Here is a summary of notes I made during the last meeting of the Architectonics of Answerability:
In Art and Answerability Bakhtin develops a concept of art that is internal to a person. Departing from the assumption that life and art are not autonomous since they are not self-sufficient, Bakhtin is asks how one can develop activity out of an aesthetic concept and how an event can become answerable and meaningful. For Bakhtin activity changes a situation, changes an event (the literal translation of event from Russian means co-being). The moment of poesis, the moment of art then is the moment of recognition of answerability in the event.
For Bakhtin there is no action one can perform on the other, there is no way to make the other strange (unlike avant-garde practices of the same time period), to make him more other. The solution is participation, not alienation: I participate in the other instead of making him more other (Toward a Philosophy of the Act).
„...my own uniqueness is given, yet at the same time it exists only to the extent to which it is really actualized by me as uniqueness - it is always in the act, in the performed deed, i.e., is yet to be achieved.“
The uniqueness of one‘s being is the reason for answerability and simultaneously the necessity for the act. I am acting answerable, therefore I am becoming. Bakhtin thinks this highly biographical, the individuality of the person, becoming a self. Answerability is realized in the act.
„I occupy a place in once-occurrent Being that is unique and never-repeatable, a place in once-occurrent Being that cannot be taken by anyone else and is impenetrable for anyone else...That which can be done by me can never be done by anyone else.“
To recognize the world means to recognize your place in it in relation to others. Responsibility comes from the fact of occupying this specific place. Being in one place means having a perspective and that more perspectives are needed to be completed. I have to totalize the place by encounter the other. What Bakhtin understands as life is the difference of standpoints, the possibility that coming together completes the participants. Bakhtin wants to form an organic whole. But you are part of the whole, you are inside not outside. You are answerable to your process of uniqueness. Uniqueness does not exist without the other. Bakhtin grounds ethics in the other.
„That I from my unique place in Being, simply see and know another, that I do not forget him, that for me, too, he exists - that is something only I can do for him at the given moment in all of Being: that is the deed which makes his being more complete, the deed which is absolutely gainful and new, and which is possible only for me.“
Instead of a system of ethical rules Bakhtin describes the development of the self through aesthetic activity. Ethics is a result of aesthetic activity. Ethics transform the other into something concrete unique. Bakhtin understands the answerable act as a meaningful event and art as sense-making. Art as a not-conscious act of the artist, this is what Bakhtin would exactly not consider as art. Classical aesthetic is about experiencing art, but for Bakhtin it is art as an act. And for him aesthetic activity is the primary activity.