ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Discourse and Its Pitfalls

What World Is This? A Pandemic Phenomenology by Judith Butler, New York: Columbia University Press, 2022; pp 134, $17.95.

Judith Butler, although a political philosopher, engages with a broad range of fields from feminism, gender, and queer theory to literature. Butler’s work stresses relationality between human beings, between human and non-human beings, and between human and things. This may seem like a gross reduction, but her work indeed underscores how relations form and preserve life. For example, Butler’s book Senses of the Subject demonstrates that relationality not only sustains but makes human lives possible. She critiques Hegel and other philosophers who defy relationality by putting the human subject at the forefront of any given life web, undermining interdependence that characterises lifeworlds. Negating this fundamental aspect of our existence, we invite global inequalities and descend further into a world in which nationalism, fundamentalism, gender- and climate-related violence, or pandemics reign supreme.

And it is the pandemics with which Butler engages in What World Is This? A Pandemic Phenomenology, published in 2022. In what follows, I will review the contents of this slim book—namely, the insights and concepts Butler offers regarding the COVID-19 pandemic—and discuss some of its flaws by reading this work in the context of Butler’s other works.

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Updated On : 2nd Oct, 2023
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