Self-Knowledge and Self-Care in the Age of Genetic Manipulation

  • Michela Betta
Part of the International Library of Ethics, Law, and the New Medicine book series (LIME, volume 30)

In this final chapter, we will explore the centrality of ethical practices in the knowledge culture. In the course of this analysis, I will try to describe the opportunities evoked by the ‘‘new genetics’’ as a practice that strengthens the autonomy and well-being of the self. Here I will argue that social life can be improved or even made possible through practices informed by ethics rather than by law. A life guided by ethical practices bases on two fundamental pillars: self-care or the need to care for the self; and self-knowledge or the need to know the truth about oneself. An analysis of the shift that may lead from control to self-governance seems an unavoidable task if we are to understand the condition of possibilities of cultural changes. Changes do not simply target individuals. They go through them investing the body, its spiritual dimension, and its resources, and conversely, they are made possible by the individual’s needs to expand.


Human Growth Hormone Ethical Practice Genetic Enhancement Spiritual Dimension Ethical Subject 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Foucault, M. 1989 [1969]. The Archaeology of Knowledge. London: Routledge, 274–318.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    This phenomenon has exhaustively been explored in Rose, N. 1989. Governing the Soul of the Private Self. London/New York: Free Association Books.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Foucault, M. 1988. The Care of the Self: The History of Sexuality, Vol. 3. London: Allen Lane.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Starkey, K. and McKinlay, A. 1998. Afterword: deconstructing organization—discipline and desire. In McKinley, A. and Starkey, K. (eds.) Foucault, Management and Organization Theory. London: Sage, 230–241.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Foucault, The Care of the Self, ibid., 39–68, 81–144.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Foucault, M. 1988. Technologies of the self. Martin, L. H., Gutman, H., and Hutton, P. H. (eds.), Technologies of the Self: A seminar with Michel Foucault. Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 16–49, specifically 18–22, 31–49.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Conrad, P. and Potter, D. 2004. Human growth hormone and the temptations of biomedical enhancement. Sociology of Health & Illness 26 (2): 184–215, specifically 185–187, 200–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    The two authors draw on studies that go back to the 1950s, and specifically refer to Dubos, R. 1959. Mirage of Health. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Jonas, H. 1987. Technik, Medizin und Ethik. Praxis des Prinzips Verantwortung. Frankfurt, Suhrkamp. I refer to p. 195 of the German version.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Powell, J. L. and Biggs, S. 2004. Ageing, technologies of self and bio-medicine: a Foucauldian excursion. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy 24 (6): 17–29, specifically 20–21, 24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michela Betta
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Business and EnterpriseSwinburne University of TechnologyVICAustralia

Personalised recommendations