Human Rights and the Care of the Self
Alexandre Lefebvre is Associate Professor in the Department of Government and International Relations and the Department of Philosophy at the University of Sydney;coeditor of
When we think of human rights we assume that they are meant to protect people from serious social, legal, and political abuses and to advance global justice. In Human Rights and the Care of the Self Alexandre Lefebvre turns this assumption on its head, showing how the value of human rights also lies in enabling ethical practices of self-transformation. Drawing on Foucault's notion of "care of the self," Lefebvre turns to some of the most celebrated authors and activists in the history of human rights–such as Mary Wollstonecraft, Henri Bergson, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Charles Malik–to discover a vision of human rights as a tool for individuals to work on, improve, and transform themselves for their own sake. This new perspective allows us to appreciate a crucial dimension of human rights, one that can help us to care for ourselves in light of pressing social and psychological problems, such as loneliness, fear, hatred, patriarchy, meaninglessness, boredom, and indignity.