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[- Whose words matter?
By Aileen, Section question corner
Posted on Sat Jan 10th, 2004 at 10:14:06 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
When an article about Judith Butler speaking in Israel ("To be or not to be Jewish, lesbian, feminist") was posted this afternoon to a mailing list, I immediately stopped what I was doing to read it. I was amused by the description of the enthusiasm of Butler's admirers, which sounded like a fairly accurate description of me. With all the references to her critics, though, what justification do I have for accepting her position?


[ --------------------------------------------- ]

In fact, I have no very solid basis for my enthusiastic admiration for Judith Butler - except that I can only agree with the author of the article, that "there is something very liberating about [her] ideas; and they exercise a special appeal to people who do not conform readily to conventional categories".

The question has been raised elsewhere here about how to filter too much information, and I think the most obvious strategy is to assume that someone who makes sense in contexts that I am more familiar with, will probably be right about issues that I know less about, especially if the basis for her assertions is coherent. In this case, what Judith Butler has written about Israel, seems quite sound to me, although my own knowledge of the issues is far too limited for critical judgement, and since I have found in the past that what she has said about gender identity, for example, correlates with and makes sense of what I experience for myself, of all the many authors writing about Israel, whose names and motivations are unfamiliar to me, I would be most inclined to accept what Judith Butler says.

I have been trying to avoid using the word "believe" here, but is that really the point in the end? How do we decide who to believe?

[ --------------------------------------------- ]

Whose words matter? | 2 comments
[new] I don't believe anybody (Avg. Score: none / Raters: 0) (#1)
by amy on Sat Jan 10th, 2004 at 11:48:11 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
(User Info)

Hmm, I don't think I filter the same way you do, Aileen. I find myself "yeah but"-ing no matter whose opinions I'm reading. Often the "yeah but" is a "yeah, but what about... ?" where I feel like a certain point has been glossed over as possibly inconveniently at odds with the author's argument.

Of course I find my opinions are influenced by others' that I read. And yes, I find that if I agree with many of someone's arguments on a particular topic, I'll be more receptive to considering that person's other arguments on that same topic. For example, before reading Butler, I had opinions on Israel public-criticism/anti-semitism issues similar to hers - but not identical on all points. So I might find myself at least a bit more receptive to the rest of her arguments on Israel than those of someone with whom I disagree strongly. But I wouldn't find myself actively looking to a text by Judith Butler to help me decide what to think... And I definitely don't find myself particularly excited one way or the other about her views on gender - but that's possibly because I'm not especially interested in gender theory to begin with.

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-- Discordia is nice.
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Whose words matter? | 2 comments

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