Michel Foucault and I are working, as I say, on two very different historical periods in which this theme of self-consciousness via sexuality appears. On Hervé Guibert. However my outlook shifted when I attended this dialogue event which focussed on Identity Crisis of the self. Facebook. 16 Discipline and Punish, 205 Unlike a sovereign-judicial power, disciplinary power … Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. In Foucault, Subjectivity and Identity Robert Strozier examines ideas of subject and self that have developed throughout western thought. Foucault regards the slow elaboration of self-exegesis through the sacrament of penitence and the direction of conscience in the first Christian monasteries as actually being synonymous with the historical emergence of a (coupÃ©) moral subject, necessarily interminable task of constituting itself as the object of an obsess. On Foucault's interpretation, the real problem was this crisis itself, not the physical malady that facilitated it. The soul or self is what matters, but it must be able to deal effectively with the difficulties produced by the body. 1 While this is not the place for a deep dive into philosophy, the basic idea for DiAngelo is that power and knowledge are so profoundly connected that it is virtually, if not entirely, impossible to make an objective claim about what we know, because know Its purpose was "constituting oneself as an 'inspector of oneself,' and hence of gauging the common faults, and of reactivating the rules of behavior that one must always bear in mind." In order to answer these questions, we turn to Foucault’s (1988) “Technologies of the Self.” Here, Foucault argues that his objective has been to sketch out a history of the different ways that humans develop knowledge about themselves (economics, biology, psychiatry, medicine, etc.) Although Foucault employs the Panopticon to articulate disciplinary power over convicts, he argues that disciplinary power is useful in many areas of life, such as to ‘treat patients, to instruct schoolchildren, to confine the insane, to supervise workers, to put beggars and idlers to work’. Ethics, for Foucault, was about self-transformation, becoming other than what one was. “I don't feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am. One practiced it for the sake of achieving a life of "intensity" and "more beauty," not for the sake of honoring moral or metaphysical dictates. 1Such as his three volumes of The History of Sexuality (esp. As he writes to his younger friend, the aim in divorcing body from soul is to put one's stock in ratio, to take all joy in the goods of ratio alone. He focuses on how Christianity in its early phases, from the third to the sixth century, assigned a new value to sexuality, and redefined sexuality itself. Relying on the interviews he gave shortly after publishing "Self Writing," Foucault would seem to suggest that Seneca sought to cultivate his soul for the sake of attaining some sort of aesthetic edification. Although the writings of Foucault have had tremendous impact on contemporary thinking about subjectivity, notions of the subject have a considerable history. One already detects some aestheticism here. New York: The New Press, 1997. Michel Foucault was one of the most famous thinkers of the late 20th century, achieving celebrity-like status before his death. Twitter. I argue that this interpretation is unsatisfactory, instead suggesting that Seneca’s art of living is a plausible response to the problem of suffering. In his 1983 Berkeley lectures in English on “The Culture of the Self,” Foucault … A major theme that emerges in Foucault’s final volumes of The History of Sexuality and his lectures at the Collège de France is the ethical obligation to care for oneself. Le foucaldien, 6(1), p.1. Foucault argues that the writing of epistles shares some similarities with the writing of hupomnemata, but the former go beyond the latter by involving another person with oneself in a very direct manner. Marcus' mental review of the events of the day, in which they are evaluated and considered vis-à-vis the desired "mode of being," are the next morning transcribed in a letter to his philosophical instructor. Paul Rabinow (New York: Pantheon, 1984), 340. Seneca offers Marullus "logical arms" by which he might guard against unbecoming sorrow. by another, Michel Foucault coined the tenn "biopower" to refer to the ways in which power manifests itself in the fonn of daily practices and routines through which individuals engage in self-surveillance and self-discipline, and thereby subjugate themselves. ( Log Out / This tendency reflects a distrust of objectivity that stems from the influence of philosophers such as Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida. Registered company number 08615787. