Blogging the Theoretical

Butler Quote 2 Group Two

November 5, 2011 · 6 Comments

The terms by which we are recognized as human are socially articulated and changeable.  And sometimes the very terms that confer “humanness” on some individuals are those that deprive certain other individuals of the possibility of achieving that status, producing a differential between the human and the less than human. These norms have far-reaching consequences for how we understand the model of the human entitled to rights or included in the participatory sphere of political deliberation (Butler 2004, 2).

Categories: Brooke · Erika · Group Two · Jennifer R · Kate · Olivia · Troli

6 responses so far ↓

  •   emseav09 // Nov 6th 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Butler is looking at the very aspects of the society in which we live that has produced its own interpretations of how we are to be human, or more specifically male or female, and how we should represent these genders. How gender is portrayed has been socially constructed by hetero-normative society and the ideas of how one is recognized in the social/ public domain. The societal/ public views by which one is recognized as human, male or female, is always changing based on the terms by which the public sphere decides to change them. As time goes on, the ideas and representations of what it means to be male or female are changing with society. With this we get a sense that how we are recognized as humans, male or female, will be ever changing as that of society changes and decides to change how we view males and females. The way in which the public domain chooses to recognize/ interpret/ or view an individual often set up constraints on an individual from achieving goals, a certain social status or even bettering themselves as humans. When society chooses to interpret or represent our “humanness” a certain way, it is difficult to move outside this representation and forge a new identity for oneself. It are these constraints that tie and individual to the societal/ public sphere representations and these constraints put limits on the individuals that we are then able to become. Individuals will have a hard time breaking away from the societal representations and forging their own identity in which they choose to portray themselves. These are also the constraints in which puts individuals in positions of authority to represent the haves, and the lesser individuals who don’t fit the ideal societal representation of a particular position within society as the have -nots.


  •   bphess09 // Nov 6th 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Erika- You have brought up some really interesting points when discussing the formation of identity. To me, this quote affirms Butler’s examination of recognition vies a vie intelligibility. She notes how the schema of recognition is determinant from the social domain and can be further exemplified through the matrix of intelligibility. Recognition serves as a source of power that is able to denounce humanness based on the classification or withholding of recognition. According to the matrix of intelligibility, the way that we are capable of being recognized in our culture is through gender and/or sexuality. If we are not understood or legible according to the normative discourses surrounding gender and/or sexuality then we are deemed less human. It is then how we fit amongst the social landscape that operates under a mutually exclusive binary that is male or female. Erika further draws out this notion of identity through normative discourse, which comes full circle-ultimately, we seek recognition and to be reasoned intelligible as we confer to these normative discourses.


  •   jmrodr09 // Nov 6th 2011 at 3:11 pm

    To reflect off of Erika and Brooke’s perspective of Butlers quote, this interpretation of “humanness” comes down to the gender and sexuality distinction and the way people are represented through these aspects within society. As Erika stated, “the way in which the public domain chooses to recognize or view an individual often sets up constraints on an individual from achieving certain goals”. And this is so, because of the fact that these norms that are set up, restrain us from acknowledging one another on different levels. These differential perspectives limit us from potentially getting to know one another based on class, culture, race, or gender. People are stuck and captivated by their own minds and/or pride which disable them from reaching certain goals or they don’t enable others to reach certain goals, which ensures an un-human oppression; because of that fact that those who are deemed unsuitable for a particular goal are seen as the ‘less human’ kind. The fact, as Brooke points out, that we are not understood or illegible by these normative discourses deems one ‘less human’ and refrains them from achieving the normative view, deeming them different or etc.

    -Jennifer R.

  •   ogmcma08 // Nov 7th 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Similar to Brooke’s discussion on recognition, I wish to examine this concept of humanness and its relation to knowledge and power. As discussed above, who is human is determined in opposition to who is socially articulated as inhuman. Butler discusses the creation of the self or human in correlation with being vs. doing. She believes that if one cannot be without doing, then what you do constitutes what/who you are. In relation to humanity, how people do, would then create who they are and how they act would either make them human or socially inhuman. Stereotypically speaking those who fall outside of the heteronormative category are being/doing in a way this is different than the rest. There exist norms or recognition sexually, socially, and physically that contribute to the creation of human concepts and if “these norms encode operations of power, then it follows that the contest over the future of the “human” will be a context over the power that works in a through such norms”(13). Thus, those falling outside this spectrum of the power of the norm will be therefore shut off in a dark cage of illegitimacy. Those who do not agree with the norm will be contextualized as away from the human, unimportant, and deviant.


  •   kaasel09 // Nov 8th 2011 at 4:44 pm

    My fellow group members have done an excellent job explaining what it means to be “recognized” and how this recognition can be seen to constitute our humanity. I think it is also important to consider what the political ramifications of depriving individuals’ recognition are, and how, by denying certain groups recognition, we debase their desires and strip them of agency. I think first of the issue of gay marriage. In America today, in order for the union of two people to be “recognized” by the state, said union must be comprised of a man and a woman, a restrictive binary that reflects our hetero-centric cultural norms. These laws can be seen as reflective of our cultural practices, and our social leanings concerning “du jure” and “du facto” recognition are arguably one and the same. Other problems that expose this intersection are issues of abortion, trans, and intersexed surgeries. An examination of these issues allows us to tie this quote with the first, about the vulnerability of the body, and how society seeks to audit our physical form so that we can fit into a schema that is acceptable and therefore recognizable. These problems could more easily be solved if we take a moment to consider the creation of categories beyond so limited a binary. By projecting this fantasy, and seeking to recognize the other as a part of us, we help guarantee agency and intelligibility to all of humankind.


  •   adtrol09 // Nov 8th 2011 at 10:47 pm

    Everyone has made wonderful comments, however I would like to comment on the matrix of Intelligibility that Brook has brought up. I would like to add that people take on sociological roles that express a type of quality that shapes particular activities. Through this sex and gender are linked through heteronormativity because that is how people tend to read it, and therefore how people come to be recognized. This also makes me think about self-preservation and the body and its relationship. We cannot decide who counts as human and who does not because in a way people are dependent on each other. From the very beginning we are all very vulnerable and there is a discourse norm that shapes how we operate.


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