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As these terminological differentiations concerning modernity already suggest, there are some crucial differences between Kant's and Baudelaire's critical insights - differences that I am convinced must be taken up in order to fully understand Foucault's position in this specifically modern network of ideas. I will emphasize three points in my analysis of these differences.

2. Foucauldian enlightenment: the pluralization of reason

Key WordsEnlightenment, Kant, Baudelaire, modernity, aesthetics of the self, feminism

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Seen in this light, one of the central critical goals of the Foucauldian aesthetics of the self is to support and strengthen the existential possibilities of various excluded groups (women and sexual minorities, for example) to sound out on their own. In this respect, his aesthetic theorizations have an explicitly political character: They work to re-define identity as a site for cultural resistance and individual autonomy that might pave the way for alternative styles of living and identification.

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In my view, Foucault's late writings on the aesthetics of the self attempted to develop a critical alternative for this sort of "aestheticization" of the subject by looking more intensively at possible forms of active resistance that could strengthen individual autonomy and also effect changes in social conditions. What he offers, I suggest, is in some respects a more positive account of the subject, who might also transgress the limits of bio-power through the search for alternatives to modern self-subjugation.

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6. The aesthetic subject: on the edges of high and low

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8. The advantages of Foucault's late aesthetics for feminism

Foucault's interest in bringing together the critical aspects of the Kantian Enlightenment and Baudelaire's notion of modernity might, at first sight, seem surprising. However, it should be noted that, just as the idea of the Enlightenment is not restricted by Kant to his own time, Baudelairean modernity should not be regarded as a mere periodizing label, despite its strong historical connections to late-19th-century European reality and aesthetics. What Baudelaire means by modernity is each present in its presentness, in other words, the present in its purely instantaneous quality (doomed to become antiquity in the future), which also contains an element of the eternal (or classical). In this sense, as Foucault bears out, Baudelaire's analysis of modernity contains elements that are applicable to various other historical phases of modernity as well, including our own time.

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Jana Sawicki, (New York: Routledge, 1991), p. 11.

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