The End of a Line: Care of the Self in Modern Political Thought
Alexandre Lefebvre, Genealogy 2017, 1(1), 2;
This article examines the reasons why Foucault thought that morality based on the care of the self died out in the modern age. I pay special attention to his contention that modern political thought was a key player in bringing about this demise. The essay consists of two parts. In Part One, I overview Foucault’s conception of the care of the self and situate it within his later work on ancient philosophy and culture. In Part Two, I turn to his remarks on the incompatibility between the ancient tradition of the care of the self and an ascendant modern political philosophy based on the notions of rights and the juridical subject. To conclude, I suggest that while Foucault may have overstated this compatibility he opened the door to consider how the care of the self could be taken up in the context of modern and contemporary political theory.
Keywords: Foucault; care of the self; political theory; rights; human rights