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Unbecoming SubjectsJudith Butler, Moral Philosophy, and Critical Responsibility$
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Annika Thiem

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780823228980

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823228980.001.0001

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Subjects in Subjection: Bodies, Desires, and the Psychic Life of Norms

Subjects in Subjection: Bodies, Desires, and the Psychic Life of Norms

Chapter:
(p.21) One Subjects in Subjection: Bodies, Desires, and the Psychic Life of Norms
Source:
Unbecoming Subjects
Author(s):

Annika Thiem

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fso/9780823228980.003.0002

That one's body, one's desires, and even one's psychic lives are not separable from the way that norms and social power act on a person is not just an uncomfortable thought or a theory that adequately seems to sum up experiences that one might have had. The subject of moral philosophy is often cast as that of an agent who breaks with the power of these norms in rational deliberation. However, this capacity of rationality and its scope are called into question when one considers precisely how this subject of rationality is continuously formed and sustained through its subjection to social norms. The desire for the good life as a traditional resource for ethical thought becomes problematic if one takes seriously how this desire and the kind of good life that one can desire are socially formed and how the norms that determine what can be desired as good can make lives and bodies less rather than more possible.

Keywords:   body, desire, psychic lives, moral philosophy, rationality, social norms

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