The Use and Misuse of Pleasure: Hadot contra Foucault on the Stoic Dichotomy Gaudium-Voluptas in Seneca

  • Matteo Johannes Stettler Deakin University
Keywords: Pierre Hadot, Michel Foucault, Seneca, pleasure, joy, philosophy as a way of life

Abstract

Chapter II of Foucault's The Care of the Self, 'The Cultivation of the Self,' is arguably one of the most controversial sections of the entire History of Sexuality. The diatribe over this chapter was initially mounted by Pierre Hadot's critical essay 'Reflections on the Idea of the 'Cultivation of the Self." Therein, Hadot objects to Foucault’s dissolution of the Stoic doctrinal antinomy between voluptas ('pleasure') and gaudium ('joy') and, thereby, to the relegation of the latter notion to the subordinate status of 'another form of pleasure', on the one side, and of Seneca himself to the problematic rank of a sort of Epicurean on the other. The present investigation aims to unveil this aspect of the Foucault-Hadot querelle as only a pseudo-controversy engendered by Seneca recurring to two different terminological registers throughout his writings: the so-called verbum publicum and the significatio Stoica.

Author Biography

Matteo Johannes Stettler, Deakin University

Matteo Johannes Stettler is a Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy at Deakin University (Australia), and a Deakin University Postgraduate Research Scholarship (DUPRS) holder. He collaborates with the research groups “Philosophy as a Way of Life,” of the Pontificia Università Gregoriana of Rome, and “Forms of Life and Practices of Philosophy” (particularly the “Art of Living” line of research) of the NOVA Institute of Philosophy (IFILNOVA) of Lisbon, which he visited for a few months in 2022. Stettler has co-authored with Matthew Sharpe specialistic articles for Classical Receptions and Philosophy Today, and he has written essays, book reviews, and translations for a variety of non-specialist journals and magazines. His latest publication is “The τόπος of the Goods of Fortune in Consolatio II and III: How to Console and Exhort Boethius” for Aeuvm.

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Published
2022-12-29
How to Cite
Stettler, M. J. (2022). The Use and Misuse of Pleasure: Hadot contra Foucault on the Stoic Dichotomy Gaudium-Voluptas in Seneca. Foucault Studies, (33), 1-23. https://doi.org/10.22439/fs.vi33.6798
Section
Articles