Joseph Sverker's Reviews > Giving an Account of Oneself

Giving an Account of Oneself by Judith Butler
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Jul 08, 14

bookshelves: phd-related, philosophy, gender-and-queer-stuff
Read from May 16 to June 26, 2014, read count: 2

2014: I must say that there was much more that became clear after a second reading of this book. And, after having read a fair bit more Butler over all. There are quite a few issues and topics that are not always explicitly expressed in this book, that might be important for a fuller understanding. One that comes to mind at the moment is that of Althusser's idea of interpellation and subject formation (the latter is also influenced by Foucault that Butler acknowledge in the book). What is important to have in mind when reading this book is that Butler has already argued for the data of the willing subject and that the subject is formed or created in the act of interpellation. The subject-to-be is called by a representative of the law, or the norm, and it is in the reply to that call that the subject becomes aware of him/herself as a subject. What is really quite new in this book is a development of this thought because while Butler was careful to point out the institutional side of interpellation in, for example, The Psychic Life of Power, in Giving an Account of Oneself, on the other hand, there is an emphasis on interpersonal interpellation and the side of the Law or Discourse is not as present. This leads to a greater focus on the idea of recognition, that in order to become a person one needs to be recognised as a person. This means, in the way I understand it, that Butler becomes even more radically relational in her understanding of identity formation. This becomes even more obvious in Precarious Life, where I think Butler develops a very interesting view of the body linked with vulnerability. But for more on that, have a look at my review on that book.


2012: Like all Butler I have read so far this one is profound and challenging. She manages to punge to philosophical depths in a short space and the combination of ethics and giving account of Oneself was new to me. She shows very well how the two are interlinked, how the identity of the one is dependent in the other, and even preceded by the other. Like the other Butler books I have read this one, too, is complex and not always easy to follow. I am rather certain that I don't understand all, but what I did understand (I think I understood) are worth pondering over.
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Reading Progress

06/24 marked as: currently-reading
07/08 marked as: read

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