Posted on October 27, 2009 by Jeremy
But not that far back…
Each Tuesday in the TELOSscope blog, we reach back into the archives and highlight an article whose critical insights continue to illuminate our thinking and challenge our assumptions. Today, Marcus Michelson looks at Jean-Michel Landry’s ” Confession, Obedience, and Subjectivity: Michel Foucault’s Unpublished Lectures On the Government of the Living,” from Telos 146 (Spring 2009).
Why do we obey? Even when people rebel, it seems they simply reconstitute a form of obedience. We all know the old cliché “they aren’t rebels, they’re just following a ‘rebellious’ social code.” The way people dress, their hairstyle, tattoos, earrings, piercings, etc., only seem to reinforce our belief in their obedience to well-defined social practices. Even if we aren’t all playing by the same rules, we are all playing by rules. Do we even know what it would mean anymore to rebel? In the meantime, cultural critics admonish our decline, criticizing us for adhering to more philistine, insipid, or self-defeating values. But doesn’t this criticism amount to saying that we are just obeying the wrong thing, whereas obedience itself is simply presupposed? Could obedience really be ubiquitous, and if so, how did we get this way? On the other hand, how can we describe a legitimate form of autonomy?
If you want to know the answers to these questions, it’ll cost you $5 for a day’s access (cheap).
Telos offers a free taster. Landry:
Behind the doors of the first monasteries, Foucault sees a major displacement: the act of confession became linked to a requirement of permanent obedience. “Obeying in all things” and “keeping no secret thoughts”: from that point on, these two principles would form a single requirement. Furthermore, this dual imperative introduced a fundamental break between the direction of Christian conscience and its ancestor, ancient philosophical direction. Unlike Christian direction, ancient direction remained provisional. Its role was limited to accompanying the person being directed until he became independent. The obedience required from the subject in the ancient world was instrumental: it was limited in time and subordinated to the objective of autonomy. In Foucault’s view, monasticism inverted in every respect the ways in which ancient techniques of direction functioned. The Christian direction of conscience would be ongoing and would consider obedience no longer as a means, but as an end in itself (obedience generated obedience). Obedience, within monasticism, sought only to root obedience ever more deeply within the subject.
Filed under: Confession, Technology of the self | Leave a Comment »
Posted on December 26, 2008 by Jeremy
I don’t think I’ve mentioned this book before. Routledge seem to be on a streak of Foucault books right now (see post below).
This one looks interesting for those who study Foucault’s technologies of the self and his later writings on confession and the early Christian church (History of Sexuality Vols 2 & 3).
The Culture of Confession from Augustine to Foucault
A Genealogy of the ‘Confessing Animal’
Add to Cart
- ISBN: 978-0-415-96371-8
- Binding: Hardback
- Published by: Routledge
- Publication Date: 25th August 2008
- Pages: 312
About the Book
Drawing on the work of Foucault and Western confessional writings, this book challenges the transhistorical and commonsense views of confession as an innate impulse resulting in the psychological liberation of the confessing subject. Instead, confessional desire is argued to be contingent and constraining, and alternatives to confessional subjectivity are explored.
Table of Contents
List of Figures
Chapter One: Confession from Antiquity to the Counter-Reformation
Chapter Two: Confession and Modern Subjectivity
Chapter Three: Psychoanalysis
Chapter Four: Confessing the Other
Chapter Five: Alternatives to Confession
About the Author(s)
Chloë Taylor is an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of North Florida. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto and a postdoctoral fellowship from McGill University. Professor Taylor has published articles in journals such as Philosophy Today, Postmodern Culture and the Journal of Modern Literature. She is currently working on a book on Foucault and sex crimes, as well as undertaking research on animal ethics, feminism, and literature.
Filed under: Confession | 1 Comment »
Posted on June 4, 2007 by Jeremy
One of the purposes of this blog stated at the outset was to cover the many ways in which Foucault is worked through on a daily basis. Without resorting to academic expositions of positions long held, what are the everyday ways in which Foucault is taken up, disputed and used?
This has been a learning experience for me too. One of the surprises for me (which in retrospect seems obvious now) is the interest in Foucault from self-identified Christian blogs (I’ve linked to them before).
Filed under: Confession, Sexuality | Tagged: Christianity | 2 Comments »
Posted on May 30, 2007 by Jeremy
In light on some recent analysis of blogging from the perspective of its labor value (and sign value) it might be worth recalling some rather under-used concepts from Foucault: hupomnēmata and self-writing.
This concept allows for a practice which is non-confessional, that is, it is not meant to be an outpouring of something that already exists (and a seeking of some kind of absolution or affirmation) but a process, event or practice in and of itself. That is, what Foucault calls hupomnēmata.
Filed under: Confession, Governmentality | 2 Comments »