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    The Psychic Life of Power: Theories in Subjection (Paperback) By (author) Judith P. Butler

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    DescriptionAs a form of power, subjection is paradoxical. To be dominated by a power external to oneself is a familiar and agonizing form power takes. To find, however, that what "one" is, one's very formation as a subject, is dependent upon that very power is quite another. If, following Foucault, we understand power as forming the subject as well, it provides the very condition of its existence and the trajectory of its desire. Power is not simply what we depend on for our existence but that which forms reflexivity as well. Drawing upon Hegel, Nietzsche, Freud, Foucault, and Althusser, this challenging and lucid work offers a theory of subject formation that illuminates as ambivalent the psychic effects of social power. If we take Hegel and Nietzsche seriously, then the "inner life" of consciousness and, indeed, of conscience, not only is fabricated by power, but becomes one of the ways in which power is anchored in subjectivity. The author considers the way in which psychic life is generated by the social operation of power, and how that social operation of power is concealed and fortified by the psyche that it produces. Power is no longer understood to be "internalized" by an existing subject, but the subject is spawned as an ambivalent effect of power, one that is staged through the operation of conscience. To claim that power fabricates the psyche is also to claim that there is a fictional and fabricated quality to the psyche. The figure of a psyche that "turns against itself" is crucial to this study, and offers an alternative to describing power as "internalized." Although most readers of Foucault eschew psychoanalytic theory, and most thinkers of the psyche eschew Foucault, the author seeks to theorize this ambivalent relation between the social and the psychic as one of the most dynamic and difficult effects of power. This work combines social theory, philosophy, and psychoanalysis in novel ways, offering a more sustained analysis of the theory of subject formation implicit in such other works of the author as Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex" and Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity.


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  • Full bibliographic data for The Psychic Life of Power

    Title
    The Psychic Life of Power
    Subtitle
    Theories in Subjection
    Authors and contributors
    By (author) Judith P. Butler
    Physical properties
    Format: Paperback
    Number of pages: 228
    Width: 140 mm
    Height: 198 mm
    Thickness: 15 mm
    Weight: 249 g
    Language
    English
    ISBN
    ISBN 13: 9780804728126
    ISBN 10: 0804728127
    Classifications

    BIC E4L: PHI
    Nielsen BookScan Product Class 3: S2.1
    B&T Book Type: NF
    BIC subject category V2: JFC
    LC subject heading:
    BIC subject category V2: HPC
    Ingram Theme: APPR/CLASSA
    BIC subject category V2: JH
    Warengruppen-Systematik des deutschen Buchhandels: 27400
    B&T Modifier: Academic Level: 02
    B&T General Subject: 610
    Ingram Subject Code: PH
    Libri: I-PH
    BISAC V2.8: PHI013000
    LC subject heading:
    Abridged Dewey: 126
    DC22: 126
    B&T Merchandise Category: UP
    B&T Approval Code: A10150000
    DC21: 303.3
    LC subject heading:
    BISAC V2.8: PSY000000
    LC subject heading:
    B&T Approval Code: A11050000
    LC subject heading: ,
    BISAC V2.8: PHI015000
    LC classification: BD438.5 .B88 1997, BD438.5.B8
    Thema V1.0: QDH, JBCC, JH
    Edition statement
    New.
    Publisher
    Stanford University Press
    Imprint name
    Stanford University Press
    Publication date
    01 June 1997
    Publication City/Country
    Palo Alto
    Review quote
    "The emergence of self-consciousness is rooted in paradox - for becoming a subject is intricately bound up with being subjected. This insight ... is explored and developed as [Butler's] book unfolds, taking the reader through a tour de force of its rhetorical, linguistic, philosophical, psychoanalytic, and social and political implications." - Modern Psychoanalysis
    Back cover copy
    "The emergence of self-consciousness is rooted in paradox--for becoming a subject is intricately bound up with being subjected. This insight . . . is explored and developed as [Butler's] book unfolds, taking the reader through a tour de force of its rhetorical, linguistic, philosophical, psychoanalytic, and social and political implications."--Modern Psychoanalysis
    Flap copy
    As a form of power, subjection is paradoxical. To be dominated by a power external to oneself is a familiar and agonizing form power takes. To find, however, that what "one" is, one's very formation as a subject, is dependent upon that very power is quite another. If, following Foucault, we understand power as forming the subject as well, it provides the very condition of its existence and the trajectory of its desire. Power is not simply what we depend on for our existence but that which forms reflexivity as well. Drawing upon Hegel, Nietzsche, Freud, Foucault, and Althusser, this challenging and lucid work offers a theory of subject formation that illuminates as ambivalent the psychic effects of social power. If we take Hegel and Nietzsche seriously, then the "inner life" of consciousness and, indeed, of conscience, not only is fabricated by power, but becomes one of the ways in which power is anchored in subjectivity. The author considers the way in which psychic life is generated by the social operation of power, and how that social operation of power is concealed and fortified by the psyche that it produces. Power is no longer understood to be "internalized" by an existing subject, but the subject is spawned as an ambivalent effect of power, one that is staged through the operation of conscience. To claim that power fabricates the psyche is also to claim that there is a fictional and fabricated quality to the psyche. The figure of a psyche that "turns against itself" is crucial to this study, and offers an alternative to describing power as "internalized." Although most readers of Foucault eschew psychoanalytic theory, and most thinkers of the psyche eschew Foucault, the author seeks to theorize this ambivalent relation between the social and the psychic as one of the most dynamic and difficult effects of power. This work combines social theory, philosophy, and psychoanalysis in novel ways, offering a more sustained analysis of the theory of subject formation implicit in such other works of the author as Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex" and Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity.
    Table of contents
    Introduction; 1. Stubborn attachment, bodily subjection; 2. Circuits and bad conscience; 3. Subjection, resistance, resignification; 4. 'Conscience doth make subjects of us all'; 5. Melancholy gender/refused identification keeping it moving; 6. Psychic inceptions; Notes; Index.