "the
subject" is taken to be coextensive with "the human individual",
"the subject" is often just another name for that empirical entity
that could equally well be called "the person", "the human
being" etc. This means that
theoretical determinations tend to slip and flow between those concepts. The
name "science of the subject" was adopted to stress subjectivity as a
central quality of the object that held title to what had been known as an
"Individualwissenschaft"; but whilst the unit of analysis of "the
individual" had been carefully theoretically reconstructed – and this was
a most significant progress from earlier activity theory – the same cannot be
said about "the subject". At this point, then, it may seem a simple
solution to avoid the noun and stick to the adjective form
"subjective", or, at most, the noun form derived from that
adjective,"subjectivity". But that would not be entirely sincere,
since in CP it is actually that singular and unique entity, rather than some
abstract quality, which we are (at least, also) trying to understand. What we
are after is not just "subjectivity", but "the subject"; but
it is the subject as subject, so to
with the relatively rich production in CP it is few texts that explicitly
discuss the theoretical determinations of the concept of "the
subject". Almost all refer to a handful of seminal texts written by Klaus
1973; Holzkamp, 1979a; Holzkamp, 1984; Holzkamp, 1977; Holzkamp, 1979b)
and, above all,
texts, in turn, are characterized by a deliberate scarcity of references and by
arguments which are often repeated rather than elaborated.
is possible, of course, to find debates in CP about the concept of the subject.
Relevant to the theme of this paper are the critiques raised by W.F Haug and the
"PIT" group against the way Holzkamp's concept of the subject develops
in the direction of a traditional idea of a pre-given autonomous centre of
experience rather than a decentered social project
Hänninen & Paldįn, 1983)
, as well as
that raised by Dreier against abstract notions of relations between "the
subject" and "the society" which tend to ignore concrete contexts
and constellations of action
1992; Dreier, 1999)
. But it
seems to me that this debate has not quite received the attention it deserves.
course, the task is further complicated when we realize that the two concepts
"critique" and "the subject" are internally theoretically
related. This has been discussed extensively in the field of general philosophy
Foucault, 1994; Taylor, 1975)
, and, more
specifically, of ideology critique
& Adorno, 1969, Zizek, 1993, 1994, 1999)
. As soon as
the subject understands itself to be essentially mediated, it is both the case
that self-consciousness must be a critical process, and that the subject itself
is constituted partly by this same mediated self-consciousness. In CP, while the
former statement is generally accepted, the latter is not quite so obvious. In
the methodologies presented by Holzkamp, Markard, and others in the
"classical" period of CP
Holzkamp, & Holzkamp-Osterkamp, 1977; Markard, 1984)
subject" is produced in a process of critique in a methodological
sense: the subject appears in our actual-empirical research practices through a
process of ideology critique. But even
if those research practices are clearly understood as forming part of wider
social [gesellschaftlicher] practices, and these are generally viewed as constitutive of the human individual as subject,
the implication is never clearly made that the subject can be seen to be ontologically
constituted in critique. In my view, this is the result of an utopianism which
has led the way to the basically phenomenological approach to the subject which
characterizes Holzkamp's later works, and which is perhaps most succinctly
expressed in Holzkamp's "a priori" that the subject cannot
deliberately harm herself
saw the decisive contribution of CP in its – first implicit and later explicit
– uncompromising adoption of the subject's perspective and recognition of the
irreducability of an (ontologically pre-given) subjective experience. My claim
is, against this, that the greatest potentials in CP lie in implications which
can also be read from its theory (including even from the same works by
Holzkamp!), which link subjectivity and ideology critique to the effect that the
subject is viewed – and views herself – both from the inside and from the
outside. And further, that this is constitutive,
so that the subject is neither constituted
inside nor outside of ideology – but, rather, in a perpetual movement between
those points which may be termed ‘critique’. This dynamic perception is,
as I hope to demonstrate, a rather straightforward consequence of the idea that participation
implies both power, objectification, and self-transformation, and thereby
generates self-consciousness. I shall return to the concept of participation,
which will prove vital for the argument, below; first, it is necessary to
reconstruct how subjectivity is
conceived in CP.
concept of subjectivity in Critical Psychology consists of two determinations.
The first may be characterized as the subjectivity of labor, or praxis. In
Holzkamp's ”Zur kritisch-psychologische
Theorie der Subjektivität” from 1979
1979a; Holzkamp, 1979b)
a prelude to the Grundlegung 4 years later – subjectivity, following Marx, is
determined as primarily supra-individual:
“One cannot understand the relation between sociality
and subjectivity right, if one begins with the individual and attempts to
highlight properties that are supposed to characterize their subjectivity. (…)
We must, thus, first be able to characterize human 'subjectivity' as a property
of the overall societal process, that is, as a 'subjective factor', or 'societal
subjectivity'. Only on that basis can we then determine individual subjectivity
as a personal realization of societal subjectivity" (p. 7-8)
is why the issue, at this point, is subjectivity, rather than the subject. The
very first determination of subjectivity shakes any belief in a pre-given,
unproblematized unity of "a subject", since subjectivity is realized
the next step, societal subjectivity can be determined as against objective
determination: human beings are, as subjects, "through practice the source
of active manufacture and conscious control of the conditions of their
existence" (ibid., p. 8) yet thereby at the same time "determined by
their objective life conditions" (ibid.). This
understanding was and is fundamental in Critical Psychology, and more generally,
in the Activity Theory tradition, since it places subjectivity on the side of
the active rather than passive (in contrast to the 'critical theory of the
subject' which was very influential in the 70s, and is still important as part
of the background of much 'critical psychology' in the English-speaking
countries). Holzkamp's statement is sometimes read as a dualism of determinism
and voluntarism, but the point is more subtly dialectical than that. The 'active
subjectivity' does not push aside or deny objective determination, since it is
precisely mediated by it in the
process of production (see also
philosophical foundation of this 'subjectivity of labor' was in Marx' works,
perhaps in particular the Theses on Feuerbach.
