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Giving an Account of Oneself$
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Judith Butler

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780823225033

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823225033.001.0001

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THREE: Responsibility

THREE: Responsibility

(p.83) THREE: Responsibility
Giving an Account of Oneself

Judith Butler

Fordham University Press

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

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