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:

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In examining the conditions for radical political subjectification, one inevitably encounters the question of ethics: to what extent should radical politics be guided by a notion of ethics? This chapter examines the place of ethics in radical politics today, suggesting that the postmodern condition is characterised, on the one hand, by the breakdown of the Kantian notions of ethics, and on the other, by the uncanny return of conservative ‘values’ and moral fundamentalism. Moreover, ethics today increasingly takes the form of an ideology which is perpetuated by different institutions, and often serves as a guise for political domination and Western imperialism. It is therefore necessary to chart a course here between these simulacra, and develop a new radical politico-ethics. The chapter considers various contemporary approaches to the question of ethics: Jürgen Habermas' notion of ‘discourse ethics’; Jean-François Lyotard's ethics of incommensurability; Richard Rorty's liberal ethics of ‘postmodern irony’; Jacques Lacan's ethics of psychoanalysis; and Jacques Derrida's ethics of deconstruction.

Keywords: ethics; radical politics; Jürgen Habermas; Jean-François Lyotard; incommensurability; Richard Rorty; postmodern irony; Jacques Lacan; psychoanalysis; Jacques Derrida

Chapter.  16445 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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