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On the genealogy of power, truth-telling and self-care: (Neo)governmentality and globalisation

Lais, Dimitrios (2016) On the genealogy of power, truth-telling and self-care: (Neo)governmentality and globalisation. PhD thesis, University of York.

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This thesis considers Foucault’s political value with respect to ‘governmentality’. It does this by attending to Foucault as an ethical philosopher, drawing on Foucault’s progressive use of genealogy as three interrelated axes (power, truth, and ethics). The ‘governmentality concept’ and Foucault’s political value can be fully realized only on this basis. ‘Governmentality’ is a critical concept that initially appears in a discussion of instrumentally rational power tied to a genealogy of power, but becomes more nuanced and, perhaps, relevant to contemporary forms of democratic governance when Foucault discusses ancient ethics and the Enlightenment. Therefore, the concern with how to govern the freedom of others interlinks with the problematisation of how to govern the self. Instead of reading Foucault’s discussion of parrhesia and enlightenment as merely sources that contribute to contemporary theories of democratic emancipation, I suggest that both Foucault’s preference for the Phaedo-Laches/Cynic parrhesia over the Alcibiades’ version—with its Neoplatonic connotations—and his condemnation of the Enlightenment as a project of man leading to a telos, generates both a genealogical critique of the present and an ethos of living. To put it differently, a genealogy of ethics is identified and further realised in this thesis. Genealogy driven by the ethical axis contemplates how power, truth-telling and self-care interact to interrupt ‘games of power’ by leading to ‘games of knowledge’ rather than ‘games of truth’. Building on David Owen’s ‘legislation versus orientation in thinking’, Thomas Osborne’s ‘scientific/therapeutic enlightenment versus aesthetic enlightenment’ and Nikolas Rose’s ‘ethopolitics’, I forge a twofold ‘neogovernmentality critique’. Thus, I give an overview of Foucault’s theory before laying the groundwork for a ‘neogovernmentality critique’. This overview attempts to bring the genealogy of antiquity and the genealogy of instrumental rationality together for the sake of understanding the present. The ‘critique’ contributes to the established Habermas-Foucault debate with respect to parrhesia and enlightenment, while focussing on the less discussed connection between governmentality and deliberative democracy. It also illuminates the discussion between Foucault and the reflexive sociology of Beck and Giddens with respect to the ideas of parrhesia and enlightenment, while elaborating the connections between governmentality and cosmopolitanism.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Politics (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.727330
Depositing User: Dimitrios Lais
Date Deposited: 22 Nov 2017 14:06
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2018 15:23
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/18726

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