Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Part 42: (Obergefell v. Hodges (Gay Marriage), the Contextual Self and the Self Coupled): Dialogues on a Philosophy for the Individual

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2015)

With this post Flora Sapio and I (and friends from time to time) continue an experiment in collaborative dialogue. The object is to approach the issue of philosophical inquiry from another, and perhaps more fundamentally ancient, manner. We begin, with this post, to develop a philosophy for the individual that itself is grounded on the negation of the isolated self as a basis for thought, and for elaboration. This conversation, like many of its kind, will develop naturally, in fits and starts. Your participation is encouraged. For ease of reading Flora Sapio is identified as (FS), and Larry Catá Backer as (LCB).

The friends continue their discussion in which Flora Sapio responds to Larry Catá Backer's point about language, and to the points raised by Ulisses Schwarz Viana and Betita Horm Pepulim.  

Contents: HERE.  

The friends were reading Michael Cobb,  The Supreme Court’s Lonely Hearts Club, Opinion, The New York Times, June 30, 2015, and especially its beginning:

Now all of us single people are pathetic, not just the straight ones. “Marriage responds to the universal fear that a lonely person might call out only to find no one there,” writes Justice Anthony M. Kennedy in the majority opinion of the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges. As I read that bit alone in my apartment, I choked on my coffee.

Isn’t it enough to be denied the “constellation of benefits that the States have linked to marriage”? A constellation my coupled queer sisters and brethren now can hold dearly if they just make it official? Once again, being single is the dreary, awful, mournful alternative to marriage. A condition to be pitied, and quickly corrected by a sprint to City Hall.
* * * 
What Justice Kennedy, and everyone else too, needs to remember is that simply being yourself — your single self — is already the fundamental form of dignity. Founding your dignity on something as flimsy and volatile as a sexual connection insures dignity’s precariousness as it enshrines your inherent unworthiness as a single individual.

LCB:  This is a marvelous set of insights, though one at an angle from the focus of most discussion, which has been on the rise, appropriately and belatedly so, of the dignity of all individuals irrespective of the object their coupling.  But that is precisely the point that is worth considering, and that falls squarely within our discussion of the individual and the search of self.   Coupling has become the symbolic object around which the individual has been reconstituted as an adjunct, and from out of which conceptual issues are both compressed and directed toward the control of the object.  Marriage has become such a conceptual symbol--an object that has become sign and symbol, the control of the interpretation of which had become a critical political and social object for the last several decades. I have spoken to this within the broader context of the transformation of social discourse within the social and legal fields (e.g., Ruminations 56: On Symbols in American Political Ideology--From Russian Imperial Anthems to Confederate Battle Flags, Marriage, Legislature, and Statute). 

Betita Horn Pepulim These people who wrote it this, and who are against an exercise of freedom, they must have a lot of anger within themselves. Using a "power" to interfere and judge the freedom of an individual, since this freedom harms no one is absurd. Laws exist to guide the conduct of the citizen; to maintain a order; to bring security. A person to judging a want, that does not harm anyone, is directly interfering in the freedom that every human being has to be who he want to be. Particularly I think an attitude like this is a setback in the history of the conquest a part of the human rights that civilization obtained until here. Essas pessoas que escreveram isto, e que são contra um exercício de liberdade, devem ter muita raiva dentro de si. Usar um "poder" para interferir e julgar a liberdade de um indivíduo, uma vez que esta liberdade não prejudica ninguém é absurdo. As leis existem para orientar a conduta do cidadão; para manter uma ordem; para trazer segurança. Uma pessoa para julgar um desejo, que não faz mal a ninguém, está a interferir diretamente na liberdade que cada ser humano tem de ser quem ele quer ser. Particularmente eu acho que uma atitude como esta é um retrocesso na história da conquista de uma parte dos direitos humanos que a civilização obteve até aqui.

Flora Sapio Imperatrix Maris True. Freedom to marry is as precious as the freedom NOT to marry.

Betita Horn Pepulim Undoubtedly Flora Sapio Imperatrix Maris. Freedom is freedom. But, the issue at hand was the freedom to marry. Each person knows the pain and the delight of who to be is. And it must be free to be who want.

