Over the last thirty-five years, since the publication of Greenblatt's Renaissance Self-Fashioning (1980) and Hadot's Exercices spirituels et philosophie antique (1981) and Foucault's own work on Ancient Greek technologies of the self, there has been an explosion of studies on the various ways we can take 'care of the self'. This work has looked past the Greeks and the sixteenth century to find or reread many other periods interested in these techniques.
The wisdom of the philosopher-sage is only one corner of an impossible triangle. Alongside the Stoic sage, however, there has always been another figure, that of "Socrates gone mad" in the case of Diogenes, of Rousseau gone mad in the case of de Sade and of the madness of the world in the case of Artaud. In these cases we find not the Stoic attempt to quiet the mind and a withdrawal from the world, but an attempt to intensify one's body and a constant irritation with and for the world; not a care of the self but a discomposure or dissolution of the self. On the final apex we find literary engagements (sometimes satirical, sometimes part of an aesthetico-philosophical negotiation) that offer another view (neither a mediation nor a meditation) and another posture.
This course will start by outlining the differences, antagonisms and alliances between these three corners: the philosophical care of the self, literary self-fashioning and the anti-philosophical dissolution of the self. The course will then examine three moments from the perspective of each of these three corners. The first moment encompasses 1) Socrates, his attempt to educate Alcibades and his Apology; 2) the life of Diogenes; 3) Aristophenes' The Clouds, not just a brutal satire of sophistry but also an intervention in to the proper means and ends of education as a technology of the self.
The second moment encompasses 1) Spinoza's Emmendation of the Intellect; 2) Resoration libertinage – both male and female; 3) de Sade's Juliette.
The final moment will consider 1) Artaud's 'Nerve Meter' and 'Fragments of a Diary from Hell'; 2) series 18-22 of Deleuze's Logic of Sense; 3) Foucault on the care of the self and the cynics.
Each two hour session will be divided in to two, one hour lectures.
- part one Introduction to 'care of the self' and 'self-fashioning'
- part two Socrates, his attempt to educate Alcibades and his Apology
- part one Diogenes the Cynic
- part two Aristophenes' The Clouds
- part one Spinoza's Emmendation of the Intellect
- part two Resoration libertinage
- part one de Sade's Juliette
- part two series 18-22 of Deleuze's Logic of Sense
- part one Foucault on the care of the self and the cynics
- part two Artaud's 'Nerve Meter' and 'Fragments of a Diary from Hell'
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