Miguel de Beistegui to give Northern Theory School Annual Public Lecture

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‘The Government of Desire: A Genealogy of the Liberal Subject’

Miguel de Beistegui (University of Warwick)

Whether as economic interest, sexual drive, or the basic longing for recognition, desire is accepted as a core component of our modern self-identities, and something we need to cultivate. But this has not been true in all times and all places. For centuries, as far back as late antiquity and early Christianity, philosophers believed that desire was an impulse that needed to be suppressed in order for the good life, whether personal or collective, ethical or political, to flourish.  Though we now take it for granted, it was only in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that the naturalization of desire took place, and the pillars of the liberal self and form of government were erected.

By critically exploring Foucault’s claim that Western civilization is a civilization of desire, de Beistegui crafts a provocative and original genealogy of this shift in thinking. He shows how the relationship between identity, desire, and governance has been harnessed and transformed in the modern world, shaping our relations with others and ourselves, and establishing desire as an essential driving force for the constitution of a new and better social order. But is it? The Government of Desire argues that this is precisely what a contemporary politics of resistance must seek to overcome, questioning the supposed universality of a politics based on recognition and the economic satisfaction of desire. Relying on Foucault as well as on Deleuze and Guattari, de Beistegui highlights the need to elaborate a politics of difference and creation, raising the crucial question of how we can manage to be less governed today and positing strategic questions of possible contemporary forms of counter-conduct.

Miguel de Beistegui is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick. He specializes in twentieth-century German and French philosophy, and has published books and articles on topics including ontology, metaphysics, aesthetics, ethics, and politics. His most recent books include Proust as Philosopher: The Art of Metaphor and Aesthetics After Metaphysics: From Mimesis to Metaphor.

With responses by Arthur Bradley (Lancaster), Antonio Cerella (Kingston University) and Michael Dillon (Lancaster University)

4-6 pm

Management School Lecture Theatre 09

21st March 2018

All Welcome


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