Foucault's genealogy of Christianity
2017-03-22T01:45:18Z (GMT) by
This thesis is an exploration of Michel Foucault's genealogy of Christianity. I argue that this important and under-appreciated aspect of his work is strongly influenced by Nietzsche's own anti-Christian writings on asceticism, priestly power and the death of God. Based on the texts currently available, I explicate in detail Foucault's perpetual and often ambivalent return to the confessional and pastoral apparatuses of the Church. I also explore how this work might relate to broader and increasingly prominent debates in Continental philosophy of religion. From Foucault's fragmented but unremitting attention to Christianity, one can reconstruct a relatively consistent genealogy of secularisation as 'Christianisation-in-depth' that is of central relevance to contemporary discussions of religion, power and the 'politics of ourselves.' My overall aim is to highlight the centrality to Foucault's work of his very Nietzschean genealogy of Christianity, to provide an initial assessment of its character, and to suggest some directions for further work exploring this element of Foucault's thought. For all its flaws and incompleteness, Foucault provides us with an essential analysis of Christianity's unique and shifting regime of subject-formation and its persistence and modification in secular modes of government and their social-scientific adjuncts.