Re: Re[2]: ethics and poststructuralism

> Like Antoine Goulem, I'd be interested in a discussion relating Marx to
> Foucault (or vice versa). I think Gayatri Spivak's work has been
> turning in this direction. For example, her essay "Can the
> Subaltern Speak?" would be good to look at.
> Concerning "ethics" and poststructuralism, or how humanism seems to be rearing
> its ugly head again in the discourse of "anti-humanists" trained in
> poststructuralist theory: it seems to me what is happening here are
> attempts at re-defining the term, "humanist." The problems with the brand
> of humanism that Foucault and other post-structuralists were critiquing lay in
> its tendency to universalize and in that sense essentialize "human" experience
> to fit a certain norm (i.e. white, male, economically and intellectually
> privileged). Any new brand of humanism that might surface in the 1990s
> would (hopefully) be informed by this legacy of anti-humanism. What this
> new species of humanism would look like, I'm not sure. But I think the
> conjectures are interesting.
> Jane Park

Do we have to throw out the baby with the bath water? Is humanism so tainted,
by the past tendency of many male humanist writers to devalue women, that
all of humanism's values are irretrievably masculinist and phallocenric
in nature? To reject all of humanist discourse, past, present and future,
on these grounds is to place discourse in a static light, where once it
has been tainted it can never shake such a taint or mean something different.
Must any call for autonomy, freedom or human dignity mean that we are
essentializing some human beings as inferior, abnormal or pathologocal? Can't
we acknowledge liberal humanism for its extravagences and dominating effects,
while also acknowledging it for its valuing of the humanity in all of us? I
too look forward to a new brand of humanism arising out of the critiques
of post-structuralism. Not a rejection of it, but a re-definition of humanism.

Greg Coolidge


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