McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Ascetic Practices, Freedom, Happiness, Immanuel Kant, Michel Foucault, The Subject
In this dissertation I consider the question, "Is it possible to think the subject qua subject or must any theoretical attempt to understand the subject necessarily reify it?" To answer this question, I appealed to Immanuel Kant's distinction between theoretical and practical reason, noting that practical reason could think the subject as a free soul rather than as a naturally-determined object. I then divided the sciences of the subject into four general types to determine which science could think the subject qua subject. Three sciences were shown to necessarily reify the subject: empirical psychology, rational psychology, and heteronomous ethics. I then paralleled Kant's insight with Michel Foucault's analyses of the human sciences, showing the concrete consequences of objectification. Using Foucault's work on ethical practice and askesis as a guide, I returned to Kant and explained how practical reason can think the subject qua subject only insofar as it considers the subject as something to be made rather than a theoretical object to know. I then posed the question, Ã¢â‚¬Å“What are the necessary conditions for someone to be a subject of possible experience?Ã¢â‚¬ï¿½ which led into a Kantian-inspired theory of love and intersubjectivity. Finally, I concluded that contemporary psychology is mired in an impasse between happiness and freedom, insofar as therapeutic practice is no longer an ethic. I suggest the need for a practical psychology to solve this impasse.
Valentine, M. (2016). Kant With Foucault: On The Dangers Of The Theoretical Reification Of The Subject To Freedom And The Need For A Practical Psychology (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/1527