It is true that by chronicling his daily thoughts and actions Marcus sought to achieve a "mode of being," but this mode is rational rather than aesthetic, concerned as it is with living according to right reason than with realizing some form of the beautiful. Of humankind? There is no mention here of what Hadot calls "universal reason," the principle with which the Stoics strove to be in accord. Le foucaldien, 6(1), p.1. 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." The former even levels this charge against the construal of hupomnemata in "Self Writing," although Hadot does not consider the section of that article that deals with correspondence. 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 classical view of identity is a something that is inherent and fixed in some way or part. Foucault, Michel. DOI:, Svoboda T, ‘Foucault on Correspondence as a Technique of the Self’ (2020) 6 Le foucaldien 1 DOI:, Svoboda, Toby. It may be helpful to note two readers of Foucault who seem to agree that he interpreted Greco-Roman ethics on an aesthetic model. This paper then considers Foucault's interpretation of Seneca's art of living as an aesthetics of existence. Foucault, Michel. I argue that Foucault offers an accurate and interesting account of the practices Seneca employs in… Contrary to so many of his intellectual predecessors, Foucault sought not to answer these traditional and seemingly straightforward questions but to critically examine them and the responses they had inspired. Although Foucault's treatment of hupomnemata is quite interesting, I want to focus on his consideration of philosophical correspondence among practitioners of the tekhne tou biou in the imperial period, which comprises the second half of "Self Writing." Keywords: aesthetics of existence, care of the self, philosophy, seneca, writing, Categories: Journal articles, Open access•. 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’. ( Log Out /  In a manner of speaking, Lucilius keeps Seneca honest, because no blemish in his conduct will escape the gaze of his friend, part of whose station is to provide moral support for his older companion. 1, 2020, p. 1. Le Foucaldien, 6(1), 1. 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. "3 This practice contributed to the primary goal of the tekhne tou biou, which was "the fashioning of accepted discourses, recognized as true, into rational principles of action. Seneca. While leisure is not absent from Cicero, it is at best an assistant to action, the aim of rest always being to rehabilitate one for future activity. Translated by Robert Hurley. Why did they think this specific type of self is better than other types—was it a matter of philosophical argument, or one of individual choice? Foucault also describes technologies of the self as the way in which individuals work their way into discourse. 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. In this regard at least, correspondence offers an advance on hupomnemata. There is no mention of wanting to cultivate a beautiful life, nor of wanting to leave beautiful memories to posterity. comments powered by "23 Both Hadot and Davidson might protest that Gide, for example, had little in common with Epictetus, the latter of whom was attempting not primarily to intensify and beautify his life but rather to live in accordance with universal reason, a goal towards which everyone ought to strive. The Hermeneutics of the Subject. This tendency reflects a distrust of objectivity that stems from the influence of philosophers such as Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida. However, McNay argues that there are also significant shortcomings in Foucault's writings, particularly with regard to normative and political questions. The Stoics were not interested in moralizing their contemporaries, of persuading them to adopt Stoic ways. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. Edited by Gary Gutting. 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. This review of one's day has a precedent in the Pythagorean, Stoic, and Epicurean traditions, but it did not usually take a written form. New York: Random House, 1986. Third, this ethics appeals only to a small number of people. New York: Pantheon, 1984. Abstract In a chapter of Philosophy as a Way of Life, Pierre Hadot offers the following critique of Foucault's approach to ancient ethics: What I am afraid of is that, by focusing his interpretation too exclusively on the culture of the self, the care of the self, and conversion toward the self—more generally, by defining his ethical model as an aesthetics of existence—M. Foucault, Michel. Since Foucault claims in April 1983 and May 1984 that his recent work approached Greco-Roman ethics as an affair of personal choice in which one tried to live a beautiful life, I will treat the February 1983 "L'ecriture de soi" article as being susceptible to this same approach. Biopower is a useful concept for medical anthropology London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. "38 Foucault has offered a detailed report of the techniques and nuances of the Greco-Roman art of living. This undertaking is quite appropriate, and it helps one understand what Marcus and Seneca were doing, but it does not answer why they practiced self-writing, and this is an important question. