In the Introduction to The Use of Pleasure Foucault calls his work an askēsis, "an exercise of oneself in the activity of thought." The "living substance of philosophy," Foucault writes, is the essay, "which should be understood as the assay or test by which, in the game of truth, one undergoes changes, and not as the simplistic appropriation of others for the purpose of communication." Foucault's work, then, does not simply report to us his conclusions or theories. Foucault is not primarily interested in imparting information. What he offers instead is a kind of exercise book.
Copyright © 1992, State University of New York (SUNY) Press. This chapter first appeared in Ethics and Danger: Essays on Heidegger and Continental Thought.
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McWhorter, Ladelle. "Asceticism/Askēsis: Foucault's Thinking Historical Subjectivity." In Ethics and Danger: Essays on Heidegger and Continental Thought, edited by Arleen B. Dallery, Charles E. Scott, and P. Holley. Roberts, 243-54. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992.