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Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth (Essential Works of Foucault, 1954-1984, Vol. 1) Paperback – May 15, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The; 1 edition (May 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565844343
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565844346
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,026 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

These essays?the first of three volumes of Foucault's short works, interviews, and fragments?open with 11 previously unpublished outlines for lectures at the College de France from 1970 until near Foucault's death. They begin with the distinction Foucault made between the "will to knowledge" (a passion for authoritative organization) and the "will to truth" (a concern for the integrity of subjective expression). The outlines often probe subjectivity, but Foucault's thought becomes increasingly moral and political, focusing on technology and the social order. Though not his major writings, these works may be "essential" because they express the kernel of his thought. They suffer from problems of vocabulary?"knowing" and "willing" have uncertain meanings in the original French and in the English translations?and his arguments do not get much formal analysis. Even so, he writes entertainingly and makes us think. For any sizable library.?Leslie Armour, Univ. of Ottawa
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The first of a multivolume series translated into English, this is an engaging and accessible introduction to Foucault, who was an enormously influential but notoriously difficult contemporary French philosopher. Rather than detailed studies, it offers mostly overviews--sketches of problems to be addressed--in the form of proposals for the courses Foucault taught at the College de France, as well as interviews and essays (including some reworked prefaces) from the late 1970s to his death in 1984. Among the latter, Foucault explores, from antiquity to the present, issues relating to ethics and the problem of a free relation to the self and sets the terms for a project called "the care of the self." Foucault opposes the popular notion of a hidden but authentic self (or desire), which could be liberated; for Foucault, there is no such authentic self. But there can be ethical relationships to the self, and he envisions "new modes of relating to the self," which can then also be seen in a larger project of undoing "the impoverishment of the relational fabric" of society as a whole. Jim O'Laughlin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By "tksc" on February 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I'm not too crazy about this inaugural edition of the Essential Works of M. Foucault series in English. For one, the three volumes are to be collected from the French 'Dits et Ecrits' series; that is to say, the English translations will be a selection from the complete French. It blows my mind why they didn't just translate the entire French series.
This volume is divided into two sections: the first is the complete collection of Foucault's resumes from the courses he conducted at the College de France; and the second part consists of numerous interviews and essays that have been gathered around the theme of ethics. The resumes are the official submissions by Foucault to the College, meaning that they weren't meant for publication but rather for administrative reasons. As summaries of a year's worth of teachings, covering 1970 to 1984, they only provide crude chunks of what may have proceeded in these courses and public lectures. Thus, they are rather innocuous, and useless for most scholars. The second part is equally erratic as the theme of ethics just doesn't hold up: for example, what does the piece "The Masked Philosopher" have to do with Foucault's study of Greek and Christian ethics?
The 2nd volume of this series, on aesthetics, methhod and epistemology, is a far superior collection of Foucault goodies.
The best selections from this volume is a good summary of Foucault's last two projects: on Greek and Roman sexual practices. Even the introduction by Paul Rabinow is a minor disappointment.
And I gotta say this: the cover layout is atrocious. And why couldn't they just find another photo of Foucault for the back cover, instead of merely reversing the image? Which makes me wonder: which is the original?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Blancett on February 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
The acute awareness of the world and the role of the thinker in the world Foucault displays in this collection, especially in this volume, has inspired me. I see this collection as the personal side of Foucault, where the histories/archaeologies are of a slightly more academic tone. Berkeley's Rabinow, one of the leading MC scholars around, provides some great commentary and insight in his introduction.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful By D. S. Heersink on April 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
Of all recent French intellectuals, Foucault is the most perspicacious and daring (and intelligible). His critique of Reiff's Triumph of the Therapeutic (psychiatry/psychology/penology) is brilliant, whether "Civilization & Madness," "Discipline & Punish," or his newly-translated-into-English "History of Madness." Whether one embraces his homoerotic S&M disposition, or not, his assault on the Cult of Therapy/Imprisonment and Powerful must speak to liberals everywhere.

Of Foucault's many writings, this collection of essays seems to represent his broadest range of ideas. I continue to find his historical, psychological, hermeneutic, and philosophical discourse problematic, but one cannot mistake his thrusts -- the making of an authentic self against the forces that would limit human freedom, but recognizing that freedom is not synonymous with libertinism. His indictments of the Therapeutic, the Penal, the Authority, etc. are all here. When he focuses on the "hermeneutic of the self (and subject)," one understands he is addressing how we "make ourselves into who we are," interpreting our different modes, in an almost technological (e.g., artificial) sense, but then decides against such constructs unless they "write truth of subjectivity." In scientific parlance, he's writing on the "phase transition" of his Cartesian inheritance between choas and stasis.

While associated with Nietzsche and post-modernism, Foucault was an Enlightenment Liberal to the core, and his chief interest was in "relations," including relations of power, viz., relations with the State, relations with Authorities, relations with Authoritarians, relations with Corporate Hegemons, etc.
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I enjoyed the essays and interviews. This collection helps to contextualize a great mind and philosopher. I have excerpted parts of this book for the class on ethics I teach at the graduate level.
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