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Self-TransformationsFoucault, Ethics, and Normalized Bodies$
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Cressida J. Heyes

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195310535

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195310535.001.0001

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Pictures of the Self

Pictures of the Self

Wittgenstein and Foucault on Thinking Ourselves Differently

(p.15) 1 Pictures of the Self

Cressida J. Heyes (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that the contemporary Western understanding of the relationship between the body and self is subject to a number of “pictures” that mark significant constraints on our ability to imagine alternative ways of caring for ourselves and others, hence on our self-government, and ultimately on our freedom. Two related pictures are used to explain how the somatic individual has come to dominate ways of understanding the self. The first is a picture in which we have an inner depth and authenticity that the outer (in this case, the flesh) must represent. This is a model of the self in general (selves as objects with an inner essence) and also of each self in particular. In their different ways, both Ludwig Wittgenstein and Michel Foucault challenge this picture, the former primarily through his private language argument, and the latter through his genealogical method. The second picture is one of power, and is characterized by the view that power is a substance, power is held and exercised by a sovereign who rules over us, and power is a force external to the self, whose primary purpose is repressive.

Keywords:   self, body, Michel Foucault, Ludwig Wittgenstein, power, private language, genealogical method, normalization

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