In Pursuit of Ordinary: Performativity in Judith Butler and J. L. Austin

Aydan Turanli


Judith Butler, in her book Excitable Speech: a Politics of the Performative,
asserts that there are similarities between “ritualistic” and “ceremonial’
characteristic of illocutionary acts in J.L. Austin and the concept of
“interpellation” presented by L. Althusser. In a Derridean manner, she says that
“ceremonial” character of illocutionary acts exceeds a single moment in time and
is associated with “condensed historicity,” therefore, every utterance is
actually a “citation.”

In this article, I discuss that Butler’s correlation of Austin’s speech act
theory with an Althusserian concept of “interpellation” is imprecise because
Austin restricts himself to immediate contextualism implying the total
conditions involved at the time of utterance. Judith Butler, on the other hand,
in an Althusserian manner, commits herself to socio-historically conditioned
meanings. The first part of the article concentrates on Judith Butler’s
characterization of Austin; the second part is a critique of Butler’s


philosophy; 20th century philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; performative utterance; speech act; interpellation; iteration

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