Sarah Pessin

PHIL 2200 – Social & Political Philosophy (Winter 2022)


What is the self?

A Quick Instagram Array

(Do any of these insights resonate?)

…and is myself MINE?

Being/Having/Owning/Owning up to it

(Our ownmost selves as mostly owning our own?)

What are the things that are “really mine“?

What is the relation between our “owmost” selves, being on our “own,” and “owning”? What should it be?

> Prei-wo = separate, individual (> being separate)

Proprius (Latin): one’s own

(pro + privo = for the individual)

[‘privo’ is Ablative form of PRIVUS = one’s own]

Privatus: set apart from what is public (v. publicus; communis); belonging to oneself (not to the state)

(See etymology of “private”…)

In Hebrew, the term for holy (“qadosh”) signals separation


How many shared values do you want your government to try to foster? (And do you want them to make policies and/or laws to enforce these values? Do you want them to regulate (limit? tax?) people around upholding these values? And do you want to go further and have a government instill these values deep into people’s hearts?)

What are the dangers of government overseeing values too much? Too little?

Taking Connolly’s contrast between “arboreal” and “rhizomatic” (Deleuzian) models for political organization, perhaps we can say that Hobbes’ sovereign cares little for what values you hold and what you do day to day while Rousseau’s model has government looking out for your “true self” by upholding and inculcating tons of values (through culture and education). We might say Hobbes’ tree-trunk (of shared values on the ‘ol political tree) is thin while Rousseau’s is wide…

Health-help or biopolitical hegemony?

(Thank you so much for the support, or thank you very little for fat-shaming?)


Download Hobbes-Locke-Rousseau course reading on Canvas here (sign in required)

Hobbes on “Bee Life”: Unlike humans…

…they live “sociably” with no hatred or envy

…their private and common goods are one and the same

…they don’t think they’re wiser than the neighbor bee, and they don’t aim to reform and innovate (“I can do it better!”) which means: no civil wars

…they lack the “art of words” needed to be con-artists (liars, sneaks, cunning…)

…they have no sense of being wronged, so don’t ever feel offended by the other bees

….they agree naturally (vs. by contract)…

Instagram, civics_salamander

The only way to erect [a] common power, as may be able to defend them from the invasion of foreigners, and the injuries of one another…is to confer all their power and strength upon one man, or upon one assembly of men, that may reduce all their wills, by plurality of voices, unto one will…”

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (1651)(from Political Thought, eds. M. Rosen and J. Wolff, 58 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012)

Be like the bee? Hobbes says “Good Luck”!

AMOUR-PROPRE: When we’re kind of an ass…

Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains…”

Rousseau, The Social Contract (1762)

Rousseau on “amour propre”: a self-indulgent sort of self love that he thinks grows in our hearts and minds as an artificial outgrowth of human society & culture and the unhealthy ways it invites us to compare ourselves to–and want to outdo–others.

(vs. the healthy love of self, amour de-soi based on basic needs, not artificial desires…)


Download Course Canvas reading on Foucault on Biopower here (sign in required)

Bentham’s Panopticon (1789)

Web sources for pictures for 1.19.22 (if not noted above): The eye drawing is from; the Gustave Dores Leviathan rendering can be found on Wikipedia– the above image is cropped from; bratty little girl pic from


Pluralism & Multiculturalism | Politics of Recognition | “Friendship Frames” | Agonism | Responsibility | Identity | Inequity

  • Bonilla-Silva on racism without racists: colorblindness/ PDF
  • Fanon on the “white gaze”/PDF
  • Oxford handbook on multiculturalism/ PDF
Instagram, civics_salamander
Connolly cites Deleuze and Guattari on the problem of trees v. rhizomes… (image: Instagram, civics_salamander)


Acknowledging the [dignity? humanity? equality?, ???] of neighbors...

  • At the inter-human level: friendly embrace? agonistic respect? responsibility? other?
  • At the structural level: dismantling inequitable structures & status quos
    • Redistribution, sense1: Progressive Change (what kind?)
    • Redistribution, sense 2: Revolutionary Change (what kind?)

Friendship Frames?

Is friendship (or other warm embraces) the goal of recognition (in any of its best senses above)?

