agent as object. yes, I can only think and act under the influence

Judith Butler when discussing the doctrine of constitution, makes a distillation from phenomenological (“more radical”) viewpoint that “takes the social agent as an object rather than the subject of constitutive acts.”

The notion of me as an object vs the subject screams Roland Barthes’ “Death of the Author” in a nicely explanatory way. An object moves only under the influence of another force outside itself; it does not stand up and walk away of its own accord. There are attributes, perhaps geno and phenotypical, inherent to the object that may impact the basis of its movement but the movement is a direct result of something else which in turn was acted upon by something else…

And to compound that we, me as object has a multiplicity of forces moving me.

As I write rebuttals in opposition to some of Plato’s extremist notions, i.e. the separation of the body from intellect with the body being highly problematic and bad and the mind, the intellect, being the good, the reasoning reasonable, I am left to discover that my entire rebuttal mirrors what I’ve only just read in Bonaventure. So did I independently derive my notions or were they shaped hundreds of decades after Bonaventure’s thinking had spread through Western philosophy. Barthe’s argument would surely hold in my case that I am surely infected with Bonaventure’s notions that have become embedded and remain in culture. Sigh. So I am an object writing under the influence of an amalgamation of cultural, historic, and sociological phenomenon. I cannot even claim the words to be my own since they where acquired through exposure to others already operating under the influence of language.

I am lost as sole originator because I can only function under the influence. Even within the first page of Butler’s essay, I now find her pushing on the object that is me.


Thinking and working under the influence with my blood cultural and historical levels off the chart, I may be chargeable by the thought police as not author just object. No matter that I might isolate myself I am simply not a discrete autonomous object.


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