Re: Poststructualism, ethics and values

On Tue, 23 Jan 1996, malgosia askanas wrote:

> What do you mean by "constructive"? That it should give you prescriptions
> on how to improve liberal Western democracy? I am trying to ask you why,
> if this is your goal, you are looking for advice amongst people who are
> essentially _against_ liberal Western democracy and its "improvements",
> and who think that the so-called "humanism" of this system is basically
> anti-human --

Hmm, although I usually agree with you, Malgosia, I think that this is
precisely where poststructuralism gets itself in "trouble." Yes, it
undermines many (but not all) of the basic tenets of liberal Western
democracy, but it remains in the negative mode, unable to come up with a
new vision (and I'm glad about this) that is strctured according to
values other than autonomy, self-determination, and equality (however
much these terms may be problematized). As a result, poststructuralism
is reformist by default. Its problematization of the traditional terms
of liberal democracy may put it at its "end," but it must still come to
terms with many of the old issues. It is when we forget this, I think,
that we begin to looks rather silly and out of touch with certain rather
inescapable elements of the "social reality," and unaware of features and
values embedded in our discourse that are obvious to discerning outsiders.


if I, too, may profit from the appaling muddledness with which
> everybody is throwing these concepts around just to jerk themselves off, as
> it seems. If one insists on speaking in terms of historical political
> movements, Foucault's thought probably has the most kinship with various
> forms of anarchism. There is nothing "sad" about this. There is nothing
> "sad" in thinking that we need something radically different than what
> we have now. You may disagree, and think that what we have now can be
> hacked; but if you want to argue that it can be hacked so as to "fix"
> what the poststructs are against, then you should at least do your homework
> and understand _what_ they are against and why they argue what they argue.
> -malgosia

Erik D. Lindberg
Dept. of English and Comparative Lit.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Milwaukee, WI 53211
email: edl@xxxxxxxxxxx


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