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Lecture 2

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Practices and Sciences of the Self Foucault’s Ethics  …the task was to bring to light the domain where the formation, development, and transformation of forms experience can situate themselves: that is, a history of thought. By thought, I mean, what establishes, in a variety of possible forms, the play or true and false, and which as a consequence constitutes the human being as a subject of learning (connaissance); in other words, it is the basis for accepting or refusing rules, and constitutes human beings as social and juridical subjects; it is what establishes the relation with oneself and with others, and constitutes the human being as ethical subject. (Foucault 1980, p. 334)  Power relations that predate our individual lives make possible, but do not determine, the form of our subjectivity  It is by means clear which modes of knowledge will be produced, for how long they will be accepted as legitimate or to what effect they will be adopted by individuals. Genealogy of ethics  …the problem was: which techne [art] do I have to use in order to live as well as I ought to live? (Foucault 1980, p. 348)  Video clip  Who are we?  How have we come to be as moral subjects?  Historical & genealogical examinations of shifting ethical conduct help to understand how people (at different points in time) are invited and incited to recognize their moral obligations Foucault’s Ontology of Ethics Across Three Periods Cooper & Blair, 2002 Historical Place & Ethical Substance Mode of Self-forming Telos (ethical Time (ethical sites) Subjection (moral Activity (ethical ends) impulse) practices) Ancient Greece Body/mind take Youthful shame Exercise: dialectic Good citizen; care of self during dialogue gymnastics leadership in the with teacher polis Imperial Rome Mind/body know Quiet separation Introspection: Ethos: mastery of thyself from others diaries, letters, the self before death retreats, listening Early Christianity Mind/soul Religious Excavation of guilt: Atonement; renounce the self engagement with confession, coming close to a master penance, God witnessing  History of sexuality provides an overview of the ways in which – through self-discipline or ascesis – we develop a sense of self or ‘rapport de soi’ (ethics)  Use of ancient systems as a way of opening up the exploration of other possibilities of living or caring for the self.  There is no single, universal basis for ethical action ‘stylizing’ the proper use of one’s pleasures Ethics was an art Was one a slave or a master to one’s desires? Quantity & excess were questioned (not quality or ‘An aesthetics of existence’ type of sexual interaction) The problem was not one of deviancy but of excess or moderation  Development of ‘reason’, and through reason, one ‘An arts of living’ was to come closer to the truth Ethical Questions  Is sport an ‘arts of living? Why or why not?  Is the desire to win and succeed always promoted ahead of the pleasure of participation?  Is deviancy vilified or moderation valorized in sports? We don’t have choose between our world and the Greek world…For centuries we have been convinced that between our ethics, our personal ethics, our everyday life, and the great political and social and economic structures, there were analytical relations, and that we couldn’t change anything, for instance, in our sex life or our family life, without ruining our economy, our democracy and so on. I think we have to get rid of the idea of an analytical or necessary link between ethics and other social and economic or political structures. (Foucault 1980, p. 350) Technologies of the Self  Capacity for self-regulation is always a matter of practical ethics, in which we problematize, monitor, & work on our own conflict An ethics of the self’s requires a ‘relation to oneself’: 4 components…  An ethical substance (Ontology): which is the aspect or part of myself or my behaviour that is concerned with moral conduct?  A mode of subjection (Deontology): what is the way in which people are invited or incited to recognize moral obligations?  Self-forming activities (Ethical Work-Ascetics): What are the means by which we can change ourselves to become ethical subjects?  A goal or fulfilment (Teleology): who is the kind of being to which we aspire when we behave in a moral way? Foucault’s Ethical Framework Cooper & Blair 2002 Foucault’s Work Ethical Substance Mode of Self-forming
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