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Two puzzles in the Early Christian Constitution of the Self: Reflections on Agency in Foucault’s interpretation of Cassian

Han-Pile, Beatrice (2021) 'Two puzzles in the Early Christian Constitution of the Self: Reflections on Agency in Foucault’s interpretation of Cassian.' Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 120 (3). pp. 329-347. ISSN 0066-7374

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Abstract

I tease out two early Christian puzzles about agency: (a) Agential Control: how can agents selfconstitute if their primary experience of themselves is not one of control, as in Greek antiquity, but of relative powerlessness? And (b): Ethical Expertise: how can agents constitute themselves as ethical agents if they cannot trust themselves to recognise, and act in the light of, the good? I argue, first, that Foucault saw the importance of these puzzles and focused on extreme obedience as affording a possible resolution; second, that he failed to resolve the puzzles because of his reliance on an overly voluntarist and reflective understanding of obedience as an exercise of will; and finally, that turning to Cassian’s own thoughts on the relation between extreme obedience and humility as kenosis affords us a way out of the puzzles.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Foucault; Cassian; agency; activity; passivity; self-constitution
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities
Faculty of Humanities > Philosophy and Art History, School of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2020 20:26
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 14:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/28097

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