Recent debates about cultural, economic, and political globalisation have popularised the notion of non-sovereignty. A growing understanding of social interconnections in all areas of life has allowed for the insight that non-sovereignty, even though it is often perceived as threatening, is a condition political communities and singular individuals cannot overcome. In this context, non-sovereign concepts of the self stress the ways in which thinking, language, and ultimately one’s very survival depend on social relationships. The relational nature of human existence has been emphasised by many of the major directions of western thought such as hermeneutics, phenomenology, post-structuralism, and post-analytic philosophy. Together with the critique of humanism in the last half of the 20th century, this has led to the reformulation of philosophical anthropologies, where the psychic and bodily aspects of human existence are accentuated. While non-sovereign accounts of human social life have become widely accepted, there is an ongoing debate about definitions and roles of key terms such as ‘finitude’, ‘relationality’, or ‘difference’ and the consequences they have for political thought. In particular, the relationship between moral responsibility for others and political action and judgement remains disputed. This book therefore investigates how the non-sovereign self can be understood, and how this concept can influence notions of political association and responsibility for others. I argue that, if formulated in a specific way, a non-sovereign notion of the self can help us to develop conceptions of political agency and connectivity that are closely intertwined with an ethics of responsibility towards those ‘others’ who are currently under-represented in our political communities.
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