Public Engagement

General Public

Philosophy Lecture-Daniel R Rodríguez-Navas

Monday, February 12, 2018 at 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Klein Conference Room, Room A510, Alvin Johnson/J.M. Kaplan Hall Room 510, 66 West 12th Street, New York, NY 10011

Daniel R Rodríguez-Navas, Mellon C3 Postdoctoral Fellow, Philosophy Department, Middlebury College, will give a lecture titled: "Obedience, Autonomy, and the Aesthetics of Existence: Foucault’s Reconceptualization of Ethical Normativity".


Although it is well known that throughout the last period of his career, Foucault’s work centered around the analysis of ethical discourse and practices, there is no consensus regarding what exactly his ethical project was or what his contribution to ethical thought might have been. In this lecture, I will present the key elements of my interpretation of Foucault’s work on ethics, highlighting the systematicity and philosophical import of the views that he developed during the final phase of his career. Building on Foucault’s own insistence on the ethical importance of the idea of an “aesthetics of existence,” I will argue that the latter captures the rudiments of a novel conception of ethical normativity, and more precisely, of the ‘binding force’ of ethical norms. Through his inquiry into the history of ethics, Foucault identified an ongoing shift in Western culture away from an ‘ethics of obedience’ and towards an ‘ethics of autonomy.’ The aesthetics of existence is the result of his attempt to reconceptualize the type of relationship that there is between individuals and the norms they are subject to, and to develop a conception of the binding force of ethical norms better suited for the emerging ‘ethics of autonomy.’ On Foucault’s view, rather than prohibitive boundaries that parse the space of possible action into the permissible and the impermissible, ethical norms can be conceived as productive instruments for the individual’s active self-constitution as a robustly autonomous subject.

Presented by The New School for Social Research (NSSR)

Event Type

Lectures and Panel Discussions


General Public


The New School for Social Research




Free; No Registration required

Recent Activity

Getting Here

Detailed Directions

By Train:
The 4, 5, 6, N, R, Q and L to 14th St./Union Square.
The A, C and E to 14th St. and 8th Ave.
The 1, 2 and 3 to 14th St. and 7th Ave.
The F and M to 14th St. and 6th Ave.
PATH train to 14th St. and 6th Ave.