The textuality of human rights: Founding narratives of human personality

As one of the primary rationales enabling contemporary international human rights law, "human personality" replaces both the absolutist organicism of natural law and the possessive and positivist individualism of liberal economic materialism; but the act of substitution effectively cleaves "human personality," causing it to serve simultaneously as the foundation and aim of human rights. Thus "human personality," as the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) has it, is both antecedent to human rights and is also (con)sequent to human rights, establishing a sort of tautological construction in which the "human personality" to be achieved through the codification and observance of human rights must be posited as prior to human rights, as an innate and inhering feature of pre-juridical human personality. As articulated, human rights aspire to enable a developmental sequence that follows a posited originary human personality through a teleology that will arrive at some expressive civil manifestation of this personality. This teleology-in-tautology of human rights re-naturalizes human personality by describing it narratively as a structure of human development in which the human personality achieves its fullest expression through its emergence as a (self-) narrating international citizen-subject, a narrative vision of the human that the law shares with the traditional literary generic conventions of the Bildungsroman (the story of the "socialization" of the individual). Rather, then, than institutionalizing a static, singular subject, human rights animate the contemporary human rights subject as an aspirational project and a narrative process by which the individual is to be incorporated internationally through the regulation of the enfolding of the citizen-subject as a juridical person who will narrate such enfolding as the unfolding of innate and inhering human qualities, as a narrative act of volition.
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