Death of Man/Anthropology

Can any one point me to a critical discussion (or provide it yourself) on
the potential contradiction between Foucault's early preoccupation with the
death of man and his later turn toward the care of the self and ethics?
While Foucault is always sensitive in his later essays and interviews on
technologies and hermeneutics of the self to qualify that notion of a self
is constituted by a confluence of forces (the axis of truth, power, and
ethics), there is a very strong anthropological flavor I find in his later work.

When asked in On the Genealogy of Ethics: An Overview of Work in Progess
about his effort, Focualut responds:

"Yes, I'm writing a genealogy of ethics. The genealogy of the subject as a
subject of ethical actions, or the genealogy of desire as an ethical
problem. So, if we take ethics in classical Greek philosophy or medicine,
what is the ethical substance? It is the "aphrodisia, which are at the same
time acts, desire, and pleasure. What is the mode d' assujettissement? It
is that we have to build our existence as a beautiful existence; it is an
aesthetic mode. You see, what I tried to show is that nobody is obliged in
classical ethics to behave in such a way as to be truthful to their wives,
to not touch boys, and so on. But, if you want to have a beautiful
existence, if they want to have a good reputation, if they want to be able
to tule others, they have to do that. So, they accept thos obligations in a
conscious way for the beauty or glory of existence. The choice, the
aesthetic choice or the political choice, for which they decide to accept
this kind of existence--that's the mode d'assujettissement. It's a choice,
it's a personal choice."

"What strikes me is that in our society, art has become something which is
related only to objects and not to individuals, or to life. That art is
something which is specialized or which is done by experts who are artists.
But couldn't everyone's life become a work of art? Why should the house be
an art object, but not our life."

The anthropological drift is so overwhelming that Foucault is finally asked:

"But isn't the Greek concern with the self just an early version of our
which many consider a central problem in our society?"

Foucault replies: "You have a certain number of themes--and I don't say
that you have to reutilize them in this way--which indicate to you that in a
culture to which we owe a certain number of our most important constant
moral elements, there was a practice of the self, a conception of the self,
very different from our present culture of the self. In the California cult
of the self , one is supposed to discover one's true self, to separate it
from that which might obscure or alientate it, to decipher its truth thanks
to pyschological or psychoanalytic science, which is supposed to be able to
tell you what your true self is. Therefore, not only do I not identify this
ancient culture of the self, I think they are diametrically opposed."

OK. Foucault has told us how the difference between the Greek self which is
one of self-cration, pro-active values, and exteriorization, as opposed to
the Christian-Freudian-selfhelp self which is interiorized and reactive.
What Focault has not explained is the fixation of the self.

It is interesting to watch Foucault's development:

1) We have the Archaeology of Knowledge and the Order of Things which
announce the death of man, and instead try and create an axis point of
meaning through discourse -- Epistemes and discursive formations.

2) Then, Geneaology -- the power turn in which apparatuses and institutions
are given new valence in works such as Discipline and Punishment and the
first Volume of the History of Sexuality.

3) Finally, the last two volumes of the History of Sexuality and numerous
essays and interviews which focus back on technology and care of the self.
There is a strong focus on anthropology in these late works. What's also
very interesting is that if you look at the last two volumes of the History
of Sexuality you don't find the painstaking research DP and HS I on the
intersection between institutions, apparatuses, practices, etc. Most of
the discussion is around the text of the great historians and philosohpers
of the time.


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