• Vygotskian dialectics and Bakhtinian dialogics: Consciousness between the authoritative and the carnivalesque

      Sullivan, Paul W. (2010)
      This article proposes a way of understanding consciousness in both dialectical and dialogical terms. More particularly, Vygotsky (1978, 1934/1986) argues that consciousness involves a number of dialectical progressions (e.g., from primitive to cultural knowing, from basic to expert knowing). These dialectics involve a dynamic reorganization of the subcomponents of consciousness (e.g., memory, attention, perception) along a developmental continuum. Bakhtin (1975/1981, 1929/1984a), on the other hand, draws attention to the dialogical within consciousness; specifically the ideology and values that imbue consciousness as a type of knowing. This presents us with a more "vertical" continuum between "authoritative knowing" (knowledge tied to a figure of authority) and "carnivalistic knowing" (knowledge that subverts and de-crowns our taken-for-granted assumptions). I examine the dynamics between these ways of knowing in terms of both the development and the operation of consciousness. I argue that while there are substantial differences between these frameworks, they also mutually enrich each other. In particular, I argue that Bakhtin's dialogics draw attention to the presence of a sensing self within consciousness while Vygotsky's dialectical method can help make sense of a transformation of carnival and authority from an interpersonal to an intrapersonal relationship.