Human Studies

, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 527–544 | Cite as

Two Kinds of Awareness: Foucault, the Will, and Freedom in Somatic Practice

  • Cressida J. HeyesEmail author
Theoretical / Philosophical Paper


This essay identifies two kinds of awareness of one’s body that occur in a variety of literatures: awareness as psychologically or spiritually enabling or therapeutic, and awareness as undesirable self-consciousness of the body. Drawing on Foucault’s account of normalizing judgment, it argues that these two forms of awareness are impossible to separate, if that separation is into authentic versus extrinsic somatic experience. Nonetheless, awareness is an important component of embodied freedom, but a freedom understood with Spinoza and Nietzsche as grounded in necessity rather than only in the will, and with Arendt and Foucault as a practice rather than an achievement of a sovereign subject. Somatic practices grounded in awareness and acceptance of the body’s necessities, along with attention to the I-can (rather than the I-will) cultivate a form of embodied freedom that bridges care of the self and the political.


Awareness Foucault Freedom Will Body 


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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