Encountering the “Ecopolis”: Foucault’s Epimeleia Heautou and Environmental Relations

Peter Hroch

Abstract


Frédéric Gros, the editor of Michel Foucault’s 1981-1982 lectures, The Hermeneutics of the Subject, remarks that the last years of Foucault’s life (from 1980 to 1984) were “a period of amazing acceleration, of a sudden proliferation of problematics.” “Never,” he pronounces, “has what Deleuze called the speed of thought been so palpable as in these hundreds of pages, versions, and rewritings, almost without deletion” (Gros 2005: 517). Marking a crucial shift in the focus of Foucault’s thought after a long career of describing systems of power, in this particular series of lectures Foucault lets the figure of the subject appear “no longer [as]constituted [by]” but rather as “constituting itself through well-ordered practices” (Gros 2005:513, italics in the original). My interest in this paper is to examine Foucault’s late lectures on the Ancient Greek practices of epimeleia heautou, or techniques of “care of the self” and their relationship––the way in which they re-encounter––the themes of biopolitics, governmentalityand discipline in his earlier work. In addition, I am interested in how his ideas pertaining to care of the self constitute productive ground for an environmental ethics––an ethics of relating to the spaces that surround and sustain us.

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