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9 - The other

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 October 2009

Johanna Oksala
Affiliation:
University of Helsinki
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Summary

For men of courage physical sufferings (and privations) are often a test of endurance and of strength of soul. But there is a better use to be made of them. For me then, may they not be that. May they rather be a testimony, lived and felt, of human misery. May I endure them in a completely passive manner. Whatever happens, how could I ever think an affliction too great, since the wound of an affliction and the abasement to which those whom it strikes are condemned opens to them the knowledge of human misery, knowledge which is the door to all wisdom?

(Weil 1952/1997, 31)

Unlike the claim of some of his critics, Foucault's ethics is not a solitary pursuit, nor does he prioritize isolated individuality. Ethical subjectivity is given a form in the practices of the self, but these practices always take place and derive their meaning from an interpersonal situation. Care for the self, according to Foucault, implies complex relationships with others: relationships and duties towards one's family members, society at large, one's spiritual master or guide. The ethos of freedom and self-mastery can only take concrete shape and become a style of life in a particular interpersonal situation in which the ethical acts become ways of dealing with the surrounding community. The self that is cared for is never isolated, but always linked to larger societal structures.

Moreover, the ethical relationship always exists between free individuals.

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Chapter
Information
Foucault on Freedom , pp. 193 - 207
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2005

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  • The other
  • Johanna Oksala, University of Helsinki
  • Book: Foucault on Freedom
  • Online publication: 26 October 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511597923.010
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  • The other
  • Johanna Oksala, University of Helsinki
  • Book: Foucault on Freedom
  • Online publication: 26 October 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511597923.010
Available formats
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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.

  • The other
  • Johanna Oksala, University of Helsinki
  • Book: Foucault on Freedom
  • Online publication: 26 October 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511597923.010
Available formats
×