Heidegger's hippies : a dissenting voice on "the problem of the subject"

Graham, Philip W. (1999) Heidegger's hippies : a dissenting voice on "the problem of the subject". In Identities in Action, 10th - 12th December, 1999, University of Wales, Cardiff.


This is a deliberately contentious paper about the future of the socio-political sphere in the West based on what we know about its past. I argue that the predominant public discourse in Western countries is best characterised as one of selective forgetfulness; a semi-blissful, amnesiacal state of collective dementia that manifests itself in symbolic idealism: informationalism.

Informationalism is merely the latest form of idealism. It is a lot like religion insofar as it causally relates abstract concepts with reality and, consequently, becomes confused between the two. Historically, this has proven to be a dangerous state of affairs, especially when elites becomes confused between ideas about how a society should work, and the way it actually does work. Central to the idealism of the information age, at least in intellectual spheres, is the so called "problem of the subject".

I argue that the "problem of the subject" is a largely synthetic, destabilising, and ultimately fruitless theoretical abstraction which turns on a synthetically derived, generalised intradiscursive space; existentialist nihilism; and the theoretical baubles of ontological metaphysics. These philosophical aberrations are, in turn, historically concomitant with especially destructive political and social configurations. This paper sketches a theoretical framework for identity formation which rejects the problem of the subject, and proposes potential resources, sources, and strategies with which to engage the idealism that underpins this obfuscating problematic in an age of turbulent social uncertainty.

Quite simply, I turn to history as the source of human identity. While informationalism, like religion, is mostly focused on utopian futures, I assert that history, not the future, holds the solutions for substantive problematics concerning individual and social identities. I argue here that history, language, thought, and identity are indissolubly entangled and so should be understood as such: they are the fundamental parts of 'identities in action'. From this perspective, the ‘problem of the subject’ becomes less a substantive intellectual problematic and more a theoretical red herring.

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ID Code: 43696
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: No
Keywords: identity, public discourse, informationalism
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > OTHER STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (169900)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Past > Institutes > Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 1999 [please consult the author]
Deposited On: 27 Jul 2011 22:13
Last Modified: 27 Jul 2011 22:13

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