the Grundlegung der Psychologie
, a second
determination of subjectivity was added – that which we might describe with
the term self-reflexivity – based on "inter-subjectivity" and a
"relation of possibility" to societal meanings [Bedeutungen]. Before,
reflexive self-consciousness largely emerged as a result of the dual possibility
resulting from suppression: from the development of struggle into a higher level
of cooperation (expansive action potency) – in contrast to the self-delusion
resulting from restrictive action potency. With the ideas of inter-subjectivity
and relation of possibility, Holzkamp explained the emergence of
self-consciousness at the general level of categories that did not presuppose
class antagonism. In Holzkamp's 1983 version, it is the individual’s relation
of possibility toward cultural meanings that is the driving force, that with
which social relations are specified from a cooperative to a truly
inter-subjective level – with that, I can recognize a "centre of
intentionality" like myself in the Other. The roots of the relation of
possibility are, historically as well as ontogenetically, the 'break with
immediacy' ['Unmittelbarkeitsdurchbrechung']: the differentiation of societal
cooperation into multiple communities, the individual's movements between them,
and the development of tertiary cultural artifacts to mediate the 'meaning
structures' of human activity (money, writing etc.). From the individual's
perspective, what had been necessary was from now on optional; the contribution
to societal reproduction had become 'problematic'.
second determination of reflexive subjectivity, then, contrary to the
subjectivity of labour, presupposes the individual as its pre-given unit of
subjectivity, at the same time as it reconstructs the socio-historical emergence
of it as a 'problematic' unit. And the emergent character of the subject, the
subject as potential – so central to
CP's overcoming of the nature/culture dichotomy – metamorphosed into the
subject's choice, the reflexive grounding of her actions as optional.
this second aspect of subjectivity is not quite as clearly based on Marx'
general theory as the first. Here, our theoretical discussion is troubled by the
fact that Holzkamp's references are very sparse. His frequent references to Marx
and Leontiev are often unspecific and do not quite help us in these matters. But
the problem does not begin with Holzkamp. Part of the problem that we encounter
in attempting to retrace Holzkamp's theory of subjectivity is that Marx himself
did not very directly address and explicitly reinterprete Hegel's theory of the
subject, precisely on those aspects of subjectivity relating to
intersubjectivity and reflexivity. It seems as if Marx was preoccupied with
getting beyond Hegel's fundamental concept of Spirit and replacing it with what
has later become foundational to modern sociology: the "empirically
observable" presuppositions of "real individuals,
their actions and material life conditions", the "first discernable
fact" of "the bodily organization of these individuals
and the relations to the rest of nature given therewith" which must be
"the first premise for all human history"
dialectics of recognition and subject formation reappear in Marx, of course, in
the shape of the class struggle.
But the particular unit of the class struggle is notoriously blurred, and the
dialectical theory of subject formation was, otherwise, largely developed in
idealist traditions that based on Hegel without Marx, by such philosophers as
Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger,
and the American pragmatists. This is important now, since it is these lines of
theory which were later taken up by the symbolic interactionists and by Foucault
and his followers. Hegel's dialectic of recognition, in the Phenomenology of
, begins with
power but ends in labour, to put it bluntly: the slave's self-consciousness is
constituted, first in the mirror image of the enemy in a struggle for life and
death, then in the terror of facing death, and then, gradually, in an
intersubjectivity which is mediated by production. It is at this latter point
Marx continues the story, whereas his idealist colleagues returned to power, the
prospect of death, and identification.
a subject-science from the Marxist tradition, then, means that one faces the
task of reintegrating those issues into a framework of the subjectivity of
labour, or praxis. Holzkamp's solution to this was the idea of the relation of
possibility. Even if historically, the 'break with immediacy' was clearly
internally related to the establishment of class societies, Holzkamp's version
of it was shaped, to a large extent, by a methodology that implied a notion of
original communism [Ur-Kommunismus]; the psychology of bourgeois society was a
matter for the next section in his book. The general characteristics of Humanity
must first be established independently of
ideology critique in an historical reconstruction of anthropogenesis in two
steps, corresponding to the two determinations of subjectivity: the upcoming of
production, and the shift to a dominance of production in a total-societal
reproduction of human life.
in Holzkamp's methodology of 1983, the 'Categories' which define Humanity is the
only level of analysis exempted from grounding in an epistemology of practice
. As these
are also, in a Kantian fashion, declared to be transcendental in relation to
actual-empirical research, and simultaneously form the paradigmatic framework
that defines CP a community
of researchers, in terms of both understanding and ethical-political
commitments, the inevitable result is a distinct utopianism: the theoretical
construction of a set of ideals that serve hidden practical social functions by
way of their purified character.The
point here is not to refute utopian perspectives in general, and certainly not
that implied in a general theory of Humanity (cf.
; the problem arises when the
critical potentials of utopian visions are blocked by conferring on them a
privileged, un-criticizable status that serves as an 'academic ideology', i.e.
constitutes academic communities (inside or outside of ordinary University
Elsewhere, I have discussed these problems in terms of a methodology of practice research (Nissen, 2000) . In this context, it is their implications consequences of that methodology in the theory of the subject that are relevant.
was quite reasonable, in this framework, that the essential defining features of
subjectivity, including intersubjectivity and self-consciousness, must be
determined independently of the phenomenon of partial interest and the class
struggle, as mentioned above. This led to the statement of individual
subjectivity as an absolute methodological
and ethical į priori to research – the first person perspective that ruled
out objectification of the subject – which was, in effect, purified and
dichotomized from ideology and power. The naked, abstract subject was placed at
the point of departure of any empirical research: appeared, then, as a
characteristic of the 'I' or the 'we' of any research that identified itself as
CP. The object, on the other hand, in the concrete, would be exclusively the
objective conditions and the forms of restrictive action potency from which the
subject had already departed.
