This is the first major study of Michel Foucault as a political thinker. Written in clear prose, "Foucault and the Political" explores the ramifications for political theory of the whole range of Foucault's writing, including materials only recently made available. Jon Simons argues that Foucault's work is animated by a tension between his presentation of modern life as "unbearably heavy" and his temptation to escape its limitations by aiming for "unbearable lightness."
Through expositions of Foucault's ideas on power/knowledge, subjectification, governmentality, political rationality and the aesthetics of existence, Simons demonstrates how Foucault resists both extremes. Foucault's thought entails an ethic of permanent resistance, best embodied in radical democracy. Simons relates Foucault's work both to contemporary political thinkers, such as Michael Walzer, Charles Taylor and Jurgen Habermas, as well as to scholars challenging conventional political categories, especially feminist and gay theorists such as Judith Butler.