Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship

By Noëlle McAfee | Go to book overview

PART III
SUBJECTIVITY AND DELIBERATIVE DEMOCRACY

Children, she feels, are already far advanced, by the age of
three or four, along a path that she, as an autistic person, has
never advanced far on. Little children, she feels, already “un-
derstand” other human beings in a way she can never hope to.
What is it, then, I pressed her further, that goes on between
normal people, from which she feels herself excluded? It has
to do, she has inferred, with an implicit knowledge of social
conventions and codes, of cultural presuppositions of every
sort.…
Something was going on between the other kids, some-
thing swift, subtle, constantly changing—an exchange of
meanings, a negotiation, a swiftness of understanding so re-
markable that sometimes she wondered if they were all
telepathic.

—Oliver Sacks, An Anthropologist on Mars

The disclosure of the “who” through speech, and the setting
of a new beginning through action, always fall into an already
existing web where their immediate consequences can be
felt.… Although everybody started his life by inserting him-
self into the human world through action and speech, nobody
is the author or producer of his own life story. In other words,
the stories, the results of action and speech, reveal an agent,
but this agent is not an author or producer nobody is its
author.

—Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition

-127-

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