The Chattering Mind is less a history of ideas than a book in search of a usable past. It is at once a genealogy of learned discourse on the practice of everyday talk, and, at its furthest reaches, an effort to reclaim this genealogy as an important conceptual foundation for ongoing discussions of collective life in the digital age. In service to this argument, this introductory chapter distinguishes the high-modern practice of everyday talk from the early-modern art of conversation, defining former as unwitting, habitual, involuntary, automated, recursive, and machinelike. But these are not its only characteristics.As Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Lacan were all careful to insist, everyday talk also paves the way for alternate, more resolved ways of speaking, thinking, and being with others. Contrary to popular interpretations of their work, all three of these renowned social theorists were convinced and committed to showing that there is more to everyday talk than alienation, inauthenticity, and the corruption of modern selves. Indeed, for Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Lacan, everyday talk was the proving ground, not the killing field, of genuine subjectivity. And so it remains today, this introductory chapter suggests.
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