the classical dichotomization of subject and structure, which had been overcome
in CP at the level of the subjectivity of labour, threatened to reappear in the
subjectivity of reflective self-consciousness. In Holzkamp's later theory of
, this is
visible in the way Foucault's theory of discipline is received as abolutely
external to the category of the learning subject which was established in a
methodological individualism and cognitivism that was even formalized into an
absolute epistemological distinction between 'implicative' and 'contingent'
statements (the former combining, as it were, the two 'quasi-transcendental'
"fundamental sciences", logic and phenomenological analysis; see note
this point, researchers developing the CP tradition have tended to move in two
directions, corresponding to the impending dichotomization, taking up debates
with two branches in current non-mainstream psychology which at a first glance
appear opposite. One has been to engage in the development of a situated theory
of practice inspired largely by phenomenological sociology
1999 57 /id}
. The other
has been to attempt to integrate elements from structuralist and Foucauldian /
poststructuralist theories of subjectivity
Hofmeister 1998 95 /id}
. As these
currents are discussed, generally, in relation to each other in (primarily
anglo-saxon) 'critical psychology', regarding the theme of the subject, we can
phrase it as the question of whether the subject is preexisting as a universal
predicate of the temporally-spatially situated, embodied human individual
(outside of ideology), and that thus, it is the subject who creates and uses
discourse in his sovereign conduct of life, or whether, rather, the subject is
itself formed in and by the discursive practices with which her conduct of life
is conducted (inside ideology).
of these positions would be an unacceptable regression from the position of CP;
but the problem is not solved just by stating that both positions are true, or
related – just how are they related?
is my suggestion that the most promising road to reinterpreting the two
theoretical strands into a transformed CP lies in unfolding the concept of participation,
with its theoretical presuppositions of community, partiality, power, and
implications of that concept in terms of an understanding of situated action
have been, as developed by Dreier, Axel, and Höjholt
Dreier, 1999; Höjholt, 1999)
, that any
notion of an autonomous, self-same, integrated 'personality' or 'identity' is
relentlessly criticized, since the actions of the individual subject, in a
sense, are always only partial. Thus, the concept of participation works as an
important and useful tool against the ideology of the universal, autonomous
individual subject that is always looming in the vicinity of phenomenological
accounts of situated action. But it also, notably, works against the common
postmodern counter-image that the subject is fragmented and dispersed – those
terms which, since they remain purely negative, merely serve to confirm the
unity they denounce – for the practices and action contexts in which she takes
part are objectively related. Moreover, the focus on participation as a
mediating concept retains the subject as immersed rather than disembedded or
disembodied in relation to contexts of social practice, also when reflecting,
transforming, or transcending. These general implications of the concept of
participation are highly relevant in times when both the autonomy, the
disconnectedness and the fragmentation of the subject are ideologically
persuasive in neoliberal state reforms and post-industrial organizations of
the other direction, in relation to Foucauldian accounts of subject formation,
the concept of participation in particular communities, more specifically, paves
the way for a reconciliation of the contradiction between the
first-person-perspective and the concept of subjectification. This seems,
perhaps, something of an assertion. In Holzkamp's methodology, subject-science
is, as mentioned, not a science about the subject, but for the subject, i.e. the
subject must never be objectified (see, e.g.
, 540 ff.).
In Foucault and his followers – as in all accounts basing on Hegel's
dialectics of recognition – subjectification results from subjection in power
relations, that is, the subject is constituted precisely because and precisely
the way it is problematized, that is, made the object of action and reflection
(by herself and others). Conversely, Holzkamp absolutized, and Foucault
rejected, the perspective of the subject. How can such incompatible ideas be
I would suggest, in a theory of participation, of the relations – in terms of
subject positions – between you, me, and us. The only way to overcome the
dichotomization of the concept of self-conscious subjectivity is to think of
that as just as participatory as the subjectivity of labor, and that presupposes
that "the subject" itself can be
regarded as collective – the we / us, the particular collective
subject-position which is only thinkable in a situated approach to cooperation,
and only in an approach to situated intersubjectivity which recognizes
cooperation. The precise determination of how particular communities are
constituted and regulated etc. remains a task – indeed, a field – for
further study (incidentally, my present project). At this point, suffice it to
say that "communities" range all the way from fleeting conversational
encounters between two strangers to massive enduring collectivities such as
states; and that they are all unique, contingent and participate in each other
like chinese boxes.
the existence, or better, with the constitution, of a contingent 'we',
subjectification does not rule out cooperation and the
'first-person-perspective'. Quite the contrary.
since "society" is never only one immediate cooperation (according to
the principle of the break with immediacy), we must always have relations of
participation between at least 3 levels of practice: the individuals, the
communities, and the overall societal process. While the latter is
all-encompassing and ever-transcendent, the two former of these are posited as
particular units, and, in that sense, as agent-participants, particular subjects
of practice (in the first determination of subjectivity). Second, these can only
be theoretically necessary if their reproduction can be distinguished: if the
interests of each individual are not exhaustedly and necessarily those of the
community, and vice versa. Any community must be at least composed of me, you,
and us, and consequently, mine, yours, and ours – and it must be
distinguishable from ‘them’.
the idea of a community as a distinct cooperative unit does not in any way erode
the decisive theoretical gain of Critical Psychology compared to earlier
versions of Activity Theory (notably that of Leontiev): the overcoming of the
dichotomy of socialization and self-interest which was made possible through
investigating the subject's premises for participation, the need for action
potency as a self-transformation that does not equal self-annihilation
, and see
further below). On the contrary, it is only by specifying the concept of a
singular community-as-subject that a relationship of mutual recognition between
community and participant can be posited.
