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Toward a Philosophy of the Act

By M. M. Bakhtin

Publication Year: 1993

Rescued in 1972 from a storeroom in which rats and seeping water had severely damaged the fifty-year-old manuscript, this text is the earliest major work (1919-1921) of the great Russian philosopher M. M. Bakhtin. Toward a Philosophy of the Act contains the first occurrences of themes that occupied Bakhtin throughout his long career. The topics of authoring, responsibility, self and other, the moral significance of "outsideness," participatory thinking, the implications for the individual subject of having "no-alibi in existence," the difference between the world as experienced in actions and the world as represented in discourse--all are broached here in the heat of discovery. This is the "heart of the heart" of Bakhtin, the center of the dialogue between being and language, the world and mind, "the given" and "the created" that forms the core of Bakhtin’s distinctive dialogism. A special feature of this work is Bakhtin’s struggle with the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. Put very simply, this text is an attempt to go beyond Kant’s formulation of the ethical imperative. Toward a Philosophy of the Act will be important for scholars across the humanities as they grapple with the increasingly vexed relationship between aesthetics and ethics.

Published by: University of Texas Press

Series: University of Texas Press Slavic Series


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xvi

In his long life under Soviet rule, Bakhtin experienced the whole range of effects an author can produce, from censorship, imprisonment, and banishment to fame and adulation. The shock of his arrest during Stalin's terror made him extremely cautious in later years. It was with the greatest difficulty that a group of young admirers in the...

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Translator's Preface

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pp. xvii-xx

Toward a Philosophy of the Act is a translation of an unfinished philosophical essay by M. M. Bakhtin (1895-1975) that was published in Russian in 1986 by S. G. Bocharov under the title K filosofii postupka.
According to Bocharov, the manuscript has come down to us in very poor condition: the opening pages are missing (hence we do not know the title Bakhtin himself gave to the essay) and a number...

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Introduction to the Russian Edition

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pp. xxi-xxvi

Among Bakhtin's works published posthumously in the collection of his essays Estetika slovesnogo tvorchestva [The Aesthetics of Verbal Creation] (Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1979) the text of central importance is the treatise "Author and Hero in Aesthetic Activity."1 Bakhtin worked on this treatise at the beginning of the 1920S but did not...

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Toward a Philosophy of the Act

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pp. 1-56

[ . . . ] Aesthetic activity as well is powerless to take possession of that moment of Being which is constituted by the transitiveness and open event-ness of Being.1 And the product of aesthetic activity is not, with respect to its meaning, actual Being in process of becoming, and, with respect to its being, it enters into communion with...

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Part II

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pp. 56-76

The world in which an act or deed actually proceeds, in which it is actually accomplished, is a unitary and unique world that is experienced concretely: it is a world that is seen, heard, touched, and thought, a world permeated in its entirety with the emotional-volitional tones of the affirmed validity of values. The unitary...


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pp. 77-100


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pp. 101-109

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780292792739
E-ISBN-10: 0292792735
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292765344
Print-ISBN-10: 0292765347

Page Count: 132
Publication Year: 1993

Series Title: University of Texas Press Slavic Series
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OCLC Number: 607552479
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Toward a Philosophy of the Act

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Ethics.
  • Communication -- Moral and ethical aspects.
  • Act (Philosophy).
  • Literature -- Philosophy.
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