Philosophy Today 65 (1):163-181 (2021)

Brian Lightbody
Brock University
In his book Foucault and Religion, Jeremy Carrette presents a compelling argument against Foucault’s genealogical method (what he terms “relations of force”). In brief, Carrette holds that while Foucault’s genealogical method effectively unmasked the origins of “rationality” and “madness,” it was less successful when explaining the materialization of “the spiritual.” Foucault’s analysis of spiritual practices is at best functional and, according to Carrette, fails to explain the psychophysical state of subjects engaged in religious customs. In the following paper, I argue that Carrette is correct; there are limitations to Foucault’s genealogical method, especially when explaining subjectivization processes, such as conversion experiences. However, I demonstrate that we can perform a successful genealogical investigation of the spiritual by adding an additional lens of analysis to “the relations of power” and “the relations of meaning” Foucault employs. I call this lens “the relations of affect.” I use this tool to explain Augustine’s transformative process, as observed in the saint’s Confessions.
Keywords Foucault  Augustine  Nietzsche  Genealogy  Conversion
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.5840/philtoday2021225389
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 59,848
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Spiritual Ecology.Philip Merklinger - 2008 - Philosophy and Theology 20 (1/2):199-225.
Spiritual Ecology: A Preliminary Sketch.Philip Merklinger - 2008 - Philosophy and Theology 20 (1/2):199-225.


Added to PP index

Total views
11 ( #810,198 of 2,433,036 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
11 ( #60,183 of 2,433,036 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes