chapter  2
28 Pages

Modern human rights and postmodern agency

This chapter explores human rights discourse from the perspective of such post-discursive philosophies. It outlines the postmodern concept of human identity and subjectivity. From the historical shifts from the pre-modern to the modern and then onto the postmodern age, one thing which links the rights meditations from Hobbes through to Kant and into our contemporary human rights discourse is fear. Postmodern identity theory, post-discursive projects generally, are an attempt to bring the human subject back into its contextual contingency, to liberate personal subjectivity from the alienating universality of the empty homogeneity in the image of the autonomous being. They are an attempt to return to an ethics and justice which is not limited within the self-reflectivity of prescriptive legal norms and abstract ideals, but rather, relevant to the experience of the human condition in community with others. A tradition which prioritises symmetry against asymmetry and of all as 'the same' measured against the ideal transcendence of human identity.