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.

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