Just adding a few notes to yesterday’s post… Foucault mentions Freud, of course, as one the inheritors of the ideas of Epictetus and Cassian, but we could also include St Ignatius Loyola in this lineage with the intricate structures and practices he constructed around the ‘discernment of spirits’. ‘Discernment’ is the term retained from this phrase in an age generally sceptical (except in New Age circles) of the existence of a whole other world of spirits.
this site administered by the Loyola Press describes Loyola’s ‘practices of the self’ as follows:
Discernment of spirits is the interpretation of what St. Ignatius Loyola called the “motions of the soul.” These interior movements consist of thoughts, imaginings, emotions, inclinations, desires, feelings, repulsions, and attractions. Spiritual discernment of spirits involves becoming sensitive to these movements, reflecting on them, and understanding where they come from and where they lead us.
Ignatius set up a list of 22 rules for discernment – which would bring him into line with Epictetus’ rule based approach as well.
One might also mention in this context of the spiritual training of the mind, Eastern practices of ‘mindfulness’ which have been imported into Western culture via systems such as yoga and New Age meditation practices.