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By Seyla Benhabib

This quantity provides a debate among 4 of the head feminist theorists within the usa. Seyla Benhabib, Judith Butler, Drucilla Cornell and Nancy Fraser talk about a number of the key questions dealing with feminist concept. each one articulates her personal place in an preliminary essay, then responds to the others in a follow-up essay, making attainable a talk among those influential feminist thinkers. all started as a symposium at the factor of feminism and postmodernism, the amount advanced right into a dialogue of broader matters akin to the usefulness of postmodernism as a theoretical thought; the function of philosophy in social feedback; how historic narrative is healthier conceptualized; the prestige of the topic of feminism; and the political results of other formulations of these kinds of concerns. not like many collections which imagine a given subject and ask a variety of thinkers to reply to it, this layout permits the individuals themselves to articulate their very own perspectives at the key questions dealing with feminist idea and distinguish their perspectives from others.

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But the consequentiality of this act cannot be foreseen by the instrumental actor who currently celebrates the effectivity of its own intentions. What Foucault suggested was that this subject is itself the effect of a genealogy which is erased at the moment that the subject takes itself as the single origin of its action, and that the effects of an action always supersede the stated intention Or purpose of the act. Indeed, the effects of the instrumental action always have the power to proliferate beyond the subject's control, indeed, to challenge the rational transparency of that subject's inten- 44 / Judith Butler tionality, and so to subvert the very definition of the subject itself.

Sibree and Introd. by C. J. Friedrich (New York: Dover Publications, 1956), 99. 9. For a provocative utilization of a Foucauldian framework for gender analysis, d. Judith Butler, Gender Trouble. Feminism and the Subversion o(Identity (New York and London: Routledge, 1990). 10. Linda Alcoff, "Poststructuralism and Cultural Feminism," Signs Vol. 13, No. 3 (1988) 4-5-36 and Christine di Stefano, "Dilemmas of Difference: Feminism, Modernity, and Postmodernism, in: Feminism! Postmodernism, Linda Nicholson, ed.

Note that I have said, "It can be used": I think there are no necessary political consequences for such a theory, but only a possible political deployment. If one of the points associated with postmodernism is that the epistemological point of departure in philosophy is inadequate, then it ought not to be a question of subjects who claim to know and theorize under the sign of the postmodern pitted against other subjects who claim to know and theorize under the sign of the modern. Indeed, it is that very way of framing debate that is being contested by the suggestion that the position articulated by the subject is always in some way constituted by what must be displaced for that position to take hold, and that the subject who theorizes is constituted as a "theorizing subject" by a set of exclusionary and selective procedures.

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