Unbecoming Subjects: Judith Butler, Moral Philosophy, and Critical Responsibility / Edition 3

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Moral philosophy and poststructuralism have long been considered two antithetical enterprises. Moral philosophy is invested in securing norms, whereas poststructuralism attempts to unclench the grip of norms on our lives. Moreover, poststructuralism is often suspected of undoing the possibility of ethical knowledge by emphasizing the unstable, socially constructed nature of our practices and knowledge. In Unbecoming Subjects, Annika Thiem argues that Judith Butler's work makes possible a productive encounter between moral philosophy and poststructuralism, rethinking responsibility and critique as key concepts at the juncture of ethics and politics.

Putting into conversation Butler's earlier and most recent work, Unbecoming Subjects begins by examining how Butler's critique of the subject as nontransparent to itself, formed thoroughly through relations of power and in subjection to norms and social practices, poses a challenge to ethics and ethical agency. The book argues, in conversation with Butler, Levinas, and Laplanche, that responsibility becomes possible only when we do not know what to do or how to respond, yet find ourselves under a demand to respond, and, even more, to respond well to others.

Drawing on the work of Butler, Adorno, and Foucault, Unbecoming Subjects examines critique as a central practice for moral philosophy. It interrogates the limits of moral and political knowledge and probes methods of social criticism to uncover and oppose injustices.

About the Author:
Annika Thiem is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Villanova University. She is currently working on twentieth-century German Jewish thought and critical theory, exploring thepolitical and ethical implications of messianism

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Open[s] a space for other writers to consider more compelling arguements for social justice . . .

Examines the American scholar's poststructuralist thought in relation to moral philosophy.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823228997
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2008
  • Edition description: 3
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

ANNIKA THIEM is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Villanova University. She is currently working on twentieth-century German Jewish thought and Critical Theory, exploring the political and ethical implications of messianism.

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Table of Contents

Pt. 1 Challenges to the Subject

1 Subjects in Subjection: Bodies, Desires, and the Psychic Life of Norms 21

2 Moral Subjects and Agencies of Morality 51

Pt. 2 Responsibility

3 Responsibility as Response: Levinas and Responsibility for Others 95

4 Ambivalent Desires of Responsibility: Laplanche and Psychoanalytic Translations 144

Pt. 3 Critique

5 The Aporia of Critique and the Future of Moral Philosophy 187

6 Critique and Political Ethics: Justice as a Question 225

Notes 257

Works Cited 285

Index 297

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  • Posted November 28, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Read this book out loud

    I read this book out loud for the enjoyment of my husband and me. Great to use as dialogue starter. IF you like philosophy, then this is definitely the book for you. We could tell that Annika Thiem loves philosophy.

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