From: Leon R. Tsvasman (2008), On the Viability of Being a Self-Orienting Subject. Constructivist Foundations (CF, ISSN 1782-348X) vol. 3, number 2, March 2008, pp. 84-86. [Here as lightly adopted & reviewed version 2.0.]
Key words: social cybernetics, non-voluntaristic concept [of sociality], non-analytic epistemology, consistent constructivist concept of the social, science as technology, knowledge as orientation, reality as medium of actualization.
Termini: autonomously orienting subject, value- and power-based systems, subject-hostile system emergence, subject and object constancies, inter-subjectivity, autonomously orienting subject, embodiment and actualization.
Related concepts: self-steering & self-regulation, second order cybernetics, conceptual semantics, consistent meta-science, love as principle.
Interdisciplinary relevance: meta-scientific concept of society, basics of new humanism, idea of human, individual emancipation, enlightenment, education.
Relevance for practice: social self-regulation, economy, politics, individual orientation, lifestyle, self-motivation, comprehension of society & individuality.
Tsvasmans view of the social is obviously far more sophisticated than my approach of conceptual semantics… (Ernst von Glasersfeld)
The drive of combining efforts
To consider the basic assumptions, the only reasonable purpose of [human] inter-action seems to be to combine efforts (cumulating its drive inside the inter-subjectively objectified meanings in the form of value or power).
So the only motivation for social action on the part of the autonomously orienting subject is the viability of combining efforts.
The initial socialization includes, therefore, something like an expectation of devotion, which is not challenged later on, becoming a stable part of the so-called psychic or mental awareness of the initially-socialized subject. [… ]
By the term inter-subjectivity, I mean more than a purely communicative act, because it also implies the intentionality of intra-subjective operations, which is the subject of what we call consciousness. By analogy, intra-subjectivity should be used instead of psychic or mental structure.
The mainly self-evident possibility of combined efforts, without running the risk of provoking a subject to reassess his or her social awareness, is to objectify its necessity as an external order of things (externalization), which is then a ready made ontological given, existing as such and independently of subjective experience (von Glasersfeld 2008, §31). If we accept this concept, our world of living appears to be a medium of inter-subjectivity, and the built-in belief in reality is a medium of socialization.
The significant aspect is, furthermore, a kind of ban on autonomous orientation, which is immanent in social action.
Actualization as social technology
To be socialized one must first devote ones potential as a subject of autonomous orientation to what we call society, which is supposed to be a self-evident emergence of cumulating efforts.
In the second step one must prepare oneself (through education etc.) for acting as a person who is able to operate in accordance with a certain set of validities (as certain values or powers that are cumulated in the appropriate objectified notions) in order to re-produce their authority.
This activity displaces the original drive towards autonomous orientation by using the energy destined for self-orienting (at the pre-social or biological level I would call the level of embodiment).
As a person, one must act according to the rules that constitute the technology (in the above-mentioned meaning) of actualization.
The origin of what we call psychic is therefore an experience of being dependant, in awareness of ones potential as an autonomously orienting subject, but alienated by the initial socialization (for the purpose of actualization).
A hypothetical not-socialized subject will orient him- or herself autonomously for the biological purposes of self-maintenance and reproduction (I suggest calling these embodiment).
A socialized subject will act, by contrast, in accordance with its societys set of
rules. The meta-subjective purpose of social acting is what I call actualization (Verwirklichung), which is therefore a certain mode of constructing reality, based on the objectification of the specific validities. (By this position,
I anticipate the possibility of alternative modes of constructing reality that would be still reason-legitimized but not necessarily technological i.e trivializing, objectifying, re-producing and therefore analytical.)
Those actualizations (as the absolute purpose of combined efforts) seem to fit with the initial interest of a self-orienting subject as a living organism or an acting individual in a stable world of living which filters the not absorbable and, inasmuch, destructive energies (substantiated as hindrances). This initial interest explains the credit (the already mentioned devotion) that a self-orienting subject gives to that regulation which is required for socialization.
