FOUCAULT ASKESIS PDF

Of course, I do not plan to enumerate or discuss all of the important practices that can be found in the writings of this period. To begin with, I would like to make three preliminary remarks. First, I think that these techniques manifest a very interesting and important shift from that truth game which — in the classical Greek conception of parrhesia — was constituted by the fact that someone was courageous enough to tell the truth to other people. For there is a shift from that kind of parrhesiastic game to another truth game which now consists in being courageous enough to disclose the truth about oneself. For example, it was a commonplace to say that any kind of art or technique had to be learned by mathesis and askesis — by theoretical knowledge and practical training.

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The material is for personal use only; commercial use is not permitted. More recent studies include Han and Paras The most exciting dimension of this book lies in the reconfiguring of Foucault as a philosopher who is resolutely parrhesiastic, and contextualizing the ethical investigations of his last writings as a profoundly self-reflexive activity.

In his books, lecture courses, and interviews, Foucault is attempting to recall what philosophy once was in order to show what it has become and intimate the possibilities that lie before it.

The tightrope McGushin walks concerns the relationship between individuals and history. The difficulty here, of course, is that Foucault explicitly disavows any ties to traditional historiography of this sort. There is an essential difference between claiming that Descartes systematically responds to the rise of disciplinary modes of power relations in his Meditations and claiming that he single-handedly causes this fundamental shift; Foucault would endorse the former view but certainly not the latter.

Nevertheless, McGushin comes close to the latter position that would have individuals causing epochal shifts in the relations between power and knowledge. With Descartes we can see life itself becoming an object of medical discourse: mastery of self and mastery of nature conjoined in the nascent techniques of biopower and biopolitics.

McGushin describes the Foucault present in these pages as interested in the etho- poetic dimension of experience, i. The basic philosophical question that each individual must ask himself concerns what he must do in order to make himself into a subject.

Like religious discourses, philosophical discourses for Foucault are both a way of contesting intolerable configurations of power and knowledge and reinforcing them.

Ancient philosophical discourse privileges care for oneself and others over knowledge. Beginning with Descartes, one begins to see a shift from care to knowledge. Descartes is still concerned with askesis, with practices of the self. The key element that distinguishes his thought from that of his predecessors is that they sought knowledge so that they might care for their souls and those of their fellow men, whereas Descartes undertakes practices of the self so that he might have certain knowledge.

Indeed, the only way that he can be secure in his self identity is through self-knowledge, and through the realization that the 6 An interesting feature of this approach is that Nietzsche recedes into the background. Parrhesia arises in ancient Greece as forms of truthful speech that awaken people from their stultifying lives so that they might begin to reflect on who they are and constitute themselves otherwise.

In his genealogy of ancient practices of the self, Foucault finds many that resonate both with Christian and modern practices of the self. Certainly, each dispositif transforms the practices it inherits, but often the continuities McGushin unearths are just as decisive as the differences. For example, the practices of the self associated with Stoicism rely on a medical model that Descartes will espouse as well.

Although his writings certainly contribute to modern scientific discourses that will serve to control and normalize individuals as disciplinary subjects, he also discovers in these texts passages that undercut this reading and function as an askesis. Contrary to those who would simply reduce the Meditations to a basic text in epistemology, Foucault sees its profound ethical significance as well. His analyses perform the same service for Kant.

McCall namely, the question of the ethos of modernity. In posing the question of the difference that today makes with respect to yesterday, Kant is urging a recognition of modern philosophy as a practice of freedom. According to Foucault, Kant believes that it is only through self-discipline that autonomy becomes possible. We are accustomed to thinking of Foucault simply as a thinker of discontinuity. A much more complex figure emerges as a result of these careful readings of the late lecture courses, one who attends to discontinuity as he simultaneously recognizes the similarities that bind the Western philosophical tradition together.

In other words, archaeology and genealogy complement one another. This is finally the most worthwhile insight in a very interesting book: for Foucault, philosophy is never simple.

It is always a movement of thought that can potentially contest relations of power and knowledge one finds intolerable, or it can be used to justify these relations. If Foucault saw the dangers inherent in philosophy, he also saw its promise, and understood this as the promise of a self-reflexive practice of freedom.

Perhaps somewhat naively and optimistically terms not usually associated with Foucault to be sure , he always saw philosophy as a way to transform oneself. References Dreyfus, Hubert L. Michel Foucault: Beyond structuralism and hermeneutics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Flynn, Thomas R. Sartre, Foucault, and historical reason: Toward an existentialist theory of history, vol. Sartre, Foucault, and historical reason: A poststructuralist mapping of history, vol. Foucault, Michel.

Archaeology of knowledge and the discourse on language. NY: Pantheon Books. In Essential works of Foucault, — Aesthetics, method, and epistemology, ed. James D. Faubion, Vol. NY: The New Press. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press. Paras, Eric. Foucault 2. New York: Other Press. Schmidt, James ed. What is enlightenment? Eighteenth century answers and twentieth century questions.

Berkeley: University of California Press. Heidegger on being and acting: From principles to anarchy. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

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Foucault's Askesis

The material is for personal use only; commercial use is not permitted. More recent studies include Han and Paras The most exciting dimension of this book lies in the reconfiguring of Foucault as a philosopher who is resolutely parrhesiastic, and contextualizing the ethical investigations of his last writings as a profoundly self-reflexive activity. In his books, lecture courses, and interviews, Foucault is attempting to recall what philosophy once was in order to show what it has become and intimate the possibilities that lie before it. The tightrope McGushin walks concerns the relationship between individuals and history.

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