is no need, in fact, to fear the emergence of the much bespoken "mystical
collective subject", i.e. an immediacy-bounded naļve cooperation (as does
Holzkamp, 1983, p. 238), once the abstract-utopian subject is abandoned. It is a
further implication of the singular community-as-subject is that a problematic
relation between partial and general interest is theoretically inevitable, and
that there is, of necessity, an objectification by one of the other – that is, a power relationship
– e.g. 'we' problematize 'me', or 'I' problematize 'you', or 'us', etc.,
since, from the standpoint of 'us', no single participant is 'holy' or
indispensable, and thus, subject-subject-relations are fundamentally 'relations
of possibility'. And, given the relation of participation, it follows that each
subject potentially problematizes itself – as when 'I' take part in 'our'
problematization of 'me'. Finally, participation itself implies an
intersubjective reciprocity: thus, if 'I' take part in 'us' problematizing 'me'
– the participant – this implies already that 'I' and 'we' problematize
'us'. And this, in turn, of necessity means that the particular community is not
only agent-participant, but also self-reflexive, that is, it is itself a subject
in the full sense of the term.
internality of power to participation is the most important development from the
utopian subject of CP. But before we develop that idea further, it is necessary
to discuss the mediatedness of participation through which
"objectification" can be viewed as a process that produces rather than
destroys the subject. This is important because it is the only way to overcome
the prevailing dichotomy between the naked human being (the body) and the
structures in language, a dichotomy which forces an impossible choice between
accepting or denying the individual as pregiven subject.
objectifications which mediate, define and transform participation (that is,
constitute both communities and participants) are also known as ideology.
In other words, discussing the mediation of relations between Subjects and
subjects through cultural objects amounts to approaching the theoretical
traditions which, in different ways, construe the subject as constituted in
ideology – from Mead and Goffman to Lacan, Althusser and Foucault. My
suggestion here is that the problem with those theories is not the idea of
ideological constitution, but, rather, that ideology is too structuralistically
the pragmatist and systemic traditions, the community-participant reciprocity is
mediated by significant symbols that organize meta-communication. These are seen
as formed in a mere consensus (even if consensus may result from conflict), that
is, they are in fact taken as structural givens, even if symbolic
interactionists counteract the impending structuralism with the metaphysical,
but sociologically customary, actor-given-with-the-body; theoretically, this
contradiction is solved by bestowing the actor with an į priori drive for
consensus. In Foucault, such extra-discursive agency is shunned, and, instead,
discourse is grasped as itself self-transforming and ‘productive’. But
Foucault consistently bases his analysis in discourse (the form of practice),
rather than practice (which is formed yet transforming), and this nominalist
approach reduces participation of central aspects: notably, the material
externalization implied in productive objectification in a dialectics of
objectification that extends far beyond the problematization of subjects (that
is, discursive subjectification) and the essential uniqueness of the subject
2002a 2002b. in press)
. Thus, the
conceptualization of discourse (or symbols, frames, communication, etc.), in
these theories, depicts the constitution of subjects as always inside an ideology which is pre-given. Althusser and Lacan, in other
aspects, highlight important workings of ideology (some of which we shall
discuss below), including the way that subjects are constituted as unique and as
simultaneously always-already given and forever unfinished projects; but they,
too, only oppose the subject with an objectivity that is fixed as a (linguistic
or economic) structure which does not develop.
is where the first principle of subjectivity, the subjectivity of labor, becomes
relevant, according to which objectification
is always transformative (elsewhere, I have discussed the concept of
objectification in CP a bit more,
production and transformation of societal object-meanings [gesellschaftlicher
Gegenstandsbedeutungen] is a much wider productive phenomenon than the
expressive performance [Vorstellung] of language itself; and even language must
be essentially viewed as productive rather than merely performative or
means that if the subject is constituted in participation, this implies a
dialectics of subjectification and objectification that both realizes and
transforms any given discursive form. These are dialectically interdependent
and interchanging moments of a continuous movement. If we focus on the moment of
realization of a given discursive form which organizes participation and thus
constitutes, or 'recognizes' subjects – the 'positive' moment – we have
ideology as given. But if we focus on the moment of transformation, the
'negative' moment, which is also inherent in practice as objectification, we are
taken outside of ideology.
The ultimate reference points for any such transformative focus are, taken by
themselves, metaphysical entities, such as the material substance into which
meaning is externalized in objectification, the embodiment of practice in human
life and in time-space contexts, and the overall societal process. Of course,
these entities are all easily demonstrated to be always formed in discourse; and in that sense, it is futile to posit
anything ‘outside ideology’. But this argument is merely the trope of
turning to the next moment in the dialectical movement. If we take one more
turn, we can see that it is equally futile to posit anything ‘inside’
ideology if that implies rejecting or marginalizing transformation – including
the very transformation that is being carried out by the positing itself.
is ‘critique’, then, precisely, if we take the consequence of these
considerations? Critique is the transformation of a given ideological form, a
transformation which both pressupposes and posits a distinct form of community,
and which thus, in the same instant,
objectifies anew, that is, produces
another ideological form. In other words, critique is the (trans-) formation of subjects mediated by their
implies, conversely, that critique and transformation are, in the general
determination, implied in ideological reproduction. Thus, in terms of
Althusser's theory of interpellation
, we can say
that, given the reciprocity of reflexivity between the community and the
participant, the interpellation of the
subject is at the same time the reconstitution of the community itself.
the approach developed here is close to the PIT notion of ideology as
"societalization from above" [Vergesellschaftung von Oben]
"from above" is taken to mean "from the subject-standpoint of the
(perhaps antagonistically reclaimed – see Haug in
community". Haug et. al. would perhaps be critical of the
"omnihistoricity" of ideology implied, here as in Althusser, but I
would then point to the equally omnihistorical transformation
of ideology which is also implied.
the insisting on the inner dialectics of the positive and the negative moments
of critique was itself foundational to early CP in its conception of psychology
critique; this was the basic argument that a critique of psychology as an
ideology would necessarily include the proposition of another psychology,
whether implicitly or explicitly, in a 'unity of critique and development'. The
converse statement, that affirming psychology as an ideology would presuppose
developing it, is obviously easily empirically confirmed – i.e. what we
sometimes have called ‘traditional psychology’ survives, not by remaining
the same, but rather, by what Bruno Latour calls ‘proliferating hybrids’
– yet it
also highlights our need for ways to conceptualize anew the distinction between
conservation and critique. In the space of this argument, I shall limit myself
to suggesting that the problem can be approached using the theoretical logic of
to concept of "restrictive action potency" as a framework, according
to which it is not reproduction in itself, but the dichotomization of
reproduction and transformation that is the real predicament and the real
veiling of the relations between partial and general interests.
