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Acts and Events - Ethics and the Architectonics of Life in M. Bakhtin’s Thoughts

CHOI Jin Seok 1

1서울대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

There are some fundamental problems concerning the ‘division of theModern world’ between life and culture in young Bakhtinian thought. Forhim, culture is made up of the totality of the effective calculability, rationalizedwith science and technology, and spiritual and physical systems. The main characteristic of the cultural world is established in the ‘unity’which always arranges all the parts of culture hierarchically. In contrastto this, however, life lies beyond this calculability and is full of fragmentary,individual, unlinear acts and events. This ‘uniqueness’ appears asa distinctive feature of a life. What is the relationship between culture andlife? The former is visible and tangible, the latter is invisible, concealedbeneath culture. According to Bakhtin, the only way to resolve the problemof this Modern division exists in creating a philosophy of the act, oran ethics of life. But this kind of philosophy is different from traditionalmorality because the Bakhtinian concept of acts and events begins withthe individualized activities of everybody. In this sense, his ethics are nei-ther a platonic Idea nor a Kantian categorical imperative, which forceupon us the absolute norms of life. Bakhtin insists that we have to createour own ethical grammar with an answerability in events. That is why hecalls the new ethics (a philosophy of the act) an ‘Architectonics of Life.’

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.