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Michel Foucault, [Fragile freedom. The political ethics of care of the self]

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Breekbare vrijheid. De politieke ethiek van de zorg voor zichzelf
Editors: Niels Helsloot and Annemie Halsema
Introduction: Laurens ten Kate and Henk Manschot
Translation: Rob van den Boorn, Pieter Thomassen, Agnès Vincenot
Amsterdam: Boom/Parrèsia 1995, 1998
ISBN 90 5352 397 9
119 pp.


How to give shape to one's own life freely? Michel Foucault pictures several techniques people used since antiquity to give themselves a lead. Classical 'care of oneself' implied an incitement to be master of one's own body – of one's behaviour, emotions and thoughts. This included being a master in relations with others as well. In Christianity, however, dependence of others was accentuated, with self-renunciation as its drawback. At the beginning of modernity, care of oneself is absorbed by a political art of government. The state starts taking care of the identity of its citizens.

At the time of his work at The history of sexuality, Foucault's earlier attention to modern disciplinary techniques shifts to classical ways of governing oneself. Through this reorientation to antiquity, current possibilities to realize freedom are put in a different light.


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