A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance
by Steve West
About the Author
Michel Foucault is one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th Century. His iconoclastic studies have had an enormous impact on the social sciences and cultural studies. Understanding Foucault is very important for understanding the values and thought-patterns of anti-Christian contemporary culture.
Table of Contents
Part 1 The Moral Problematization of Pleasures
Part 2 Dietetics
Part 3 Economics
Part 4 Erotics
Part 5 True Love
The term sexuality did not appear until the early 1800s. It was generated in connection with a plethora of different fields of knowledge, complex norms and rules (from religion, medicine, etc.), and subjective, personal factors of perceived duties, values, functions, and the like. Sexuality is an experience at the confluence of these things: it is not an objective constant. The traditional analysis used desire as the organizing center, and subjects were led to investigate themselves as desiring beings. Thus, to understand “sexuality,” it needed to be understood how Western man came to see himself as the subject of desire. There are games of truth by which someone forms themselves into a subject by which the self relates to the self. This study examines the hermeneutics of the self in antiquity. What are the games of truth we play when we think about our own nature? What do we say when we see ourselves as insane, or criminal, or a laborer, or a desiring being?
In going back to ancient times, we must investigate why the pleasures and activities of sexual conduct became issues of moral concern. Why do we have the problematization of sex, where it is subjected to such intense and varied ethical judgment? It seems that the rules surrounding sex were part of a larger set of “arts of existence” where people try to shape themselves into a coherent self. It was through the practices of the self that sex came to be problematized in interplay with an aesthetics of existence. In this volume and the next two volumes, the focus will be on primary sources that served as practical texts that allowed people to question and shape their conduct. Rather than look at systems of morality and laws, we will look at “ethical problematizations based on practices of the self” (p. 13). . . .[To continue reading this summary, please see below....]
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THE HISTORY OF SEXUALITY, VOLUME 2: THE USE OF PLEASURE, by Michel Foucault