Foucault Conference Audio Archive

An online audio archive is now available for the Foucault Across the Disciplines conference I organized earlier this year at UCSC. We have mp3 recordings from a number of great scholars including Ian Hacking, Paul Rabinow, Arnold Davidson, Hayden White, David Hoy, Martin Jay, Mark Poster, Amy Allen, Jana Sawicki, Hans Sluga, Mark Bevir, James Ferguson, Karen Barad, Catherine Soussloff, and Mark Franko. Presentations range from Foucault and dance (Franko) to Foucault's 1979 course lectures and the concept of counter-conduct elaborated therein (Davisdon). All of the presentations were stellar.

Find complete information and links to the audio archive at the conference website: http://foucaultacrossthedisciplines.googlepages.com/foucault.htm.

I am fairly confident that our interim host will be stable until we can get these online on a ucsc server. As papers from the event go into publication we may be required to take some of these recordings down, fyi.



Foucault Conference Logistics

Gather here for arrangements (hotel, car-sharing, etc.) for the upcoming Foucault Across the Disciplines Conference at UCSC on Mar 1st and 2nd. The webpage for the conference is at: http://foucaultacrossthedisciplines.googlepages.com/foucault.html.

More info on logistics including conference rate hotels is available below by clicking on the 'Read More' link...

I encourage people to exchange information here regarding possible carpooling and other such logistics from local airports to Santa Cruz. Information on hotels is below. Note that there are no hotels within walking distance of the campus where the conference is being held.

HOTEL INFO: We have two conference rate hotels as follows...

Hotel 1: Casablanca Inn
The Casablanca Inn, located at Beach and Main Streets in Santa Cruz, is offering the UC rate to those who call in no later than Saturday, February 23. The UC rate is $137.50/night which includes the 10% occupancy tax.

The Inn will not be able to offer this reduced rate after the 23rd, so please make your reservations now. When you call, ask for either Brigida or John, and reference the "Foucault Conference" to receive the reduced rate.

The phone number for the Inn is: 831.423.1570. Their website includes driving directions: http://www.casablanca-santacruz.com/

Hotel 2: UCSC Inn
The UCSC Inn, located on Ocean Street in Santa Cruz, is offering the UC rate to those who call in no later than Saturday, February 23. The rate for Friday, 2/29 and Saturday, 3/1 is $97.90/night. The rate for Sunday, 3/2 is $75.90. Note: both rates include the 10% occupancy tax.

After the 23rd there is no guarantee of a reduced rate for those attending the conference, so please make your reservations now. You can make a reservation for either a room with 2 double beds, or a room with 1 king bed. When you call to make reservations, you must reference the "Foucault Conference" to receive the reduced rate.

The phone number is: 831.426.7100. The website is located at: http://www.ucscinn.com/. Note that this is a non-smoking hotel.

Other Lodging Options: check hotels.com and you may find something cheaper.

OTHER LOCAL INFO: Dining, Bookshops, etc.
Downtown Santa Cruz has lots of excellent dining options, many good bookstores (Logos and Bookshop Santa Cruz are both very nice), and a few movie theaters. Find your way to Pacific Ave which is a very short drive (or a nice walk) from both conference hotels listed above. Ask at the front desk about getting to 'The Mall' (which is the local nickname for this area).



Frederic Jameson at UCSC on Feb 29

Those coming to the UCSC Foucault Across the Disciplines conference may be interested in a talk by noted theorist and scholar Frederic Jameson taking place the day before the Foucault conference begins (Fri Feb 29). More info below...
Fredric Jameson

Comparative Literature and Romance Studies, Duke University

The Three Names of the Dialectic
Friday, February 29 / 3-5 PM / Humanities 210

For more information go to this webpage: http://humwww.ucsc.edu/CultStudies/EVENTS/Winter08/Jameson.html.



Care of the Self and Pastoral Power

In his lecture of 13 January 1982, we get a glimpse of how the Greek care of the self might be linked historically and genealogically to Christian pastoral power.

The Socratic dialogue circles around the following logic:

Q: How should I govern?
A: By learning to govern oneself.
Q: And how should I learn to do that?

This passage begins with reference to the “double failing of pedagogy”—schools are poor, and amorous desire interferes in other mentor-student relations. In essence, you can’t rely on teachers to learn to govern; you can only rely on yourself: one has to take care of oneself. “Actually, you can see that the two things are connected: taking care of oneself in order to be able to govern, and taking care of the self inasmuch as one has not been governed sufficiently and properly. ‘Governing,’ ‘being governed,’ and ‘taking care of the self’ form a sequence, a series, whose long and complex history extends up to the establishment of pastoral power in the Christian Church in the third and forth centuries.” (HS 44-5)

Can we infer what happens to this sequence governing-being governed-taking care of oneself as pastoral power gathers force?

