Structuralism and Semiotics Structuralism Structuralism is a way of thinking about the world which is predominantly concerned with the perceptions and description of structures. At its simplest, structuralism claims that the nature of every element in any given situation has no significance by itself, and in fact is determined by all the other elements involved in that situation. The full significance of any entity cannot be perceived unless and until it is integrated into the structure of which it forms a part Hawkes, p. Structuralists believe that all human activity is constructed, not natural or "essential.
Select Secondary Sources 1. One rare, short, but not unimportant analysis occurs in The Order of Things. There, Foucault maintains that modern ethical thought attempts to derive moral obligations from human nature and yet modern thought also holds that human nature can never be, given the fact of human finitude, fully given to human knowledge.
Consequently, modern thought is incapable of coherently formulating a set of moral obligations OT ; see also PPC This argument is, essentially, one piece of his larger attack on modern humanism and its conception of the human being as subject, Essays anthropology reason rabinow being that supplies for itself the foundations of knowledge, value, and freedom.
Discipline and Punish and the first volume of The History of Sexuality further this line of criticism, insisting on the historical constitution of the subject by discursive practices and techniques of power see, for example, FL 67, PKEW3DP It is surprising to many commentators, then, that by Foucault elaborated a framework for his work that grants self-constitution considerable importance.
These focal points are studied along three axes: Foucault never did articulate a clear position on the conceptual fit between his critique of the modern subject and his account of ethics. Essays anthropology reason rabinow, he does provide some clues as to the nature of his mature position.
Late in his life he admits that his earlier work was too insistent on the formation of subjectivity by discursive practices and power-relations EW1 Now, his focus is on the subject as both constituted and self-constituting, or the point at which discursive practices and power-relations dovetail with ethics.
Of course, this does not decisively resolve the problem, but it does suggest a rereading of his earlier works more conducive to the notion of self-constitution. In fact, in later writings and interviews Foucault supports this interpretation when he explains that all the axes of analysis existed in a confused manner EW1 ; he even retrospectively interprets his work as fitting one or more of those axes EW1 By admitting that, first, all three axes of analysis existed in earlier works, and, second, that the goal of his work is to study the connection of knowledge and power with ethics, Foucault suggests that there is no ethical turn.
However, it does appear to be the case that Foucault is suggesting that he is best read backwards rather than forwards.
There, he designates ethics as one of the three primary areas of morality. In addition to ethics, morality consists of both a moral code and the concrete acts of moral agents.
The latter refers to the actions of historically real persons insofar as those actions comply or fail to comply with, obey or resist, or respect or disrespect the values and rules prescribed to them by prescriptive agencies.
In addition to a moral code and the real behaviors of individuals, Foucault claims that morality also consists of a third area, namely, ethics. He commonly and pithily defines it as a relation of the subject to itself, but a more technical definition of ethics is the conduct required of an individual so as to render its own actions consistent with a moral code and standards of moral approval.
For Foucault, conduct is a category that is broader than moral agency and includes both non-moral actions and the exercising of non-agential capacities for example, attitudes, demeanor, and so forth.
Ethical conduct, then, consists of the actions performed and capacities exercised intentionally by a subject for the purpose of engaging in morally approved conduct.
Suppose, for example, that an individual adopts the prescription of sexual fidelity to her partner. In this case, ethics concerns not her morally satisfactory conduct that directly satisfies her duty of being faithful to her partner, but rather the conduct through which she enables or brings herself to behave in a way that is sexually faithful to her partner.
Consistent with his distinction between moral conduct and ethical conduct, Foucault also distinguishes between moral obligations and ethical obligations. A moral obligation is an imperative of a moral code that either requires or forbids a specific kind of conduct, whereas an ethical obligation is a prescription for conduct that is a necessary condition for producing morally approved conduct.
Foucault understands morally approved conduct to be a wide category, as it does not designate just those acts that comply with a moral code — which is, he thinks, a manifestly modern conception of moral approval.
In this regard, the moral valorization of conduct might be, as it was with the ancients, weighted toward the satisfaction of ethical obligations, or, as it is in modernity, weighted toward the satisfaction of the moral obligations that comprise a moral code.
These ethical obligations are, Foucault contends, deducible by analyzing the four primary themes of sexual austerity expressed throughout all of Western history: Although these themes are occasionally mentioned below, the the focus of this section is on the four elements of ethical relations.
In The Use of Pleasure Foucault maintains that the ethical substance of ancient Greek sexual ethics — an ethics that was exclusively for men of the right inherited social status — was the aphrodisia or the broad range of acts, gestures, and contacts associated with pleasures to promote the propagation of the species and considered the inferior pleasures given their commonality with all animals.
The intensity of the aphrodisia induced the majority of men to behave immoderately with regard to it, and since the moral telos of ancient Greek ethics was a moderate state in which a man had succeeded in mastering his pleasures, the immoderate man was considered by ethicists to be shameful and dishonorable for allowing the inferior part of his soul to enslave his superior part.
It was also considered shameful for a man to experiment or delight in pleasures derived from the passive and subordinate rather than active and dominant role in sexual relations, the latter assigned by nature to men and the former assigned to those incapable of mastering themselves of their own power, namely, women and children.
By violating these limits out of a failure to master himself, the Greek man put himself in the position of compromising his health, household, social standing, and political ambitions.
Foucault maintains in The Care of the Self that aphrodisia remains the ethical substance for Roman sexual ethics.Nov 25, · "Essays on the Anthropology of Reason will provide an important sense of the solidity of research in the new and exciting terrains that anthropology has entered.
In so doing, it will remove discussion of such new work from the celebrity/fashion circuit' of recent trends in cultural studies/5. Essays on the Anthropology of Reason could have a similar effect, one that could contribute to a movement away from an excessive preoccupation with textual reflexivity.
What one finds in this volume is a sustained reflection on what it means to do fieldwork today in or on (post)modern benjaminpohle.com: $ Michel Foucault: Ethics. The French philosopher and historian Michel Foucault () does not understand ethics as moral philosophy, the metaphysical and epistemological investigation of ethical concepts (metaethics) and the investigation of the criteria for evaluating actions (normative ethics), as Anglo-American philosophers do.
Instead, he defines ethics as a relation of self to itself. New Criticism. A literary movement that started in the late s and s and originated in reaction to traditional criticism that new critics saw as largely concerned with matters extraneous to the text, e.g., with the biography or psychology of the author or the work's relationship to literary history.
Anthropology is a global discipline involving humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Anthropology builds upon knowledge from natural sciences, including the discoveries about the origin and evolution of Homo sapiens, human physical traits, human behavior, the variations among different groups of humans, how the evolutionary past of Homo sapiens has influenced its social organization.
Essays on the Anthropology of Reason by Paul Rabinow (review) Roger F. Malina Leonardo, Volume 31, Number 1, February , .