Freud's criticism of the localization project as carried out by Theodor Meynert and Carl Wernicke has usually been seen as marking his break with contemporaneous brain science. In this article, however, I show that Freud criticized localization not by turning his back on brain science, but rather by radicalizing some of its principles. In particular, he argued that the physiological pretensions of the localization project remained at odds with its uncritical importation of psychological categories. Further, by avoiding a confusion of (...) categories and adopting a parallelist reading, Freud was able to develop a fully “physiologized” account of nervous processes. This opened up the possibility for forms of mental pathology that were not reliant on the anatomical lesion. Instead, Freud suggested that lived experience might be able to create a pathological organization within the nervous system. This critique—a passage through, rather than a turn away from, brain science—opened the possibility for Freud's theory of the unconscious and his developing psychoanalysis. On a methodological level, this article aims to show how the intellectual history of modern Europe can gain from taking seriously the impact of the brain sciences, and by applying to scientific texts the methods and reading practices traditionally reserved for philosophical or literary works. (shrink)
Prolonged solitary confinement has become a widespread and standard practice in U.S. prisons—even though it consistently drives healthy prisoners insane, makes the mentally ill sicker, and, according to the testimony of prisoners, threatens to reduce life to a living death. In this profoundly important and original book, Lisa Guenther examines the death-in-life experience of solitary confinement in America from the early nineteenth century to today’s supermax prisons. Documenting how solitary confinement undermines prisoners’ sense of identity and their ability to (...) understand the world, Guenther demonstrates the real effects of forcibly isolating a person for weeks, months, or years. -/- Drawing on the testimony of prisoners and the work of philosophers and social activists from Edmund Husserl and Maurice Merleau-Ponty to Frantz Fanon and Angela Davis, the author defines solitary confinement as a kind of social death. It argues that isolation exposes the relational structure of being by showing what happens when that structure is abused—when prisoners are deprived of the concrete relations with others on which our existence as sense-making creatures depends. Solitary confinement is beyond a form of racial or political violence; it is an assault on being. (shrink)
The Gift of the Other brings together a philosophical analysis of time, embodiment, and ethical responsibility with a feminist critique of the way women’s reproductive capacity has been theorized and represented in Western culture. Author Lisa Guenther develops the ethical and temporal implications of understanding birth as the gift of the Other, a gift which makes existence possible, and already orients this existence toward a radical responsibility for Others. Through an engagement with the work of Levinas, Beauvoir, Arendt, Irigaray, (...) and Kristeva, the author outlines an ethics of maternity based on the givenness of existence and a feminist politics of motherhood which critiques the exploitation of maternal generosity. (shrink)
: Drawing on Adriana Cavarero's account of natality, Guenther argues that Martin Heidegger overlooks the distinct ontological and ethical significance of birth as a limit that orients one toward an other who resists appropriation, even while handing down a heritage of possibilities that one can—and must—make one's own. Guenther calls this structure of natality Being-from-others, modifying Heidegger's language of inheritance to suggest an ethical understanding of existence as the gift of the other.
