Of the vaporization and centralization of the Ego. Everything depends on that.
– Charles Baudelaire
Modern man is not the man who goes o to discover himself, his secrets and his hidden truth; he is the man who tries to invent himself.
– Michel Foucault
A 1992 paper by James Mark Shields called Foucault’s Dandy: Constructive Selfhood in the Last Writings of Michel Foucault. It touches on some of the much neglected philosophical aspects of dandyism.
This essay provides an interpretation of the concept of “self” and subjectivity in the later writings of French philosopher Michel Foucault (1926-1984). The problem recognized by Foucault in his last writings was the place of the self in post-structuralist theory, which tends to deny the significance of agency, and thus the possibility of ethics. I will show how and why Foucault turned away from his earlier neo-romantic and counter-discursive theory of resistance towards a fuller but inadequately elaborated “aesthetics of existence.” Through a revisionist analysis of classical and Christian “technologies of the self,” Foucault developed a new understanding of subjectivity as well as a revived “asceticism”––one that endorses agency as part of an ethics of self-creation, and has much in common with both Stoic and Zen Buddhist understandings of “constructive selfhood.” For the late Foucault: “The responsibility to create meanings and values anew is a perpetual task but nevertheless the foundation of all human endeavour.
You can read the entire thing here.
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