- Paperback: 160 pages
- Publisher: Fordham University Press; 1 edition (October 1, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0823225046
- ISBN-13: 978-0823225040
- Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 0.5 x 5.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #170,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Giving an Account of Oneself 1st Edition
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In a time when moral certitude is used to justify the worst violence, Butler's nuanced reworking of what it means to be ethically responsible to ourselves and to others is welcome indeed. (―Drucilla Cornell Rutgers University)
A brave book by a courageous thinker. (―Hayden White University of California and Stanford University)
“In stunningly original interpretations of Adorno and Levinas, . . .Judith Butler compellingly demonstrates that questions of ethics
cannot avoid addressing the moral self’s complicity with violence.
By laying out the premises of a creative rereading, this study
proves that the discussion of these two authors and their future
legacy has, in a sense, barely begun. Butler writes in a truly
Spinozistic spirit, mobilizing the greatest forces and joys of
philosophical intelligence to counteract and redirect the cruelest
and most destructive of human passions. Brilliantly argued and
beautifully written, Giving an Account of Oneself is destined
to become a classic, a must read for philosophers and students of
present-day culture and politics alike.”
A powerful exploration of the intersection of identity and responsibility, Giving an Account of Oneself shows us Judith Butler at her best, in dialogue with some of the other foremost thinkers of our age: Adorno, Foucault, Levinas, and Laplanche. Confronting the problem of identities that emerge only in relation to social and moral norms they may seek to contest, she proposes a rethinking of responsibility in relation to the limits of self-understanding that make us human. (―Jonathan Culler Cornell University)
About the Author
Judith Butler is Maxine Elliot Professor of Comparative Literature and Critical Theory at the University of California at Berkeley. She is the author of The Psychic Life of Power (1997), Antigone’s Claim (2000), Giving an
Account of Oneself (2005), Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism
(2012), and Senses of the Subject (2015). She works in the fields of feminist and queer theory, European philosophy, social theory, and ethics.
Top customer reviews
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Against conceptions of subjectivity which hold that only subjects in full control of their wills and destinies can be responsible - and hence ethical - Butler argues, following in the footsteps of Emmanuel Levinas and Jean Laplanche, that responsibility flows only from the implication of the self in an order that rather dispossess the self of mastery; that our entwinement with forces and powers not (entirely) of our own making is in fact the very condition of our being responsible.
Liberal ears will no doubt bleed at the very idea, but Butler’s arguments are both immaculately conceived and powerfully conveyed. Central to Butler’s project is the concern with the very ‘appropriability’ of ethics to living beings. How can we, as human beings, cultivate a living relation to the ethical ideals we hold so dear? What sorts of violence follows when we fail to attend to the social conditions which enable and constitute ethical relations in the first place? Following from her work on speech-act theory in her previous writings, Butler goes on to to elaborate the need to take into account just these relations, relations which exceed the ability of a self to give a full and comprehensive account of itself.
As the spiritual follow up to her excellent The Psychic Life of Power, Giving an Account of Oneself is perhaps Butler’s best book to date. For all its theoretical perspicacity and complexity, it is a deeply humane book, a book written by an author with a passionate concern for the human condition and its contemporary travails. While it’s not the last word on ethics - does outlining the possibility of ethics constitute an ethics proper? And where, given the importance of the theme of ‘life’ and ’the human' in the book, are the reflections on biopolitics? - that ethics is about more than just about words means that at the very least, Butler’s book holds out a hope that is needed now more than ever.