The Man at the Mirror (Dialogue with Oneself)

Dmitri Nikulin
The New School
The article provides a close hermeneutical reading and philosophical interpretation of a short text by Mikhail Bakhtin from 1943, quoted and translated in the beginning. Contra the modern Cartesian interpretation of the subject as always open to itself in an act of self-reflection, it is argued that one’s self is not immediately accessible and fully transparent to itself. Looking at oneself in the mirror stands for an attempt of self-cognition, in which one both recognizes and misses oneself, seeing oneself as another with no “seamy side.” Thinking oneself, then, constitutes a constant dialogue with oneself, in which one is always involved in a process of non-finalizable explanation of oneself to oneself as one’s own other
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