THREE: Responsibility

Judith Butler

in Giving an Account of Oneself

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print October 2005 | ISBN: 9780823225033
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235230 | DOI:
THREE: Responsibility

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This chapter considers diachronic and synchronic efforts to establish the emergence of the subject, including the ethical implications of these accounts of subject formation. It also studies Adorno's contribution to a theory of responsibility that can negotiate between the so-called human and inhuman dimensions of ethical dispositions, examining how a critical politics is related to an ethics and, indeed, a morality that at times requires a first-person account of oneself. It shows that morality is neither a symptom of its social conditions nor a site of transcendence of them, but rather is essential to the determination of agency and the possibility of hope. With the help of Foucault's self-criticism, it may be possible to show that the question of ethics emerges precisely at the limits of our schemes of intelligibility, the site where we ask ourselves what it might mean to continue in a dialogue where no common ground can be assumed, where one is, at it were, at the limits of what one knows yet still under the demand to offer and receive acknowledgment: to someone else who is there to be addressed and whose address is there to be received.

Keywords: subject formation; Adorno; theory of responsibility; ethical dispositions; morality; Foucault; ethics

Chapter.  19476 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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