Subjectivity, agency, and projects

One of the themes that has appeared in some occasions in the past few months on this blog is the idea of separating the idea of agency deliberation (for example, see this entry on reflexivity). The idea that you are the agent of one’s own life when he takes a deliberative, thoughtful, and conscious is a reductionism that underlies all the rationalisms; and that leaves the greater part of the life in mere automatism. It is a project that we have repeated on these occasions, it crosses different traditions: from the practical reason aristotle in the practical sense bourdeiano.

The idea of the project (from the project of extending the house to that nebula that is sometimes called life-project) is here crucial. In the vision rationalistic of the life of the project as a place of reflection on the activity, as a place of planning, appears as a central aspect: It is an agent when it is projected. By the way the above requires a project idea that goes beyond the decisions as such and have an orientation to the future, because as well all the lives always have projects. To be interesting to say that there are projects required to have a project design that becomes a specific form of subjectivity, and it is this that we attempt here.


The subjectivity and the project

Then, to be able to understand then the idea of the project is necessary to understand its opposite, the don’t have projects, without reducing the be without projects to simple lack of agency, or of thought. Intentionality as such does not form a project. In general, to be able to speak with a sense of projects, it is necessary to be able to distinguish the projected life of the life is not projected. For the notion of a project allows us to observe differences in social life it is necessary to establish conditions where this does not exist.

We’ll explain the distinction around the idea of flow, and to break the flow. I have a project in the extent that there is a break in the flow of my activity that separates me from her, allows me to observe her and then appears as necessary to plan, organize activities, examine alternatives to perform an activity that will lead to the attainment of a desired end state. In other words, to have a project I need to have an aspiration and an organized plan of activities for their achievement, and all this separated from the flow of existence. The idea plan is crucial because the space of the project is built to the inside of the possibility that the activity will not be fulfilled –it is for this reason that the planning and organisation of the future is necessary.

Both for those who the achievement of your activity is not problematic, of yours, or for whom the achievement of their desire is seen as impossible are not in the space of the project. The space of the project is the space of possibility, and the possibility that depends on the own action. The result is contingent on what you decide.

Raised that way then they can be distinguished in relation to the lack of project the least two moments and different situations.

The first is immersion in the flow: Where the achievement of the activity in which it is not is problematic. This does not prevent intentions, examination or activity, but it is a part without major problems of such activity. What I do not do is consider alternative thoughtful way, but considering the situation, I determine ‘what there is to do it naturally’ (hungry and looking for food). When I am performing in a activity of forms practice and I am immersed in it the separation of the actor and the object does not exist, simply do the things that seem to be required by the situation: the moment that I am writing these lines I’m not thinking as they write them, I write them -but clearly this writing is a human agency. It’s the apprentice who has to observe reflectively your own activity, and is separated from his actions.

One of the difficulties to think in this form of agency, that is in fact the most common, is that we find it difficult to think of a way of thinking that is not a direct application of a universal rule to a case (we discuss this topic in this entry about the category of judgment): This leads us to think of all thought as an exercise of reason and reflective, scholastic would say Bourdieu; but this is precisely what is necessary to overcome.

A second way is the one who no longer is in the flow and yet has not been able to develop a project: anyone Who has an aspiration to fulfill it, that is problematic to solve, but it does not have any plan to do so.

Why is it important to make these distinctions and to insist on the space of an agency that is not project? Given that modernity is conceived from the notion of a project then it is easy to reduce to those who live outside of the organized life with projects like beings lack. However, those who do not live a life of projects is not necessarily, or feel a lack. In a certain sense, the fullness does not have project.

It is important to recognize that the extreme points are not possible in a stable way: No one can be pure and permanent projection, because while doing this project is doing that project (and yes he does it well, is immersed in he). No one can be in a pure continuous flow, because the possibility of breakage is always registered in any activity.

The levels of reflexivity of the project

One of the key dimensions to be able to understand the idea of the project is that modern subjectivity is based on the constitution of a separation between subject and object. By the way not only of a difference, but a separation: the difference is wider and is not the same as establishing that one is not the other of thought as separate from the other. Now, there are various forms of that separation.

The reflexive capability, in that sense, it is one of the key ways through which occurs the operation that allows you to have a project: The actor is separated from the action it performs and the notes, and then you can ask questions and examine what you are doing. It is one thing to observe about what I am doing (i.and I face a problem and I watch carefully until I find out what you need to do to fix it), and another is to observe, to make my (and proceed to ask me about what I’m doing).

In regard to that capacity then it is possible to differentiate at least two poles. One in which there is a project, or a conscious planning of a future organization of actions, but that is not the question mostly on the activity you’re doing, watch the world to act on him but does not observe his own action. We can call it a project of low reflexivity. In some sense, if this is not already in the flow of the experience, the project itself operates as a flow. The second level is of greater reflexivity: they proceed to make questions around the action itself: The subject is ask for what you want to do this project, because it is immersed in it, and then appears the possibility of wanting another thing. The question that appears is whether I really want what I say I want to and I was looking to achieve. This is a high level of reflexivity. Positions this position there is no longer any kind of flow. In the first the object is problematizado, in the second the subject is too.

Now, if you be in the act of projecting is not stable, least what is the state of maximum reflectivity. The situations and moments to which it relates are sporadic; and while significant changes can occur from them is not something that occurs in the day-to-day. Examine the project in that I am on and see how it progresses and that obstacles continue to exist is something that can even be daily-think of what was the practice of examination of conscience and daily life as a device). But namely, as a question on what project I am something that is done only on a few occasions. This has methodological implications, but also in terms of subjectivity: there May be a subjectivity that is based on being projected, because even though we may not always be in a position to project, at least to be in the projection can be common; but there cannot be a subjectivity of high reflexivity as a state, but rather subjectivities that may (or may not) have that situation.

The above discussion must be put in evidence that the distinctions that we are making even when they are exposed, for greater clarity, so dichotomous, as if they were alternatives; they are in fact part of a continuum.

Of a party, the activity can be constituted as a project step-by-step: Think of the mere fact of considering thoughtfully a desire or aspiration: Say to yourself I want to do such a thing (as a trivial example, a declaration of new year). With this, I’m still not doing a project, but I’m not in the aspiration that it will registered in the activity that I do without thinking about it as such. For example, the writing of this text attempt to make it clear without stopping to reflect on the clarity, but simply typing and correcting, when I find that something is not clear. The moment reflective begins to appear when leaving writing, and watching the text say: ‘in reality, this is not very clear, What can I do for that what to be?’. Or even, why would I want that to be clear?

They are part of a continuum because in addition they are very close to each other: In the realization of the planned activity, when I’m doing the project, I am more in the flow; there can be a project in projective attitude. The entire project involves a series of activities to be performed each one does not require to go thinking of the project: Following the example from this scripture. Writing this text is part of a larger project (this blog); but the task of writing, not thinking about the bigger project (rather, it makes the examine the product of that activity).


Why is it important to make these distinctions? Distinctions that we remember, does not distinguish between individuals and differences that distinguish moments through which individuals may pass (in principle, an individual can go through all of them)., but that is perceived without having an ability that requires you to fulfill your wish. Something simple and already mentioned the start: A way to recover the forms of agency that are not reduced to the model racionalizante reflective action and conscious, and in this way do not underestimate the simple live.

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