Bakhtin’s Dialogism Reconsidered through Hegel’s ‘Monologism’: the Dialectical Foundation of Aesthetics and Ideology in Contemporary Human Sciences

Part of the St Antony’s Series book series


The problem that I would like to outline here may at first glance seem to be quite marginal in the field of Bakhtinian studies. As is often the case, however, the margins may disclose some fundamental issues. This marginal problem concerns the relation — and I would add immediately the ambiguous relation — of Bakhtin’s thought to Hegel’s philosophy. This problem can be said to be marginal in Bakhtin’s thought itself, since he never really addressed it in a fully developed manner — unlike the way he (or one or the other of the various members of the ‘Bakhtin Circle’) addressed the problem of Saussurian linguistics, formalist literary theory, or Freudian psychoanalysis, for instance. Most of what Bakhtin thought about Hegel’s philosophy has to be gleaned from scattered remarks in his writings on other subjects, or deduced from the definitions he gives of his main aesthetic, ethical or logical (epistemological) concepts. While I will be using these two procedures to try to highlight what I consider to be very important for a more complete understanding of the implications of Bakhtin’s thought for the contemporary human sciences, I will immediately summarize what I consider to be the main point at stake in the discussion that follows: it seems to me that if we are to grasp the real significance of the fundamental notions of dialogue and dialogism elaborated by Bakhtin throughout his works — in relation to what remains an incomplete philosophy — we also have to consider the differences and similarities that exist between these notions and Hegel’s thought.


Contextual Meaning Universal History Speech Genre Ideological Context Hegelian Dialectic 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

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