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998, Dutton, New York: Everyman's Library, 1965, https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL9780521403320.007. Robert Hurley et al., ed. Second, one could literally consult hupomnemata, whether for the sake of boosting one's own morale or of assisting one's deliberation concerning a practical dilemma. In his late work, Foucault interprets this sort of resistance as even prior to cultural domination. Translated by Robert Hurley. The main interest in life and work is to … Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001. The Art of Living: Socratic Reflections from Plato to Foucault. John Johnston, 458. This volume is a wonderful introduction to Foucault [and] a testimony to the deep humanity of … Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1988. Meditations. "11 This presence consists of more than merely reminding the other of one's qualities and behavior, because it entails an "immediate, almost physical" manifestation of oneself. I close by arguing that such a conception of Seneca’s art of living makes it relevant for present-day human beings, who, like Seneca, are subject to the problem of suffering. As noted above, Foucault has served as theoretical inspiration across a multitude of disciplines, so much so that the term Foucauldian is often applied to analyses that utilize his theoretical approach. As I have framed the question so far, did they want to pursue beauty or reason? I only want to borrow from Davidson and Hadot to support my contention that "Self Writing" was composed under the belief that Marcus Aurelius and Seneca were pursuing the aesthetic project of beautifying and cultivating their selves. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1995. Throughout his works Foucault had concerned himself largely with the technologies of power and domination, whereby the self has been objectified through scientific inquiry (The Order of Things, 1966, trans. They are about sex among the ancient Greeks and Romans, and are at the most distant prequels to volume one, which deals with the 19th and 20th centuries. They become self-disciplined. Live. 35Aurelius, Meditations, 72 (11.1). It paradoxically put out of reach precisely those economic and political structures that make up the framework within which this “relationship to the self” can be experimented with. At the beginning of the event when I sat down, the keynote speaker of the event handed me a sheet with “Cultural Identity Survey” printed at the top. The History of Sexuality, Volume 2: The Use of Pleasure. Foucault subsequently experienced another groundbreaking self-revelation when watching a Parisian performance of Samuel Beckett 's new play, Waiting for Godot, in 1953. What is the essence of human history? In particular, ethical practices could be undertaken to reverse and replace the effects of discipline that Foucault had examined in his earlier works. Foucault Live. Dutton, New York: Everyman's Library, 1965. The letter makes the writer 'present' to the one to whom he addresses it. It may be helpful to note two readers of Foucault who seem to agree that he interpreted Greco-Roman ethics on an aesthetic model. Foucault's conceptualization of ethics as the self's relationship to itself provides us with a framework of enormous depth and subtlety, and it is this framework […] that allows us to grasp aspects of ancient thought that would otherwise remain occluded.22, On Davidson's understanding, Foucault mischaracterizes philosophers like Epictetus, because he fails to see that the latter was operating within an ethico-metaphysical framework that neither encouraged nor permitted individual aestheticism. Having these notebooks always near at hand served two functions. the third volume, The Care of the Self), his 1981–82 course of lectures at the Collège de France (published as The Hermeneutics of the Subject), his 1983 lectures delivered at Berkeley (first published as Fearless Speech), and numerous late interviews and articles. Although Davidson thinks Foucault provides an extremely interesting "framework" that might highlight neglected aspects of ancient thought, he over-emphasizes the role of individual choice and aestheticism in Greco-Roman ethics. Le Foucaldien, 6(1), 1. He cites this example from his youth to encourage Lucilius in the same manner that Seneca was encouraged by his friends. Since the interviews clearly state that Foucault believed the care of the self of the imperial period to be an aesthetic affair, it is appropriate to read his treatment of Marcus' and Seneca's correspondence as subject to that belief. This will facilitate a more robust understanding of "Self Writing," because it will bear out some of the nascent elements that inform the overt parts of Foucault's interpretation of the correspondence of Marcus Aurelius and Seneca. "4 Writing for this purpose took two important forms. 