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Ethical Formation and Subjection

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Abstract Ethical formation in and through subjection is an extremely widespread pattern that is not limited to particular traditions, time periods, or regions. Examining this pattern requires us to integrate the study of power with the study of virtue and self-cultivation: power is productive of selves, and selves appropriate the ideals presented to or pressed upon them. This paper refines our approaches to power and ethics by showing that we need to address at least three facets of ethical formation and subjection: (a) material power relations, including the ability to kill, torture, punish, imprison, confine, observe, and censor; (b) discourses, and particularly figurative discourses, that convey conceptions of the self as well as ethical ideals; and (c) emotions and motivations of embodied persons who encounter norms and ideals.

Affiliations: 1: Harvard Divinity School 45 Francis Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA jschofer@hds.harvard.edu

Abstract Ethical formation in and through subjection is an extremely widespread pattern that is not limited to particular traditions, time periods, or regions. Examining this pattern requires us to integrate the study of power with the study of virtue and self-cultivation: power is productive of selves, and selves appropriate the ideals presented to or pressed upon them. This paper refines our approaches to power and ethics by showing that we need to address at least three facets of ethical formation and subjection: (a) material power relations, including the ability to kill, torture, punish, imprison, confine, observe, and censor; (b) discourses, and particularly figurative discourses, that convey conceptions of the self as well as ethical ideals; and (c) emotions and motivations of embodied persons who encounter norms and ideals.

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2012-01-01
2016-12-04

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