hadot and foucault

On a more serious note:

lately, I have been dealing with a small "knot" of problems and texts, centering around
Foucault's later work. 2 recently published books: Foucault and his interlocutors (ed.
Arnold Davidson) and "Philosophy as a way of life", by Pierre Hadot, the french
classicist the allegedly turned Foucault onto the greeks in the first place.

Davidson is emphatic about the importance of hadot in understanding foucault's later
work, and has written much (check out his essay in "foucault and the writing of history")
about the two. Specifically, hadot's reading of ancient philosophy, as involving a "way
of life", a lived relationship with its ideas consisting less of a set of abstract codes
and more of a set of spiritual exercises, is what lead foucault to tackle Marcus
Aurellius, Socrates et al, with the intent of uncovering a relation to the self that is
fundamentally un-moder, concerned with the aesthetic tranformation of the self and so on.

Hadot himself is not so emphatic about the agreement between himself and foucault as
davidson seems to be. For his anthology (foucault and his interlocutors), davidson
selected a text from hadot, his inaugural lecture at the college de France, which
seemingly confirms the link though foucault is never even mentioned, while ignoring a
text, published in philosophy as a way of life, which specifically addresses foucault.
Perhaps the reason davidson left out hadot's response to foucault is that hadot basically
says that foucault got it all wrong. Greeks are not interested in beauty and pleasure
for its own sake, but only as much as it permits a broader participation in the greater
reason of the cosmos. In short, hadot sees less individuality and hedonism that foucault.

IN any case, this has drawn me into a new look at foucault's later work. And one more
thing: a guy named arpad szakolczai recently wrote a book called "max weber and michel
foucault: parallel life-works", which discusses all this stuff. I came across his review
of hadot and davidson in the AMerican Journal of Sociology. The question of foucault and
weber, and their varying treatments of ascetecism and individuality is an intriguing one,
particularly in the light of all this newly translated hadot. Has anyone seen
szakolczai's book?


sam binkley

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