Speech Genres and Other Late Essays

By M. M. Bakhtin ; Vern W. McGee et al. | Go to book overview

The Problem of the Text in Linguistics, Philology, and the Human Sciences: An Experiment in Philosophical Analysis

Our analysis must be called philosophical mainly because of what it is not: it is not a linguistic, philological, literary, or any other special kind of analysis (study). The advantages are these: our study will move in the liminal spheres, that is, on the borders of all the aforementioned disciplines, at their junctures and points of intersection.

The text (written and oral) is the primary given of all these disciplines and of all thought in the human sciences and philosophy in general (including theological and philosophical thought at their sources). The text is the unmediated reality (reality of thought and experience), the only one from which these disciplines and this thought can emerge. Where there is no text, there is no object of study, and no object of thought either.

The "implied" text: if the word "text" is understood in the broad sense--as any coherent complex of signs--then even the study of art (the study of music, the theory and history of fine arts) deals with texts (works of art). Thoughts about thoughts, experiences of experiences, words about words, and texts about texts. Herein lies the basic distinction between our disciplines (human sciences) and the natural ones (about nature), although there are no absolute, impenetrable boundaries here either. Thought about the human sciences originates as thought about others' thoughts, wills, manifestations, expressions, and signs, behind which stand manifest gods (revelations) or people (the laws of rulers, the precepts of ancestors, anonymous sayings, riddles, and so forth). A scientifically precise, as it were, authentication of the texts and criticism of texts come later (in thought in the human sciences, they represent a complete about-face, the origin of skepticism). Initially, belief required only understanding--interpretation. This belief was brought to bear on profane texts (the study of languages and so forth). We do not intend to delve into the history of the human sciences, and certainly not into philology or linguistics. We are

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Speech Genres and Other Late Essays
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Note on Translation vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Notes xxii
  • Response to a Question from the Novy Mir Editorial Staff 1
  • Notes 8
  • The Bildungsroman and Its Significance in the History of Realism (toward a Historical Typology of the Novel) 10
  • Notes 54
  • The Problem of Speech Genres 60
  • Notes 100
  • The Problem of the Text in Linguistics, Philology, and the Human Sciences: An Experiment in Philosophical Analysis 103
  • Notes 128
  • From Notes Made in 1970-71 132
  • Notes 155
  • Toward a Methodology for the Human Sciences 159
  • Notes 170
  • Index 173
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