Against the Republican Foucault: How to Establish an Affirmative Biopolitics of Care

Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 4 (83):683-709 (2021)
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In The Republic of the Living, Miguel Vatter argues that, at the end of the 1970s, Michel Foucault did not convert to but criticized neoliberalism from a republican point of view. Neoliberal governmentality allegedly represses the capacity of human collectives to democratically govern themselves. The potential for republican self- government would then constitute the basis for an affirmative variant of biopolitics. I argue that this creative reformulation of Foucault’s oeuvre does not work as an interpretation of Foucault nor as a valid critique of neoliberalism. Using the influ- ence of Georges Canguilhem on Foucault, I propose to locate the potential for affirmative biopolitics not in the collective capacity for self-government, but in the fragility of living beings in their interaction with their milieu. Because life is con- stitutively dependent on infrastructural conditions to flourish, we need a biopolitics that establishes institutions which support the sustenance of life.

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Tim Christiaens
Tilburg University


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