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Re: [ox-en] "Selbstentfaltung", "self-unfolding" or what?

On Sat, 12 Jan 2002, Stefan Meretz wrote:

Hi Florian, Marco, Graham and all,

Florian v. Samson wrote:

 >>>So 'unfolding' in this sense isn't new to English after all. But it
 >>>does lead to another question: why 'self'? In the discussion of the
 >>>term on this list (ie. en-) it seemd to be necessary to explain that
 >>>it didn't refer to purely isolated individuals, or was not possible
 >>>for isolated individuals, but was something social (since the 'self-'
 >>>implied not being social, which was also the problem with
 > This is an important point, as I never liked the prefix "Selbst" in
 > "Selbstentfaltung" very much. You expressed the problem I had with
 > that prefix very clearly.
 > This became even more obvious, when I read Stefan Mn. writing on the
 > german mailing list about "indiviluelle/persoenliche Selbstentfaltung"
 > (individual/personal selfunfolding).

I like to point out, why the self is essential in this concept.

Spontaneously some people react as you, Graham, expressed: "Why only the
isolated individual? Isn't free software more an altruistic movement
than an egoistic one?"

But that isn't what I wrote at all. My contrast is not between 'egotism'
and 'altruism' (which I think is a contrast that leads nowhere in this
context), but between 'personal' and 'social'. And there is no need to
associate these terms solely with the political seperation between 
man/citizen, or economic separation between creator of use value and 
creator of exchange value analyzed by Marx; there is still a large part of our
daily lives (in particular with family or friends) where it is true that 

My self-unfolding is a prerequisite of the unfolding of all and vice 

One aspect of free software is that it expands the small social sphere of
friends to the whole social spere of software users. In both cases
I don't see why the phrase

My self-unfolding is a prerequisite of the unfolding of all and vice

has any more content  (or different meaning) than:

'my personal unfolding is a prerquisite of the unfolding of all and 

and in fact, if it did, surely you would have had to write:

' My self-unfolding is a prerequisite of the self-unfolding of all and 
vice versa.'

Sorry, but I'm having trouble seeing any content in this argument, it 
seems to be only about the form of the words... I certainly don't see why
choosing 'self-unfolding' as opposed to 'peronal unfolding' brings
an end to commodity fetishism any closer. Well, having said that, of 
course I can't seriously argue that it is important NOT to say/write
'self-unfolding' ... :-)


This contradictory word pair "egoistic-altruistic" perfectly reflects
the "normal" thinking in our society. Marx named this "objektive
Gedankenform" (objective form of thinking). Both, egoistic and
altruistic, contain the individual as an _isolated_ individual. The
cause for that is the isolation and rivalry of the individuals as
commodity owners, where "commodity" can be personal "work force" or
"productive means". This leads to the mode of "assertion neccessarily
going on costs of others". I explained this some mails ago.

In this context doing something in an "egoistic" way is quite clear: I
do something for my own against others. And doing something in an
"altruistic" way is the opposite: I do something for others and not (or
only in second hand) for me. However as ESR (Raymond) explained: I gain
some attention and acknowledgement (which implies: going the
"altruistic" way is only some longer way around with same goals as the
direct "egoistic" way).

However: Altruism has _nothing_ to do with self-unfolding!

Nevertheless reflected in terms of "egoistic-altruistic" by journalists
and maybe by some free software developers too: Free software has
nothing to do with altruism. It never had grown on this ground.

The main point is: Free software overcomes isolation of commodity owners
in normal economic value system, because free software is not a
commodity, it is not produced as a  commodity (don't confuse this with
"selling free software" - which means "selling something around free
software" but not the software itself -- again: read ESR's "magic
cauldron" for those "strategies").

This means that _I_ am not isolated from others, the opposite is true: I
swim like a fish in the community. Expressing myself in doing free
software is as good for me as for all - not in the same sense: for me it
can be learning, hacking nice stuff, have fun etc., for others it can be
good software etc. And this is self-enfolding: My self-unfolding is a
prerequisite of the unfolding of all and vice versa.

The "self" is important, because I don't do something explicitly "for
others" (altruistically), but I do it for me. However, this "doing for
me" does not go on costs of others. But the self-unfolding concept
starts from the _self_, from _me_, not from anything outside -- a higher
knowledge, spirituality or stuff like that. Anybody can start with
self-unfolding at every time, however it only works in the long run, if
s/he starts thinking too, and this is out task to bring this forward;-)

If I want to make some provocative statement I say: Free software is not
done from altruistic grounds, it is purely done egoistically. - Well,
this is bullshit in the sense that it does not escape from the
"egoistic-altruistic objective form of thinking". But as a provocation
it can result in nice and sometimes heavy discussions;-)

 > In my opinion the more generic term "unfolding" is far better. To
 > express what "selfunfolding" should mean, "personal unfolding" would
 > be appropiate. But don't we also want a new society to "unfold",
 > didn't OSS already "unfold"?
 > This would also fit into the picture we drew with the
 > "Keimform-These": A seed, which unfolds, sprouts and finally blossoms.

Yes, free software unfolds. And using the term "unfolding" for that is 
ok. However, this is not what the "germ form thesis" is mainly about.

Free software is not (only) a germ form of "world dominance" with free
software (which you can find on websites). It is not (only) about
abolishing proprietarian software. It is about abolishing a form of
society basing on producing things in form of commodities. It is about
abolishing the "..on cost of"-mode and establish the self-unfolding mode
"self-unfolding as a prerequisite of the unfolding of all" (and vice versa).



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