The Joy of Difference: Foucault and Hadot on the Aesthetic and Universal in Philosophy

Philosophy Today 53 (2):192-203 (2009)
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The intersection of Foucault and Hadot's work in the philosophy of antiquity is a dense and fruitful meeting. Not only do each of the philosophers offer competing interpretations of antiquity, their differences also reflect on their opposing assessments of the contemporary situation and the continuing philosophical debate between the universal and the relative. Unpacking these two philosophers’ disagreements on antiquity sheds light on how Hadot’s commitment to the Universal and Foucault’s commitment to an aesthetics of existence stem from their diagnoses of the present and the persistent philosophical issue of universalism. This line of analysis is especially productive to pursue in relation to Hadot and Foucault because of the rigor of their thought, the lack of polemics in its debate, and the importance of both thinkers to philosophy generally.

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Cory Wimberly
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley


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