Foucault News

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

Vladislav Suvák (2019) Patočka and Foucault: Taking Care of the Soul and Taking Care of the Self, Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, 50:1, 19-36, DOI: 10.1080/00071773.2018.1495402

The paper deals with Jan Patočka’s and Michel Foucault’s influential interpretations of the ancient Greek approach to care (epimeleia). At first sight, it might seem that Foucault’s care of the self is opposed to Patočka’s care of the soul. On closer reading, however, it becomes clear that the two interpretations lead to similar conclusions, as exemplified by the way the two authors interpret Plato’s Laches: both of them see it in relation to the issue of how to live one’s life. Further on, the paper deals with the development of Patočka’s understanding of care of the self and his approach to the philosophy of history. It is revealed that Foucault’s approach to history is opposed to Patočka’s on a number of issues. Despite their diverging opinions, however, the two authors problematize the ancient Greek care of the self as an important issue in Western culture, emphasizing the therapeutic role of contemporary philosophy along the way.

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