Self-care and total care : the twofold return of care in twentieth-century thought
Backman, J. (2020). Self-care and total care : the twofold return of care in twentieth-century thought. International Journal of Philosophy and Theology, 81(3), 275-291. https://doi.org/10.1080/21692327.2020.1786301
Published inInternational Journal of Philosophy and Theology
© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
The paper studies two fundamentally different forms in which the concept of care makes its comeback in twentieth-century thought. We make use of a distinction made by Peter Sloterdijk, who argues that the ancient and medieval ‘ascetic’ ideal of self-enhancement through practice has re-emerged in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, particularly in the form of a rehabilitation of the Hellenistic notion of self-care (epimeleia heautou) in Michel Foucault’s late ethics. Sloterdijk contrasts this return of self-care with Martin Heidegger’s concept of being-in-the-world as ‘total care’ (Sorge), an utterly ‘secularized’ understanding of the human being as irreducibly world-embedded that rejects the classical ascetic ideal of world-secession. We examine further the historical roots and emergence of these contrasting contemporary reappropriations of care in the Western tradition of thought and show them to be rooted in two different ontologies and ethics of the self as either world-secluded or world-immersed, autonomous or constitutively relational. The historical point of divergence of these two approaches to care, we argue, can be found in the Christian transformation of Hellenistic ethics. ...
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis
Publication in research information system
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Related funder(s)Academy of Finland
Funding program(s)Research post as Academy Research Fellow, AoF
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