Dall’habitus all’ethos

Orazio Irrera


Starting from Bourdieu’s critique to Foucault on the lack of a conception of the embodiment of schemes of perception, thought and action which the notion of habitus could instead allow to think, this paper aims at exploring the difference between Bourdieu’s and Foucault’s perspectives by highlighting the tension between two key ideas of their theoretical path, that is, habitus and ethos (understood as critical attitude). After comparing habitus and the Foucauldian notion of discipline, it deals with the alternative ways to approach power relationships depending on whether we use, in order to describe them, the notion of field or the theme of government by truth. This analysis allows to come back to the problem of the embodiment of social norms, of subjection, and of obedience in order to highlight how Bourdieu’s and Foucault’s insights bifurcate: while the former focuses on the notion of symbolic violence, the latter insists on the obligation of truth-telling about oneself. Finally, this paper shows how such an unevenness between habitus and ethos culminates in two divergent views on critique and on its relation to subjectivity and truth.



Habitus, Symbolic Violence, Truth, Subjectivation, Critique.

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