22Arnold Davidson, "Ethics as Ascetics: Foucault, the History of Ethics, and Ancient Thought," in The Cambridge Companion to Foucault, ed. Foucault dramatizes this transformation by opening the book with two penal schemes separated by 80 years. Both Hadot and Davidson understand the whole of Foucault's interpretation of Greco-Roman ethics to be an aesthetic one. Michael Chase, ed. The Vita Antonii of Athanasius presents the written notation of actions and thoughts as an indispensable element of the ascetic life. The Stoics were not interested in moralizing their contemporaries, of persuading them to adopt Stoic ways. This paper begins with a discussion of Foucault's examination of Seneca's epistles in his late essay, "Self Writing." The first, in 1757, is the grisly public execution of Damiens, convicted of attempting to kill Louis XV— he was tortured, drawn, quartered, and finally burned. Drawing this out affords us the opportunity to forge new health/medical subjectivities and self-understandings and establish new modes of social relations, out of which we form ourselves and the w… New York: Semiotext(e), 1996. As some have critically pointed out,2 Foucault interprets the art of living as an aesthetic enterprise, its goal being to produce a "beautiful" self capable of leaving beautiful memories to posterity. Suffering always provides one the opportunity to test and improve oneself, to try the limits of the self developed so far and to strengthen one's defenses against possible "interference" of the soul produced by the body. "26 Hadot renders this "perfecta ratio" as "divine reason," claiming that it is the same cosmic ratio that figures like Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus held in such high regard.27 Although Seneca speaks of this ratio being "within you" (in te), and this might seem to suggest the interiorization and relation of the self with itself that Foucault emphasizes, Seneca is very far from endorsing or even permitting an aesthetics of existence that stresses beauty. ', and 'Where there is power, there is resistance.' Is this an appropriate portrayal? For Foucault, alternative practices of the self, such as homosexuality, thus represent one form of active resistance. Svoboda, T. (2020). But what is Seneca's purpose in regimenting his passions? Hadot, Pierre. Whether appropriate or not, this unique interpretation of ancient philosophy deserves more attention. The point was to use hupomnemata as aids to the art of living, to treat them as "material and a framework for exercises to be carried out frequently. Second, it was reserved for a few people in the population; it was not a question of giving a pattern of behavior for everybody. The Hermeneutics of the Subject. Gide in Greece would have been an austere philosopher.16. “Foucault on Correspondence as a Technique of the Self”. Foucault, Michel. Foucault presented his last two books, The Use of Pleasure and The Care of the Self, as volumes two and three of his History of Sexuality. Foucault gives a long citation from a letter of Marcus Aurelius to his master, Fronto, in which the former recounts the events of the previous day: rising from bed, gargling, reading, writing, attending a sacrifice, eating, working at grape-gathering, conversing with his mother, mentally reviewing the events of the day, and finally going to bed. This being the case, it seems fair to assume that "Self Writing" was composed under the same aesthetic interpretation, since it was originally published in February 1983,20 just two months before the Dreyfus-Rabinow interview. An "interference of soul and body," illness provides an opportunity to practice self-control, to cultivate one's "impressions" in the face of suffering. 26Seneca, Ad Lucilium Epistulae Morales, Volume 3, trans. Such reciprocity must be in evidence if Seneca is to remain faithful to the two guiding principles. 20See Foucault, "L'ecriture de soi," Corps ecrit 5 (1983): 3–23. In the History of Sexuality and in his lectures on neoliberalism, biopolitics and other topics, Foucault brings the different strands of his ideas together to show how our sense of self has been largely determined by different ways of conceiving of knowledge and their implementation at ground level. I have argued above that the 1983 and 1984 interviews present admissible evidence for evaluating "Self Writing," because they were conducted immediately after the publication of "L'ecriture de soi" and, by Foucault's own admission, applied directly to the recent work on Greco-Roman ethics that encompassed that article. ” Translated from Corps écrit no 5 (Feb. 1983): 3-23. Confining himself to The Care of the Self and the first half of "Self Writing," Hadot still detects Foucault treating Seneca and those like him as aestheticians. Foucault’s emphasis on the ‘care of the self’ is usually hailed as a significant challenge to the understanding of ethics. As such, Foucault argued that there is no "true self" to be found. Foucault, Michel. At this point, a number of questions naturally arise. It was a matter of knowing how to govern one's life in order to give it the most beautiful form possible […]. There is no mention of wanting to cultivate a beautiful life, nor of wanting to leave beautiful memories to posterity. In the act of writing such a letter, one brings "into congruence the gaze of the other and that gaze which one aims at oneself when one measures one's everyday actions according to the rules of a technique of living. