Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-55597f9d44-t4qhp Total loading time: 0.414 Render date: 2022-08-16T00:10:41.786Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 October 2009

Johanna Oksala
Affiliation:
University of Helsinki
Get access

Summary

Freedom is a concept that it is repeatedly used today in discourses ranging from political philosophy and rhetoric to self-help guides, yet it seems that it has never been less clear what it means. This is not only due to conceptual confusion or lack of philosophical precision. The effects of the rapid process of economic and cultural globalization have made many of our traditional ways of thinking and living redundant, and have raised critical questions about our ‘freedom’ to command our lives. On the other hand, neo-liberalism and the extreme individualism characterizing our culture have made ‘freedom’ itself a contestable value.

One strand in this present ‘crisis’ of freedom is the critique of an autonomous subject which characterizes post-structuralist thinking. Michel Foucault's thought – and post-structuralist thinking as a whole – is often read as a rejection of the subject. This ‘rejection’ is interpreted in varying terms. The subject cannot ground knowledge, meanings or morality. It is not the agent of social or epistemic changes, but rather the effect of them. There is no subject in itself prior to the normalizing cultural coding that turns the human being into a subject. All possible ways to comprehend oneself and to act in a coherent fashion are conditioned by a historically varying cultural matrix.

The charges against Foucault's thought in contemporary debates often focus on the question of the freedom of the subject and the notions that are understood as intrinsically tied to or dependent on it: autonomy, authenticity, responsibility, political agency.

Type
Chapter
Information
Foucault on Freedom , pp. 1 - 14
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2005

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

  • Introduction
  • Johanna Oksala, University of Helsinki
  • Book: Foucault on Freedom
  • Online publication: 26 October 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511597923.001
Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

  • Introduction
  • Johanna Oksala, University of Helsinki
  • Book: Foucault on Freedom
  • Online publication: 26 October 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511597923.001
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Introduction
  • Johanna Oksala, University of Helsinki
  • Book: Foucault on Freedom
  • Online publication: 26 October 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511597923.001
Available formats
×