We should start with the differences between the governor and the governed in the two societies Foucault investigates. In “Omnes et Singulatim,” Foucault notes that for Aristotle the politician’s task was not to oversee the well-being of each and every citizen individually, but “to weave a strong fabric for the city” (OS 234) within which a host of others (bakers, doctors) can look after people’s well-being. On the other hand, the pastor/shepherd is precisely concerned with the lives of every individual. It is a profoundly “nosey” and centralized kind of power, poking its head into every dusty corner.

This new, pastoral relation between governor and governed is achieved through a transformation of the very techniques we saw described as care of the self. The shepherd is bound to the flock because his salvation is found only through the salvation of the flock, which entails a thoroughly “individualizing knowledge” (OS 237) of every member of the flock. This individualizing knowledge is secured through the flock’s voluntary submission to the shepherd—a submission in turn secured through two techniques that the flock should exercise on themselves: self-examination and guidance of conscience (OS 237).

So what has happened to these Greek techniques in pastoral power? First, even though self-knowledge in each case is achieved in reference to some transcendent point—the “divine element” (HS 71), the Christian God—the object of this self-knowledge—what it is we need to learn about—has changed: the soul-subject of Greek practices has been replaced by the soul-substance (HS 56-7). It seems to me that we can think of this soul-substance in terms of what Foucault calls in “Omnes”, the pursuit of “self-identity” (which is what results in each person’s “mortification” (239)). Second, the relationship to authority embedded in these practices has been transformed. Being guided by conscience is no longer a temporary situation of getting some advice to survive hard times; it becomes a whole state of being, and the only way to insure that one is not lost. Conscience, in other words, is exercised through total submission to the shepherd. And self-examination is no longer a way “to close self-awareness upon oneself”; it becomes a way to “open it up entirely to its director—the unveil to him the depths of the soul” (238).

The series governing others-being governed-caring for oneself, which completed the circuit of political power in Greek society, has been “rewired,” and no doubt more efficiently, by Christian thought. The series is now obedience-knowledge of oneself-confession (239). In effect, whereas the question of, ‘how shall I govern?’ was first answered with reference to the governor’s self vis-à-vis the divine, in the pastorate it is answered with reference to the total knowledge of the governed, who are meant to submit and confess all. The techniques of the care of the self have been transferred from governor to governed. The site of political action is no longer the body-soul of Alcibaedes, but the mind of each member of the flock. And the aim of politics is no longer governing well, but governing efficiently.

This, then, seems to be another Foucauldian paradox. The totalizing and individualizing form of pastoral power that defines the modern state is actually exercised primarily at the level of (and, in fact, by) the subject. For me it becomes interesting to try to think of activities like psychotherapy (or yoga, as in Dan’s case) as modern forms of “care of the self.” Do these trouble the exercise of pastoral power, and, at the same time, the modern state? Or is Foucault’s account of governmentality at the same time an account of the ways that new forms of care of the self have continually been integrated into governing projects?



Ethics as a Process

Foucault’s elaboration of an ethics of care of the self was intended as an alternative to modern moral systems. Of course, care of the self as Foucault focused on it was almost entirely an ancient ethical practice caught up in the cultural atmosphere of late Greek and early Roman antiquity. As such, it is clear that this ethics cannot be easily imported into the modern context to which Foucault was addressing himself. The ethics of the care of the self will require significant revision if it is to be meaningful and viable in contemporary contexts. That said, there are certain elements of an ethics of care of the self which are already immediately relevant to contemporary ethical contexts, and these elements can be used to assist in a rethinking of our contemporary ethical practices. These elements, I think it was Foucault’s point, do not require significant revision in order to be deployed with effectiveness in contemporary settings. Is the idea of 'ethics as a process' one of these central ideas which Foucault finds relevant for modern moral philosophy?

The crux of modern ethical practice, as Foucault described it in such works as Discipline and Punish and The Will to Know, was an attempt to divide power from freedom. We might say, then, that modern ethics is problematized around the oppositional relation between power and freedom. This oppositional relation constitutes the core problem for modern moral systems. Almost every modern moral system is an attempt to show how we can effectively disentangle power and freedom in such a way that conceptualizes their relation as oppositional.

Foucault elaborated the ancient ethical tradition of care of the self as an alternative to the modern approach insofar as care of the self is described by him as specifically emphasizing the way in which power and freedom are intensely and inevitably interleaved with one another. This turn to ancient ethical practice in terms of the interlocking relation between power and freedom can be conveniently reformulated in the terminology employed in his work on power: “Power is exercised only over free subjects, and only insofar as they are ‘free’.” The ethics of self-care specifically focuses on this intrinsic interrelation between power and knowledge and as such offers an alternative to the modern moral systems of the fascist and the freespirit. What was this alternative? How did it work? What did it look like? Obviously these question leave a great deal open.

One of the most interesting features of care of the self is the way in which Foucault tends to describe it as a 'spiritual' practice or process in contrast to a 'philosophical' theory or knowledge. The idea for him is that care of the self comes into being by being practiced. It is not a morality that already exists which we can come to know. What is at stake in this contrast between a dynamic ethics of process and a static ethics of knowledge? Does it presuppose a valid and accurate portrait of modern moral philosophy? And is Foucault's alternative itself viable?