A style of life: Spectral subjectivity and the limits of sacred life (Michel Foucault)
After more than a century of devastating critiques of God, man, and the foundations of truth and social justice, the traditional philosophical formulation of subjectivity has fallen into crisis. No longer conceived as rational ground, as foundational, or as universal substance, the subject is left without stable and abiding categories, and we have no means to distinguish properly "human life" from what is inhuman. If not just God is dead, but man, too---that secularized deity traveling under the banner of humanism and identity---this dissertation asks: How are human dignity and value figured in a post-foundational context? In each of the dissertation's four chapters, I demonstrate how modes of traditional subjectivity---specifically, knowledge, will, love, and metaphor as a mode of self-presentation and self-love---can be refigured without recourse to the terms of humanism. In each instance I propose a mode of relationality in and through which the self poietically reinvents the style of its self-relation, and refigures the terms of its life to-come. This is significant because it allows us, in our post-foundational context, to open a productive discourse on the possibilities and limits of human dignity and value---a "sacred life" after the deaths of God and man. Inspired in part by Merleau-Ponty and the late works of Foucault, I show that the spectral subject is relational, concerned with the kind of relation the self has to itself. In this ethical relation, the possibility for changing this relation of being and for becoming-otherwise appears in what Foucault calls a "style of life." An ontological rather than epistemological practice, stylizing the self enacts a refusal of current modes of being while creating new possibilities for subjective life, a life to-come. To address the conditions of this "sacred life"---human life, life worthy of being lived---I argue that we must rethink the terms of subjectivity, instituting a subject that does not rely on the traditional liberal categories of the human. More than a critique of the liberal subject, then, this dissertation begins to think the possibilities and limits of a new subject, what I call a spectral subject.
Chair: Judith Butler. Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 65-09, Section: A, page: 3415. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of California, Berkeley, 2004. Electronic reproduction.Ann Arbor, MI :ProQuest Information and Learning Company,[200-]System requirements: Adobe Acrobat Reader.Available via World Wide Web.
- Language: eng
- Physical Description: 268 p.
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