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001. What kind of self were Marcus and Seneca attempting to cultivate—one based on metaphysical or ethical truths, or one based on personal preference? Hence, the purpose of hupomnemata was "nothing less than the shaping of the self."7. Again, the Greco-Roman art of living was an aesthetic project that privileged the individual self. Contrary to so many of his intellectual predecessors, Foucault sought not to answer these traditional and seemingly straightforward questions but to critically examine them and the responses they had inspired. Le Foucaldien 6, no. On the contrary, such adoption was an affair of the individual, a matter of "personal choice." Foucault repeatedly argued that his work on techniques of the self were not a denial of his previous work on 18th- and 19th-century Europe, but a different way to make our present intelligible. An "interference of soul and body," illness provides an opportunity to practice self-control, to cultivate one's "impressions" in the face of suffering. The epistolary writing practiced by Seneca is performed partially for the sake of principle (1), which is made possible by Lucilius' fulfilling the necessary condition for the activation of principle (2). Other forms of power also persist in our midst. It was a matter of knowing how to govern one's life in order to give it the most beautiful form possible […]. 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. Foucault on Correspondence as a Technique of the Self. Receive 3QD Posts by Email. In Foucault, Subjectivity and Identity Robert Strozier examines ideas of subject and self that have developed throughout western thought. Four Lectures on Truth and Subjectivity (1980) Six Lectures on Discourse and Truth (1983) Three Lectures on “The Culture of the Self” (1983) These last lectures are also available on YouTube (in audio format ). Given their unique preferences and cultural contexts, their apparently opposed ethical recommendations are both in accord with the same principle, namely the desire to beautify the self. Emphasis mine. As such, Foucault argued that there is no "true self" to be found. 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. 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. 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. As a member of that school, one would expect Seneca to have been deeply concerned with this principle. 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. In his Meditations, Marcus praises Apollonius for teaching him "to look to nothing else, even for a little while, except reason. Foucault claims that this practice, in both its mental and written forms, was a central "technique of the self" for those who pursued the tekhne tou biou through correspondence. With the shift to the concept of the archipelago, we can further develop our theorizing of medicalization in our consumer-oriented society by turning to Foucault’s “technologies of the self” to open up possibilities for resisting the processes of discipline and subjectification circulating through medicalization and DTCA. Le Foucaldien, 6(1), 1. Second, it was reserved for a few people in the population; it was not a question of giving a pattern of behavior for everybody. DOI: Gary Gutting (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 122. This interpretation of Greco-Roman ethics is not unique to this particular interview.17 In an even later interview, published in May 1984,18 Foucault states that he wanted to think the ancient tekhne tou biou "in the same form in which its contemporaries had reflected upon it, to wit, in the form of an art of existence […]. Second, its goal was of an aesthetic nature. For this reason, "the letter is both a gaze that one focuses on the addressee […] and a way of offering oneself to his gaze by what one tells him about oneself." Foucault's idea of practices increases the ways that … The main interest in life and work is to … New York: Random House, 1985. To live in harmony with reason is therefore of imperative importance, not just an aesthetic project or a non-normalizing dalliance of elites. The Art of Living: Socratic Reflections from Plato to Foucault. 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. "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. 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. Foucault, however, argued that "subjectivity" is a process, rather than a state of being. Translated by Joseph Pearson. This self-examination offers a chronicle of "correct or incorrect actions, of the regimen observed, of the physical or mental exercises in which one engaged. With their help, Seneca was able to overcome the "moral crisis" occasioned by his illness. Whether appropriate or not, this unique interpretation of ancient philosophy deserves more attention. The communion between writer and reader is one of friendship, establishing a "reciprocity of the gaze and the examination. This would explain the excessive emphasis Foucault places on the self throughout "Self Writing," whereas Hadot stresses the transcendence of the self for the sake of universal reason. 26Seneca, Ad Lucilium Epistulae Morales, Volume 3, trans. Sylvere Lotringer (New York: Semiotext(e), 1996), 478. Post navigation. In his 1983 Berkeley lectures in English on “The Culture of the Self,” Foucault … Foucault claims that epistolary self-writing "also constitutes a certain way of manifesting oneself to oneself and to others. Perfect reason. The second is little more than a time-table regulating the daily life of young prisoners in Paris. The History of Sexuality, Volume 3: The Care of the Self. Foucault on Correspondence as a Technique of the Self. The former is a non-normalizing and personal engagement, whereas the latter has imperative force for everyone. Michel Foucault - Michel Foucault - Foucault’s ideas: What types of human beings are there? “Foucault on Correspondence as a Technique of the Self”. “I don't feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am. Translated by Robert Hurley et al. Although the writings of Foucault have had tremendous impact on contemporary thinking about subjectivity, notions of the subject have a considerable history. