Through an ambitious and critical revision of Michel Foucault's investigation of ethics, James Faubion develops an original program of empirical inquiry into the ethical domain. From an anthropological perspective, Faubion argues that Foucault's specification of the analytical parameters of this domain is the most productive point of departure in conceptualizing its distinctive features. He further argues that Foucault's framework is in need of substantial revision to be of genuinely anthropological scope. In making this revision, Faubion illustrates his program with two extended case studies: one of a Portuguese marquis and the other of a dual subject made up of the author and a millenarian prophetess. The result is a conceptual apparatus that is able to accommodate ethical pluralism and yield an account of the limits of ethical variation, providing a novel resolution of the problem of relativism that has haunted anthropological inquiry into ethics since its inception.
James D. Faubion is Professor of Anthropology and Director of Graduate Studies at Rice University. In addition to ethics, his interests include epistemic authority, kinship, social and cultural theory, aesthetics, heterodoxy and radicalism. He has published widely on his research interests, including The Shadows and Lights of Waco: Millennialism Today (2001) and two edited volumes of Essential Works of Michel Foucault (1998 and 2000).
Part I. An Anthropology of Ethics: 1. Precedents, parameters, potentials; 2. Foucault in Athens; 3. Ethical others; Part II. Fieldwork in Ethics: 4. An ethics of composure; 5. An ethics of reckoning; Concluding remarks: for programmatic inquiries; Bibliography.