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Senses of the Subject

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Table of Contents

Preface Acknowledgments "How Can I Deny That These Hands and This Body Are Mine?" Merleau-Ponty and the Touch of Malebranche The Desire to Live: Spinoza's Ethics under Pressure To Sense What Is Living in the Other: Hegel's Early Love Kierkegaard's Speculative Despair Sexual Difference as a Question of Ethics: Alterities of the Flesh in Irigary and Merleau-Ponty Violence, Non-Violence: Sartre on Fanon Notes Index

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A close engagement, by one of today's most important intellectuals.

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.


"Judith Butler's reading of major works on the construction of the subject, ranging from Descartes and Spinoza to Irigaray and Fanon, intertwines three projects, which prove intimately related: a symptomatic reading of texts, where the materiality of their writing reveals a permanent uncertainty about the "sovereignty" or "autonomy" that they claim; a phenomenology of the affective "third substance" which, being neither mind nor body, must also encroach on both; and a critique of normative ontological binarisms which, in particular, confuse sexual otherness with a difference of given places. In this account of the latent "sensible" mover of metaphysics, she also gives an account of herself as incarnated thinker, beautifully complex and inventive. Her book will generate admiration and continuous reflection." -- -Etienne Balibar author of Equaliberty "With this inspiring book--simultaneously a philosophical dispossession of philosophy, a paean to sensation and an affirmation of the 'radically impossible venture' of ethics and politics--[Butler] edges towards a palpable, outward-looking alternative to philosophical chest beating." -Times Higher Education "In this exceptional collection, Judith Butler displays the unusually vivid, even startling insight that makes her indisputably the world's most interesting contemporary philosopher. These lucid essays climb in and out of the me, the her, the you, dream and reality, subject, object, nature and the preternatural, meaning and its deadly discontents. Butler wrestles the narratives of embodiment into language that lives." -- -Patricia J. Williams Columbia Law School "Butler concludes the Introduction to this book thus: 'Acted on, I act still, but it is hardly this "I" that acts alone, and even though, and precisely because, it never gets done with being undone.' In these eloquent, passionately dialectical, and vertiginous essays, Butler relentlessly tracks our being undone by others, by language, by things, by institutions, and by the normative formations that hold us upright beyond our standing upright in the writings of, among others, Descartes, Spinoza, Hegel, Merleau Ponty, Irigaray, and Fanon. This is echt Butler: a necessity for those who already know her work, and a generous point of entry for those philosophers who have yet to find their way to her thought." -- -J. M. Bernstein The New School for Social Research

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