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Rethinking Foucault’s Care of the Self: Critique and (Political) Subjectivity in the Digital

Vazquez Garcia, Carmen Jimena (2021) Rethinking Foucault’s Care of the Self: Critique and (Political) Subjectivity in the Digital. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

This thesis aims to rework Foucault’s care of the self so that it can be understood as a political activity that opens the possibility for a new type of subjectivity. I develop and exemplify this claim through an analysis of the digital. Firstly, I focus on Foucault’s ethical work, which I articulate and defend by reading the care of the self through the notions of body, critique and limits, thus envisioning a political activity from which a new subjectivity can emerge. Ultimately, I understand the care of the self to be an embodied critical practice that aims at transgressing the limits of imposed truths and forms of life. The exercise of the care of the self, thus, permits for a conversion of power, which signifies the passing from a moment of subjection to one of subjectivation. Secondly, I employ such arguments in a more practical manner and analyse the digital and the subjection process it enacts. I argue that the digital, which I take as the exacerbated use of the internet through gadgets, is a complex tool-like space characterized by quantification, seclusion and symbiosis, and that such notions arise as a result of the mechanisms that uphold the digital: discipline, mediation of discourse and biopower. However, my interest here is not in these characteristics and mechanisms per se but about the subject they create. I claim that the digital serves to exemplify the making of the useful and docile bodies of the twenty-first century: depoliticized in their utility and docility insofar as they are made to take for granted the imposition of a contingent truth. Thirdly, I then explore how my political reading of the care of the self serves to ‘fight’ the depoliticized digital subject, where I claim that our attention should be directed towards the mundane, the everyday, and the regaining of it through thought exercises, which allow for the subject to rethink that which was once taken for granted and regarded as incontestable. In doing so, I argue for the value of the uncertain and the political possibility that rests within.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
Depositing User: Jimena Vazquez Garcia
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2021 16:41
Last Modified: 01 Dec 2021 16:41
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/31779

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