Narratives for a Better Future
Edited by Daniel Ericsson and Monika Kostera
Chapter 13: Technologies of the commune: A bridge over troubled water?
‘Know yourself’ is the fundamental knowledge principle in the modern world, which superseded, and was once interwoven with, the (now forgotten) Graeco-Roman principle of ‘Take care of yourself.’ In Foucault’s analysis of the different hermeneutical ‘truth games’ played out through history by human beings trying to understand themselves, certain techniques are highlighted such as confession, meditation and dream interpretation. Techniques such as these Foucault calls ‘technologies of the self’. In this chapter it is argued that the capitalist regime (and its many problems) thrives upon a very specific blend of Christian and Stoic technologies of the self, and that it is organized accordingly. On the one hand, the capitalist regime rests upon Christian obedience, the sacrifice of oneself by complete subordination; and, on the other hand, it presupposes Stoic logoi, the teaching of oneself by passively listening to the voice of the master, memorizing what is said and converting this into rules of conduct, and Stoic gymnasia, the training of oneself by physical abstinence and privation in order to test the independency of the individual. From the perspective of these capitalist technologies of the self, an alternative epistemology is narrated in the chapter. Tentatively it is conceptualized in terms of ‘technologies of the commune’, and it represents an emancipatory epistemology that is neither self-centred nor directed towards self-discipline.
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