  • Philosophically speaking, how should we/not relate to neighbors? (strangers? enemies?)
  • Is friendship an appropriate model for good politics?
    • At the inter-human level: Is recognition the same as “friendly embrace”?
    • At the structural level: Can’t we / shouldn’t we work for equity/justice without needing to hug it out?
Twitter poll, @civicssalamandR, 1.6-11.22

1) Friendly or … ?

  • Martin Luther King, Jr.: “love is not like” quote from Christmas Sermon, 1957 + 2nd love quote (see both below)

What do we think MLK hears in the idea of “love your neighbor” and Christian “agape”? Warm-hearted embrace? Or something more complicated?

  • Connolly on “respectful agonism”
  • Rushkoff on “find the others”
  • Levinas on “responsibility” –> Pessin’s “To Hate and Protect”

But keep in mind too: MLK reflecting on the Christian teaching of agapic love and the Biblical call to “love your neighbor”:

…it’s significant that [God] does not say, “Like your enemy.” Like is a sentimental something, an affectionate something. There are a lot of people that I find it difficult to like…”

Martin Luther King, Jr., “Loving Your Enemies,” sermon delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church (17 November 1957); for file, and audio link featuring Dr. King preaching this sermon:

2) RECOGNITION, FREEDOM, JUSTICE–not a warmhearted embrace…




From “The Look” section of Being and Nothingness (page refs are to the Canvas PDF– link above):

(256b): “…my fundamental connection with the Other-as-subject must be able to be referred back to my permanent possibility of being seen by the Other…(257t): “…I can not consider the look which the Other directs on me as one of the possible manifestations of his objective being; the Other can not look at me as he looks at the grass…

Thus this relation which I call “being-seen-by-another,” far from being merely one of the relations signified by the word man, represents an irreducible fact which can not be deduced either from the essence of the Other-as-object, or from my being-as-subject…

(259t): “The look which the eyes manifest, no matter what kind of eyes they are, is a pure reference to myself. What I apprehend immediately when I hear the branches crackling behind me is not that there is somone there; it is that I am vulnerable, that I have a body which can be hurt, that I occupy a place and that I can not in any case escape from the space in which I am without defense—in short, I am seen…

(259t): “Let us imagine that moved by jealousy, curiosity, or vice I have just glued my ear to the door and looked through a keyhole. I am alone…My attitude, for example, has no “outside”; it is a pure process of related the instrument (the keyhole) to the end to be attained (the spectacle to be seen), a pure mode of losing myself in the world, of causing myself to be drunk in by things as ink is by a blotter…

(260m): But all of a sudden I hear footsteps in the hall. Someone is looking at me! What does this mean? It means that I am suddenly affected in my being and that essential modifications appear in my structure…I now exist as myself…I see myself because somebody sees me…

(260b): This means that all of a sudden I am conscious of myself as escaping myself, not in that I am the foundation of my own nothingness but in that I have my foundation outside myself. I am for myself only as I am a pure reference to the Other…

[…] (261t): [Shame] is the recognition of the fact that I am indeed that object which the Other is looking at and judging…I am this self which another knows…”

[Sartre, Being and Nothingness]

[Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks]
[Levinas, Ethics and Infinity]

2) Recognition as Potentially Oppressive. Lack of Recognition as potentially oppressive.

  • Issue One: Recognition or Redistribution?
See Connolly’s discussion of the ‘arboreal’ v. ‘rhizomatic’ images of political life in Deleuze and Guattari @ A Thousand Plateaus

3) Racism, Genocide, Eugenics: On the Terrors of “You are Not Human”

National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC)

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM)

2. 1904/14 Science of Eugenics book by Mary Ries Melendy; PDF of Table of Contents and opening pages on Canvas; here are the cover and opening pages and pictures:


I. The Platypus. (In this class, we’ll be talking about paradoxes)

1. Two starting Zoom polls on social structures…

  1. Discuss!
  2. To the PPT: Some frames
  3. Some course themes (see Syllabus)/  The Flow of the Class (PPT here) (and click on the assignment types)

II. The Cauliflower. (In this class we’ll explore how theories of humans  implicate and are implicated by theories of the political)

5. Human Subject <—> Social <—> Political

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