Performativity and the Ideological Construction of the Self. The Age of Narcissism and Beyond

In Antonino Pennisi & Alessandra Falzone (eds.), The Extended Theory of Cognitive Creativity: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Performativity. Springer Verlag. pp. 115-131 (2019)
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Since Austin and Searle, performatives are taken to be crucial for the construction of social reality. More recently, performatives have been proposed to be essential for the construction of personal identities, too. I intend to analyze the postmodern assumption according to which this identity construction is in the power of individuals, an assumption which presupposes a view of performatives as endowed with unconstrained power – that is, with a power that is not subject to objective constraints. I will consider some reasons to reject this view. The first is rooted in Judith Butler’s idea that – since normative approaches to political correctness undesirably reduce freedom of speech in the name of equality – we should seriously consider how offensive performatives may fail, due to objective constraints on their felicity. A second reason to reject the postmodern view of performatives lies in the consideration of narcissism as an individual and political issue. Narcissism in the political sphere can be described as a transformation of the “passion for equality” in an individualistic appetite, deaf to everything else, and especially to social constraints and responsibilities. A different – less narcissistic and more social – model of the self is provided.



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Marco Mazzone
University of Catania

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