Posts Tagged ‘ethics


Weinstone’s Avatar Bodies

Ann Weinstone
Avatar Bodies: A Tantra for Posthumanism
Area: Digital Media
From Robert Pepperell’s Review

•    “Posthumanism thus far has focused nearly exclusively on human-technology relations.”
•    Technology is often cast as a greedy and acquisitive external force, gradually gnawing away at the core of what it is to be human.
•    “Ann Weinstone largely avoids this problem, preferring to develop instead a posthumanism of human-human relations in which the rupture between selves–between one human and another–is abrogated: “In order to create the conditions for the emergence of a nonexemptive, nonelitist ethics . . . we will have to give up our reliance on concepts of the radically other, or the other as such” (p. 14).
•    a poetic iteration of the word ‘post’, with its dual associations of ‘coming after’ (as in posthuman) and as a form of communication (as in the postal service) manages to connect the renunciation of what has gone before and the ethics of personal communication (p. 185).
•    “If we want to fundamentally alter our experience and conception of self, we must break the law of the other, the law of the alien, the irremediably unfamiliar, of exteriority (or interiority) as such. We need to get drunk with each other so we can become posthuman (p. 107).
•    a doctrine of absolute undifference is unsustainable in the longer term since it contradicts habitual experience, which consists of an infinite series of differentiations embedded in our conscious state of being
•    “I am proposing, then, as a gesture that would invite a posthuman ethics to come, a commitment to an every day practice of writing in relationship via e-mail relations with those we have never met” (p. 206).
•    That we are not humans on our own, but become human through our intimate relations with others–what Weinstone calls our “entanglement” (p. 217).
From Kathryn Farley’s Review
•    Weinstone’s mode of inquiry stresses the interconnected nature of human relations in which notions of the self are inextricably tied to understandings of “otherness”. In fact, she interrogates the self/other binary classification, stating: “I am concerned with events that suspend the terms self and other and with the ethical consequences that flow from these events-in-common” (27).  She then goes on to cite trauma, pleasure love, devotion, illness and inebriation as examples of such events.


Nealon’s Alterity Politics

Jeffrey Nealon
Alterity Politics: Ethics and Performative Subjectivity
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory

•    Leans towards more ethically unfamiliar notions: responses to the inhuman, the chiasmus, exemplarity, anger, and becoming other
•    Ethical response is the production of social relations, rather than the tracing of preexisting ethical templates
•    Butler: theories of otherness/alterity close with an embarrassing “etc.”
•    Identity politics: thematize according to sameness
•    Alterity politics: considers identity responsive first to the other
•    Ethics concerns itself with general theoretical structures and specific concrete responses
o    Reemergence based on the combo of political and theoretical
•    Performative responsibility
•    Refusal of lack
•    The specific “I” that lacks wholeness is symptomatic of the generalized “we” lacking wholeness
•    Linguistic turn—any state of sameness requires difference to restructure
•    Hegel: every individual is dependent on the possibility of constant reassurance by the other
•    Subjective differences through postmodern excess ≠ modernist lack
•    Every group must share the lack—mourn collectively
•    Discourse of identity’s lack (failure to attain the idea) tends to level all identity ‘failures’ on the same plane
•    A notion of difference-as-lack underestimates the productive qualities of alterity
•    Identity and difference: not an effect of loss, but instead produce effects
•    The excess-that-is-lack
2: “Why is it so difficult to ‘situate’ and respond to a set of specific others—ethically, politically, or theoretically—and what does the difficult of doing so teach us about identity politics and the possibility of what I call an alterity politics? Can this ‘failure’ of sameness be rethematized as an affirmation of difference? What possibilities are there for concrete responses that do not merely or finally reduce otherness to a subset of the same, to a subset of an inquiring subject’s identity?”
10: “Thus the homogeneity—or, in Laclau and Mouffe’s parlance, the hegemony—of ‘the people’ must be thought in the double time: the time of the nation, the people, and the same becomes the time of difference’s exclusion, a presence constantly interrupted by the alterity of an impossibility or void at the origin.”
12: “As Deleuze polemically maintains, ‘Those who bear the negative know not what they do.’ In other words, whereas its proponents take the process of loss and mourning to be an ethical expropriation of the subject, for Deleuze this process is actually the assured movement of a resentful subjectivity.  Those who tarry with the negative, he suggests, know all too well what they do: they know that totalization will fail, the subject will be frustrated, promises will inexorable be broken.”
14: “A response, Derrida argues, is always a ‘response in deed, at work rather in the series of strategic negotiations…response does not respond to a problem or a question, it responds to the other—for the other.”