when I suggest that the dialectics of participation can be characterized with
the term ‘critique’, one should be aware that the term is used, here, at two
closely interrelated levels. The first is that transformation which is simply
implied in productive objectification; and the second is the transformation of
the form of participation itself which
is necessarily implied therein, but not necessarily realized in a second-order
objectification – in what we might call an ideology critique proper, or
1998; Nissen, 2002b)
. Critique is
human, we might say. Thus, Markard (2000, p. 42 ff.), in claiming that Nature
cannot be criticized, is only right if we assume a dichotomy of nature and
culture. On the basis of the dialectical materialist overcoming of that
dichotomy, with the concept of production, characteristic of CP, we can see how
Nature can indeed be criticized, since it is not simply an unrelated Outside,
but the constitutive Other of Culture.
the concept of critique, viewed in a framework of participation, includes –
and interrelates – the critique of the Other, the critique of Self, and the
critique of the community within which Self and Other are related. The
theoretical statement that these moments are internally related does not, it
should perhaps be added, only amount to a normative stance – the idea that any
‘real’ critique should be also a self-critique etc.
It suggests a series of relevant analytical questions to be asked if one
moment appears in the absense of the others.
Critique is the productive objectification of participation which splits the
participant subject in two, as it were: she is turned into an object and at the
same time interpellated as participant of the (reconstituted) community who thus
objectifies. Thus, the concept of critique, here, implies that the subject is
not excluded from that community in
the process of objectification. But that, of course, is contingent. In the
framework of a theory of the subject, this alternative draws the line between
power and violence and establishes the all-pervasive contingency of recognition.
In fact, physical violence can be viewed as primarily oppressive because of its
severe misrecognition of the human subjectivity of the person thus reduced to a
"body in pain"
without it – or, to be more precise, with its possibility as a hidden,
mediated premise – the "technology" of in- and exclusion of
participants from and to various communities is increasingly the prevalent form
of disciplinary power in modern societies.
can unfold these general statements, first, by discussing the issue of power in
relation to social work. The assumption that critique is the formation of
subjects mediated by their ideological objectification and that thus,
participation implies and includes power, suggests much more than the banal
teaching that ‘power is everywhere’ which leads some to include a section on
power at the end of any discussion, in order ‘not to forget’, and others to
reduce everything to power. The point is, rather, that participation, in
implying partial interest, itself generates opposition and mutual
objectification as inherent to
intersubjectivity, not in spite of, but because
intersubjectivity is grounded in a ‘common cause’, in production. It follows
that any practice, in realizing a
certain constellation of subjects, a certain form of participation, is also an
exertion of power. Including power in participation also means that, even if
self-conscious subjectivity develops in a process of subjectification
[Subjektivierung] (i.e. objectification of the subject), we can see an
alternative to subjection [Unterwerfung]: if the clash of partial interests can
be 'generalized', sublated [Aufgehoben], in the way the community is
reconstituted, then the power relation is productive rather than merely
reproductive or even destructive.
theme of productive power is highly relevant in pedagogical / social work, and
as such, it has been discussed in many variants. Generally, formative coercion
has been either considered a regrettable necessity in face of the anti-social
child, or a form of oppressive violence against the naturally benevolent child.
Recent events have reactualized the debate in Danish social and criminal
politics and fuelled a policy of incarceration of the 'wild young', turning the
pendulum away from a policy of outreach ‘on the terms of the users’.
Engaging in this debate in the context of the 'Wild Learning' practice research
2002b; Nissen, 2002a; Nissen, in press/b)
has been an important motivation for the present theoretical
discussion, and for developing a theory of subject formation that eschews
utopianism just as much as any justification of segregative coercion.
CP approach to subjects as potential
sets off at a point beyond the debate about the social or anti-social
‘nature’ of the child. The point is, to put it simply, to help realize any
child’s social potentials through participation. But where does that leave us,
one might ask, in the face of anti-social actions of people with whom we cannot
simply establish dialogue (a space or framework [Rahmen] of inter-subjective
‘Verständigung’)? The immediate ‘humanist’ response is that we may need
to act in self-defense, but otherwise, in other situations, performed by other
people, we should seek to establish dialogue whenever possible. But this leads
us precisely back to the misčre of
social work – the dichotomizations and bifurcations between power and support
that function to segregate and discipline behind the backs of well-meaning
social workers. The only viable alternative, in my view, is envisaging a form of
productive formative power that directly addresses partial interest in a clash
of wills and directly reconstitutes participation.
this point, a useful reference, known equally to Danish social workers and
German Critical Psychologists, might be Anton Makarenko. Makarenko's 'Road to
is certainly a narrative of productive power, instructive in
its very explicit contextualization in the political struggles of the early
Soviet years. A decisive dramatic climax is when the author-protagonist loses
patience and self-control and desperately hits a young man who is much stronger
than himself, and immediately after, unthinkingly, joins him and a whole group
of hard-core street kids armed with axes and saws in cutting wood far from the
colony. He exposes himself and deviates from prescribed pedagogical method –
and thereby, in the same process, together with that group of youngsters,
astonished with his emotional eruption, his courage and his earnestness, founds
what is to become the revolutionary Gorkij colony. The point it makes is, among
many others, that the community and the youngsters-as-participants are inaugured
in the same dramatic (and lucky) sublation [Aufhebung] of conflict. The story
that follows is one of unfolding and realizing that community (itself a
participant in the formation of the early Soviet Union) – and thus revealing
it also as formed in an ideology that itself requires transformation. The very
shaping of the community as a distinct form, itself at first a critique (of
petty-bourgeois pedagogy, of psychology, of state bureaucracy, of the Kulaks,
etc., and, of course, of Makarenko’s own earlier attempts and of the young
criminals), is a realization that becomes clearly visible to us as ideology.
