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Governmentality and Subjectivity: Practices of Self as Arts of Self-Government

Olssen, MEH (2009) Governmentality and Subjectivity: Practices of Self as Arts of Self-Government In: Governmentality Studies in Education. Sense Publishers, Rotterdam, Boston, Taipei. ISBN 9087909837

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Abstract

Although the self is constituted by practices, it is always possible to make something out of what it has been made into, once it learns how to pull the strings. This is the basis of ethical work. Ethical work, says Foucault, is the work one performs in the attempt to transform oneself into an ethical subject of one's own behaviour, the means by which we change ourselves in order to become ethical subjects. Such a history of ethics is a history of ascetics. In his interview `On the Genealogy of Ethics' Foucault says that there is "another side to these moral prescriptions which most of the time is not isolated as such but is, I think, very important: the kind of relationship you ought to have with yourself, rapport à soi, which I call ethics, and which determines how the individual is supposed to constitute himself as a moral subject of his own actions" (1997a: 263). The question of how to conceptualise ethics and how to write its history lead Foucault to a study of ancient cultures in the tradition of historians of ancient thought such as Paul Veyne, Georges Dumézil, Pierre Hadot, and Jean-Pierre Vernant (Davidson, 1994: 64). His concern with ethics is the last two volumes of The History of Sexuality, constituted a reconceptualisation and reorientation of his original project on sex in The History of Sexuality, Volume 1 (Davidson, 1994: 64). Now, sex would be conceptualised in relation to ethics, and ethics was to become, in his latter works, specifically the framework for interpreting Greek and Roman problematisations of sex. Ethics, as such, was a part of morality, but, rather than focus exclusively on codes of moral behaviour, it focussed on the self's relationship to the self, for the way we relate to ourselves contributes to the way that we construct ourselves and form our identities as well as the ways we lead our lives and govern our conduct.

Item Type: Book Section
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > Department of Politics
Authors :
AuthorsEmailORCID
Olssen, MEHUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Date : August 2009
Additional Information : Copyright 2009 Sense Publishers. Posted here with permission.
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 13 May 2015 13:36
Last Modified : 19 May 2015 07:55
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/804783

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