XF Seminar Postmortem
The topic of virtue, or character, arises when we take this sea of trivialities — of habits, of unconscious desires and drives, of subtle incentives — as being itself the material of ethics. It’s a matter of recognizing those forces that “corrupt” our judgement and capacity for judgement (in the sense in which we often say that “money corrupts”, for example), forces that form and deform our selfhood, and going to work on them, as a way of achieving a kind of mediated self-mastery. We might never be fully transparent to ourselves, but there are many ways of approaching ourselves from the outside — in all our opacity — and shaping the elements that shape us.
The XFM looks, briefly, at the collective dimension of the problem of cultivating virtue, and asks us to consider not just the content of our politics when we weigh them in the balance, but their pragmatic effects as well — not just what they explicitly ask of a subject, but the kinds of subjectivity that they work to shape, in practice. What habits must these discourses (or “memeplexes”) instill in us in order perpetuate themselves? What kind of moral agents and patients do they make us? That sort of thing.
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