Drawing from Michel Foucault's final research development (1980–1984), this article disputes Foucault's apparent discontinuity with his previous stands regarding the subject, and unveils a notion I propose to call the “post-Cartesian” subject, i.e. a subject whose ethics displays a congruent harmony between mathêsis (knowledge) and prâxis (action). Spending his last years in the company of Greco-Roman thinkers for whom philosophizing was less a mathêsis than a prâxis, Foucault claims that the disruption of the congruence between logos and ergon occurred at the beginning of Christianity, when the Delphic injunction “know thyself” (gnôthi seauton) took over a precept which had formerly ruled supreme: the “care of the self” (epimeleia heautou). Foucault asserts that Descartes ultimately confirmed this displacement, when the Cartesian subject was no longer required to go through any personal transformation in order to reach truth/knowledge. Challenging this threshold, I argue that the Socratic imperative has not supplanted the “care of the self” in the “post-Cartesian” subject whose task is to resist as much as possible the type of existence/identity which has been impressed on her/him.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cultural Studies
- Visual Arts and Performing Arts
- Literature and Literary Theory