institution of the ideology of a reconstituted participation (and thus,
reconstituted communities and participant subjects), is in-itself an
interpellation in an Althusserian sense, a subject-formation in ideology. It
naturalizes the participant as always-already subject, as, for instance, when
Makarenko characterizes his boys as ‘sound’, in contrast to certains others
– in particular, certain girls: apparently, Makarenko's relation to women is
largely shaped by the Madonna/whore dichotomy. In a critical (and somewhat
stylized) retrospective such as this, we can see how the exertion of power
works. On the one hand, subjectifying power is performed as an aspect of
participation, as a revolutionary community is constituted that includes the
marginalized street kids. On the other hand, the same
ideology performs a de-subjectifying power in relation to the women. The
critical, comprehensive thinking in relation to subjects, the positing of
potentials, is seen in the overcoming of the dichotomy of whether the boys are
social or not (a 'sound' boy is the recognition of a boy who is wild, but who
has potentials); but when seen relative to the girls, this same concept of 'soundness' appears an ideological naturalization
organized by the gendered dichotomy.
do we relate to such forms that are inseparably both ideology and critique? An
utopian account of subject formation would posit one without the other in an
absolute way; the subject will be reduced of its determinate features, that is,
of its objectivity, in order to escape ideology (and Makarenko will be dumped).
Ironically, this move will itself naturalize subjectivity, only behind the back.
'Normative' accounts will proliferate like Latourian hybrids precisely under the
guise of an absolute rejection of any normativity whatsoever. A dialectical
account, on the other hand, will accept that there is always another ideological
dichotomy to overcome.
Makarenko and his "counsil of commanders" evidently can be seen to
"reclaim the community antagonistically"
(Haug in Hänninen
et al., 1983)
and usurping a symbolic form that is rendered transcendent (the idea of the
Revolution, the "New Human Being" etc.). But we are forced to notice
how those who stand to lose from this ideological construction are taking part
in it as well, in its very constitution, rather than receiving it "from
above"; and the (critical) analysis of relations of force [Kräfteverhältnisse]
between partial interests, and between partial and general interests, becomes
complex and historically concrete. In addition, the subject positions that carry
those interests must be seen to be constituted in the same process, rather than
externally to it – "discursively", "in ideology"
argued by Laclau & Mouffe, 2001)
– but of
course, under given circumstances and continuing and/or breaking with certain
given traditions. Thus, it is perhaps not surprising that we can identify
certain patriarchal traditions in Makarenko; but how are those, precisely,
reconstituted here, where some (other) women are viewed as "comrades"?
Likewise, we may witness one incident in the constitution of a class of
"nomenclatura" – but how is that related, critically, to the class
positions of intellectuals, warriors and bureaucrats from which it takes off?
we attempt to overcome utopianism by substituting an omnihistoricity of both
ideology and its transformation for the marking off of a time or a place without
ideology, we must accept that critique of ideology is always also production of
ideology. Thus, we are faced with the problem that occupies any psychology which
takes as its starting point some kind of subjectification: The constitutive
self-denial of the subject. This is discussed illustratively by Judith
"I" emerges upon the condition that it deny its formation in
dependency, the conditions of its own possibility. The "I", however,
is threatened with disruption precisely by this denial, by its unconscious
pursuit of its own dissolution through neurotic repetitions that restage the
primary scenarios it not only refuses to see but cannot see, if it wishes to
remain itself." (p. 9-10)
we read Butler, first, as just another (Lacanian) psychoanalyst, from the
standpoint of CP, it is easy to see how her conception of subjectification is,
once again, a universalization of restrictive action potency in the exclusion of
the subjectivity of labor. Butler points to a crucial contradiction in
subjectivity, but fails to see the road to its productive reconciliation: caught
up in its psychoanalytic conception, agency must remain external to dependency,
even if it is also formed by it. That which, at the general philosophical level,
is a dialectical notion of freedom, becomes at the psychological level a
constitutive repressive subjection.
can be regarded, then, as an absolutization of restricted action potency. In
restricted action potency, existential threats derive both from status quo
(defending the "I"), and from development (dissoluting the
"I"). Generalizing action potency, on the other hand, presupposes that
'dependency' can be viewed as an expression of participation. Thus, it is only
by considering how the particular subject emerges as a contingent participant of
a community which itself inheres subjectivity that the contradiction which
triggers Butler's considerations can be overcome, sublated [Aufgehoben]:
story by which subjection is told is, inevitably, circular, presupposing the
very subject for which it seeks to give an account. (…) A power exerted
on a subject, subjection is nevertheless a power assumed
by the subject, an assumption that constitutes the instrument of that
subject's becoming" (ibid., 11)
terms of participation, interpellation is a dialectical transformation. The
gesture of hailing which establishes a symbolic identity between community and
participant is substantialized in a process which simultaneously negates and
realizes it. The subject, as identical with the community, is always-already
there as abstract possibility (as 'symbolic meaning'), the realization of which,
on the other hand, constitutes that subject as autonomous and self-conscious.
The 'original' subject position, that of participating in the Subject of power,
thereby becomes "identical with its opposite", the
subject-as-autonomous, but potentially participant, against which power is
directed. Thus, with the theory of participation, a more general theoretical
problematic is developed in terms of which an exertion of power can be at once
for and against the subject, at once presuppose the subject and constitute it.
this theoretical platform, we can use Butler's deliberations to approach a
further analysis of the issue of self-denial in ideology-critique.
if the logic of participation – specified as interpellation – can posit the
subject at both ends of the process of subject formation, the positive moment of
critique, taken in itself, still, of necessity, constitutes the subject in a
certain, determinate [bestimmter] form. From
the subject position thus formed, any potential transformation of this form can
only be envisaged negatively, that is, as a vague abstraction, as a dissolution,
as the 'death' of this subject-form.