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning. "5 In other words, hupomnemata "make one's recollection of the fragmentary logos transmitted through teaching, listening, or reading, a means of establishing a relationship of oneself with oneself, a relationship as adequate and accomplished as possible." Dutton, New York: Everyman's Library, 1965. The first philosophical elaboration of the concern with taking care of oneself that I wish to consider is found in Plato’s Alcibiades I. This included various forms of relations such as private interpersonal relations, relations in social institutions and communities, relations with self, but what concerned Foucault the most was the relations in the political domain, i.e., relations concerning the exercise of political sovereignty. Don't keep it to yourself! Edited by Paul Rabinow. •. Posted on Tuesday, Nov 24, 2020 9:06AM by Morgan Meis . Seneca reminds Marullus of the tenets of the Stoic school, attempting to convince him that death is not a tragedy, that one should retain self-mastery in the face of capricious misfortune, and that this might be achieved through specific ethical practices, such as meditation and memorization. Michael Chase, ed. He claims that Foucault fails to appreciate the normalizing and prohibitive moral elements in the Epicurean and Stoic schools. General Introduction Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. This is an important step in beginning to cultivate oneself. Facebook. DOI: 10.16995/lefou.69 Open access Abstract This paper begins with a discussion of Foucault's examination of Seneca's epistles in his late essay, "Self Writing." The Vita Antonii of Athanasius presents the written notation of actions and thoughts as an indispensable element of the ascetic life. By locating resistance mainly in the relationship to the self, Foucault significantly diminished the range of his social critique. There is not sufficient space here to consider whether that aesthetic interpretation adequately describes the Greco-Roman tekhne tou biou as a whole, so I close by considering whether that interpretation at least appropriately characterizes the figures and texts dealt with in "Self Writing." Registered office: Salisbury House, Station Road, Cambridge, CB1 2LA. Free from the responsibilities, temptations, and disappointments of the world of action, one is able to focus chiefly on maintaining and improving oneself. Foucault, Michel. Outside of academia, Foucaults work is of interest to anyone looking to better understand and appreciate the subtle ways that power works in social life, particularly with regard to how seemingly mundane practices and ideas structure our personal experiences and senses of self. Outside of academia, Foucault’s work is of interest to anyone looking to better understand and appreciate the subtle ways that power works in social life, particularly with regard to how seemingly mundane practices and ideas structure our personal experiences and senses of self. I will close by considering the appropriateness of this interpretation as applied to the texts of Marcus Aurelius and Seneca that Foucault treats in "Self Writing.". Interested in literature, Foucault was an avid reader of the philosopher Maurice Blanchot 's book … For Foucault, practices of the self are an important part of sexual politics of the self, because they work to free sexuality and pleasure from the chains and restrictions that society and its juridical forms impose on the individual's constitution of their selves and of sex. Arnold Davidson (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1995), 206–213. Live. They wanted to organize … 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. Ethics, for Foucault, was about self-transformation, becoming other than what one was. 24For a somewhat more sympathetic interpretation of Foucault than that offered by Hadot or Davidson, see Alexander Nehamas, The Art of Living (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), chapter six. He becameacademically established during the 1960s, holding a series ofpositions at French universities, before his election in 1969 to theultra-prestigious Collège de France, where he was Professor ofthe History of Systems of Thought until his death. Foucault defines ‘techniques of the self’ or ‘arts of existence’ as ‘those reflective and voluntary practices by which men not only set themselves rules of conduct, but seek to transform themselves, to change themselves in their singular being, and to make of their life into an oeuvre that carries certain aesthetic values and meets certain stylistic criteria’. As for the second pole, leisure is required for the cultivation of the self, because one needs peace, time, and serenity to examine one's "impressions" or passions, to judge them as good or bad, and to pursue "techniques of the self" meant to organize those passions into the self that is desired. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. The reason for making this choice was the will to live a beautiful life, and to leave to others memories of a beautiful existence.15. 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. As Hadot argues, this is the universal ratio with which the Stoics thought one ought to be in accord, and this is quite different from an aesthetics of existence. In conclusion, these 1982 lectures reveal a philosophical double movement: they begin with an inversion from knowledge of the self to care of the self; but they also entail as well a shift from a hermeneutics of the text to a hermeneutics of the subject. While this guidance is meant to help Marullus, Foucault argues that it is also meant to help Seneca and Lucilius. Yet his final three lecture courses at the Collège de France attest to t… ', 'I don't feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am. 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.

foucault on self

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