Weak Intentionalism and the Death of the Subject

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Does Bevir’s weak intentionalism clash irredeemably with the rejection of conceptions of subjectivity in the work of Deleuze and the later Foucault? The paper examines the notion of the subject required by Bevir’s weak intentionalism, before turning to the ‘rejection’ of the subject found in the work of Deleuze and the later Foucault, suggesting that this rejection only rejects the subject as something fully autonomous and given in advance, and does not constitute a global rejection of any subject capable of intentional meaning. A subject who intends is perfectly permissible within the context of Deleuze and Foucault’s philosophies, provided that they are regarded as emergent phenomena from multiple impressions, processes, forces and powers. This subject is in fact a strong candidate for weak intentionalism. However, the Deleuzean–Foucaultian conception of the subject does problematize Bevir’s restriction of historical meaning to the meanings of individual subjects, and not to collectivities. Collectivities, much like individuals, can be conceived as emergent phenomena from multiple matters, relations, powers, individuals and so on, and therefore seem capable of generating meanings, much in the way that subjects can generate meanings. We must, therefore, ask what is so special about the individual subject such that only they are capable of meaning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-56
Number of pages14
JournalIntellectual History Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2011


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