Flora Sapio Imperatrix Maris Agreed.

Betita Horn PepulimFlora Sapio Imperatrix Maris and Larry Catá Backer I miss, of our discussions. I returned to work after a long period away, and I assumed a responsibility for a job I'm really enjoying it. I am organizing and making, a kind of services menu related to culture to the state provide to the citizen. If I had not considered this work very interesting and important, I would not have agreed to lead their implementation why am I with hard work and a tight deadline. But I consider very important provide transparency of services and actions that the state has, and that few citizens know exists, and some who know, they don't know how can use them. Therefore although it is very busy I'm fine. But as I said, I miss, of our discussions. rsrsrs Soon, things will be calmer.
LCB:  Indeed.  Yet, as I mentioned, Professor Cobb, who is a professor of English at the University of Toronto and the author of Single: Arguments for the Uncoupled (NYU Press 2012),  decries the coupling of the individual within the symbolic conception of marriage as a casualty of opening that object (or transforming its symbolic meaning) to accommodate same sex coupling.  That bears most acutely on the issue we have been considering.  The language of Obergefell v. Hodges makes this clear, not because it is invariably so, but because the strong logic of the social self requires the management of coupling as the foundation of its construction. It is not that marriage is the foundation of that construction--despite several centuries worth of discursive tropes suggesting marriage and the family as the foundation of all good order--but that all good order is indeed founded on the social self--and that social self is itself dependent on a well managed set of couplings.  These couplings are internal to the self (how we think of ourselves and the limits of the self) and how that social self is outwardly expressed (through public, private and intimate societal relations--including but not ,ilited to marriage).

 Obergefell v. Hodges reminds us that the social self tends to fill the vast space of the individual and between individuals.  Outside of that self there can be nothing but deviance.  The individual uncoupled stands apart because that individuation is itself anti-symbolic, a public gesture of nonconformity or a suggestion of incomplete immersion int he social self. The uncoupled self is always viewed as incomplete, or in relational transit until properly coupled. The young are at the cusp of coupling, the old hold its memory, the divorced to the promise of another chance at coupling, the unmarried to lesser forms of coupling, even the kept individual "mistress" or gigolo to use the older language could be understood as coupled, and the religious were married to the Divine presence. The uncoupled self was thus dangerous because of a lack of symbolic and physically expressed commitment to the coupling at the heart of the social self--the self connected.  It is in this sense that the Obergefell case is a disciplinary case, bringing individuals more strongly within conventional conformity to a coupled social self. Professor Cobb, then, reminds us of the possibility of the differentiated self in its symbolic form--that of the uncoupled individual--a physical expression of a conceptual state.  But he also reminds us that society tends to protect the social self best, even to the point of embracing substantial transformations of the physical symbols of societal selfhood in the couplings of individuals enfolded within the coupling that is the society of the social self.

BHP: Larry Catá Backer very good, very interesting, it will be difficult to write something that will complement or contribute to this their argument. I'll read a little more and see if I can say something concrete. Hugs !!

LCB: Indeed, I raise more questions than I answer.  Betita Horn Pepulim and Flora Sapio Imperatrix Maris and Ulisses Schwarz Viana Does the individual survive marriage? Or are two merged into one; which one? Perhaps something new but coupled? And thus socially developed as a variant of the undifferentiated social self? Is there room for the differentiated self? Within social space perhaps not. Is there nothing but social space within marriage or other couplings? Is individual ion within coupled relations always social? Here one sees the intersection of strains of feminist thought, philosophy of the therapeutic, and the conundrum of identity though each always gets sucked into the societally acceptable variants of undifferentiated selves within and without coupled relations. Perhaps that is the essence of the semiotic insight--there is no escape from the societal; the individual is understood and self reflects only within the context in which she finds herself.That is certainly what our communities of individuals who attend to these matters seem always to conclude, in fact if not in form. And that may be the key to the differentiated self--a self reflective conversation--the individual as her own community of object, sign and interpretant.  But to do that without "hearing voices"--the ultimate deviance for our societally constructed psychology, now that is a challenge.

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