Motivated by a conviction that mass incarceration and state execution are among the most important ethical and political problems of our time, the contributors to this volume come together from a diverse range of backgrounds to analyze, critique, and envision alternatives to the injustices of the U.S. prison system, with recourse to deconstruction, phenomenology, critical race theory, feminism, queer theory, and disability studies. They engage with the hyper-incarceration of people of color, the incomplete abolition of slavery, the exploitation of prisoners (...) as workers and as "raw material" for the prison industrial complex, the intensive confinement of prisoners in supermax units, and the complexities of capital punishment in an age of abolition. -/- Contents -/- Introduction: Death and Other Penalties Geoffrey Adelsberg, Lisa Guenther, and Scott Zeman -/- Part I. Legacies of Slavery -/- Excavating the Sedimentations of Slavery: The Unfinished Project of American Abolition Brady Heiner -/- From Commodity Fetishism to Prison Fetishism: Slavery, Convict-leasing, and the Ideological Productions of Incarceration James Manos -/- Maroon Philosophy: An Interview with Russell Maroon Shoatz Russell Maroon Shoatz -/- Part II. Death Penalties -/- In Reality-from the Row Derrick Quintero -/- Inheritances of the Death Penalty: American Racism and Derrida's Theologico-Political Sovereignty Geoffrey Adelsberg -/- Making Death a Penalty: Or, Making "Good" Death a "Good" Penalty Kelly Oliver -/- Death Penalty Abolition in Neoliberal Times: The SAFE California Act and the Nexus of Savings and Security Andrew Dilts -/- On the Inviolability of Human Life Julia Kristeva (translated by Lisa Walsh) -/- Part III. Rethinking Power and Responsibility -/- Punishment, Desert, and Equality: A Levinasian Analysis Benjamin S. Yost -/- Prisons and Palliative Politics Ami Harbin -/- Sovereignty, Community, and the Incarceration of Immigrants Matt S. Whitt -/- Without the Right to Exist: Mass Incarceration and National Security Andrea Smith -/- Prison Abolition and a Culture of Sexual Difference Sarah Tyson -/- Part IV. Isolation and Resistance -/- Statement on Solitary Confinement Abu Ali Abdur'Rahman -/- The Violence of the Supermax: Toward a Phenomenological Aesthetics of Prison Space Adrian Switzer -/- Prison and the Subject of Resistance: A Levinasian Inquiry Shokoufeh Sakhi -/- Critical Theory, Queer Resistance, and the Ends of Capture Liat Ben-Moshe, Che Gossett, Nick Mitchell, and Eric A. Stanley. (shrink)
Prisoners involved in the Attica rebellion and in the recent Georgia prison strike have protested their dehumanizing treatment as animals and as slaves. Their critique is crucial for tracing the connections between slavery, abolition, the racialization of crime, and the reinscription of racialized slavery within the US prison system. I argue that, in addition to the dehumanization of prisoners, inmates are further de-animalized when they are held in conditions of intensive confinement such as prolonged solitude or chronic overcrowding. To be (...) de-animalized is to be treated not as a living being who is sustained by its mutual relations with other living and nonliving beings, but rather as a thing to be warehoused and/or exchanged for a profit. The violence of de-animalization affects both human and nonhuman animals held in control prisons, factory farms, laboratories and other sites of intensive confinement. In order to make the connections between these sites, and to develop forms of solidarity appropriate to our shared animality, we need a post-humanist critique of intensive confinement that breaks with the logic of opposition between human and animal, and articulates our constitutive relationality as (inter)corporeal beings. (shrink)
Irigaray's early work seeks to multiply possibilities for women's self-expression by recovering a sexual difference in which male and female are neither the same nor opposites, but irreducibly different modes of embodiment. In her more recent work, however, Irigaray has emphasized the duality of the sexes at the expense of multiplicity, enshrining the heterosexual couple as the model of sexual ethics. Alison Stone's recent revision of Irigaray supplements her account of sexual duality with a theory of bodily multiplicity derived from (...) Butler, Nietzsche, and certain German Romantics; but to the extent that Stone maintains the primacy of sexual duality, her revision fails to address the claims of multiplicity on their own terms. In this paper, I interpret a passage from Marcel Proust's novel, Sodom and Gomorrah, in order to develop an alternative theory of sexual difference in which sexual duality is affirmed in relation to a third, unsexed but sexual force which multiplies the possibilities for sexual pleasure beyond heterosexual coupling. Proust's emphasis on sexed ``parts'' rather than sexed morphologies is generative of maximally diverse combinations, all of which are equally natural and equally enhanced through artifice. (shrink)
