Volume 12, Issue 2, 2015
The Ethical Meaning of Foucault's Aesthetics of Existence
In order to grasp the true ethical meaning of Foucault's aesthetics of existence, I begin by explaining in what sense he was an anti-normativist, arguing that the most important thing about the "final" Foucault is his strong emphasis on the idea of human freedom. I go on with a brief discussion about Foucault's sources of inspiration and a criticism of Rorty's kindred plea for "aesthetic life". I strongly reject the interpretation of Foucault's aesthetics of existence in terms of narcissistic individualism, arguing, on the contrary, that it has a definite communitarian dimension. I also claim that it is rooted in the Socratic and Stoic understanding of "care of the self," at the same time allowing new challenging developments fitted for our "post-duty" historical age, by way of analogy with the process of artistic making. I conclude with some short answers to a few questions regarding the status of this aesthetics of living.