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Giving an Account of Oneself Paperback – 31 Oct 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press (31 Oct. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823225046
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823225040
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 1.3 x 15 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 70,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"In stunningly original interpretations of Adorno and Levinas, . . .Judith Butler compellingly demonstrates that questions of ethicscannot avoid addressing the moral self's complicity with violence.By laying out the premises of a creative rereading, this studyproves that the discussion of these two authors and their futurelegacy has, in a sense, barely begun. Butler writes in a trulySpinozistic spirit, mobilizing the greatest forces and joys ofphilosophical intelligence to counteract and redirect the cruelestand most destructive of human passions. Brilliantly argued andbeautifully written, Giving an Account of Oneself is destinedto become a classic, a must read for philosophers and students ofpresent-day culture and politics alike."--Hent de Vries, The Johns Hopkins University"A brave book by a courageous thinker."--Hayden White, University of California and Stanford University"In a time when moral certitude is used to justify the worst violence, Butler's nuanced reworking of what it means to be ethically responsible to ourselves and to others is welcome indeed."--Drucilla Cornell, Rutgers University"A powerful exploration of the intersection of identity and responsibility, Giving an Account of Oneself shows us Judith Butler at her best, in dialogue with some of the other foremost thinkers of our age: Adorno, Foucault, Levinas, and Laplanche. Confronting the problem of identities that emerge only in relation to social and moral norms they may seek to contest, she proposes a rethinking of responsibility in relation to the limits of self-understanding that make us human."--Jonathan Culler, Cornell University

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"Spinoza Lectures

Judith Butler (1956) is Maxine Elliot Professor in the Departments of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley.
Having received her Ph.D. in Philosophy from Yale University, she went to Germany to study Hegel and hermeneutics, which resulted in Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France (1987). In this book she discusses the influence of Hegel and the effects of his work in French contemporary philosophy, concentrating on the theme of desire. The classic of queer theory which made her immediately famous, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990), questions the notion of identity and identity politics within feminist theory and criticizes the dominance of heterosexuality. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of 'Sex' (1993) takes up questions concerning the body and further elaborates the notion of 'gender performativity', and Excitable Speech (1997) reflects on language, performativity and hate speech. She is also the co-author of Contingency, Hegemony, Universality. Contemporary Dialogues on the Left, in which Ernesto Laclau, Slavoj Zizek and Judith Butler engage in a dialogue on central questions of contemporary philosophy and politics.
Butler's Spinoza lectures follow up the themes of The Psychic Life of Power: Theories of Subjection (1997) and Antigone's Claim: Kinship Between Life and Death (2000), in which she further develops her Foucauldian inspired reformulation of psychoanalysis. Her recent project is a critique of ethical violence that works with modernist philosophical and literary texts.
An excellent bibliography of her work is available at the following address:"
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Butler's best book. 17 Mar. 2015
By StreetlightReader - Published on
Format: Paperback
At the heart of Judith Butler’s complex and pathbreaking reflections on gender has always been a concern with simply making the world a better place. A place at once more hospitable and more challenging than it has been, less exclusionary and less indifferent than it is. A concern, in other words, with ethics. In Giving an Account of Oneself, Butler opens the question of the very possibility of ethics; what kind of subject could be an ethical subject? What are the sorts of conditions by which we can act ethically in the world? In what manner can one be held to be accountable, and to give an account of oneself?

Against conceptions of subjectivity which hold that only subjects in full control of their wills and destinies can be responsible - and hence ethical - Butler argues, following in the footsteps of Emmanuel Levinas and Jean Laplanche, that responsibility flows only from the implication of the self in an order that rather dispossess the self of mastery; that our entwinement with forces and powers not (entirely) of our own making is in fact the very condition of our being responsible.

Liberal ears will no doubt bleed at the very idea, but Butler’s arguments are both immaculately conceived and powerfully conveyed. Central to Butler’s project is the concern with the very ‘appropriability’ of ethics to living beings. How can we, as human beings, cultivate a living relation to the ethical ideals we hold so dear? What sorts of violence follows when we fail to attend to the social conditions which enable and constitute ethical relations in the first place? Following from her work on speech-act theory in her previous writings, Butler goes on to to elaborate the need to take into account just these relations, relations which exceed the ability of a self to give a full and comprehensive account of itself.

As the spiritual follow up to her excellent The Psychic Life of Power, Giving an Account of Oneself is perhaps Butler’s best book to date. For all it’s theoretical perspicacity and complexity, it is a deeply humane book, a book written by an author with a passionate concern for the human condition and it’s contemporary travails. While it’s not the last word on ethics - does outlining the possibility of ethics constitute an ethics proper? And where, given the importance of the theme of ‘life’ and ’the human' in the book, are the reflections on biopolitics? - that ethics is about more than just about words means that at the very least, Butler’s book holds out a hope that is needed now more than ever.
Butler is a great philosopher. Her writing is clear and pedagogical 10 April 2015
By Reviewer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Butler is a great philosopher. Her writing is clear and pedagogical, regardless of what they say. And her ethical outlook is the kind of outlook that we need today.
0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Persuasive and trenchant 30 Aug. 2013
By Angela Covalt - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
The chapters in this work are more-or-less discrete essays on a range of topics, all well-considered and cogent. I am particularly enamored of her chapter on governmentality and the resurrection of sovereignty.
0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Excellent book! 10 Sept. 2012
By Joel - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is really a good read. It is a very challenging read, but it is also extremely relevant and rewarding. I highly recommend this book.
16 of 74 people found the following review helpful
Excellent, Engaging 21 May 2007
By QuixoticOther - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is terrific! I recomend it to anyone familiar with Butler's work (though it is very distinct from much of her older work) or for anyone who thinks it looks even the slightest bit interesting. Even if you disagree with Butler, the book won't disappoint!
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