Vulnerability, Power, and Gender: An Anthropological Mediation Between Critical Theory and Poststructuralism
Issue: Vol 22 No. 1 (2014)
Journal: Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism
Subject Areas: Philosophy
This article addresses what philosophical anthropology may contribute to the debate between critical theory and poststructuralism. It examines one prong of Amy Allen’s critique of Judith Butler’s collapse of normal dependency into subjection. Allen is correct that Butler’s assessment of agency necessary for political action in inadequate theoretically. However, I believe that some accounting of the nature of the being for whom suffering and flourishing matter is necessary. To this end, I provide an ontogenesis of intentionality as a response to Butler’s notion of the corporeal vulnerability shared by all human beings. On this basis, I articulate an anthropology that renders intelligible the sources of and links between mutual recognition and agency—as well as clarifying the sense in which the historical association between complementarity and gender can still be a resource for progressive thinking.
Author: Vida Pavesich
“A conversation between Axel Honneth, Amy Allen and Maeve Cooke, Frankfurt am Main, 12 April 2010.” The Journal of Power 3(2): 153–170.
Allen, Amy. 2008. The Politics of Our Selves: Power, Autonomy, and Gender in Contemporary Critical Theory. New York: Columbia University Press.
Allen, Amy. 2000. The Power of Feminist Theory: Domination, Resistance, Solidarity. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Benhabib, Seyla. 1992. Situating the Self: Gender, Community and Postmodernism in Contemporary Ethics. New York: Routledge.
Blumenberg, Hans. 1988. Work on Myth. Translated by Robert M. Wallace. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Butler, Judith. 2003. Giving an Account of Oneself: A Critique of Ethical Violence. Amsterdam: Koninklije Van Gorcum.
Butler, Judith. 1997. The Psychic Life of Power: Theories in Subjection. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Butler, Judith. 2004a. “Longing for Recognition,” in Undoing Gender. London and New York: Routledge.
Butler, Judith. 2004b. “Violence, Mourning, Politics,” in Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence. London and New York: Verso.
Donald, Merlin. 2001. A Mind So Rare: The Evolution of Human Consciousness. New York: Norton & Norton.
Ferrarese, Estelle. 2011. “Judith Butler’s ‘not particularly postmodern insight’ of recognition.” Philosophy and Social Criticism 37: 759–773. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0191453711410029
Gallagher, Shaun. 1995. “Body Schema and Intentionality.” In The Body and the Self, edited by José Luis Bermúdez, Anthony Marcel and Naomi Eilan. 225–244. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Gallagher, Shaun. 2005a. “Dynamic models of body schematic processes.” In Body Image and Body Schema, edited by Helena De Preester and Veroniek Knockaert, 233–250. John Benjamins: Amsterdam/Philadelphia. http://dx.doi.org/10.1075/aicr.62.15gal
Gallagher, Shaun. 2005b. How the Body Shapes the Mind. Oxford: Clarendon Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199271941.001.0001
Gehlen, Arnold. 1988. Man: His Nature and Place in the World. Translated by Claire McMillan and Karl Pillemer. New York: Columbia University Press.
Honneth, Axel and Hans Joas. 1988. Social Action and Human Nature. Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press.
Hardy, Sarah. 2009. Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Plessner, Helmuth. 1970. Laughing and Crying: A Study of the Limits of Human Behavior. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.
Scheler, Max. 1961. Man’s Place in Nature. Translated by Hans Meyerhoff. New York: Noonday, 1961.
Sroufe, L. Alan. 1995. Emotional Development: The Organization of Emotional Life in the Early Years. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Tomasello, Michael. 1999. The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Weiss, Dennis. ND. “Scheler and Philosophical Anthropology,” http://faculty.ycp.edu/~dweiss/research/Scheler_and_Philosophical_Anthropology.pdf
Winnicott, Donald. 1965. “Ego Integration in Childhood Development,” in The Maturational Processes and the Facilitating Environment: Studies in the Theory of Emotional Development. London: The Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psychoanalysis.