The Law of the Subject

  • Michael Ryan
Part of the Language, Discourse, Society book series (LDS)


Post-structuralism is sometimes described as a critique of the humanist subject, the ‘man’ created by the Renaissance in a post-feudal, republican mercantile era and nurtured to the full extent of his powers in the era of capitalist liberalism. According to liberal humanism, the self comes into being independently of the social grounds in which it is located. In this conception, the way the self’s categories and word schemes are given to it by the culture is secondary to its psychological and political essence, an ideational and moral capacity that grounds man’s freedom of thought and action. The languages, taxonomies, and images of the mind are derivative features of a more primordial subjective substance. They are appended to free thought and action, but they in no way are constitutive of that rationality and freedom.


Liberal Ideal Property Ownership Liberal Economic Liberal Concept Sovereign Authority 
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    For a discussion of related issues, see M. Sandel (ed), Liberalism and its Critics, (New York: New York University Press, 1984).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Michael Ryan 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Ryan
    • 1
  1. 1.Northeastern UniversityUSA

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