Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault

Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault

Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault

Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault

Excerpt

Shortly before his death in 1984, Michel Foucault spoke of an idea for a new book on "technologies of the self." He described it as "composed of different papers about the self (for instance, a commentary on Plato's Alcibiades in which you find the first elaboration of the notion of epimeleia heautou, 'care of oneself'), about the role of reading and writing in constituting the self . . . and so on." The book Foucault envisioned was based on a faculty seminar on Technologies of the Self, originally presented at the University of Vermont in the fall of 1982. This volume is a partial record of that seminar.

Because Foucault died before he completed the revisions of his seminar presentations, this volume includes a careful transcription instead, together with a transcript of his public lecture to the university community on "The Political Technology of Individuals." Professor Foucault's seminar on "Technologies of the Self" at the University of Vermont stands as a provisional statement of his new line of inquiry. We offer this volume as a prolegomenon to that unfinished task.

In many ways, Foucault's project on the self was the logical conclusion to his historical inquiry over twenty-five years into insanity, deviancy, criminality, and sexuality. Throughout his works Foucault had concerned himself largely with the technologies of power and domination, whereby the self has been objectified through scientific inquiry (The Order of Things, 1966, trans. 1970) and through what he termed "dividing practices" (Madness and Civilization, 1961, trans. 1965; The Birth of the Clinic, 1963, trans. 1973; and Discipline and Punish, 1975, trans. 1977). By 1981, he became increasingly interested in how "a human being turns him- or herself into a subject."

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