Saturday, June 19, 2010

The History of Sexuality Volume 3: The Care of the Self

by Michel Foucault

Insightful and interesting. I’ve sat on this one for awhile, waiting quite some time after reading the second volume. Again Foucault delivers nice ideas and a level of neat commentary on Greco-Roman society, and its social as well as psychological products. It’s surprising how closely this work is tied to that era, in dealing direct with sources on erotic dreams, in tying together art, marriage expectations and literature. There’s a sense in which Foucault is marking time, or at least covering some of his bases more thoroughly than he really needs to, and the work at the end doesn’t deliver enough fundamental insights or even key arguments to frame a pivotal work. Still, it’s beneficial to see Foucault’s analytical process play out in a less ambitious work, and as a way of recovering the strangeness of certain past socieites it’s nice.

One generally read Focualt for the methodology rather than the specific study of any given era, but considerd as a partial conceptual history it’s also fairly decent, focused in on its main sources and theme, covering esisting historiographicaly adeptly, using clear prose and a logical structure. As well, the way the work pokes at the deep seated contradictions at the core of ancient civilizations, and to an extent out own, is worth the price of admission.

Worse than: The History of Sexuality Volume 1 by Michael Foucault
Better than: Archeology of Knowledge by Michael Foucault

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