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Foucault's Askesis: An Introduction to the Philosophical Life

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In his renowned courses at the Collège de France from 1982 to 1984, Michel Foucault devoted his lectures to meticulous readings and interpretations of the works of Plato, Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius, among others. In this his aim was not, Edward F. McGushin contends, to develop a new knowledge of the history of philosophy; rather, it was to let himself be transf In his renowned courses at the Collège de France from 1982 to 1984, Michel Foucault devoted his lectures to meticulous readings and interpretations of the works of Plato, Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius, among others. In this his aim was not, Edward F. McGushin contends, to develop a new knowledge of the history of philosophy; rather, it was to let himself be transformed by the very activity of thinking. Thus, this work shows us Foucault in the last phase of his life in the act of becoming a philosopher. Here we see how his encounter with ancient philosophy allowed him to experience the practice of philosophy as, to paraphrase Nietzsche, a way of becoming who one is: the work of self-formation that the Greeks called askesis. Through a detailed study of Foucault's last courses, McGushin demonstrates that this new way of practicing philosophical askesis evokes Foucault's ethical resistance to modern relations of power and knowledge. In order to understand Foucault's later project, then, it is necessary to see it within the context of his earlier work. If his earlier projects represented an attempt to bring to light the relations of power and knowledge that narrowed and limited freedom, then this last project represents his effort to take back that freedom by redefining it in terms of care of the self. Foucault always stressed that modern power functions by producing individual subjects. This book shows how his excavation of ancient philosophical practices gave him the tools to counter this function-with a practice of self-formation, an askesis.


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In his renowned courses at the Collège de France from 1982 to 1984, Michel Foucault devoted his lectures to meticulous readings and interpretations of the works of Plato, Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius, among others. In this his aim was not, Edward F. McGushin contends, to develop a new knowledge of the history of philosophy; rather, it was to let himself be transf In his renowned courses at the Collège de France from 1982 to 1984, Michel Foucault devoted his lectures to meticulous readings and interpretations of the works of Plato, Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius, among others. In this his aim was not, Edward F. McGushin contends, to develop a new knowledge of the history of philosophy; rather, it was to let himself be transformed by the very activity of thinking. Thus, this work shows us Foucault in the last phase of his life in the act of becoming a philosopher. Here we see how his encounter with ancient philosophy allowed him to experience the practice of philosophy as, to paraphrase Nietzsche, a way of becoming who one is: the work of self-formation that the Greeks called askesis. Through a detailed study of Foucault's last courses, McGushin demonstrates that this new way of practicing philosophical askesis evokes Foucault's ethical resistance to modern relations of power and knowledge. In order to understand Foucault's later project, then, it is necessary to see it within the context of his earlier work. If his earlier projects represented an attempt to bring to light the relations of power and knowledge that narrowed and limited freedom, then this last project represents his effort to take back that freedom by redefining it in terms of care of the self. Foucault always stressed that modern power functions by producing individual subjects. This book shows how his excavation of ancient philosophical practices gave him the tools to counter this function-with a practice of self-formation, an askesis.

32 review for Foucault's Askesis: An Introduction to the Philosophical Life

  1. 5 out of 5

    Zhen Hao

    Not what I expected it to be. First half was Greek to me (literally about Greek philosophy/ Foucault's interpretation of it) Not what I expected it to be. First half was Greek to me (literally about Greek philosophy/ Foucault's interpretation of it)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    An excellent book that examines Foucault's notion of philosophy as a practice of self-transformation by way of his engagement with key thinkers in the history of philosophy. A must read for anybody interested in Foucault. An excellent book that examines Foucault's notion of philosophy as a practice of self-transformation by way of his engagement with key thinkers in the history of philosophy. A must read for anybody interested in Foucault.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Banks

  4. 5 out of 5

    sabrina hicks

  5. 4 out of 5

    Georgios Lalas

  6. 4 out of 5

    Robert

  7. 4 out of 5

    Guilherme Ferreira

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rob Mills

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  11. 4 out of 5

    Patrik Pettersson

  12. 5 out of 5

    Robin

  13. 5 out of 5

    William Thomas

  14. 5 out of 5

    Wes Tasker

  15. 5 out of 5

    Elie

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nick

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kristi

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kirill Martynov

  19. 5 out of 5

    Arun Menon

  20. 4 out of 5

    Anthony Roberts

  21. 5 out of 5

    Gregory Quast

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ari Gató

  23. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Cidade

  24. 4 out of 5

    Peter Pak

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kyle

  26. 4 out of 5

    Caleb Narvaez

  27. 5 out of 5

    BookDB

  28. 4 out of 5

    Uxküll

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sravan S

  31. 5 out of 5

    Laurance

  32. 5 out of 5

    Rosa

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