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Title: The 'problematic of the subject' in contemporary social and political theory
Author: Williams, C. A.
Awarding Body: University College of Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 1996
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This study examines the conceptual formation of the subject within contemporary critical thought. Its central thesis is that the subject will always be a product of a specific theoretical perspective and a particular mode of questioning regarding the possible form and structure of knowledge and the political. Its argument is framed by developments within structuralist and post-structuralist philosophy. The study, as a whole, seeks to highlight the ways in which the philosophical derivation of the subject informs modern political and social theory. Here, the subject is often viewed as an rational, autonomous, thinking being with a self-contained identity, the author of knowledge, who able to negotiate both the requirements of the political, and the claims for a self-certain knowledge. The thesis develops theoretical perspectives upon the subject in order to contest such constructions of the subject. It examines, (i) the humanist-historicist construction of the subject in the writings of Lukács, and the ideological construction of the subject in the work of Althusser); (ii) Lacanian psychoanalytic constructions of the subject, language and knowledge; (iii) the philosophical deconstruction of the subject and its theoretical implications in the work of Derrida, and (iv) discursive constructions of the subject in relation to knowledge and power, drawing upon the writings of Foucault. Each of these analyses emphasise the epistemological and ontological problems regarding the nature of subjectivity, and draw upon comparative discussions where possible. These four chapters are preceded by a discussion which maps the concept of the subject upon a philosophical terrain, where the subject is viewed as negotiating the fragility and contingency of its existence in relation to knowledge and the social world. Descartes, Spinoza, and Marxist and Hegelian perspectives (Kojève and Hyppolite) are examined here and continue to have a bearing upon the chapters that follow.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available