My review essay on Foucault’s posthumously published work “The Confessions of the Flesh” is the first to explore the implications of Foucault’s late analyses of the Christian Church Fathers for political theory. My thesis: Self-reflexive critique of power, which is decisive for our understanding of freedom today, was developed in early Christianity. It follows that the usual interpretations of Foucault’s work turns out to be wrong, which holds that the concept of freedom important for us today lies in ancient ethics or parrhesia. This interpretation of the Christian roots of critique opens up new possibilities for thinking about contemporary post-fundamentalist politics with Foucault.
The Christian roots of critique. How Foucault’s analyses of the Church Fathers shed new light on the debate about power and freedom. Review essay on Foucault, Michel: The Confessions of the Flesh. History of Sexuality 4. Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp 2019. 556 pages [978-3-51858733-1].
In: Zeitschrift für philosophische Literatur 7. 2 (2019), 60–71
Crisp short version on the theory blog
The summary and aggravation of the argument parts can be found on the theory blog.
The Christian roots of critique. Review essay on Michel Foucault’s “The Confessions of the Flesh. History of Sexuality 4”
“This reading has consequences for our current discussion about freedom and politics. Democracy is not a business of parrhesiasts who are fundamentally certain of their own ‘socio-critical’ truth - the current situation of right-wing populist truth assertions makes this very clear. To understand freedom with Foucault as critique, on the other hand, enables a new genealogical and systematic characterization of democracy in post-fundamentalism: Decisive for resistive subjectivity is the self-critical reflection of alian power that works deep within us. Criticism of subjectivation is the core of liberal and democratic politics. This freedom can be better understood and demanded by the genealogical self-understanding about the Christian roots of critique, especially in view of its entanglement with repressive Christian juridical normalization, which Foucault describes in “The Confessions of the Flesh”.
Automatically translated from German without proofreading!
- Publication: The Last Universalism. Foucault's Freedom and the Justification of Radical Democracy in Postfundamentalism, in 'The Political (in) Political Theory', 6. October 2021
- New Publication: The Christian Roots of Critique. How Foucault's Confessions of the Flesh Sheds New Light on the Concept of Freedom and the Genealogy of the Modern Critical Attitude, 17. March 2021
- Freedom and Institution. For an Anti-Anarchist Interpretation of Foucault - New Publication in Zeitschrift für Politische Theorie, 19. June 2020
- Freedom as Critique. Foucault Beyond Anarchism - New Publication in Philosophy & Social Criticism, 8. May 2020
- Video online: Foucault's Freedom as Critique, Lecture at Science Po Paris, 25. December 2019