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Teaching Ethics

Volume 15, Issue 1, Spring 2015

Stefano Oliverio
Pages 35-50

Narcissus and the Care of the Self
Promoting Ethical Life in a Foucaultian-Kierkegaardian Vein

The paper takes its cue from the emergence in our society of a new view of the adolescent, which a branch of the psychological literature has spelled out in terms of a passage from Oedipus to Narcissus. It is argued that pre-college ethics education should engage with this passage by deploying educational strategies modelled according to the Care of the Self paradigm (as theorized by Michel Foucault and Pierre Hadot) but revisiting it through Kierkegaard’s idea of repetition. The latter prevents that paradigm from fostering a sort of aestheticization of ethical life and allows us to mobilize it in ethics education. Against this backdrop two pedagogical methods—autobiographical writing and essay writing—are discussed as possible tools for a Care-of-the-Self-oriented education.

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