The Autonomous Animal
Self-Governance and the Modern Subject
Publication Year: 2011
Autonomy is a vital concept in much of modern theory, defining the Subject as capable of self-governance. Democratic theory relies on the concept of autonomy to provide justification for participatory government and the normative goal of democratic governance, which is to protect the ability of the individual to self-govern.
Offering the first examination of the concept of autonomy from a postfoundationalist perspective, The Autonomous Animal analyzes how the ideal of self-governance has shaped everyday life. Claire E. Rasmussen begins by considering the academic terrain of autonomy, then focusing on specific examples of political behavior that allow her to interrogate these theories. She demonstrates how the adolescent—a not-yet-autonomous subject—highlights how the ideal of self-governance generates practices intended to cultivate autonomy by forming the individual’s relationship to his or her body. She points up how the war on drugs rests on the perception that drug addicts are the antithesis of autonomy and thus must be regulated for their own good. Showing that the animal rights movement may challenge the distinction between human and animal, Rasmussen also examines the place of the endurance athlete in fitness culture, where self-management of the body is the exemplar of autonomous subjectivity.
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
Download PDF (535.0 KB)
Download PDF (50.5 KB)
Download PDF (50.4 KB)
During the long process of writing this book, I have been fortunate to have friends and critics contribute to my thinking. At the University of Washington I was privileged to work with Christine Di Stefano, of whom left an impression on the final product. I owe a particular debt of gratitude to Stuart Scheingold and Michael Brown, who were ...
Introduction: Conceiving a Human Being
Download PDF (75.9 KB)
According to biographers, Immanuel Kant was fond of exclaiming, “Is it possible to conceive a human being with more perfect health than myself?” (Youngquist 1999, 347). Waking every morning at exactly 4:55, he ate only foods he considered conducive to thinking, carefully measured out an exact dosage of sleep, and, famously, claimed he did ...
1. The Choice of Law: Autonomy between Norm and Creation
Download PDF (132.4 KB)
Rousseau’s Confessions includes a salacious passage describing a spanking at the hands of his caregiver, Mademoiselle de Lambercier, and his subsequent sexual arousal. He spends several pages describ-ing his erotic response to the act of physical discipline and the pro-found impact it had on his relationships with women, his sexuality, ...
2. Mature Subjects: Physical Education and the Political Child
Download PDF (206.6 KB)
The following is an exchange between Whitney, a fifteen-year-old girl, and Dr. Phil McGraw (Dr. Phil), a self-described “Life Strategist” and well-known pop psychologist appearing on the Oprah Winfrey show:whitney: You don’t have to be depressed or have low self-esteem to want to do anything sexual. I think it’s more fun than people realize. I ...
3. Intoxicated Citizens: America’s Drug War and the Body Politic
Download PDF (347.2 KB)
Upon arrival at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in 1986, oﬃcials in a small room containing only a wastebasket. After forty-eight hours, during which Montoya de Hernandez refused to comply with customs oﬃcials who requested that she defecate in a waste-basket, she was taken to a hospital and given a pregnancy test, several ...
4. Man Is a Political Animal: Self-Discipline and Its Beastly Other
Download PDF (201.9 KB)
...the mutilation and murder of a child. Following a public trial she was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. She was dressed in the clothing of a female menial laborer and then taken to the pub-lic square, where she was disemboweled and her limbs were torn oﬀ. The king’s executioner hanged her, and her carcass was left in the ...
5. Fit to Be Tied: Exercise Fads and Our Addiction to Autonomy
Download PDF (292.4 KB)
The death of Len Bias in 1986 from cardiac arrest following his first encounter with cocaine became one of the most successful antidrug ads. Bias, a twenty-two-year-old All-American basketball star, had just been drafted in the first round of the NBA draft by the Boston Celtics and was set to become one of the highest played professional ...
Conclusion: Freedom and Self-Governance
Download PDF (58.1 KB)
Within modern political thought, autonomy has played an important role in resisting various forms of power. The idea that individuals pos-sess a capacity to reason for themselves and thus govern themselves challenged multiple forms of hierarchy and domination. The project of modern democratization is heavily invested in a vision of the subject ...
Download PDF (105.2 KB)
Download PDF (146.9 KB)
Download PDF (345.1 KB)
Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 2011