Michel Foucault and the "care of the self" approach to the Buddhist dharma

Malcolm Voyce*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In line with a particular form of analysis as developed by Michel Foucault, this article proposes to elucidate a particular way of understanding Buddhist monastic culture as detailed in the rules concerning behaviour (the Vinaya), which may be called the "care of the self approach". To develop this argument, the article first describes the nature of the Vinaya as a "training scheme" rather than a system of prohibitions or rules. Second, it examines the nature of confession or what is called "truth telling". Third, it examines the nature of transgression of the Vinaya rules. Fourth, I examine the Vinaya and the role of ethics. Lastly, it is shown how these approaches to monastic Buddhism deal with the nature of the transformation of desire to construct what may be seen as a form of "ethical technology" or alternatively as a "transgressive technology".

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)410-424
Number of pages15
JournalSouth African Journal of Philosophy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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