Review Essay: Das dialogische Selbst zwischen simultaner Pluralität und Halt verleihenden Sprachpraktiken [The Dialogical Self Between Simultaneous Plurality and Grounding Language Practices]

Marie-Cécile Bertau


The book "Das dialogische Selbst" [Dialogical Self] by Frank-M. Staemmler (2015) is an important contribution to a dialogic view on human beingness formulated by several scholars as an alternative to methodological individualism. The connection between a dialogical theory of self and concrete therapeutic techniques is established in a convincing way, thereby emphasizing that dialogic thinking is a challenge to traditional patterns of thinking. Dialogic thinking undermines the idea of detached and preliminary self-contained entities (such as "I" or "self") in favor of actual performances. However, plurality, dynamics, and performativity within any given moment need some kind of structuring, otherwise they would not be recognizable. A core issue of dialogical thinking seems to me to be the conception of the relationship between an occurring process and its structuring. After a synopsis of the book in form and content, I discuss this issue alongside two of STAEMMLER's own ideas on the topic: plurality and language. The relationship between a process and its structuring is to be conceived by language forms across time. Being addressed by a "Thou," which always represents the "One" (or "We"), is what confers the "I" as "dialogical self" stability within plurality. I hence view opening intersubjectivity to publicness (Öffentlichkeit) as a necessary step in overcoming individualism.



dialogical self; language activity; voice; position; "third"; intersubjectivity; publicness; gestalt therapy


Copyright (c) 2015 Marie-Cécile Bertau

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