Ungovernable

Reassessing Foucault’s Ethics in Light of Agamben’s Pauline Conception of Use

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

92 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

In the final volume of his Homo Sacer series, The use of bodies, Agamben claims that for Foucault ethics never escapes the horizon of governmentality and therefore his conception of ethics is ‘strategic.’ In light of this criticism, motivated by Agamben’s Pauline conception of ‘use,’ we reassess the status and function of ethics in Foucault’s late lectures. We investigate how Foucault’s approach to ethics develops from his treatment of liberal governmentality and also how its methodological foundation is developed in an interpretation of truth-telling in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. Our interpretation emphasizes the ambiguous status of ethics in Foucault’s late work: on the one hand, Agamben is right that Foucault assigns an irreducible strategic function to ethics thereby connecting it intrinsically to governmentality. On the other hand, Agamben overlooks how Foucault’s interpretation of Sophocles implies a conception of governmentality which emphasizes how ethical practices cannot be captured solely in strategic terms. Foucault’s ‘anarcheological’ approach thus articulates a dimension of ethics that remains, using Agamben’s own terms, ‘ungovernable’ and therefore also genuinely creative. Even so, Foucault’s approach to ethics remains in Agamben’s perspective on the deepest level faced with an antinomy that Agamben seeks to mediate with his Pauline conception of ‘inoperativity.’
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Philosophy and Theology
Volume77
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)191-218
ISSN2169-2327
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • Foucault
  • Agamben
  • St. Paul,
  • Ethics
  • Politics
  • Governmentality
  • Alethurgies
  • Truth-telling
  • Veridiction
  • Neoliberalism
  • Inoperativity
  • Use

Cite this

@article{7d65cc4f6265433ea233c2e88bf0e467,
title = "Ungovernable: Reassessing Foucault’s Ethics in Light of Agamben’s Pauline Conception of Use",
abstract = "In the final volume of his Homo Sacer series, The use of bodies, Agamben claims that for Foucault ethics never escapes the horizon of governmentality and therefore his conception of ethics is ‘strategic.’ In light of this criticism, motivated by Agamben’s Pauline conception of ‘use,’ we reassess the status and function of ethics in Foucault’s late lectures. We investigate how Foucault’s approach to ethics develops from his treatment of liberal governmentality and also how its methodological foundation is developed in an interpretation of truth-telling in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. Our interpretation emphasizes the ambiguous status of ethics in Foucault’s late work: on the one hand, Agamben is right that Foucault assigns an irreducible strategic function to ethics thereby connecting it intrinsically to governmentality. On the other hand, Agamben overlooks how Foucault’s interpretation of Sophocles implies a conception of governmentality which emphasizes how ethical practices cannot be captured solely in strategic terms. Foucault’s ‘anarcheological’ approach thus articulates a dimension of ethics that remains, using Agamben’s own terms, ‘ungovernable’ and therefore also genuinely creative. Even so, Foucault’s approach to ethics remains in Agamben’s perspective on the deepest level faced with an antinomy that Agamben seeks to mediate with his Pauline conception of ‘inoperativity.’",
keywords = "Foucault, Agamben, St. Paul, Ethics, Politics, Governmentality, Alethurgies, Truth-telling, Veridiction, Neoliberalism, Inoperativity, Use, Foucault, Agamben, St. Paul,, Ethics, Politics, Governmentality, Alethurgies, Truth-telling, Veridiction, Neoliberalism, Inoperativity, Use",
author = "Thaning, {Morten S{\o}rensen} and Marius Gudmand-H{\o}yer and Sverre Raffns{\o}e",
year = "2016",
doi = "10.1080/21692327.2016.1235987",
language = "English",
volume = "77",
pages = "191--218",
journal = "International Journal of Philosophy and Theology",
issn = "2169-2327",
publisher = "Taylor & Francis",
number = "3",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Ungovernable

T2 - Reassessing Foucault’s Ethics in Light of Agamben’s Pauline Conception of Use

