17 Pages

Toward a post-normative critique of emotional authenticity

ByEva Illouz

Critical theory is ill-equipped to evaluate "emotional truth", because emotions are not objects to be evaluated by outside observers. They inhere in the subject and can hardly be legislated from outside and from above the person experiencing them. An authentic self differs from other cultural definitions of self, in that it is defined by the view that selves have an ontology. Emotions are the building blocks of that ontology, simultaneously what constitutes the self and helps express it. Applied to emotions and the inner life, normative critique seems to be a more difficult enterprise than ordinary cultural critique. While cultural critique can rely on normative judgment to establish "good" or "bad", emancipatory or repressive content, it has few or no tools to undertake the same operation on emotions. A post-normative critique is one that must avoid being dismissive of experiences, and yet find a way to enable the articulation of a gap between the "is" and "ought".