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Foucault and the KamasutraThe Courtesan, the Dandy, and the Birth of Ars Erotica as Theater in India$
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Sanjay K. Gautam

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226348308

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226348582.001.0001

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Foucault and the Kāmasūtra: Parting Ways

Foucault and the Kāmasūtra: Parting Ways

(p.204) 7 Foucault and the Kāmasūtra: Parting Ways
Foucault and the Kamasutra

Sanjay K. Gautam

University of Chicago Press

Postscript focuses on the parting of the ways between Foucault and the Kamasutra by way of a brief critical evaluation of Foucault’s turn in the last years of his life to the notions of truth and self as his major concerns, even as he abandoned the concept of ars erotica anchored in pleasure as an event of desubjectivation. Surprisingly, however, this well-known and much-discussed turn in Foucault’s work has not been approached by Foucauldian scholars from the perspective of the fate of the concepts of pleasure and ars erotica, and desubjectivation. The notion of ars erotica and pleasure, which Foucault had so painstakingly developed in the early years of his work on sexuality, did not survive their contact with Greek philosophy, the primary archive and source of categories for Foucault’s research in his last years. After all, it was Greek philosophy, grounded in truth and self that had claimed to have overcome pleasure—and thus aborted the very possibility of ars erotica in the West. In contrast to the Kāmasūtra’s vision of a society based on art and aesthetics, Foucault retreated to the practices of the self; for him art and aesthetics became a medium of one’s relationship with oneself.

Keywords:   art, dandy, Foucault, Kāmasūtra, nātyaśāstra, self, truth

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