Friday, October 05, 2007

McCall, Corey. "Foucault among the Humanists: Review of Eric Paras' Foucault 2.0." OTHER VOICES 3.1 (2007)

Readers of Foucault’s texts have long been perplexed by the apparent shift his writings underwent in the late 1970s. Following the appearance of the first volume of The History of Sexuality (Le volunté de savoir, translated as The History of Sexuality: An Introduction) in 1976, Foucault's investigations inexplicably change focus: from an investigation of the prison and the mechanisms of power that produce the modern individual in Discipline and Punish, the second and third volumes of the History of Sexuality focus on practices of the self in ancient Greece and Rome. Indeed, at the time of his death, Foucault was at work on a fourth volume examining the practices of the self in the Christian era. How does one account for the fact that the thinker who had written in 1966 that the one could "certainly wager that man would be erased, like a face drawn in sand and at the edge of the sea" was suddenly writing about the various practices of the self prevalent in the ancient world, practices that were meant to ensure individual freedom and autonomy? This, after all, was the thinker that had famously feuded with Jean-Paul Sartre and labeled him an outmoded thinker of systems, better suited for the nineteenth century than the twentieth, who was now writing about themes seemingly much more at home in Existentialist writings than his own anti-humanist ones. . . . More here:

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