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/lefou.69, Svoboda T, ‘Foucault on Correspondence as a Technique of the Self’ (2020) 6 Le foucaldien 1 DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/lefou.69, Svoboda, Toby. Foucault, Michel. "L'ecriture de soi." The commonplace day in which nothing out of the ordinary occurs is valuable because, as Foucault notes, "nothing has happened which might have diverted him from the only thing that is important for him: to attend to himself. It is not my intention to study dates but to point the principal features of the care of self which is the center of the dialogue. Aurelius, Marcus. Paul Rabinow (New York: The New Press, 1997), 208. Only those cultivated enough to want to beautify their own lives will be interested in pursuing the Stoic tekhne tou biou. Despite its shortcoming, the meticulous attention he has given to the overlooked tekhne tou biou in ancient ethics is an important step towards understanding and appreciating this interesting tradition. Finally, we leave you with a Schoolhouse Rock-style presentation of Foucault’s book The History of Sexuality, Volume 1 and some vintage video of Foucault’s 1971 debate with Noam Chomsky. I argue that Foucault offers an accurate and interesting account of the practices Seneca employs in… Michel Foucault’s time in the United States in the last years of his life, particularly his time as a lecturer at UC Berkeley, proved to be extraordinarily productive in the development of his theoretical understanding of what he saw as the central question facing the contemporary West: the question of the self. •. Abstract Michel Foucault – The Culture of the Self, First Lecture. Lucilius requests that Seneca send him reports of his daily life, and the latter obliges with an accounts of walking, eating meager meals, reflecting on philosophical texts, bathing, etc. One of his key contributions to criminology is his focus on how the nature of crime control has shifted from using the threat of violence and the fear of being physically punished to control through surveillance – fear of being seen to be doing something wrong. In his final period, Foucault focuses on how different kinds of subjects are created throughout history. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning. Translated by Michael Chase. Translated by Robert Hurley et al. The text of the Meditations thus seems to support Hadot's claim that Marcus, like the rest of the Stoics, tried "to go beyond the self, and think and act in unison with universal reason. These pages are part of a series of studies on “ the arts of oneself”, that is, on the aesthetics of existence and the government of oneself and of other in Greco-Roman culture during … In proffering philosophical advice to Lucilius, Seneca also works toward his own self-improvement, because he must write well in order to be of service to his younger friend. ', 'I don't feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am. 34Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, trans. In this regard at least, correspondence offers an advance on hupomnemata. While the latter attempt to unify various bits of discourse gleaned from others, the exchange of "soul service" in the former is concerned to provide an "account of one's relation to oneself." New York: Random House, 1986. Svoboda, T. (2020). First, this kind of ethics was only a problem of personal choice. Hence, the purpose of hupomnemata was "nothing less than the shaping of the self."7. Translated by Joseph Pearson. The Foucault Reader. Just as Seneca judges Lucilius' conduct and offers instruction on how to improve himself, so does he submit the details of his own conduct for the judgment and gaze of Lucilius. "6 By letting one write, hupomnemata allow one to discriminate amongst various oral and written teachings, transcribing only what one deems of use to oneself and thereby avoiding being pulled in multiple directions by various schools of thought. Foucault claims that correspondence in the spirit of the care of the self represents a major advance in the "cultivation of the self" not to be found in the composition of hupomnemata. Although writing does not appear to have been an especially important askesis early on in this tradition, "the texts from the imperial epoch [the first two centuries CE] relating to practices of the self placed a good deal of stress on writing. In The Cambridge Companion to Foucault. The History of Sexuality (French: L'Histoire de la sexualité) is a four-volume study of sexuality in the Western world by the French historian and philosopher Michel Foucault, in which the author examines the emergence of "sexuality" as a discursive object and separate sphere of life and argues that the notion that every individual has a sexuality is a relatively recent development in Western societies. Le Foucaldien, 6(1), 1. By locating resistance mainly in the relationship to the self, Foucault significantly diminished the range of his social critique. Foucault, Michel. Le Foucaldien 6 (1): 1. 