The Subject and Other Subjects
On Ethical, Aesthetic, and Political Identity
Publication Year: 1998
Published by: University of Michigan Press
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1. Introduction: Ethics ad Nauseam
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One of the great temptations regarding ethics is to view it as cumulative, as if history provided the occasion to practice and to perfect our moral knowledge. History repeats itself, people say, because the idea of repetition is the necessary corollary to our desire to redirect old events toward better conclusions, to redeem failures of the past, and to...
2. What Does Postmodernism Want? Utopia
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We conceive of our age as existing beyond the normal frames of time and space. Time flies, and yet each instant is crammed with things to do. Time-saving devices create more time but also require us to save more of it. Vast distances are crossed in no time at all, and yet we seem to spend all of our time either going from place to place or watching...
3. Multiculturalism, or the Ethics of Anti-Ethnocentrism
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My goal in creating this collage is to assemble a variety of opinions, anecdotes, and arguments found at the crossroads where current debates about multiculturalism and ethnocentrism may be said to meet. My first presupposition is that the West is an “anthropological culture” in which self-image is constructed within the history of an...
4. Reading for Character: Where It Was, I Must Come to Be
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The persona of the critic is an enigmatic construction, if we consider the resources that are and are not permitted to it. When is a critic toopersonal? When is he or she too impersonal? Modern theory, thanks largely to feminism, has discovered the personal voice of the critic. But the institution of literary criticism still renders the reading...
5. What Is There? A Dialogue on Obscenity, Sexuality, and the Sublime
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Q: You suggested that we call this interview, “What Is There?” What is this all about? We are supposed to be talking about sexuality and the sublime, but I don’t see the connection. A: Sexuality and the sublime are, of course, fashionable topics today. They seem to be talked about in the same breath. In this sense,...
6. Politics and Peace
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My goal is to work my way back to Kant’s defensive preface to Perpetual Peace, the prophetic essay situated by many at the origin of modern conceptions of peace and international diplomacy. Suffice it to say for the moment that the following reflections are intended to reveal the epitaph in Kant’s epigraph—the eternal repose residing in perpetual peace...
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In some high schools in the American South, two prom queens are chosen each fall, one black, one white. A young woman’s name has been submitted in nomination. Her mother is white, and her father is black. The school officials require that she declare herself as one color or the other if her name is to be placed on the ballot. She refuses and...
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Page Count: 168
Illustrations: 4 B&W within text
Publication Year: 1998