The Posthumanist Quest for the Universal: butler, badiou, žižek

Angelaki 20 (4):193-210 (2015)
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This essay considers the divergent efforts of Judith Butler, Alain Badiou, and Slavoj Žižek to arrive at a postmetaphysical conception of ethics that would sidestep the pitfalls of traditional Western humanism yet still possess universal applicability. Butler approaches this task through her ethics of precarity, which posits vulnerability as a foundation for a generalizable ethics of relationality in the Levinasian vein. Badiou and Žižek, in turn, work from a more Lacanian perspective, attempting to leap directly from the singular to the universal by bypassing the particular. After considering the strengths and weaknesses of both approaches, I propose that posthumanist theory needs to reconsider its resistance to a priori norms, for such norms do not need to be metaphysically grounded to be ethically compelling and politically useful.



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