Reflections on a Critical Genealogy of the Experience of Poverty

Edward F. McGushin
Stonehill College
The persistence of poverty is one of the great problems of our times. In this paper I want to show how we can use Michel Foucault’s work to recast thisproblem through a genealogy of the political rationality within which it appears. Foucault’s genealogies present us with at least three irreducible experiences of poverty: 1) the philosophical care of the self where poverty is a goal to be attained; 2) the religious sacralization of the poor and charity; and 3) the bio-political project in which poverty is a social disease to be cured or purged or a resource to be exploited. Foucault offers us the hope of resisting the danger of bio-politics, the cynical logic that stigmatizes the poor for their poverty and places them in apparatuses that treat them like a social disease, a moral failure, or a subhuman form of life.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Conference Proceedings  History of Philosophy  Philosophy and Religion
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ISBN(s) 0065-7638
DOI acpaproc20057921
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