Subjectivity: Theories of the Self from Freud to Haraway

By Nick Mansfield | Go to book overview

4 Foucault: The subject and power

THE THEORIES OF subjectivity that have dominated the second half of the twentieth century fall broadly into two categories: those that attempt to define the nature or structure of the subject (its 'truth'), and those that see any definition of subjectivity as the product of culture and power.The former is associated with Freud and psychoanalysis, and the work of Jacques Lacan; the latter with the work of Friedrich Nietzsche ( 1844-1900) and Michel Foucault ( 1926-84). Both these models may seem surprising to those coming from outside of the discussion.Where is the image of the subject as autonomous and free, as authentic and naturally occurring—the subject of Rousseau and of Romantic poetry; the thinking, feeling, agent making its way through the world, giving expression to its emotions and fulfilment to its talents and energies? In short, despite the fierce antagonism between the different theories in the debate around subjectivity, they agree in seeing this older form of the subject—the 'individual'—as a mirage or even a ruse, either of language's symbolic order or of power.

Chapter 3 introduced Lacan's theories of the subject and its relation to language.This chapter outlines what Nietzsche, and especially Foucault, had to say about power, showing how their view diverges from that of Rousseau.


THE SUBJECT AS A CONSTRUCT

As I have mentioned, both the Lacanian and Foucauldian points of view dispute the model of the subject as a free and autonomous individual.They also see the subject as a construct. For both, the

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Subjectivity: Theories of the Self from Freud to Haraway
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Subjectivity - Theories of the Self from Freud to Haraway *
  • Series Introduction v
  • Acknowledgments viii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: The Free and Autonomous Individual 13
  • 2: Freud and the Split Subject 25
  • 3: Lacan: The Subject is Language 38
  • 4: Foucault: The Subject and Power 51
  • 5: Femininity 66
  • 6: Kristeva and Abjection 79
  • 7: Masculinity 92
  • 8: Radical Sexuality 105
  • 9: Subjectivity and Ethnicity 118
  • 10: Deleuze and Guattari 136
  • 11: The Subject and Technology 148
  • 12: The Subject and Postmodernism 162
  • 13: Conclusion 174
  • Glossary 181
  • Bibliography 186
  • Index 193
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