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The care-of-self ethic with continual reference to Socrates: towards ethical self-management



‘Have you ever taken sufficient care of yourselves?’ By asking the elite Athenian youth this question, Socrates implies that the liberation of self and the capacity to govern are inseparable. Drawing on the lectures given by Michel Foucault at the Collège de France in 1984 – only recently made available to the public – we show the consequences of the return to this ancient care-of-self ethic in the organizational context. After reviewing the contributions made to business ethics by these two philosophers, we propose four phases necessary to the emergence and constitution of a moral subject in organizations: self-awakening, self-evaluation, self-transformation and self-presentation. We then suggest various managerial practices and behaviour inspired by this philosophical parrhesia embodied by the Greek philosopher wherein the manager should have a personal relationship with his or her own activity. Finally, we discuss implications of our study in the field of business ethics and propose an agenda for future research.