AU - Thaning, Morten Sørensen

AU - Gudmand-Høyer, Marius

AU - Raffnsøe, Sverre

PY - 2016

Y1 - 2016

N2 - In the final volume of his Homo Sacer series, The use of bodies, Agamben claims that for Foucault ethics never escapes the horizon of governmentality and therefore his conception of ethics is ‘strategic.’ In light of this criticism, motivated by Agamben’s Pauline conception of ‘use,’ we reassess the status and function of ethics in Foucault’s late lectures. We investigate how Foucault’s approach to ethics develops from his treatment of liberal governmentality and also how its methodological foundation is developed in an interpretation of truth-telling in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. Our interpretation emphasizes the ambiguous status of ethics in Foucault’s late work: on the one hand, Agamben is right that Foucault assigns an irreducible strategic function to ethics thereby connecting it intrinsically to governmentality. On the other hand, Agamben overlooks how Foucault’s interpretation of Sophocles implies a conception of governmentality which emphasizes how ethical practices cannot be captured solely in strategic terms. Foucault’s ‘anarcheological’ approach thus articulates a dimension of ethics that remains, using Agamben’s own terms, ‘ungovernable’ and therefore also genuinely creative. Even so, Foucault’s approach to ethics remains in Agamben’s perspective on the deepest level faced with an antinomy that Agamben seeks to mediate with his Pauline conception of ‘inoperativity.’

AB - In the final volume of his Homo Sacer series, The use of bodies, Agamben claims that for Foucault ethics never escapes the horizon of governmentality and therefore his conception of ethics is ‘strategic.’ In light of this criticism, motivated by Agamben’s Pauline conception of ‘use,’ we reassess the status and function of ethics in Foucault’s late lectures. We investigate how Foucault’s approach to ethics develops from his treatment of liberal governmentality and also how its methodological foundation is developed in an interpretation of truth-telling in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. Our interpretation emphasizes the ambiguous status of ethics in Foucault’s late work: on the one hand, Agamben is right that Foucault assigns an irreducible strategic function to ethics thereby connecting it intrinsically to governmentality. On the other hand, Agamben overlooks how Foucault’s interpretation of Sophocles implies a conception of governmentality which emphasizes how ethical practices cannot be captured solely in strategic terms. Foucault’s ‘anarcheological’ approach thus articulates a dimension of ethics that remains, using Agamben’s own terms, ‘ungovernable’ and therefore also genuinely creative. Even so, Foucault’s approach to ethics remains in Agamben’s perspective on the deepest level faced with an antinomy that Agamben seeks to mediate with his Pauline conception of ‘inoperativity.’

KW - Foucault

KW - Agamben

KW - St. Paul

KW - Ethics

KW - Politics

KW - Governmentality

KW - Alethurgies

KW - Truth-telling

KW - Veridiction

KW - Neoliberalism

KW - Inoperativity

KW - Use

KW - Foucault

KW - Agamben

KW - St. Paul,

KW - Ethics

KW - Politics

KW - Governmentality

KW - Alethurgies

KW - Truth-telling

KW - Veridiction

KW - Neoliberalism

KW - Inoperativity

KW - Use

UR - https://sfx-45cbs.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/45cbs?url_ver=Z39.88-2004&url_ctx_fmt=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:ctx&ctx_enc=info:ofi/enc:UTF-8&ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&rfr_id=info:sid/sfxit.com:azlist&sfx.ignore_date_threshold=1&rft.object_id=2560000000093565&rft.object_portfolio_id=&svc.holdings=yes&svc.fulltext=yes

U2 - 10.1080/21692327.2016.1235987

DO - 10.1080/21692327.2016.1235987

M3 - Journal article

VL - 77

SP - 191

EP - 218

JO - International Journal of Philosophy and Theology

JF - International Journal of Philosophy and Theology

SN - 2169-2327

IS - 3

ER -