Self-transformations: Foucault, Ethics, and Normalized Bodies

Paperback | July 26, 2007

byCressida J. Heyes

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Heyes' monograph in feminist philosophy is on the connection between the idea of "normalization"--which per Foucault is a mode or force of control that homogenizes a population--and the gendered body. Drawing on Foucault and Wittgenstein, she argues that the predominant picture of the self--apicture that presupposes an "inner" core of the self that is expressed, accurately or not, by the outer body--obscures the connection between contemporary discourses and practices of self-transformation and the forces of normalization. In other words, pictures of the self can hold us captive whenthey are being read from the outer self--the body--rather than the inner self, and we can express our inner self by working on our outer body to conform. Articulating this idea with a mix of the theoretical and the practical, she looks at case studies involving transgender people, weight-lossdieting, and cosmetic surgery. Her concluding chapters look at the difficult issue of how to distinguish non-normalizing practices of the self from normalizing ones, and makes suggestions about how feminists might conceive of subjects as embodied and enmeshed in power relations yet also capable ofself-transformation. The subject of normalization and its relationship to sex/gender is a major one in feminist theory; Heyes' book is unique in her masterful use of Foucault; its clarity, and its sophisticated mix of the theoretical and the anecdotal. It will appeal to feminist philosophers and theorists.

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Heyes' monograph in feminist philosophy is on the connection between the idea of "normalization"--which per Foucault is a mode or force of control that homogenizes a population--and the gendered body. Drawing on Foucault and Wittgenstein, she argues that the predominant picture of the self--apicture that presupposes an "inner" core of ...

Cressida J. Heyes is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alberta.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:176 pages, 6.1 × 9.09 × 0.71 inPublished:July 26, 2007Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195310543

ISBN - 13:9780195310542

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Pictures of the Self: Wittgenstein and Foucault on Thinking Ourselves DifferentlyChapter 2: Feminist Solidarity after Queer Theory: The Case of the TransgenderChapter 3: Foucault Goes to Weight Watchers (Redux)Chapter 4: Aesthetic Surgery, Aesthetic EthicsChapter 5: Somaesthetics for the Normalized BodyConclusion: Life Style?NotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Cressida Heyes has produced a book that should be of great value to Foucault specialists as well as to feminist readers not well acquainted with Foucault. It is accessible and brief enough for undergraduate students, but original and compelling enough to hold the interest and perhaps sparkthe imaginations of professional philosophers and social theorists. This book deserves a place in every library."--Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews