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Michel Foucault The Cultivation of the Self Michel Foucault 1926-1984 spent much of the later part of his studies on the idea of the care of the self and cultivation of the self He defined such care as using ones own reason to ascertain who one is and how he can be his best Foucault takes several perspectives on this theme from medical to phenomenological to develop his focus on finding out who one is the goal of the care of the self Humans failure to attain and nurture this self results in the decay of this self Foucault saw his writings on this and other concepts as part of a philosophy known as the art of living The art of living in this sense means one whose main purpose is to be like no one else As such he felt he was directly useful to the public because he created new possibilities for life His care for his own self allowed for the possibility that he could aid others in doing the same He was trying to develop a way for one to work on himself which would let one invent a way of being that is still improbable Foucault did not address himself to a broad audience rather he used his project of the are of the self as a model for oppressed minorities who had no voice of their own Foucault was fascinated by what one or a group has to suppress and reject to form a positive conception of itself He believed that our conception of ourselves as subjects depends on controlling or excluding whole classes of people who do not fit our Enlightened category of normal The same devices we use to understand and control these marginalized groups are also essential to understanding and controlling normal individuals This practice is always executed by power Therefore who we are is itself the result of the exercise of this power
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