Foucault’s work in the 1980s on the ancient Greek and Roman world, following a far-reaching analysis of the transformation and rearrangement of the economies of power between the beginning of the modern era and the 19th century, reoriented his thought from the analysis of powers towards an investigation into practices of subjectivation and the constitution of an ethics of the self in ancient thought. Through a new and unique method of writing and investigation, Foucault comes to insist on the centrality of life, displacing the relation between the self and logos from the order of discourse and reasoning to that of existence, a self-exposure that effectively transforms the manner in which one lives into a form of public risk-taking, a passage, expressed by the transition from the figure of Socrates to that of the Cynics within the final 1984 course at the Collège de France.
Constituting New Modes of Thought and Life: On the Late Foucault
Judith Revel is Professor of Contemporary Philosophy at the Université Paris-Nanterre and teaches at the École Normale Supérieure. A specialist in contemporary French thought, and in particular of Michel Foucault, her work deals with philosophy after 1945 and how, at the crossroads of political reflection, historiography, and aesthetics, a certain practice of philosophy has sought to problematize both its own historical situation and the possibility of intervening in the present. She has recently published Michel Foucault: Une pensée du discontinu (2010), Foucault avec Merleau-Ponty: Ontologie politique, présentisme et histoire (2015), and co-authored the Dictionnaire politique à l’usage des gouvernés (2012).
Judith Revel; Constituting New Modes of Thought and Life: On the Late Foucault. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 October 2022; 121 (4): 735–753. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-10066428
Download citation file: