Thomas Osborne
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Foucault and the ethics of subjectivity
in The structure of modern cultural theory
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This chapter first argues that Michael Foucault was a modernist and that his work, especially in its late period, was saturated with the question of aesthetics. For him, this question was connected to the ultimately ethical question of autonomy. The concept of culture haunts, most generally, Foucault's nominalism. One can argue over what kind of nominalism it was that Foucault espoused exactly. The argument of the chapter is that Foucault's nominalism was strategic, even ultimately ethical, and not just an epistemic point of view, and not even a dynamic or dialectical nominalism. Foucault explains the relevance of the idea of an aesthetics of existence but not about what contemporary form it might take. To provide a theory of an aesthetics of existence would be to contradict the idea itself. The chapter discusses a theme, namely subjectivation. Subjectivation is invocated in the chapter as the idea of an 'aesthetic of existence'.

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