|Professor Judith Butler|
Update: we talked about the different types of contracts that Roussean & Kant had in mind.
On the one hand Rousseau having (in Du Contract Social) an ambivalence regarding his état de société, the implicit tension between obéissance and devoir (do you obey for self-interest, or for the bien commun (common good)? Rousseau's definition of the weakness of force: "la force ne peut relever du droit" (something Hobbes would disagree with) and yet, the tension with his category "bien de tous." some other points:
1- multitude/peuple (one an amorphous mass, the other a vested entity. Yet when he defines the authority of the people he makes a circular observation: le seule autorité qui d'une multitude puisse faire un peuple c'est le peuple.
2- Rousseau idea of sovereignty as (a) indivisible (because it is sovereign & a collective entity) and (b) inaliénable (because it's directed by la volonté general.
Which brings us to the idea of how much here is necessary and how much is an affaire de convention once you build your own political edifice. What I'm saying is that after Rousseau, the political edificie cannot stand without some degree of legitimation. And what's that? Here is where Kant comes in.
In his Metaphysic der Sitten Kant takes revises Rousseau's contractarianism. He disagrees with Rousseau's intérêt propre as a social glue. More a propos of his philosophy Kant proposes the idea of gutter Wille (good will) as the only thing that can be maintained without restriction. The best expression of this becomes the so called categorical imperative (Kategorischen Imperativ) particularly in Kant's second formulation:
Handle so, daß du die Menschheit sowohl in deiner Person, als auch in der Person eines jeden anderen jederzeit zugleich als Zweck, niemals bloß als Mittel brauchest.(do not treat people as a means (Mittle) to and end, but as ends (Zweck) themselves) which translates as respect (Achtung) it's interesting that Kant uses Achtung, which also means "attention," instead of merely Respekt.
So, what we need here is not self-interest (nor the "happiness" we obtain through it, and remember there's a difference between English utilitarian happiness and Aristotle's eudaimonia) but a reasonable agreement.
1- Kant agrees with Locke regarding freedom (Freiheit) as innate right (Freiheit remains a difficult category for Kant to prove, but this is a discussion for another time).
2- The contract is translated as state law (a state order staatlichen Ordnung, that guarantees sovereignty in the people (das Volk)... as with Locke, liberty and separation of powers. The deal for Kand is reasonableness (reasonable agreement).
3- For Kant there is practical reason (Wille) which acknowledges the reasonableness of moral considerations and makes us respect their authority, on the other we have the power of choice (Willkür) which can be arbitrary, enabling us to choose in practice or to violate that authority. So, there is a little separation from Wille to Willkür, but the consequences are far reaching.
1- Feminist Epistemology, please scroll down the Stanford article to situatedness. Read it first and then we can discuss it in class. There are two aspects to the following paragraph:
Many of these ways in which knowers' physical and psychological relations to the world affects what and how they know are familiar and extensively studied by cognitive psychology, naturalized epistemology, and philosophy of science. Feminist epistemology takes such studies a further step by considering how the social location of the knower affects what and how she knows. It can thus be seen as a branch of social epistemology. An individual's social locations consists of her ascribed social identities (gender, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, caste, kinship status, etc.) and social roles and relationships (occupation, political party membership, etc.). Partly in virtue of their different ascribed identities, individuals occupy different social roles that accord them different powers, duties, and role-given goals and interests. They are subject to different norms that prescribe different virtues, habits, emotions, and skills that are thought to be appropriate for these roles. They also acquire different subjective identities. Subjective identification with one's social groups can take several forms. One may simply know oneself to have certain ascribed identities. One may accept or endorse these identities, actively affirming the norms and roles associated with them. Or one may regard one's social identities as oppressive (if, say, one's identity is cast by society as evil, contemptible, or disgusting), yet see one's fate as tied with the groups with which one is identified, and commit oneself to collective action with other members of those groups to overcome that oppression.2- There's Gilligan's argument: you cannot speak of a child ignoring the child's gender.
3- The argument that few people have actually consented to their governments so no government is actually legitimate is responded to with Locke's tacit consent. What it means is a symmetry of benefits & duties. In addition, political authority is dependent on political legitimacy. Remember Rousseau:
À supposer que la force soit un droit, aucun ordre politique ne serait possible puisque la force ne tire sa légitimité que d’elle-même (force doesn't ground itself since it cannot legitimate itself, so the political order needs to justify).4- In passing, I briefly mentioned hegemony and Carl Schmitt (we'll talk about him soon). In Marxist terms: Die herrschenden Gedanken sind immer die Gedanken der Herrschenden (i.e., ruling ideas are the rulers' ideas).
5- This is my beginner's list of feminists philosophers:
*Judith Butler (professor of critical theory @ the University of California). I recommend Gender Trouble (2011).
*Avital Ronel, professor of Germanic Language and Literature at NYU. Her book Stupidity (2002) is a winner.
*Syla Benhabib (professor at Yale and specialist in Hannah Arendt), check out her Politics in Dark Times (2010).
*Julia Kristeva (professor at the University of Paris). Read her New Maladies of the Soul (1995).
*Hélèn Cixous (professor at-large of Cornell University). Stigmata is a good book to understand Cixous' philosophy.