An Aesthetics of the Self

I started reading an article about Michel Foucault after doing some research on The Archaeology of Knowledge. I’ve tried to read Foucault before, with varying degrees of success. But the article I chose to read really broke it down for me and helped me understand his thought.

What I found particularly interesting was the idea of an “aesthetics of the self.” This is  “the self’s creation of a beautiful and enjoyable existence.” Along with his studies of ancient sexuality, this aesthetics “led Foucault to the ancient idea of philosophy as a way of life rather than a search for theoretical truth.”

I find that idea very appealing. After years in grad school, I find myself not believing too much in Knowledge or Truth as commonly conceived. Like Foucault, I think it’s all historical and contigent. Perception and knowledge of the object depends on the constitution of the subject.

I like the idea of philosophy as a search for wisdom, not knowledge. Of finding not what is true in every and all circumstances, but instead of what is appropriate for an individual’s particular circumstances as situated in space and time.

Even more than that, I love the conception of us as artists of our own lives, of philosophy as the aesthetics of living. Although written with a much different intention, this is what Don Miguel Ruiz has to say about ourselves as artists in The Voice of Knowledge:

You are divine, you are perfect, but as an artist, you create your own story and you have the illusion that the story is real. You live your life by justifying that story. And by justifying the story, you are wasting your life.

I’ve stopped believing in the “truth” of my own story, and now I can appreciate it for what it is. I no longer believe in my personal history; instead, I weave beautiful tales out of the elements of experience my life has given me.

I definitely want to learn more about this idea of an “aesthetics of the self.” For those of you that would also like to know more, here are some articles I plan to check out:

Critique of the Aesthetic Self…5




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