Friday, 30 November 2018

"Maybe you should try reading Judith Butler?"

I’m looking at this because questions of ‘identity’ have been important to me, and I am suspicious of stark and exclusive claims of identity, and identity-based politics in general.

I'm glad to find Judith Butler's work (introduced very entertainingly by Prof Paul Fry here) has respet for Freudian ideas of personality development, in which pre-socialised, pre-theoretical innate impulses, biological expectations (of love, for example), the infant's phantasying and object choices, are present, and remain ready to break through.
(I see, and like to reflect on, links here with Karl Popper, who pointed to human biological expectations to illustrate an origin for theorising per se. I may have written on that in past blogs.)
I'm glad for the overview of Butler's writing, and its context, at the Stanford University encyclopaedia of philosophy website, entry on feminist treatments of sex and gender, which draws attention to Butler's use of Freud.

I’m grateful to Jane Clare Jones for her pithy and forthright take on Judith Butler.
from which this quote, which I like:
What we work on is what matters to us, and what matters to us, more often than not, is what hurts us. We work on our wounds – on the places where we have bashed into the world or the world has bashed into us and we came away bleeding and tried to stem the flow of blood by imagining how things could be otherwise.”
... and from which she speculates:
“Butler’s solution for dealing with her particular wound of homosexual gender-non-conformity, is to try and trouble the distinction between ‘men’ and ‘woman’ at a fundamental ontological level. (And for those of us who think we need the difference between men and women to describe how and why men oppress women, that is, seriously, trouble.)”
(J Clare Jones, ‘..Butler and Bodies’, online essay)

I'm also grateful for Martha Nussbaum's having read Butler thoroughly in around 1999, having given thoughtful comment on it, and having persuaded me to go no further with it for now.

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