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Reflections on the posthuman, language and ethics in feminist theory: a Wittgensteinian perspective

A PAL Forum by Salla Peltonen (PAL Visitng Scholar)
Respondent, Justin Mitchell (Duke, English)
Thurs Feb 19
Reception at 5pm
FHI Garage
Smith Warehouse, Bay 4
Duke University
Posthumanist and feminist philosophies ask in various ways what it means to be human and who counts as human (Butler 2004, 2009, Braidotti 2013) and emphasize the need to decentralize the humanist vision of the speaking subject as the originator of meaning and measure of all things (Puar 2013). By emphasizing political aspects of the commonsense orderings of the world and by attending to the differential constitution of the human and the non-human, practices of inclusion and exclusion, dehumanization and objectification are brought to the forefront (Barad 2003, Chen 2012). Feminist scholarship further emphasize the need to envision a posthumanist, relational and affirmative ethics – and call for new ways of understanding relations between lives, beyond anthropocentric understandings of the self and other (McCormack 2012, Braidotti 2006).In this talk I address some of the recent discussions regarding the posthuman, language and ethics in feminist theory, and argue that the philosophy of Wittgenstein, and the descriptive method his philosophy entails, constitutes a difference in outlook regarding the ethical and linguistic dimensions of the lives that we share with various others. By emphasizing the speaking human subject, human forms of life and the personal dimension of ethics I argue that Wittgenstein’s understanding of philosophy, despite its emphasis on the human and ordinary language, is a valuable companion to the political and philosophical critiques of posthumanist and feminist philosophies

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