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A Foucauldian Concept of Ethics

. Dr. T. Mary Manonmani Associate Professor of English St. Mary’s College (Autonomous)Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu Affiliated to Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Abishekapatti Tirunelveli 627012, Tamil Nadu.


This paper explores the evolution  of ‘ethics’ in course of time and how it influences the life of humankind.  The paper also deals how the great French Philosopher and psychiatrist Michael Foucault considers  ethics as being developed on the basis of the continuity of  events that occurred in history and how the discontinuities that had happened in the past were conveniently forgotten.  Ethics hence changes its face now and then and it depends on the history and culture.  Foucault states that each man has got his own ethics, “Man prescribes rules for his judgement, which is logic, for his discourse, which is grammar, for his desires, which is ethics. He then believes himself to have reached the summit of theory”.  If the discontinuities were registered through ‘situation based discourses’ with ‘case based reasoning’, then, ethics might have been changed then and there and there would not have been necessity for cosmic concern. 

     Discourse is not like a confession or well prepared lecture that is spoken with introduction and warning.  The knowledge gained from that kind of speech or actions is to be registered and written that may link the discontinuities in history.  Unless the like events that are occurring at different places and times are recorded brought into history they will be termed as uncommon (a discontinuity) and would be forgotten. 

According to Foucault, “morality” is the real behaviour of individuals in relation to the rules and values.  Following or resisting a set of codes is one’s morality.  Ethics is freedom to have one’s morality. If many individuals have same type of morality there the ethics of the people is uniform and it becomes a continuity. On the other hand the deviation in morality becomes discontinuity.

     Key Words: Ethics, Discourse, Continuities, Discontinutities, Historians, Morality

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