Re: Poststructuralism and Ethics

Date sent: Thu, 18 Jan 1996 22:42:52 +1100
To: foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: Bryan Palmer <bpalmer@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: Re: Poststructuralism and Ethics
Send reply to: foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

> I too am a recovering post-structurlait who is coming
> to grips with the truth that we are deeply paradoxical and problematic
> humanists, who believe that human beings are deserving of dignity and
> freedom, yet who are unwilling, for theoretical reasons, to define the
> humanness which demands such dignity and which secures such freedom.

Thank you

Bryan Palmer
Canberra - Australia's National Capital

Perhaps we should question the belief itself. Why do we believe in
the ideas of human dignity and freedom? What is the morality of this
belief? Is this belief, or such beliefs atheoretical, a form of the
expression of what we truly are, human beings? It seems that the many
theoretical reasons that we embrace concerning the limits of notions
of humanism, essentialism, agency, individual are somehow amoral,
within the realm of a celebration of a nonmoral politics. I guess, as
one who has never abandoned the "core" ideas that comprise "post-
structruralism", the possible reaction to give to the notion of a
belief-based humanism is to accept, at both levels, supposing that
belief and theory are different, with all the risks involved, that it
is impossible to sustain the notion of humanity. The deconstruction
of humanity and liberal discourses, in its Nietzschean version allows
some of us to accept the impossibility of a social existence which is
premised on the notion of being. I do not see how we can reconcile
ontology and the "fundamentals" of "post-structuralist critique.


Windsor Leroke
University of the Witwatersrand.


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