Johanna Oksala has produced a provocative reading of Michel Foucault's work on the issues of freedom and resistance to normalizing oppression. Although many commentators have contended that Foucault's historicization of subjectivity leads to metaphysical determinism and eliminates the very possibility of freedom in human life, Oksala argues that his radical rethinking of both bodies and freedom largely escapes the simplistic criticisms routinely put forward since the early 1980s. She does subject Foucault's work to criticisms of her own, however. While the title of her book leads the reader to expect a tight focus on the question of freedom, much of the text is actually devoted to an explication of Foucault's account of subjectivity, culminating in a discussion of his work in ethics, and it is in this late work where Oksala finds serious flaws in Foucault's thought.
Copyright © 2005, University of Notre Dame Department of Philosophy. This article first appeared in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (2005).
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McWhorter, Ladelle. Review of Foucault on Freedom by Johanna Oksala. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, November 2005.