This chapter seeks to establish non-sovereignty as a condition that not only affects our political actions, but the very core of selfhood, community, and language. By turning to Judith Butler and Stanley Cavell the interconnection between language, embodiment, and psyche is brought to the fore. While the notion of non-sovereignty calls the Cartesian cogito into question, there remains ambiguity on the precise content of the critique of the modern subject, and on how human existence could be understood differently. I propose that a non-sovereign understanding of the human has to engage with the notions of finitude and situatedness. In this appraisal, finitude should not simply be identified with (an awareness of) mortality, because this would risk downplaying the relational character of human existence. Instead, finitude is understood as a necessary limitation to our abilities to know and control ourselves and the external world. This emphasises an understanding of the self as vulnerable and radically dependent on others. However, as we have seen in Chapter 2, awareness of human finitude also allows for a positive evaluation of non-sovereignty, where lack of control does not diminish but enables freedom and agency. It is precisely from the realm of the uncontrollable and unknown that newness and creativity spring.
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- The Situated and Embodied Self: Butler and Cavell on Subjectivity, Language, and Finitude
- Palgrave Macmillan UK
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