Technologies of the Other: Renewing ‘empathy’ between Foucault and psychoanalysis.

  • Andrea Lobb La Trobe University
Keywords: Technologies of the other, Foucault, Winnicott, empathy, autonomy

Abstract

This article expands Michel Foucault’s schema of the human ‘technologies’—those of production, signification, power and technologies of the self (Foucault, 1983)—to posit the existence of a fifth technological modality described here as technologies of the other. This refers to techniques and practices that facilitate the autonomy, not of the self, but of another person or persons. The specificity of these techniques of (other) care, I argue, is obscured in Foucault’s work in so far as they are subsumed as a ‘position’ within the technologies of the self, rather than afforded the status of a separate mode of technological practice in their own right. This not only misrecognizes their qualitative difference—the special kind of human ‘making’ they entail—but also allows for the dubious claim of an ‘ontological primacy’ of self-care when this is actually (at least ‘ontogenetically’) preceded by, and dependent upon, prior other-care. As one potential candidate or fragment of this alternative technological lineage, the paper revisits the writings on the psychoanalytic technique of empathy elaborated in the British Independent tradition of Donald Winnicott. It explores how these empathetic techniques engage in an ethics of ‘other-fashioning’—a necessary prelude to the emergence of capacities of autonomous ‘self-fashioning’—and suggests that such empathy can neither be encapsulated fully under the rubric of technologies of the self, nor read as isomorphic with the technologies of power.
Published
2015-12-19