The Site of Our Lives: The Self and the Subject from Emerson to Foucault

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SUNY Press, 1995 M01 1 - 385 pages
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This book addresses the question of human uniqueness at a time when academic discourse has all but abandoned its long-held commitment to the value of individuality. Through an appraisal of the works of Emerson, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Derrida, and Foucault, the author establishes the ways in which the current critique of the self has grossly distorted the nature of the debate by reducing it to a simple choice between essential or constructed selves. Hans argues that the tradition that emerges from Emerson's work is based on a relational sense of the individual as much as it is devoted to the premise that we all have a specific form of integrity. Likewise, even though Nietzsche's critique of the fictional nature of the subject is the origin of contemporary visions of the fabricated self, Nietzsche is equally insistent that each of us is a productive uniqueness: we are all principles of selection whose links to the world embrace more than the social circumstances around us. Nietzsche's vision of our productive uniqueness is carried on in larger and smaller ways by Heidegger, Derrida, and Foucault, each of whom entertains a far more complex vision of the individual than those which currently dominate our ways of talking about what it means to be human.
 

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Contents

Heavy Construction
1
The Essential Self ?
39
An Untimely Meditation
101
The End of Humanism
165
The Unnameable
227
The Nightmare of SelfLoathing
287
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
353
Notes
383
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About the author (1995)

James S. Hans is Professor of English at Wake Forest University. He is the author of The Value(s) of Literature; The Fate of Desire; The Origins of the Gods; Contextual Authority and Aesthetic Truth; The Mysteries of Attention; and The Golden Mean, all published by SUNY Press, as well as The Play of the World, Imitation and the Image of Man and The Question of Value: Thinking through Nietzsche, Heidegger and Freud.

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