From this 'first-person-perspective', moreover, the community can only be
grasped in a dichotomy of immediate identification ('we') and recognition as the
Other. Thus, defensive self-assertion and self-denial of constitutive dependency
is implied in the subject position when
seen in itself. If, on the other hand, we absolutize the negative moment of
critique, the subject position of that trope, we ourselves, are pushed out of
focus, and the subject-as-determinate (as distinct from 'subjectivity') is
either impossible or only conceivable in the abstract (in theory / Utopia). In
other words, self-denial is the
inescapable consequence of any of the two moments of critique when
taken in-itself. Only in the totality of the movement, in the relentless
passing, as it were, from one self-denial to the other, can the subject be
implies that critique always, in a sense, ‘kills’ the subject-form which is
transcended and ‘gives birth’ to a new subject-form which, as such, is
‘methodologically innocent’. This provides, I think, a second key to the
paradoxical statement of Holzkamp’s that method is necessarily retrospective
. The first,
and obvious, key is that method objectifies and generalizes actions as action
possibilities which, to be sure, only make any sense because they are
proactively instrumental, yet which necessarily refer to actions that have
already been performed; the application of a method is inherently its
transformation, in a sequence of imagination-realization, so that if method
implies stable objectivity, it is retrospective. But the claim can also be
viewed as a realization of the reconstitution of the subject which is implied in
the process of critique. In proclaiming a method, the subject of a new level of
self-reflection is recognized, or recognizes itself, through an objectification
of practice that necessarily misrecognizes the self-understanding of the subject
of that practice
. This, in
fact, is another form of the kind of ‘productive formative power’ in
Aufhebung of conflict which we encountered above.
the gaze the opposite way, the ‘criticized subject’, the subject prior to
reconstitution, faces dissolution. Development, when seen as subject-formation,
as critique, involves a radical void, an impasse that can never be mediated and
broken down in a sequence of steps that can be represented as a ‘method’
applied by any given subject
. This is the
dissolution or void which is feared in restrictive action potency, but which is
also ‘unconsciously pursued’ in the subject’s expansive drive, based on
its ‘productive needs’ – unconsciously, that is, only insofar as
self-reproduction and self-transformation are dichotomized, so that critique is
unbearable to the subject. Conversely, if critique is
bearable, it is because the subject can assume the subject-position of the
community – that Other which is also ‘Us’ – from which the impossible
can be first possible, and later substantialized.
– and perhaps stretching the argument to its limits – it may be hypothesized
that this logic can be linked with the prototypical or absolute ideological
nature of religion. God is both the ultimate community-subject, and the ultimate
transcendence of any given, 'earthly' community. The metaphysics of God, then,
is the dichotomic naturalization of a necessary aspect of participation and
subjectivity: the perpetual transcendence of everyday life.
it was proposed that participation must include at least three levels of
practice – not just the community and the participant(s), but also the overall
societal process – the indeterminate [unbestimmter] substance of
"society". This was an inevitable consequence of the internal relation
of participation and critique; but it was far from innocent. As witnessed in the
problematics concerning theories of everyday life, a determination of the
indeterminate social practice carries with it a number of problems, not just of
a logical kind (the object disappears when focussed on etc.), but also
theoretical problems: the indeterminate 'praxis' is easily naturalized either
from a standpoint outside or as a utopian ideal
. If positing
a 'critical subject' implies an indeterminate societal process, a "critical
invocation of everyday life", then, the subject-position of research in
relation to this process needs to be reflected.
CP 'classic', this is represented as the task of research as of any practice to
promote general interest in expansive action potency. This matches the
'ideological' nature of 'ideology critique' from which some conclude that
ideology, as a theoretical concept, must be discarded: the positing of a general
interest – and with it, implications of universal features of humanity (see
– in a
form which is always historically specific and will (thus) always promote
special interests, always reconstitute a specifically self-denying form of
participation, in short, the Heavens in an earthly form. If the negative cannot
be distilled from the positive moment of critique, then the paradox of ideology
is inescapable. Following this paradoxical route, then, as I nevertheless
propose, leads us on to a necessarily 'ethical' position that proports to always
transcend any given, finite, standard. It is precisely by insisting on a
'normative' approach and the overall aim of expansion, generalizing of interest
and perspective etc., that the critical subject-position is assumed. And
precisely by explicitely stating a particular
general interest it is objectified and ready to be criticized anew.
anti-religious thrust of CP, then, is not only more than its participation in
modernistic disenchantment, it also excedes the revealing of the ideological
nature of religion: in assuming the standpoint of the critical subject, CP
exists only as material objectifications which themselves invite critique, both
with their immediate finitude and with their symbolic representation of the
infinite transformative movement.
CP, in a certain sense, endeavours to replace religion. If the religious form
resembles the point in the visual field where the parallel lines of a rail-road
track meet – the finite form of the infinite – then it is not just the
ultimate subject-community and its ultimate transcendence, but at the same time
its ultimate externalization and objectification. The absolute realization of
the artifact which reciprocates to create the subject itself, according to
, or the
final realization that the "decentered hard kernel which eludes my grasp is
ultimately self-consciousness itself (…) as an external object out of my
, calls the
‘scandal of Lacanian psychoanalysis’.
already stated, objectification both realizes and negates the subject. The
externality of the object, however, as a necessary moment in the continuous
formation of the 'critical subject', is not merely conceptual or cognitive; it
is not merely, as Zizek claims (alluding to the Cartesian origins of the
problematic of the subject of critique), that "I doubt, therefore I
am". It is more radical and more practical than that. Objectification is
substantiated in materiality. Ideology as the objectification of the subject
includes the material production of 'inscription devices' and the (self-)
formation of the body of the subject, that is, materialities which inherently
supersede any pregiven subjective intentionality. And, conversely, when, e.g., a
new technology is developed and deployed, this is an objectification which is
intrinsically also the (anticipatory) re-/constitution of a community, whether
this is intended and reflected or not (see, to this theme, Schraube, 1998) . The
critical subject is incessantly and inherently critical of material conditions,
and this implies already an exercise of power, just as power is also
"productive" in the sense that it necessarily involves a material
externalization (in "discourse" as well as in other objective forms).
