nikki moore

the subject and power

In Subjection on March 2, 2009 at 9:23 pm

from critical inquiry, 1982… Foucault’s essay ‘The Subject and Power’ is a very interesting answer to Foucault’s own critics.  He pinpoints his own project not as an investigation of power, but as an investigation into the way ‘human beings become subjects/take on subjectivities…’ For Foucault, investigating this process requires a careful look at the institutions that create nodes of both power and subjectivities.  One such node that stands out for me from the essay is the node of Pastoral Care, which originated with the Church and unlike monarchies, which require subjection and sacrifice from their subjects as well as the individual’s subsumption into the larger whole of the realm, Pastoral care requires sacrifice from the figure of the Pastor who tends to the very individuality of the subject within the global church.  In other words, a much more intimate ‘knowing’ of the subject on the part of the pastor is required than in any earlier system of subjectivation.  

Yet, something in this overview seems to rub, if only lightly, against his own lectures at the College de France on the Hermenuetics of the Subject, where Foucault, in typical genealogical style, shows the ways in which the early greek practices of the self were a pendulum’s swing between ‘self care’ and care for the republic.  while certainly the confessional mode of self care was an amplification of these greek practices, i would need to read it all again and more carefully to see if and where there is an historical divergence.

But this point is literally neither here nor there as it is always already part of being in the world: i.e. what Foucault’s work continually draws out, like the work of Siegfried Zielinski, are the things ready-to-hand (yes, read: Heidegger) that operate not only under, but also and precisely on the hands which pick them up.  In that sense, perhaps Foucault’s work is a phenomenology of subjectivities, in worlds worlding within their own time of being.

perhaps.  i’d have to read more to say for sure…

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  1. EPIC post 😀 I’m totally looking forward to seeing more

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