Elämän itsensä politiikka

The Politics of Life Itself

This paper considers the implications of recent developments in the life sciences, biomedicine and biotechnology for contemporary biopolitics. It makes three main points. First, it argues that we have seen a reshaping of logics of control – contemporary biopolitics is risk politics. Second, it argues that we have seen a reshaping of the regime of truth in the life sciences – for contemporary biopolitics is molecular politics. Third it argues that we have seen a mutation in technologies of the self – for contemporary biopolitics is ethopolitics. The paper argues that the predictions of reductionism, determinism and geneticism made by many critics have proved to be partial and misleading. The old critical oppositions between social explanations (good) and biological explanations (bad) need to be discarded. The new molecular politics of life re-writes nature as itself manipulable, open to technique, not merely to eliminate defects but to create improvements by intervening upon the genetic material. The distinctions between therapy, correction and enhancement become blurred and difficult to make. The distinction between vital norms and social norms has also been thrown into question. On the one hand we have become somatic individuals and new and direct relations are established between biology and conduct. On the other hand, somatic and corporeal individuality has become opened up to choice, prudence and responsibility, to experimentation, to contestation and so to a "vital" politics.

Login Form