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Cooper Francis

Research project: From Subjection to Subsumption: l'homme en occident in Hegel and Foucault

Abstract

The project of a genealogy of the modern subject remains an active site in contemporary philosophy. Alain de Libera, Vincent Descombes and Étienne Balibar, for example, have sought to hold in tension the philosophical sense of "subject" as agent of thought or action and the political sense of "subject" as subjected to the sovereign. In their studies, the specificity of the modern subject's determination is to lie in its paradoxical "becoming-citizen", as expressed through the philosophical work of Kant and the event of the French Revolution. Such work, however, remains characteristically restricted to the early modern period, with a concomitant emphasis on the philosophical and political determinations of the concept to the detriment of the contributions made by juridical and economic discourse. Yet it is the latter confluence, whose historical locus remains Hegel's Philosophy of Right discussion on the effectivity of juridical form in the construction of civil society's abstract economic individual, that remains crucial to such a genealogy's contemporary relevance.

On the other hand, with the recent complete publication of Michel Foucault's College de France lectures from 1970 to 1981 and the posthumous Confessions of the Flesh, it has become apparent that his longue durée "history of the different modes of subjectivising the human being in our culture" itself culminates on the plane of political economy through a genealogy of civil society and of the relation between homo oeconomicus, the governable subject of interest, and homo juridicus, the legal subject. My research will investigate how Foucault theorises the relation between the legal person and the economic individual in his account of the constitution of subjects as individuals (in contrast to the Althusserian interpellation of individuals as subjects). I will thus explore whether the transition from his early microphysics of power to the theory of subjectivation is not, rather than a sympathetic turn towards liberalism or a nominalist reduction of the economy to a theological discourse, an attempt to account for both early modern subjection by the sovereign, as well as contemporary dependence on the economy in what Hegel calls the "bürgerliche Gesellschaft".

Biography

I am a translator, writer and researcher based in London.

Areas of research interest

  • Philosophy of the subject
  • Political philosophy
  • Philosophy of law
  • 19th and 20th century European philosophy (Kant, Hegel, Marx)
  • Contemporary French philosophy
  • Frankfurt critical theory

Qualifications

  • BA in Philosophy, Reed College
  • MA in Modern European Philosophy, CRMEP, Kingston University
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