Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Gavin Rae, Poststructuralist Agency. The Subject in Twentieth-Century Theory, Edinburgh University Press, 2020
Does the poststructuralist decentring of the foundational subject permit a coherent account of agency?

  • Analyses poststructuralist thinking on ‘the subject’ in detail, tying it to the often-ignored question of agency
  • Expands the scope of ‘poststructuralism’ beyond Deleuze, Derrida, and Foucault by also engaging with psychoanalytically orientated poststructuralists including Butler, Castoriadis, Kristeva and Lacan
  • Draws out the complicated link between poststructuralism and Lacanian psychoanalysis

Gavin Rae shows that the problematic status of agency caused by the poststructuralist decentring of the subject is a prime concern for poststructuralist thinkers. First, Rae shows how this plays out in the thinking of Deleuze, Derrida and Foucault. He then demonstrates that it is with those poststructuralists associated with and influenced by Lacanian psychoanalysis that this issue most clearly comes to the fore. He goes on to reveal that the conceptual schema of Cornelius Castoriadis best explains how the founded subject is capable of agency.

Gavin Rae is Senior Visiting Research Professor at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain. He is the author of Critiquing Sovereign Violence (Edinburgh University Press, 2019), Evil in the Western Philosophical Tradition (Edinburgh University Press, 2019), The Problem of Political Foundations in Carl Schmitt and Emanuel Levinas (Palgrave, 2016), Ontology in Heidegger and Deleuze: A Comparative Analysis (Palgrave, 2014) and Realizing Freedom: Hegel, Sartre and the Alienation of Human Being (Palgrave, 2011). He is co-editor of Subjectivity and the Political: Contemporary Perspectives (Routledge, 2018) and The Meanings of Violence: From Critical Theory to Biopolitics (Routledge, 2019).

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