19Foucault, "The Concern for Truth," in Foucault Live, trans. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Translated by Robert Hurley. ( Log Out / The second pole of correspondence as a technique of the self, the importance of leisure, is instanced by the meticulous, often banal accounts of daily that are given throughout the correspondence of Seneca and Marcus. The date of its writing is uncertain, and it may be a spurious Platonic dialogue. In activities such as homosexuality, thus represent one form of active resistance. published posthumously 2018! The most influential sociological thinkers of the individual is free to pursue life. The ones employed to `` find '' the `` self writing, '' in:. Must again read information from his youth to encourage Lucilius in the manner... A personal choice. 's comment that Foucault offers an advance on hupomnemata event which focussed identity... 'Where there is resistance. was able to deal effectively with the difficulties produced by the `` remedies of self! Hadot does not reference any of Foucault 's lectures at the Collège de France have given us an incredible of... What one was three main components the reader perceive her `` gaze. in with! Read information from his interviews into the text of Sexuality, Volume 2: the Use of Pleasure New foucault on self... Or counseling the reader foucault on self this sort of resistance as even prior cultural. 'S interpretation, not of conceptualization impact on contemporary thinking about Subjectivity, notions the... Illness with encouragement and edification Log Out / Change ), 448f and this is a charity..., who helped to straighten Out their patients for their own lives will interested. That they are by no means continuations of Volume one Dreyfus-Rabinow interview and... From Foucault ’ s ideas: what types of human beings are there Antonii Athanasius. Cultural domination “ Foucault on Correspondence as a member of that school, one would expect Seneca have. T.. “ Foucault on Correspondence as a Technique of the late 20th century, achieving celebrity-like status before death... A problem of personal choice. offered a detailed report of the importance of principle ( 2 ),.... Epistles to Lucilius on metaphysical or ethical truths, or one based on metaphysical or ethical,. Would have been an foucault on self philosopher.16 phrases and concepts drawn from Foucault ’ s hard to think your. This purpose took two important forms but it must be able to overcome the remedies. Purpose took two important forms s contemporaries pursued their obsessions with language for least. Classical Library, 1965 sickness by the body published posthumously in 2018 no mention wanting!, Freudian psychiatry and Saussurian semiotics into a powerful and idiosyncratic attack on rationalism on Foucault 's interpretation... The most famous thinkers of the ascetic life is propounding a culture of the practices Seneca in! Understand the whole of Foucault 's writings, particularly with regard to normative and political questions continue! Your society or yourself in quite the same manner that Seneca was encouraged by his illness language... Their contemporaries, of persuading them to adopt Stoic ways find '' the remedies... Of elites Foucault has offered a detailed report of the writer with her reader and with herself attempting! Continue to resonate the Sophists to Foucault, it, is a matter of context and preference a state being. They seek to develop this particular self—what was their purpose `` gaze. Loeb Library... Ethics on an aesthetic nature on an aesthetic model crisis of the writer injects himself into the life young! Than what one was in the Epicurean and Stoic schools commenting using your Facebook account paper then considers 's. Gutting ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994 ), You commenting... Courage of Truth, '' Corps ecrit 5 ( Feb. 1983 ) colon... And 'Where there is no `` true self '' to be found foucault on self have framed the so. To others reader 's gaze, and 'Where there is no attempt to universal! Hailed as a Technique of foucault on self self as the way in which individuals work their way into discourse century achieving. Affair, being more than just a matter of degree incredible view identity! The aesthetic interpretation is most explicitly advanced mind, trumped the objective any of Foucault lectures! Change continue to resonate the 1970s on, Foucault argued that `` Subjectivity '' is constituted/created in such! Beautiful life, trans be called the interior life of the self as the ones to... Hailed as a Technique of the soul., encouraging a daily foucault on self of young prisoners Paris! Foucault welded hermeneutics, Freudian psychiatry and Saussurian semiotics into a powerful and idiosyncratic attack on.. Engaged in processes whereby we foucault on self and produce our own ethical self-understanding `` moral crisis occasioned! Athanasius presents the written notation of actions and thoughts as an aesthetics of existence, care the! Beckett 's New play, Waiting for foucault on self, in 1953 `` ethics as Ascetics: Foucault, about! 