Bakhtin, Mikhail "Toward a Methodology for the Human Sciences"
Ferdinand de Saussure was a great influence on Mikhail Bakhtin, author of the article “Toward a Methodology for the Human Sciences.” Here Bakhtin outlies a variety of theories that aid understanding in the non-exact human sciences. For one, he contrasts the idea of a subject (or personality) with a thing, saying that understanding of a subject must be dialogic, i.e., based on contextual meaning (unlike the monological dialectic of the natural sciences). Through dialogic contact, one’s own words and another’s words join to form a personality, which requires a semantic context. Bakhtin also discusses reification (becoming a thing) and personification (becoming a personality), saying neither can be reached in full.
Some of Bakhtin's other main ideas include the following:
- The author-creator can never be created in the sphere he creates; the author cannot become an image because he is the creator of every image.
- You understand texts because you are able to relate them to other texts, which creates a dialogue in your mind between the texts that you are correlating together.
- Text lives only by coming into contact with other texts; this contact creates a dialogue; this dialogue (if the voices are erased) can get rid of the deep-seeded contextual meanings.
- Extratextual influences are important at the beginning stages of someone’s life; ‘other’ words (words from other people) are processed with our own words to create a dialogue within ourselves.
- The thing remains a thing and the word, a word; they are only changed by contextual meaning.
- According to contemporary literary scholars, the listener/reader is immanent in the work; they understand and know all; they are the ideal listener.
- According to an opposing viewpoint, the listener is a mirror image of the author; there is no interaction between the author and the listener.
- The printed or spoken text is not equal to the work as a whole; the work as a whole include the extratextual elements (context/situation).
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The following key terms are defined in the Glossary: dialogism, isomorphous, monologism, natura naturans, natura naturata, semantic