In Remnants of Auschwitz , Giorgio Agamben argues that the hidden structure of subjectivity is shame. In shame, I am consigned to something that cannot be assumed, such that the very thing that makes me a subject also forces me to witness my own desubjectification. Agamben’s ontological account of shame is problematic insofar as it forecloses collective responsibility and collapses the distinction between shame and humiliation. By recontextualizing three of Agamben’s sources – Primo Levi, Robert Antelme and Maurice Blanchot – (...) I develop an alternative account of shame as the structure of intersubjectivity , and of a collective responsibility that is more fundamental than the subject itself. On this basis, I sketch the preliminary outline of a biopolitics of resistance rooted in the ethics of alterity. The intuition driving this approach is that life is never bare ; even in situations of extreme affliction there remains a relation to alterity which provides a starting point for resistance. (shrink)
In Otherwise than Being, Levinas writes that the alterity of the Other escapes “le flair animal,” or the animal’s sense of smell. This paper puts pressure on the strong human-animal distinction that Levinas makes by considering the possibility that, while non-human animals may not respond to the alterity of the Other in the way that Levinas describes as responsibility, animal sensibility plays a key role in a relation to Others that Levinas does not discuss at length: friendship. This approach to (...) friendship addresses a gap in Levinas’ work between the absolute Other for whom I am responsible and the “brother” who is my political equal. (shrink)
Shame is notoriously ambivalent. On one hand, it operates as a mechanism of normalization and social exclusion, installing or reinforcing patterns of silence and invisibility; on the other hand, the capacity for shame may be indispensible for ethical life insofar as it attests to the subject’s constitutive relationality and its openness to the provocation of others. Sartre, Levinas and Beauvoir each offer phenomenological analyses of shame in which its basic structure emerges as a feeling of being exposed to others and (...) bound to one’s own identity. For Sartre, shame is an ontological provocation, constitutive of subjectivity as a being-for-Others. For Levinas, ontological shame takes the form of an inability to escape one’s own relation to being; this predicament is altered by the ethical provocation of an Other who puts my freedom in question and commands me to justify myself. For Beauvoir, shame is an effect of oppression, both for the woman whose embodied existence is marked as shameful, and for the beneficiary of colonial domination who feels ashamed of her privilege. For each thinker, shame articulates the temporality of social life in both its promise and its danger. (shrink)
Psychiatrist Stuart Grassian has proposed the term “SHU syndrome” to name the cluster of cognitive, perceptual and affective symptoms that commonly arise for inmates held in the Special Housing Units (SHU) of supermax prisons. In this paper, I analyze the harm of solitary confinement from a phenomenological perspective by drawing on Husserl’s account of the essential relation between consciousness, the experience of an alter ego and the sense of a real, Objective world. While Husserl’s prioritization of transcendental subjectivity over transcendental (...) intersubjectivity underestimates the degree to which first-person consciousness is constitutively intertwined with the embodied consciousness of others, Husserl’s phenomenology nevertheless provides a fruitful starting-point for a philosophical engagement with the psychiatric research on solitary confinement. (shrink)
Marion has criticized Levinas for failing to account for the individuation of the Other, thus leaving the face of the Other abstract, neutral and anonymous. I defend Levinas against this critique by distinguishing between the individuation of the subject through hypostasis and the singularization of self and Other through ethical response. An analysis of the instant in Levinas’s early and late work shows that it is possible to speak of a “nameless singularity” which does not collapse into neutrality or abstraction, (...) but rather explains the sense in which anyone is responsible for any Other who happens to come along. (shrink)
In recent years, comparisons between abortion and slavery have become increasingly common in American pro-life politics. Some have compared the struggle to extinguish abortion rights to the struggle to end slavery. Others have claimed that Roe v Wade is the Dred Scott of our time. Still others have argued that abortion is worse than slavery; it is a form of genocide. This paper tracks the abortion = slavery meme from Ronald Reagan to the current personhood movement, drawing on work by (...) Orlando Patterson, Hortense Spillers, and Saidiya Hartman to develop a discourse of reproductive justice that grapples with the wounded kinship of slavery and racism. (shrink)
: Emmanuel Levinas compares ethical responsibility to a maternal body who bears the Other in the same without assimilation. In explicating this trope, he refers to a biblical passage in which Moses is like a "wet nurse" bearing Others whom he has "neither conceived nor given birth to" (Num. 11:12). A close reading of this passage raises questions about ethics, maternity, and sexual difference, for both the concept of ethical substitution and the material practice of mothering.
