Foucault News

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

Wu, B.
Authenticity and wellbeing in neoliberal times: Imagining alternatives (2021) In Healthy Relationships in Higher Education: Promoting Wellbeing Across Academia, Edited by Narelle Lemon, Routledge, pp. 197-209.

DOI: 10.4324/9781003144984-18

At the centre of the neoliberal endeavour is an idealised self for the governed – the entrepreneurial self. Although touted as free and autonomous, the entrepreneurial self is an unsustainable myth that relies on constant self-improvement for instantiable economic growth and market expansion. The neoliberal context is detrimental to health and wellbeing. Following Foucault, a body of literature has turned to ancient Greek and other European philosophies for alternatives. In this chapter, drawing on the Confucian concept of cheng, I explore wellbeing and authenticity. Cheng refers to sincerity, authenticity, and self-completion. It depicts a self that emerges through interactions and relationships with others and environments, and eventually rises above external demands and utilitarian gains. An authentic self is to achieve a unity of the individual, the social and the cosmos. Self-completion is a journey returning to the inner self in unison with the Dao. This notion offers alternatives to understanding wellbeing and authenticity.

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