Dutch Contact Survey page Niels Helsloot

'Who are the happy few? Judith Butler's constructive desire'

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in: Loes Derksen and Mariëtte Willemsen, eds., Wat maakt gelukkig, Hedendaagse filosofische visies, Amsterdam/Antwerp: Atlas 2004, pp. 179-202.


Judith Butler, at the moment, is one of the most important socio-cultural and political philosophers. Her work offers a basis for emancipatory movements taking into account the 'post-modern' loss of belief in (group) identities that would be shared from the very start. Creating whatever kind of identity requires an adaptive repetition of traditionally comprehensible forms of identity (female, gay, black, ...). So, each time, it takes historically inspired construction or even parodic imitation to be who you are. At this point, the possibility to be 'different' may be confined by cultural boundaries which tend to affect people's happiness. The lost happiness can only be regained by means of constructions starting from the subject positions at which we have already ended up. The future possibilities of deviant repetitions, and therefore of new forms of happiness, are fundamentally open.

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