Chapter

The subject

Saul Newman

in Unstable Universalities

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780719071287
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701522 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719071287.003.0004
The subject

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This chapter takes as its point of departure the condition of the subject under power, exploring the problem of self-domination or self-subjection: the way that the subject, rather than simply being coerced or repressed, often willingly conforms to the very identities and subject ‘positions’ that have been constructed for him. This creates certain problems for radical politics, however: there is no longer a universal human subject to be emancipated or a completely autonomous conception of human agency. The chapter explores a number of different responses to this crisis of the ‘death of Man’: Michel Foucault's strategies of self-mastery and autonomy through the ethic of ‘care’; Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari's attack on Oedipal subjectivity, and their Nietzschean dispersal of the very category of subject into a multitude of forces, potentialities and moments of flux. Using Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, the chapter tries to develop a new understanding of political subjectification — one that involves at the same time a rupturing of existing identities and subject positions.

Keywords: subject; power; self-domination; self-subjection; radical politics; Michel Foucault; Gilles Deleuze; Felix Guattari; Oedipal subjectivity; political subjectification

Chapter.  16318 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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