Re: Judith Butler

I'm sorry I just have to reply to the naivety of this posting, which also
betrays perfectly the ethical and moral problems with the suggested position.

Quetzil notes

>regarding clitorectomy & related, i certainly am too ignorant of specific
>practices that are SO HIGHLY/HOTLY CONTESTED to say I am universally opposed
>or unequivocally in favor. likewise with adult/child sex.

Well, one can see the foundational fallacy at work here. Quetzil doesn't
feel able to say anything about some practices because he doesn't "KNOW"
enough about them (actually quetzil said he was too ignorant about them, but
I will ask a little intellectual room within which to move). But how is the
term "know" being used here? Is Quetzil saying that in order to act he must
"know" everything there is to know about a particular situation? Presumably,
if this is the case he never gets out of bed, in fact, even geting into bed
must be problematic. But even if I accept the arguments that seem to have
gone nowhere and accept that discourses are reality, I, and Quetzil, still
have to act in this world, and we must do so without "perfect knowledge".
The problem comes when Quetzil forgets that even inaction is a form of
action. Consider the following:
>and this noncommittment is not a default in favor or default against. it is
>a position that seeks to understand the sociohistorical specifics and
>particularities -- call it historical particularism and cultural relativism
>if you want, but its not "a default" pro position.

But of course it is a default position. If such practices (and I am making
no claims to be for or against them here) exist and if one lets them exist,
then one has let them exist. One does not get off the moral hook by saying I
don't know enough about them. What would count as enough "knowledge" of the
sociohistorical specifics? I will repost a fairy tale I posted earlier on
this list to illustrate the inconsistencies in this position:

A fairy tale.

Once upon a time. A person living in my street. I have never talked to
him/her, and know nothing about him/her. In fact, let's just call this
person the 'other in my street'. One night noises erupt. Sounds like murder
to me. What do I do? Well, it's the 'other in my street'. None of my
business, I do nothing, I don't know enough about the 'other in my street'
to say whether he/she enjoys being murdered. But is this acceptable? Most I
think would say not. But if the answer is that my lack of action towards the
'other in the street' is not acceptable, why is it acceptable to sit on our
a***s when the 'other' is not in my street? I'll tell you why. Because, 'we'
(to use Rorty's much overused phrase) have decided to buy totally into the
game of nation-states as immutable natural entities (natural in the sense
of, they exist and we have no foundational ground from which to critique
them hence they are 'real' (where 'real can be taken to be 'natural'))

What a multi-consequential disaster!


Colin Wight
Department of International Politics
University of Wales, Aberystwyth
SY23 3DA


  • Re: Judith Butler
    • From: D Hugh-Jones
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