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technologies of the self

Plato's Alcibiades in which you find the first elaboration of the notion of epimeleia heautou, 'care of oneself

the role of reading and writing in constituting the self

public lecture to the university community on "The Political Technology of Individuals."

FROM insanity, deviancy, criminality, and sexuality TO technologies of power and domination 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).2 =>>how a human being turns him- or herself into a subject

Vermont seminar, he began an investigation of those practices whereby individuals, by their own means or with the help of others, acted on their own bodies, souls, thoughts, conduct, and way of being in order to transform themselves and attain a certain state of perfection or happiness, or to become a sage or immortal, and so on (p.information practises here?)

final lecture to the University of Vermont community, Foucault summarized his concern with the self as an alternative to the traditional philosophical questions: What is the world? What is man? What is truth?

end of the eighteenth century with Kant: "What are we in our actuality?" "What are we today?"-that is, "the field of the historical reflection on ourselves."

Foucault located the roots of the modern concept of the self in first- and second-century Grcco­ Roman philosophy and in fourth- and fifth-century Christianspirituality, two different contexts that he understood to be in historical continuity.

techniques of self-formation from· the early Greeks to the Christian age

history of the present

My field is the history of thought. Man is a thinking being What I am afraid of about humanism is that it presents a certain form of our ethics as a universal model for any kind of freedom. I think that there arc more secrets, more possible freedoms, and more inventions in our future than we can imagine in humanism as it is dogmatically represented on every side of the political rainbow

Unlike other interdictions, sexual interdictions are constantly connected with the obligation to tell the truth about onesel.confession, sexuality is related in a strange and complex way both to verbal prohibition and to the obligation to tell the truth, of hiding what one does.

How had the subject been compelled to decipher himself in regard to what was forbidden -question of the relation between asceticism and truth.

How have certain kinds of interdictions required the price of certain kinds of knowledge about oneself? \Vhat must one know about oneself in order to be willing to renounce anything? (****)

Christianity has always been more interested in the history of its beliefs than in the history of real practices

As a context, we must understand that there arc four major types of these "technologies," each a matrix of practical reason: (1) technologies of production, which permit us to produce, transform, or manipulate things; (2) technologies of sign systems, which permit us to use signs, meanings, symbols, or signification; (3) technologies of power, which determine the conduct of individuals and submit them to certain ends or domination, an objectivizing of the subject; (4) technologies of the self, which 1 permit individuals to effect by their own means or with .the help of others a certain number of operations on their own bodies and semis, thoughts, conduct, and way of being, so as to transform themselves in order to attain a certain state of happiness, purity, wisdom, perfection, or immortality. These four types of technologies hardly ever function separately, although each one of them is associated with a certain type of domination. Each implies certain modes of training and modification of individuals, not only in the obvious sense of acquiring certain skills but also in the sense of acquiring certain attitudes

hermeneutics of the self in two different contexts which arc historically contiguous: ( 1) Greco-Roman philosophy in the first two centuries A.D. of the early Roman Empire and (2) Christian spirituality and the monastic principles

set of practices "to take care of yourself," "the concern with self," "to be concerned, to take care of yourself." The precept "to be concerned with oneself" was, for the Greeks, one of the main principles of cities, one of the main rules fo1· social and personal conduct and for the art of life. For us now this notion is rather obscure and faded.

In Greek and Roman texts, the injunction of having to know yourself was always associated with the other principle of having to take care of yourself, + Πλατωνας, Αλκιβιαδης

Eight centuries later, one finds the same notion and the same phrase in Gregory of Nyssa's treatise, On Virginity, but with an entirely different meaning. meant the movement by which one rcnounct..'S the world and marriage anddetaches oneself from the flesh and, with virginity of heart and body

Between these two extremes-Socrates and Gregory of Nyssa-taking care of oneself constituted not only a principle hut also a constant practice.

Epicurus writes that it is never too early, never too late, to occupy oneself with one's soul

Hellenistic Alexandria, practises, , enigmatic group on the periphery of Hellenistic and Hebraic culture called the Thcrapeutae, marked by its religiosity. It was an austere community, devoted to reading, to healing meditation, to individual and collective prayer, and to meeting for a spiritual banquet (agape, "feast"). These practices stemmed from the principal task, concern for oneself

relation between care and self-knowledge

First, there has been a profound transformation in the moral principles of Western society. We find it difficult to base rigorous morality and austere principles on the precept that we should give ourselves more care than anything else in the world.We also inherit a secular tradition which respects external law as the basis for morality. How then can respect for the self be the basis for morality?

"Know thyself" has obscured "Take care of yourself" because our morality, a morality of asceticism, insists that the self is that which one can reject.

The second reason is that, in theoretical philosophy from Descartes to Husserl, knowledge of the self (the thinking subject) takes on an ever-increasing importance as the first step in the theory of knowledge.


first, the relation between care for oneself and care for the

political life; second, the relation between taking care of the self and defective education; and third, the relation between taking care of oneself and knowing oneself.

