In “Democratic Bodies, Biopolitically Correct,” Simona Forti puts forth and responds to the contention that now, more than ever, the private/public distinction no longer holds. Forti argues that the progressive democratization of visibility, is concomitant with the inclusion of questions that were once thought to pertain to the most private and intimate spheres as topics of public discussion and political decision. This democratization does not mean autonomy, but the replacement of one political, symbolic, and social order with another and its set of norms. Forti describes the situation at hand, in which the body is turned into the very focus of political light, and the current symbolic order pushes us to think and present our identities as primarily and ultimately bodily, somatic identities. She contends that the originality of our age lies in the centrality of the problem of a lack of plurality of images and the problem of the obsessive care of the body, both of which are preoccupied with the idea that a body must remain young. After demarcating the dangers of this situation, Forti then turns to Foucault’s final course on παρρησία and the Cynic thinkers as a way of representing a counterfactual element that has the potential to make the interruption of this state of affairs conceivable.
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Simona Forti is Professor of History and Political Philosophy at the University of Eastern Piedmont and Visiting Professor in the Department of French and Italian at Northwestern University. She is currently the President of the BIOS research center on biopolitics and bioethics at the Università del Piemonte Orientale and has served as the Italian member of the Coordinating International Committee of the European Science Foundation Network on The Politics and History of European Democratization for the European Science Foundation. She is author of The New Demons: Rethinking Evil and Power Today (Stanford, 2014) and The Government of Life: Michel Foucault and Neoliberalism (Fordham, 2013). In addition to numerous essays published in Italian, she has published a number of essays in English including “The Biopolitics of Souls: Racism, Nazism, and Plato,” Political Theory 34:1 (2006), and “Hannah Arendt’s Legacy at 100 Years of Her Birth,” Revista de Vienvia Politica 26:2 (2006).
Simona Forti, “Democratic Bodies, Biopolitically Correct,” Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 36:1 (2015), pp. 145–58.