Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism, Vol 22, No 1 (2014)

Vulnerability, Power, and Gender: An Anthropological Mediation Between Critical Theory and Poststructuralism

Vida Pavesich
Issued Date: 14 Aug 2014


This article addresses what philosophical anthropology may contribute to the debate between critical theory and poststructuralism. It examines one prong of Amy Allen’s critique of Judith Butler’s collapse of normal dependency into subjection. Allen is correct that Butler’s assessment of agency necessary for political action in inadequate theoretically. However, I believe that some accounting of the nature of the being for whom suffering and flourishing matter is necessary. To this end, I provide an ontogenesis of intentionality as a response to Butler’s notion of the corporeal vulnerability shared by all human beings. On this basis, I articulate an anthropology that renders intelligible the sources of and links between mutual recognition and agency—as well as clarifying the sense in which the historical association between complementarity and gender can still be a resource for progressive thinking.

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DOI: 10.1558/eph.v22i1.3


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