Heidegger and Foucault on the subject, agencycourses

of autonomous agency. Yet neither denies the importance of human freedom. In Heidegger's early work the subject is reinterpreted as Dasein -- a non autonomous, culturally bound (or thrown) way of being, that can yet change the field of possibilities in which it acts. In middle Heidegger, thinkers alone have the power to disclose a new world, while in later Heidegger, anyone is free to step back from the current world, to enter one of a plurality of worlds, and, thereby, facilitate a change in the practices of one's society. Likewise, for early Foucault, the subject is reduced to a function of discourse; for middle Foucault, writing can open up new worlds, and in later Foucault, freedom is understood as the power to question what is currently taken for granted, plus the capacity to change oneself and, perhaps, one's milieu. In short, while both Heidegger and Foucault reject the Enlightenment idea of an autonomous subject, they have a robust notion of freedom and action. And it will turn out for both thinkers that each person can modify his or her cultural practices by openness to embeddedness in them. All this needs a great deal of explanation. We need to determine, on the one hand, just what each rejects and why, and, on the other, what series of understandings of the self and its possibilities for action each introduces.
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