Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Självskapelseetik bortom Foucault: En rättviseteori för ett mångkulturellt, liberalt och demokratiskt samhälle

The English title:

An Ethics of Self-creation Beyond Foucault: A Theory of Justice for a Multicultural, Liberal and Democratic Society.

This recently submitted thesis is written in Swedish but includes an extensive English summary at the end and can be downloaded from this University of Gothenburg link

This thesis develops a normative theory of justice centered on the concept of subjectivation. The concept originates from (late) Foucault and is connected to his writing on ethics. Foucault did not himself elaborate on the subject in any great detail. This thesis, however, does, creating a theory of justice for a multicultural, liberal, democratic, society on the basis of subjectivation.

The basic principle of the theory is that a just society is one in which everyone has equal opportunity to engage in active subjectivation. This is related, but not synonymous, to Foucault’s ethics, which is sometimes summarized in a clichéd manner by referring to his statement that we should turn our life into “a piece of art”. I argue that the opportunity to engage in active subjectivation is what ought to be equally distributed in society. Active subjectivation is best understood in relation to its opposite, passive subjectivation. The latter refers to an identity that is molded, subjugated and constituted by power relations external to the subject; the former to an identity-formation attained by the subject’s conscious and active work on itself.

The thesis is divided into three parts. The first part deals with the foucaultian ethic and how it is related to its archaic predecessors. This part also develops a critique of Foucault’s version of the ethic of self-creation. In the second part I surpass the foucaultian ethics, creating my own version of the ethic of self-creation. The third and last part is devoted to the questions of group-based rights and organization of education, and tries to explicate how these issues could be handled by a state that affirms the ethic of self-creation.

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