Philosophy as a “Spiritual Exercise.”

As of late, I’m trying to gain a better understanding of what I’ve been doing for the last ten years–viz., teaching philosophy. In other words, what does teaching philosophy amount to? In fact, I’m unclear about what I do as teacher that is well received by my students. When preparing to teach Foucault this last semester, the following quote popped out at me. (I’m not sure why. I’ll have to get back to you on that.)

“For Foucault himself philosophy was a spiritual exercise, an exercise of oneself in which one submitted oneself to modifications and tests, underwent changes, in order to learn to think differently.”

(Arnold Davidson. “Ethics as Aesthetics” in the Cambridge Companion to Foucault. Page 123.)


About Dan Sorensen

In general, concerned with excellence. In particular: Opinions. Food. Artistic Process. Customer Service. Music. Media. Bullshit.
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5 Responses to Philosophy as a “Spiritual Exercise.”

  1. Dan Sorensen says:

    A ha moment! May this blog be such an exercise!

  2. Yes, in this sense I think all writing — all expression — is a spiritual exercise, including our humble blogs. Even when your thoughts do not resonate with your audience, you have done the crucial thing by expressing them.

    Look forward to seeing more.


    • Dan Sorensen says:

      Hi Jake,

      I agree, with one qualification. While the expression of one’s thought in a public medium is crucial (i.e., testing out one’s thoughts in a blog or a classroom), thinking must be directed toward some “goal,” or better still, take some path. (Note that some paths lead nowhere.) I’m trying to get clearer about the path that my thinking/teaching has taken for the last ten years. Where has it gotten me? Where hasn’t it gotten me?



  3. Geoff Roseborough says:

    If anything, a chance to view the world differently and in ways I might not have before has been the biggest thing I’ve taken from your teaching. May not have been the most relevant class I’ve taken, but it’s one of the more personally important one’s I’ve been in.

    “One day we reach our goal, and now point with pride to the long travels we undertook to reach it. In fact, we were not even aware of traveling. But we got so far because we fancied at every point that we were at home.” – Nietzsche

    • Dan Sorensen says:

      Hi Geoff,

      Thanks for stopping by blog! Right now things are a bit rough and underdeveloped. Know this: slowly, but surely, I’ll get this blog up to snuff.

      What’s more, thank you for sharing what you found of value or benefit from my teaching style. You seem to be hinting at what’s the big value behind studying philosophy: Does philosophy have extrinsic/instrumental value? Or is its value solely intrinsic? (In your words: “relevant v. personally important.”)

      Love the Nietzsche quote. I’ll ponder that for a bit.


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