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International Journal of Transpersonal Studies

Abstract

While Michel Foucault is chiefly known for his historical relativism and his critique of modern institutional power over the individual, his late writings, as further extended by Pierre Hadot, centered on the post-Socratic spiritual practices of the experience of here and now presence or Being in the Stoics, Epicureans, and Cynics. For Foucault the positive, expansive self-actualization common to these traditions, and contrasting with Christian self-renunciation, offers a guidance for a contemporary spiritual crisis in valuation of the person. For Hadot each of the post-Socratic traditions was based on the imitation and further development of key characteristics of Socrates, much as the charismatic figure of Jesus inspired the multiple forms of earliest Christianity. These post-Socratic practices of the Hellenistic-Roman era are examples of what Max Weber termed a this- or inner-worldly mysticism, in contrast to both the more other-worldly mysticisms of the East and the Judeo- Christian prophetical traditions, and saw as the most likely line of spiritual renewal in the modern secularized West. Examples of this form of spirituality are reflected in the Sufi influenced Gurdjieff-Ouspensky movement, Jung’s Self, Maslow’s self-actualization, and the Diamond-Heart approach of Almaas. Foucault and Hadot locate its specifically Western historical geneaology, which, given Jung’s controversial concerns over adopting spiritualities outside one’s own cultural tradition, may offer some context and direction amidst presently contending New Age and transpersonal spiritual understandings.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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