The Practical, the Political and the Ethical seminar series

The Practical, the Political and the Ethical seminar series
12 February 2021, 4.00pm - 6.00pm
Online seminar.

The Snares of Self-Hatred

Vida Yao (Rice University)

In imagining self-hatred, we see a person turned in on herself. Her suffering seems driven by two antagonistic, but complementary forces: one which threatens, criticizes and lashes out, another which acquiesces, accepts and welcomes the painful animosity of the first. From one angle we see a repeated and relentless pattern of self-directed hostility. From another we see — curiously — an insatiable receptivity to one’s own hostility. How do we become, in this cycle of self-hatred, not only subject to, but vulnerable to our own hostility?  Here, I characterize this problem by demonstrating its similarities and differences with another that moral philosophers have identified in attempting to account for the emotion of guilt: the question of how a person comes not to just fear a perspective that she takes on herself, but how she comes to view that perspective as morally authoritative. I will then propose that the answer of how we become not just subject to, but vulnerable to our own hostility will be illuminated once we explore the respects in which interpersonal love makes us vulnerable to others: not just as extensions of, or necessary for our wellbeing, but because of the particular way in which their attention can both reveal and constitute our identities.

The Institute of Philosophy hosts a regular workshop series entitled ‘The Practical, the Political, and the Ethical’. The series was created in 2015 by Véronique Munoz-Dardé (UCL) and Hallvard Lillehammer (Birkbeck) in order to discuss work in progress from visiting speakers. This year the series is convened by Kate Vredenburgh (LSE) and Jonathan Gingerich (KCL).  Talks are normally 50 minutes (no pre-circulation of the paper), followed by discussion. All are welcome. 


Institute of Philsophy
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