Info on The Multivoiced Body

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"The Multivoiced Body: Society and Communication in the Age of Diversity" by Fred Evans (Columbia University Press, March, 2009, ISBN: 978-0-231-14500-8)

Ethnic cleansing and other methods of political and social exclusion continue to thrive in our globalized world, complicating the idea that unity and diversity can exist in the same society. When we emphasize unity, we sacrifice heterogeneity, yet when we stress diversity, we create a plurality of individuals connected only by tenuous circumstance. As long as we remain tethered to these binaries, as long as we are unable to imagine the sort of society we want in an age of diversity, we cannot achieve an enduring solution to conflicts that continue unabated despite our increasing proximity to one another.

By envisioning the public as a multivoiced body, Fred Evans offers a solution to the dilemma of diversity. The multivoiced body is both one and many: heterogeneous voices that at once separate and bind themselves together through their continuous and creative interplay. By focusing on this traditionally undervalued or overlooked notion of voice, Evans shows how we can valorize simultaneously the solidarity, diversity, and richness of society. Moreover, recognition of society as a multivoiced body helps resists the pervasive countertendency to raise a chosen discourse to the level of "one true God," "pure race," or some other "oracle" that eliminates the dynamism of contesting voices.

To support these views, Evans taps the major figures and themes of analytic and continental philosophy as well as modernist, postmodernist, postcolonial, and feminist thought. He also turns to sources outsides of philosophy to address the implications of his views for justice, citizenship, democracy, and collective as well as individual rights. Through the seemingly simple conceit of a multivoiced body, Evans straddles both philosophy and political practice, confronting issues of subjectivity, language, communication, and identity. For anyone interested in moving toward a just society and politics, The Multivoiced Body offers an innovative approach to the problems of human diversity and ethical plurality.

About the Author

Fred Evans is professor of philosophy and director of the Center for Interpretive and Qualitative Research at Duquesne University. He has published numerous articles and book chapters on continental and political philosophy and is the author of Psychology and Nihilism: A Genealogical Critique of the Computational Model of Mind and coeditor of Chiasms: Merleau-Ponty's Notion of Flesh. Many of Evans' academic projects have been inspired by his teaching and developmental work in Laos, Colombia, and other countries of the global South.


"This is a very important book. Fred Evans develops the new idea of the multivoiced body as an attempt to take seriously both the ontology of difference and the politics of democracy, both the multiplicity of bodies and the multiplicity of voices. Unlike so many recent works, Evans does not present a static and unchanging structure. Instead, both the ontology and the politics are dynamic. The Multivoiced Body is perhaps the first genuine work of philosophy in the twenty-first century." Leonard Lawlor, Sparks Professor of Philosophy, Penn State University, and author of This Is Not Sufficient: An Essay on Animality and Human Nature in Derrida

"The breadth and scope of this book are dazzling. Fred Evans gracefully traverses the history of philosophy, psychology, cognitive science, psychoanalysis, history and philosophy of science, literature, linguistics, and political theory, bringing complex philosophies of subjectivity and language to bear on concrete political situations, events, and art. Working through the problems of the relationship between identity and difference and autonomy and community that have obsessed continental philosophy for the last few decades, Evans gives a new twist to the ethical implications of the connection between bodies and language. He masterfully forges a dialogue between continental and analytic philosophies on some of the most important issues of our era." Kelly Oliver, W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy, Vanderbilt University, and author of The Colonization of Psychic Space: A Psychoanalytic Theory of Oppression

"This profoundly original and extremely timely book takes a decisive step beyond modernism and postmodernism by proposing the potentially revolutionary idea of the human subject as a tapestry of voices, only some of which can be claimed as one’s own, with the rest being the residues of ongoing culture and history. These voices are incorporated into the body and the places of the human subject, who is at once personally responsible for them (in contrast with the anonymity of the unconscious subject or the mere witness of collective forces) and yet reflective of the chorus constituted by the many traditions to which this same subject ineluctably belongs. Written in gracefully lucid prose, buoyed by imaginative leaps and startling insights, The Multivoiced Body is likely to be the touchstone of many future debates on the fate of the individual and society, especially in the context of the issues so acutely raised by ethnic and cultural diversity at this time." Edward S. Casey, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at SUNY Stony Brook and author of The World at a Glance and The Fate of Place: A Philosophical History

Part 1 The Dilemma of Diversity

1. The Age of Diversity

2. History of the Dilemma: Cosmos, Chaos. and Chaosmos

3. Society as a Multivoiced Body

Part 2 The Primacy of Voices

4. Modernism and Subjectivity

5. Postmodernism and Language

6. The Primacy of Voices

7. Communication and an Ethics for the Age of Diversity

Part 3 The Political Dimension of the Multivoiced Body

8. The Social Unconscious

9. Globalization, Resistance. and the New Solidarity

10. Democracy and Justice in the Multivoiced Body