Although molecular biology, genetics, and related special disciplines represent a large amount of empirical data, a practical method for the evaluation and overview of current knowledge is far from being realized. The main concepts and narratives in these fields have remained nearly the same for decades and the more recent empirical data concerning the role of noncoding RNAs and persistent viruses and their defectives do not fit into this scenario. A more innovative approach such as applied biocommunication theory could translate (...) empirical data into a coherent perspective on the functions within and between biological organisms and arguably lead to a sustainable integrative biology. (shrink)
Corporate environmental performance (CEP) has been of fundamental interest in scholarly research during the last few decades. However, there is a great deal of disagreement pertaining to the definition, conceptualization, and adequate measurement of CEP. Our study addresses these issues and provides a methodologically rigorous and comprehensive examination of content validity and construct validity. By integrating the available literature on CEP, we derive a parsimonious definition and theoretically sound framework of the focal construct. Drawing on non-aggregated and publicly available data (...) for a sample of 706 firm-years, we test the construct validity of this framework by means of factor analysis. Our results provide evidence for the multidimensional nature of the focal construct. By contrasting our findings with existing measurement approaches in empirical research, we emphasize several deficiencies with regard to the inferences and conclusions yielded in prior research. Future empirical and practically oriented studies can build on our findings and thus provide more stringent results. (shrink)
Emmanuel Levinas compares ethical responsibility to a maternal body who bears the Other in the same without assimilation. In explicating this trope, he refers to a biblical passage in which Moses is like a "wet nurse" bearing Others whom he has "neither conceived nor given birth to". A close reading of this passage raises questions about ethics, maternity, and sexual difference, for both the concept of ethical substitution and the material practice of mothering.
In ‘L'Animal que donc je suis’, Derrida analyzes the paradoxical use of discourses on shame and original sin to justify the human domination of other animals. In the absence of any absolute criterion for distinguishing between humans and other animals, human faultiness becomes a sign of our exclusive capacity for self-consciousness, freedom and awareness of mortality. While Derrida's argument is compelling, he neglects to explore the connection between the human domination of animals and the male domination of women. Throughout ‘L'Animal’, (...) Derrida equivocates between ‘man’ and ‘humanity,’ and between the biblical figures of Ish and Adam. In so doing, he repeats a gesture that he himself has insightfully criticized in other philosophers, such as Levinas. By articulating the distinctions that Derrida elides, I suggest a way of reading Genesis which avoids this difficulty, but also continues Derrida's project. (shrink)
In his 1934 essay, “Reflections on the Philosophy of Hitlerism,” Levinas raises important questions about the subject’s relation to nature and to history. His account of the ethical significance of paternity, maternity, and fraternity in texts such as Totality and Infinity and Otherwise Than Being suggest powerful new ways to understand the meaning of kinship, beyond the abstractions of Western liberalism. How does this analysis of race and kinship translate into the context of the Transatlantic slave trade, which not only (...) stole Africans from their families and communities, but also imposed upon them a single “fictive” kinship relation to the master? What if the problem of racialization is not only a matter of being “chained” to one’s identity through (presumed) blood ties, but also being violently separated from one’s kin? What does it mean for the concepts of ethical and political fraternity if the only father recognized by law and society as legitimate is the slave master? Or if the bodies of slave women are exploited, not only for productive labor, but also for the reproductive labor that makes more slaves for the master? If kinship is a way of making sense of the relation between past, present and future generations, then what does a radical disruption of existing kinship relations, and the imposition of one fictive, absolute and unilateral kinship relation, do to the social meaning of time and of history in a particular community? In this paper, I reflect on the significance of fecundity and kinship in the context of US slavery, both in order in order to situate my analysis in the particular history of my own present community, and as a way of demonstrating the significance of a more determinate social analysis for Levinas’ ethics of singularity and politics of universal justice. (shrink)
