On Being and Becoming: Experiential Ethics
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In this document I discuss the techniques employed by young adults in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in order to make themselves into morally acceptable persons for the rest of society, and attain a certain state of happiness and perfection. Through the stories of my Mongolian peers, and an analysis of Foucauldian ethics, I argue that experiencing this ethical transformation consists in resolving the paradox lurking between becoming and being, and liberating mental space in which change can happen. Focusing mainly on the Buddhist and shamanist personal ethical experiences of my informants, I argue that Foucauldian conception of ethics builds upon a fundamentally distinct dualist philosophical tradition of 'becoming'. And conversely, the main technology of the self I found in Mongolia is characterized by the letting go of the technologies themselves, abandoning the never-ending neurotic struggle for change, and abiding to what 'is' in a spiritual sense.