Foucault’s Ethics

Michel Foucault
Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory

•    Some of Foucault’s aims: philosophical concepts and empirical inquiry
•    Systems of exclusion linked to scientific categorizations
•    xiii: “Foucault interpreted Aristotle as representing the universal and naturalistic pole.  For Aristotle, there is an essential pregiven harmony between sensation, pleasure, knowing, and truth.  Out perceptual apparatus is constituted in such a way that it establishes a link of pleasure and of (above all visual) knowledge, even when such a link serves no direct utilitarian purpose.  The same economy extends all the way up the hierarchy through to the highest form of knowing, contemplation.  As posited in the famous opening lines of the Metaphysics, the desire to know is essential to who we are, and ours ‘by nature.’”
“Birth of Biopolitics”
•    What should be understood by “liberalism”?
•    The question if one is governing too much must also ask, “why must one govern?”
•    Liberalism became a critique of “excessive government” and a return to a technology of a “frugal government” (American)
•    74: “One is not paying enough attention, too many things escape one’s control, too many areas lack regulation and is governing too little.”
“Subjectivity and Truth”
•    Placing the maxim “know oneself” back into explicit/implicit interrogation
•    What should one do with oneself? What work should be carried out by the self? How should one “govern oneself”? => object of actions and subject of the acts?
•    Looking at “care” and the “techniques” of the self would be a way of doing a history of subjectivity
•    Technologies of the self were developed in Hellenistic and Roman periods
•    Medical regimens concern the frequency and moment of sexual acts
•    87: “How was the subject established, at different moments and in different institutional contexts, as a possible, desirable, or even indispensable object of knowledge? How were the experience that one may have of oneself and the knowledge that one forms of oneself organized according to certain schemes?  How were these schemes defined, valorized, recommended, imposed?
“Self Writing”
•    If we write down our thoughts as if telling them to each other, we shall be so much more guarded for the shame of being known
•    What others are to the ascetic, the notebook is to the recluse
•    Hupomnemata ≠ memory support or aids for failed recollections
o    Instead, a material and a framework for exercises to be carried out frequently
o    Not just recall, but use in action
o    Capture the already said => shaping of the self
•    Stoics and Epicureans: refusal of a mental attitude turned toward the future
o    Positive value on the possession of a past one can enjoy without disturbance
•    (Cicero): Correspondence is a certain way of manifesting the self to oneself/others
•    Hup: formation of self without the collected discourse of others
•    Corr: with others and the exchange of soul services
•    Examination of conscience written as an account of oneself
•    209: “Yet one also sees that writing is associated with the exercise of thought in two different ways.  One takes the form of a linear ‘series’: it goes from mediation to the activity of writing and from there to gumnazein, that is, to training and trial in a real situation—a labor of thought, a labor through writing, a labor in reality.  The other is circular: the mediation precedes the notes which enable the rereading which in turn reinitiates the mediation.”
•    211: “By going constantly from book to book, without ever stopping, without returning to the hive now and then with one’s supply of nectar—hence without taking notes or constituting a treasure store of reading—one is liable to retain nothing, to spread oneself across different thoughts, and to forget oneself.  Writing, as a way of gathering in the reading that was done and of collecting one’s thoughts about it, is an exercise of reason that counters the great deficiency of stultitia, which endless reading may favor.”
“Technologies of the Self”
(See class notes)
“The Masked Philosopher”
•    A name makes reading too easy
•    Anonymity is a way to address a potential reader
•    Suffering from inadequate means for thinking about everything

June 2018
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