the dialectical momentum of these movements is lost, the only point where the
three positions of subject-object-transformation can merge is in the abstract as
such, that is, alienated as a transcendent religious form. Otherwise, the sides
fall apart into dichotomies. This implies, of course, that
"instrumental" scientific objectifications do not challenge religion,
but confirm and universalize it
& Adorno, 1969)
principal ideological function of religion today is perhaps that it deploys this
meta-dichotomization between the disenchanted modern self-denial in scientific
one-sidedness and the meek positing of the wish to finally overcome it. CP is
fundamentally different from most sciences on this account because it not only
objectifies subjectivity itself, but even does that in order for that
objectification to be transcended into a generalized interest.
final word of reservation. I have taken up a monumental issue and delivered a
only sketch to remedy some rather boldly claimed fundamental problems in a great
theoretical tradition. This can only be helped by substantiating that sketch in
further theoretical and empirical works which exceed the limits of a journal
article. Yet the point has not been to jump to a new territory that will make my
always limited understanding of the intricacies of that great tradition less
from it; it is my hope that the theory of critique as subject formation which I
have proposed here can be recognized as the articulation of an approach to
social and psychological problems which is, to a large extent, already
characteristic of CP. In that sense, it is both my aim and my claim that the
‘criticized subject’ of the community of CP should be able to find a new
subject position in the reconstituted communities of today’s "critical
psychologies" and activity theories that gather around sites such as the
FKP and the Outlines.
course, this will take more than theory. The utopian tendencies which I have
criticized in CP would be ironically repeated if I were to claim that they
derived simply from a false theory and suggest another theoretical framework
within which the problem would be solved. One can find any number of conditions
in University politics, the (post-) Cold War
etc. that make almost any kind of ‘opportunistic deviation’
understandable, just as well as, on the other hand, present (Danish or EU)
University politics, the New World Order etc. give us other opportunities and
other pitfalls that I probably haven’t even suspected. I believe I have
steared clear of some of the dichotomies and illusions which face anyone who
wishes to develop a ‘psychology of participation’ in these times, in
particular, perhaps, that of a nostalgic, abstract communitarianism to
counterweigh the equally abstract notion of liberal autonomy
. But others
will most certainly have overpowered me: here they are, then, ready for your
author wishes to thank Ernst Schraube and Frigga Haug
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S. Zizek (Ed.), Mapping Ideology.
(pp. 1-33). London / New York: Verso.
Incidentally, this is the same point where Holzkamp was later to identify a
connection between collective subjectivity and power
The theme was never unfolded further by Holzkamp, but is taken up here.
It seems clear, by the way, that Holzkamp was influenced by phenomenology,
if only from his use of certain phrases and concepts that match word by word
those of Heidegger (the 'je ich', Befindlichkeit, etc.), even if at this
point, too, Holzkamp's references are vague. He did make a piece on CP and
phenomenological psychology, but the only reference there is to Grauman, and
Holzkamp does not state explicitly which concepts he had reinterpreted from
him into the "Grundlegung", nor help clarify the specifics of
their history. He merely declares a methodological level of phenomenological
analysis of the necessary constituents of human experience which any theory
must address – comparable to the requirements of logic – and details how
this level of analysis is better approached in the "Grundlegung"
than in the earlier works in Critical Psychology.
An interesting further twist to this ideological function of the categories,
in terms of the 'social' [sozialer] structure of the communities they index,
is that clearly Klaus Holzkamp himself was the only participant who was not
obliged by the rules he formulated i 1983: he was busy developing categories
in interaction with his contemporaries and without any foundation in
functional-historical data, that is, studies of the history of the Species
(and even sometimes, as with the reception of Foucault in
without critique, let alone 're-interpretation'). Further, the branching-off
of the Danish kind and community of Critical Psychology was signaled when in
1993 (in Danish) and 1994 (in English) Ole Dreier published his theoretical
work on action contexts, on the level of 'categories'.
The necessary self-reflexivity of any community is partly discussed in the
ethnomethodological tradition as the essential indexicality of interactions
in the systemic tradition as meta-communication (e.g.
and in Goffman's notions of "frames" and "keys"
On the dialectics of "form", one useful reference is the social
anthropological tradition of "social practice theory", see
& Lave, 2001; Willis, 2000)
This, too, is actually classical Marxist modernism – thus, one inspiration
to Malinovski's poem at the top of this paper was Bertolt Brecht. In his Kleines
Organon (point 22), he writes: "Die Haltung ist eine kritische.
Gegenüber einen Fluss besteht sie in der Regulierung des Flusses; gegenüber
einem Obstbaum in der Okulierung des Obstbaums; gegenüber der Fortbewegung
in der Konstruktion der Fahr-
und Flugzeuge, gegenüber der Gesellschaft in der Umwältzung der
The way that a 'critique' of one member implies demands on the community and
on the other participants is, in my view, one of the persuasive findings of
the tradition of systemic psychotherapy.
 This possibility provides an approach to the phenomenon of the subject’s, not just self-denial, but deliberate self-cancellation as subject. I have discussed this problem extensively in (Nissen, 2002a) . This phenomenon is, in fact, one of the antinomies of Holzkamp’s theory of the subject. In order to establish the first-person-perspective, Holzkamp asserts the above-mentioned "a priori" that the subject cannot deliberately harm itself (Holzkamp, 1983 , p. 350). This implies that suicide, even as the self-sacrifice of the patriotic or revolutionary soldier, must be either diagnosed from the outside as absolutely irrational or grounded in ‘values’ which are absolutely unfounded in the self-interest of the subject. Both those implications are serious contradictions to the theory, because it is necessarily assumed that reasoned [begründeter] self-interest is never simply abandoned in favour of collective interest, but sublated [Aufgehoben] into it. This antinomy can only be resolved in a theory of participation which includes the notion that the participant can assume the subject-position of the community, and, from that perspective, has the option of making an end to herself – jumping into the absolute void which objectifies and reconstitutes the community.