Conceiving the inter-subjective validities
Expecting a specific system of inter-subjectively validated patterns (applied here in the meaning implied in Simmel 1917), socialization suggests a set of rules for orientation for the involved subjects to be used as a kind of orientation-know-how. The latter fits that know-how of trivialization (in the meaning near to von Foerster 1998) that sustains the self-devotion of autonomous orientation.
My proposal is therefore to use the term validity when language-related (inter-subjectively trivialized and thus socially dominated) separations are meant.
Alienated from its usage in logic or statistics, this term denotes besides the technological significance of the sociolinguistic perspective – both the economic aspect of value as well as the imperative aspect of power.
Subsequently the term validity means any consensually stable inter-subjective separations that link autonomous orientation for the needs of society. In this context sociality stands for a certain consensus of inter-subjectivity aimed at concentrating energies that have been diverted from individual orientation in order to construct a relatively stable world of living by creating, maintaining and managing validities inside a non-trivial reality of ontological determinants.
The term validities connotes, therefore, the determination mechanisms that are intrinsic in socialization. This implies the offer of autonomous orientation for the non-subjective needs of an inter-subjective construction of validities. (In this context the term also implies a strong aspect of attentiveness that is important for conceiving of the mechanisms of mediality).
A different perspective exposes the problem that can be observed if socially maintained validities emerge as autopoietic systems with their own interest in autonomy. In this case, any legitimization of validity becomes system-rational (reasonable in the terms of the systemic integrity), while no longer tied to individual orientation. The use of these validities to assemble reality is not obligatory for the subjects involved, hence I tend to define the thinking subject in general in the terms of his or her autonomy of orientation.
This non-analytic approach gives a good example of the interdisciplinary potential of conceiving society. It also is a basis for possibility of a consequent constructivist alternative to any system-centered, validity-rational or even subject-hostile socialization concepts.
The dictate of emerging constancies
The outlined view reveals dimensions hidden under the ingenious simplicity of von Glasersfelds solution. According to his vision, both recognizable objects in the experiential field and others appear as validities, confined by their constancy. The only difference between subject and object constancies seem to be linked to their potentiality as orientation-driven (subjects) and cumulaion-driven (objects). Subjectivity (of living humans), motivated by embodiment, is therefore dominated by the actualization of validities motivated by power. The subjects of social acting perceive each other to be objective because of constancy, strained by the validity-driven medialization (in the meaning of Tsvasman 2006) as identities.
A self-orienting subject has no intrinsic motivation to be constant and therefore objective, real or even actual, until involved in a certain inter-subjective action.
The only essential attitude of a self-orienting subject is potentiality. Even when socialized as individuality (or medialized as identity), the thinking subject remains no more than driven by autonomous orientation. The emergence of the orientation-driven validity-system (so-called consciousness) is structurally equivalent to the emergence of the cumulation-driven validity-system (which is reality).
Both appear to be products of socialization, a power-driven emergence of intersubjective validization. The intrinsic goal of socialization is therefore reality-construction, which maintains the experiential world, populated by persons who sustain validities according to the rules of communicative handling.
Being a certain mode of inter-subjectivity, the latter transforms the biological drive of embodiment into the power of actualization.
Source: Leon R. Tsvasman (2008), On the Viability of Being a Self-Orienting Subject. Constructivist Foundations (CF, ISSN 1782-348X) vol. 3, number 2, March 2008, pp. 84-86.
Glasersfeld, E. von (2008), Who Conceives of Society?. Constructivist Foundations (CF, ISSN 1782-348X) vol. 3, number 2, March 2008
Tsvasman, L. R. (2006) Entries Intersubjektivität, Orientierung, and Medialität. In: Tsvasman, L. (ed.) Das Grosse Lexikon Medien und Kommunikation. Kompendium interdisziplinärer Konzepte. Ergon: Würzburg, pp. 176179, 233236, 292.
Simmel, G. (1917) Grundfragen der Soziologie. Individuum und Gesellschaft. Göschensche Verlagsbuchhandlung: Berlin.
Foerster, H. von & Pörksen, B. (1998) Wahrheit ist die Erfindung eines Lügners. Gespräche für Skeptiker. Carl-Auer-Systeme: Heidelberg.