In On the Genealogy of Morals, Nietzsche offers a controversial account of how we become reflective at all about our actions and how we become positioned to give an account of what we have done. He remarks that we become conscious of ourselves only after certain injuries have been inflicted. Someone suffers as a consequence, and the suffering person or, rather, someone acting as his or her advocate in a system of justice seeks to find the cause of that suffering and asks us whether we might be that cause. It is in the interest of meting out a just punishment to the one responsible for an injurious action that the question him or herself. “Punishment,” Nietzsche tells us, is “the making of memory.”
J. Butler, Giving an account of oneself, (New York: Fordham University Press), 10.