Rhetoric Lecture – The Emergence of Desire: Notes toward a Political History of the Will in Foucault’s “Aveux de la Chair”
The Emergence of Desire: Notes toward a Political History of the Will in Foucault’s “Aveux de la Chair”
In this paper on Foucault’s fourth volume to The History of Sexuality, Les aveux de la chair (Gallimard, 2018), I argue that desire, conceived as a central and permanent dimension of the human subject, is the condition of possibility of the emergence of both the modern experience of sexuality and the mechanisms of power that produced, organized, and exploited it. This condition of possibility, as Foucault points out, was historically constituted. Thus, the objective of this paper is both to critically reconstruct the way in which Foucault accounts for the progressive emergence of desire as a principle of subjectivation/objectivation of sexual acts in the Greco-Roman and Christian worlds, and to emphasize the socio-political relevance of these early chapters of his history of sexuality—an often downplayed relevance that is connected to what I call a political history of the will.
Daniele Lorenzini is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie ‘Move-in Louvain’ Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre Prospéro (Université Saint-Louis – Bruxelles) and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Contemporary Critical Thought (Columbia University). Starting in Fall 2019, he will be Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick. He is the author of Jacques Maritain e i diritti umani [Jacques Maritain and Human Rights] (Brescia: Morcelliana, 2012), Éthique et politique de soi [Ethics and Politics of the Self] (Paris: Vrin, 2015), and La force du vrai [The Force of Truth] (Lormont: Le Bord de l’Eau, 2017). He is the editor, with Henri-Paul Fruchaud, of Michel Foucault’s lectures About the Beginning of the Hermeneutics of the Self (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2015), Qu’est-ce que la critique? suivi de La culture de soi (Paris: Vrin, 2015; English edition forthcoming with The University of Chicago Press); Dire-vrai sur soi-même (Paris: Vrin, 2017; English edition forthcoming with The University of Chicago Press), Discourse and Truth (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2019).