Self-Transformations : Foucault, Ethics, and Normalized Bodies, Paperback / softback Book

Self-Transformations : Foucault, Ethics, and Normalized Bodies Paperback / softback

Part of the Studies in Feminist Philosophy series

Paperback / softback

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Heyes' monograph in feminist philosophy is on the connection between the idea of "normalization"-which per Foucault is a mode or force of control that homogenizes a population-and the gendered body.

Drawing on Foucault and Wittgenstein, she argues that the predominant picture of the self-a picture that presupposes an "inner" core of the self that is expressed, accurately or not, by the outer body-obscures the connection between contemporary discourses andpractices of self-transformation and the forces of normalization.

In other words, pictures of the self can hold us captive when they are being read from the outer self-the body-rather than the inner self, and we can express our inner self by working on our outer body to conform.

Articulating this ideawith a mix of the theoretical and the practical, she looks at case studies involving transgender people, weight-loss dieting, and cosmetic surgery.

Her concluding chapters look at the difficult issue of how to distinguish non-normalizing practices of the self from normalizing ones, and makes suggestions about how feminists might conceive of subjects as embodied and enmeshed in power relations yet also capable of self-transformation. The subject of normalization and its relationship to sex/gender is a major one in feminist theory; Heyes' book is unique in her masterful use of Foucault; its clarity, and its sophisticated mix of the theoretical and the anecdotal.

It will appeal to feminist philosophers and theorists.