By Cyrus R. K. Patell

Since the 19th century, rules based at the person, on Emersonian self-reliance, and at the correct of the person to the pursuit of happiness have had a big presence within the United States—and much more so after the Reagan period. yet has this presence been for the great of all? In Negative Liberties Cyrus R. ok. Patell revises very important principles within the debate approximately individualism and the political thought of liberalism. He does so by means of including new voices to the present discussion—Toni Morrison and Thomas Pynchon—to learn the several ways that their writings include, interact, and critique the respectable narrative generated through U.S. liberal ideology.
Pynchon and Morrison show the reliable narrative of individualism as encompassing a fancy constitution of contradiction held in abeyance. This narrative imagines that the pursuits of the person are usually not at odds with the ambitions of the kin or society and in reality obscures the life of an unholy truce among person liberty and sorts of oppression. by means of bringing those fiction writers right into a discourse ruled by way of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Isaiah Berlin, John Rawls, George Kateb, Robert Bellah, and Michael Sandel, Patell unmasks the ways that modern united states tradition has now not totally shed the oppressive styles of reasoning passed down by way of the slaveholding tradition from which American individualism emerged.
With its interdisciplinary strategy, Negative Liberties will attraction to students and students of yank literature, tradition, sociology, and politics.

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Extra resources for Negative Liberties: Morrison, Pynchon, and the Problem of Liberal Ideology (New Americanists)

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This no Body has any Right to but himself. The Labour of his Body, and the Work of his Hands, we may say, are properly his’’ (1698, 287–88). The political theorist C. B. ’’ In a society based on possessive individualism, being a free individual means being seen as the sole proprietor of one’s own person and capacities, and society becomes nothing more than ‘‘a human contrivance for the protection of the individual’s property in his person and goods, and (therefore) for the maintenance of orderly relations of exchange between individuals regarded as proprietors of themselves’’ (264).

Members of the first camp, which includes poststructuralist, communitarian, and socialist critiques of the discourse of rights, share an insight that has been powerfully expressed by the sociologist Orlando Patterson. In Slavery and Social Death (1982), Patterson argues that the concept of negative freedom, ‘‘an ideal cherished in the West beyond all others,’’ emerged only as a result of the practice of slavery: ‘‘Before slavery people simply could not have conceived of the thing we call freedom.

S. culture’s conception of individual freedom, but (as we shall see in the next chapter) their reliance on both methodological individualism and philosophical abstraction leaves them unable to provide the conceptual resources necessary to counteract such social pathologies as devastating racial oppression. ’’ I will argue that both Morrison and Pynchon inhabit this singular landscape and that the formal and thematic di√erences between their oeuvres are di√erences of emphasis and degree rather than of kind.

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