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Hoggett, P. (2001). The Love That Thinks. Free Associations, 9(1):1-23.

(2001). Free Associations, 9(1):1-23

The Love That Thinks

Paul Hoggett

Responsiveness and Thoughtfulness

Subjectivity is Not a thing, a possession we all have, rather it is a process of achievement which is never completed. One way of thinking about this process of achievement is in terms of the language of human development, that is, the progressive emergence, in a non-linear fashion, of human capacities (French, 1999). Thought of in this way, human development refers to the processes by which the subject's moral, emotional, aesthetic, spiritual and practical/intellectual capacities are realised (Hoggett, 2001). This is the idea of subjectivity that I have in mind when I speak of it as an achievement, an achievement of the individual and of history.

I used to believe that the realisation of human capacities (individually and collectively) depended upon our ability to tolerate disillusionment. At the individual level this in turn depended upon an original capacity of self to realise that others would not always be there, ready to respond, but they had their own lives and needs. The other was not just an extension of self's own narcissistic universe. A ruthless orientation towards the other needed to give way to a capacity for concern, this was what disillusionment was all about. It was like the original fall from grace, an expulsion from Eden. Frustration, absence and loss, a realisation of the recalcitrance of the object, were the key terms. Paradoxically this original state of narcissistic illusion was both necessary for our development (without which no basic sense of a good object, of ordinary hopefulness and healthy narcissism could emerge) and was the main potential obstacle to that development. For if we were to know of the world then this narcissism would, to a fair extent, have to be overcome.

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