Future Lessons (futurelessons) wrote in learnphilosophy,
Future Lessons
futurelessons
learnphilosophy

Life as a beautiful aesthetic ideal.

I've read a few passages of Foucault and I've read some of Wilde's works: both suggest that one can (and should) live so that one's life IS a work of art.

For example: It was a question of knowing how to govern one’s own life in order to give it the most beautiful form (in the eyes of others, of oneself, and of the future generations for which one might serve as an example). That is what I tried to reconstitute: the formation and development of a practice of self whose aim was to constitute oneself as the worker of the beauty of one’s own life. (Foucault, ‘The Concern for Truth’, p. 259)

My naive question is: what do they mean when they say 'life'? Do they mean the biographic sum of a person's life (she went to school here, then she met Mr. D, then she went to work in the banking industry for 5 years, before going to live in the Solomons, then she got married to Mr F etc) or the manner in which a person approaches their day-to-day life.

In other words, is it your entire life as it may stand in a biography or a novel that should be aesthetically pleasing, or just how you are living now, in terms of personality?

Also, Wilde suggests that art without meaning is just as valid as art. How does he apply this to a life? Does he wish us to live a life which seems beautiful but actually isn't? Deceit and so on? Style over substance? To me, The Picture of Dorian Gray seems to attack the idea of living such a life - the portrait, after all, becomes ugly.

As you can tell, I'm rather confused about this aestheticism and making your life into a work of art concept of Foucault, Wilde, and some of the other aesthetes. Help! :)
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