"In her essay "Choosing the Margin," bell hooks draws attention to the way uncritical celebrations of difference and otherness often act as an alibi for progressive politics. The recent proliferation of discourses on alterity, particularly with the growth of Levinas studies, makes hooks's critique all the more relevant for ethical and political theory today. To what extent has this emphasis on alterity affected the dynamics of philosophical and political life? Does it fall into the trap that hooks identifies here as (...) a mask with which privileged subjects present themselves as critical thinkers, while failing to listen to the diverse voices of concrete others gathered under the rubric of "the Other"? It is one thing to affirm one's infinite responsibility for the Other, and quite another thing to make good on that responsibility in specific contexts, especially in a political landscape where some faces are more visible than others, and some voices more likely to be heard. Unless we can flesh out Levinas's ethical project with a political project of resisting oppression, his ethics risks a level of abstraction that covers over its own blind spots. And unless we can distinguish rigorously between otherness as a sign of political exclusion and otherness as a source of ethical command, we risk repeating the conflation of certain others with a position of weakness and victimhood, where "we" can feel responsible for "them" without having to listen to anyone but ourselves.". (shrink)
While Merleau-Ponty does not theorize sexual difference at any great length, his concepts of the flesh and the institution of a sense suggest hitherto undeveloped possibilities for articulating sexual difference beyond the male?female binary. For Merleau-Ponty, flesh is a ?pregnancy of possibilities? which gives rise to masculine and feminine forms through a process of mutual divergence and encroachment. Both sexes bear ?the possible of the other,? and neither represents the first or generic form of the human; each sex bears the (...) possibility of the other. By approaching sexual difference in terms of intersubjectively distributed possibilities rather than interlocking forms or types, we may grasp sexual difference in terms of both a developmental process in which bodies become sexed (and sometimes re-sexed) over time, and in terms of a social-historical process in which patterns of relation and exchange between sexed bodies shift over time, altering the very sense of sexual difference. (shrink)
Many prisoners in solitary confinement experience adverse psychological and physical effects such as anxiety, paranoia, insomnia, headaches, hallucinations and other perceptual distortions. Psychiatrists call this SHU syndrome, named after the Security Housing Units [SHU] of supermax prisons. While psychiatric accounts of the effects of supermax confinement are important, especially in a legal context, they are insufficient to account for the phenomenological and even ontological harm of solitary confinement. This paper offers a phenomenological analysis of the lived experience of space in (...) supermax confinement by drawing on Merleau-Ponty’s account of intercorporeal depth. I argue that the prolonged deprivation of concrete experiences of spatial depth in a shared world is a form of violence against the relational structure of embodied (inter)subjectivity, and that it threatens to undermine the prisoner’s capacity for a meaningful relation to the world, to others, and even to herself. Nevertheless, some prisoners have developed strategies for resisting this psychopathology of space. (shrink)
Although stakeholder theory is widely accepted in environmental disclosure research, empirical evidence about the role of stakeholders in firms’ disclosure is still scarce. The authors address this issue for a setting of carbon disclosure. Our international sample comprises the Carbon Disclosure Project Global 500, S&P 500, and FTSE 350 reports from 2008 to 2011, resulting in a total of 1,120 firms with 3,631 firm-year observations. The authors apply Tobit regressions to analyze the relationship between carbon disclosure and the relevance of (...) the following stakeholder groups: government, general public, media, employees, and customers. Our results confirm that in addition to carbon performance, all stakeholders are associated with carbon disclosure. Only one stakeholder group acts as a moderator for the relationship between carbon performance and carbon disclosure. Furthermore, the authors find that carbon performance but not the affiliation to a carbon-intensive industry acts as a moderator between stakeholder relevance and carbon disclosure. (shrink)
In 2003, The Guardian newspapers ran an article with the headline, “Prospect of babies from unborn mothers.” A team of Israeli researchers had been attempting to grow viable eggs from the ovarian tissue of aborted fetuses for use in fertility treatments such as IVF. The rhetoric of “unborn mothers” poses new challenges to the liberal feminist discourse of personhood. How do we articulate the ethical issues involved in harvesting eggs from an aborted fetus, without resurrecting the debate over whether this (...) fetus is a full-fledged person with, for example, rights to non-interference or freedom from harm? Can we coherently defend a woman’s right to terminate pregnancy without relinquishing a feminist position from which to critique the use of aborted fetuses in certain experimental procedures? In short, what happens when the “new” discourse of reproductive technology intersects with the “old” discourse of abortion? (shrink)