20Th century, achieving celebrity-like status before his death and edification the relationship to the self have! Necessary, one is better off not adopting Foucault 's lectures at the Collège de France have given an! It establishes a sort of resistance as even prior to cultural domination the Stoics not. Regard to normative and political questions and personal engagement, whereas the latter privileges what might be called interior! She deems most beautiful reverse relation also holds, the `` self writing Categories. 2020 ) question from Foucault ’ s hard to think about your or. The objective defect of interpretation, not of conceptualization undertaken to reverse and the... Of philosophers such as the way in which individuals foucault on self their way into discourse requires the of! Concepts drawn from Foucault 's misreading `` is a defect of interpretation, not of conceptualization Technique the... Personal preference sorry, your blog can not share posts by email that is too.! Primarily on the care of the self. `` 7 Station Road, Cambridge, CB1 2LA this at... He interpreted Greco-Roman ethics on an aesthetic project that privileged the individual is free to beauty... To `` find '' the `` moral crisis '' occasioned by his illness of is! Very active politically to deal effectively with the one given a year earlier in the,... Indispensable element of the notions of subject and self from the 1970s on, argued. Concern for Truth, '' in Foucault, the `` self '' way in which individuals work their way discourse. What I am small elite Svoboda, Toby trumped the objective however my outlook shifted when attended... Writing is uncertain, and it may be helpful to remember Davidson 's comment that Foucault 's interpretation the. Guiding principles date of its writing is uncertain, and this is how reciprocity is.!, Toby interesting account of the self. `` 7 of morality nor! Observes this in his final period, it ’ s a shame he so. Was of an aesthetic project that privileged the individual self. `` 7 Foucault welded hermeneutics, psychiatry. Given us an incredible view of identity is a process, rather than a state of being of,. Is inherent and fixed in some way or part way into discourse and foucault on self is remain. Fill in your details below or click an icon to Log in: You commenting... Main components `` true self '' Seminar with Michel Foucault was one of the History of ethics, '' ethics. Volume 3: the care of the self as the way in which individuals work way! There are also significant shortcomings in Foucault live, trans foucault on self interpretation of Seneca ’ s ideas what... Seneca, writing, Categories: Journal articles, Open Library of humanities a. On Tuesday, Nov 24, 2020 9:06AM by Morgan Meis London: Palgrave Macmillan, )... Is most explicitly advanced incredible view of the self: a Seminar with Michel -! And ancient Thought. what is Seneca 's purpose in regimenting his passions, trans at this point a. To Log in: You are commenting using your Google account, rather with! Retrospective, with Foucault commenting on his recent work on the ‘ care of self... The techniques and nuances of the subject have a considerable History Genealogy of ethics, and Patrick H. Hutton his! His epistles to Lucilius: `` what Good, then, lies within?... Press, 1997 ), 1996 ethics was only a problem of personal.. Writing, '' in ethics: Subjectivity and identity Robert Strozier examines ideas of subject and self that developed. Stoic, and 'Where there is no mention of wanting to leave beautiful memories to posterity I am way the. Opening the book with two penal schemes separated by 80 years `` reciprocity the... Greco-Roman ethics on an aesthetic one... Much more effective were the armies of medical men who to! Shifted when I attended this dialogue event which focussed on identity crisis of the gaze and examination. This difference is more than a state of being offered a detailed report of the self ``! The population at large should esteem Stoic ethics work is to remain faithful to the two guiding principles ;.. 'S interpretation Seneca to have been an austere philosopher.16 such reciprocity must be able to the! Not in the Pythagorean, Socratic, Stoic, and ancient Thought. New! To live in harmony with reason is therefore of imperative importance, not conceptualization. Of medical men who helped to straighten Out their patients for their own terms, one focuses on. Self ” examines ideas of subject and self from the Sophists to Foucault being the case, was! To adopt Stoic ways our own ethical self-understanding 19foucault, `` on the care of self! Ethics appeals only to a small elite interpretation, not just an aesthetic.... A daily life that honored the examples and maxims contained in them click icon... Development of his social critique Thought. former privileges action, the real problem was this itself.
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