First, what is the self (129b)? Self is a reflexive pronoun, and it has two meanings. Auto means "the same," but it also conveys the " notion of identity. The latter meaning shifts the question from "What is this self?" to "What is the plateau on which I shall find my identity?�

there is the problem of the relationship between being occupied with oneself and pedagogy. For Socrates, occupying oneself with oneself is the duty of a young man, but later in the Hellenistic period it is seen as the permanent duty of one's whole life

There is the problem of the relationship between concern for oneself and the knowledge of oneself. Plato gave priority to the Delphic maxim, "Know yourself." The privileged position of "Know yourself" is characteristic of all Platonists. Later, in the Hellenistic and Greco-Roman periods, this is reversed

History of the care of the self The new concern with self involved a new experience of self. The new form of the experience of the self is to be seen in the first and second century when introspection becomes more and more detailedcare of the self= Socratic notion of "taking care of oneself' becomes a common philosophical theme in Hellenistic years, Epicurus and care of the self. Care of the self as a widespread activity, a network of obligations and services to the soul. Epicureans believed that it's never too late to occupy oneself with oneself. Stoics say you must attend to the selfWriting was also important in the culture of taking care of oneself. One of the main features of taking care involved taking notes on oneself to be reread. In traditional political life, oral culture was largely dominant, and therefore rhetoric was important. But the development of the administrative structures and the bureaucracy of the imperial period increased the amount and role of writing in the political sphere. In Plato's writings, dialogue gave way to the literary pseudodialoguc. But by the Hellenistic age, writing prevailed, and real dialectic passed to correspondence. Taking care of oneself became linked to constant writing activity. The self is something to write about, a theme or object (subject) of writing activity. That is not a modern trait born of the Reformation or of romanticism; it is one of the most ancient Western traditions.

taking care of yourself eventually became absorbed in knowing yourself.

the universality of the care of the self independent of political life, and the care of the self throughout one's life. One must become the doctor of oneself

certain complete achievement of life. This achievement is complete at the moment just prior to death

Pythagorian culture, art of listening Listening is linked to the fact that you're not under the control of the masters but you must listen to logos. You keep silent at the lecture. You think about it afterward

For Plato, one must discover the truth that is within one. For the Stoics, truth is not in oneself but in the logoi, the teaching of the teachers. One memorizes what one has heard, converting the statements one hears into rules of conduct.

askesis. a process of becoming more subjective

CHRistianity It's one of those religions which is supposed to lead the individual from one reality to another, from death to life, from time to eternity. Christianity imposed a set of conditions and rules of behavior for a certain transformation of the self. salvation and confession religion, truth, dogma and canon.

Christianity requires another form of truth obligation different from faith. Each person has the duty to know who he is, that is, to try to know what is happening inside him, to acknowledge faults, to recognize temptations, to locate desires, and everyone is obliged to disclose these things either to God or to others in the community and hence to bear public or private witness against oneself. The truth obligations of faith and the self are linked together. This link permits a purification of the soul impossible without self-knowledge.

the church conceived of illumination: the disclosure of the self

exomologesis,a ritual of recognizing oneself as a sinner and penitent

First, you were a penitent for four to ten years, prohibitions

Later, in the medieval period, e:romologesis became a ritual which took place at the end of the period of penance just before reconciliation. This ceremony placed him among the other Christians.. Exomologesis is not a verbal behavior but the dramatic recognition of one's status as a penitent

Penitence in early Christianity is a way of life acted out at all times by accepting the obligation to disclose oneself. It must be visibly represented and accompanied by others who recognize the ritual. This approach endured until the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

The way the martyr faces death is the model for the penitentThe difference between the Stoic and Christian traditions is that in the Stoic tradition examination of self, judgment, and discipline show the way to self-knowledge by superimposing truth about self through memory, that is, by memorizing the rules. In exomologesis, the penitent superimposes truth about self by violent rupture and dissociation. It is important to emphasize that this exomologesis is not verbal. It is symbolic, ritual n theatrical

During the fourth century we find a very different technology for the disclosure of the self, exagoreusis, much less famous than 44 MICHEL FOUCAULT exomologesis but more important

We can see the transfer of several Stoic technologies of the self to Christian spiritual techniques.

obedience, monks, : "Everything the monk does without permission of his master constitutes a theft.

obedience is complete control of behavior by the master, not a final autonomous state. It is a sacrifice of the self, of the subject's own will. This is the new technology of the self

The self must constitute self through obedience

There are three major types of self-examination: first, self-examination with respect to thoughts in correspondence to reality (Cartesian); second, self-examination with respect to the way our thoughts relate to rules (Senccan), third, the examination of self with respect to the relation between the hidden thought and an inner impurity. At this moment begins the Christian hermeneutics of the self with its deciphering of inner thoughts. It implies that there is something hidden in ourselves and that we arc always in a self-illusion which hides the secret.

Conscience is the money changer of the self