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Taylor, Foucault, and Otherness

Taylor, Foucault, and Otherness

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Source: Connolly, Wiliam. 1985. "Taylor, Foucault, and Otherness." Political Theory 13 (3): 365-376. from JSTOR database.
Source: Connolly, Wiliam. 1985. "Taylor, Foucault, and Otherness." Political Theory 13 (3): 365-376. from JSTOR database.

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Taylor, Foucault, and OthernessAuthor(s): William E. ConnollySource:
Political Theory,
Vol. 13, No. 3 (Aug., 1985), pp. 365-376Published by:
Stable URL:
Accessed: 11/02/2011 22:22
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MICHELFOUCAULT:NEXCHANGEI.TAYLOR,FOUCAULT,ANDOTHERNESS
WILLIAME.CONNOLLYTheJohnsHopkinsUniversity
OUCAULT,accordingtoTaylor,identifiesmodesofsubjuga-tionpoorlyunderstoodorthinlydocumentedinpreviouscriticalaccounts,but the Nietzscheanperspectivethatgovernsthisaccount,althoughsupportingresistancetodomination,seversthe moral nerveofcollective efforts toimprovethe modern condition.At ahighlevelofgenerality,Iconcurwith thisjudgment.And,asanyonewouldexpectwho has readhispreviouswork,Taylorilluminatesdarkcorners of socialtheoryas hestrivestodislodgetheviableelementsofFoucault'sthoughtfrom aperspectivethat seems todepreciateapoliticsof socialimprovement.ButIalsocontend, first,thatthetranslationof Foucaultianrhetoric intoTayloresqueformulationsobscures distinctivefea-turesof Foucault'sthoughtand,second,that once thisobscurityislifted,the successofTaylor's critiqueof Foucaultwilldependlesson the claim that thetheoryis"ultimatelyincoherent"and moreonTaylor'sabilityto defendhisown affirmationsfrom Foucaultiandecomposition.Foucault'sdocumentarystudies aredesigned,Ibelieve,tosupportanontologicalthesis withpoliticalimplications.The characterofthisthesis andthewayinwhichitisadvanced are thefirstquestionstobeposedinanengagementwithFoucault.In"TheOrderofDiscourse,"whileopposingtherationalistideaofafoundingsubject,thephenomenologicalenterprise,andtheHeideggerianquestforBeing,Foucault asserts:"Wemust notimaginethat thereisagreatuniversal oragreatunthoughtwhich runsthroughouttheworldandintertwineswith allitsforms andallits
POLITICALTHEORY,Vol.13No.3,August1985365-376?1985SagePublications,Inc.
365
 
366POLITICALTHEORY/AUGUST1985
events,and which we have to articulateor to think at last."1 Andinoppositiontoanyontologythat containsteleologicalelements,
Wemust notimaginethatthe world turns towardusalegiblefacewhichwewouldhaveonlytodecipher;the worldisnottheaccompliceof our knowl-edge;thereisnoprediscursiveprovidencewhichpredisposestheworld in ourfavor. Wemust conceivediscourseas aviolencewhichwe do tothings,or,inanycaseas apracticewhich weimposeon them.2
What is theforce of the"is"andthe"must" inthesestatements?Theclaim-Iuse aNietzscheanterm of artherewithsufficientambiguitytoavoidbeingdrawnimmediatelyintothe circle ofepis-temologywithinwhich criticsstrive toenclose Foucault'sthought-isthat there ismore tobeingthanknowingandthatthe advance oftheknowledgeenterpriseinto newcornersoflife isthe advance simul-taneouslyofsubjectification,normalization,anddisciplinarycontrol.Theclaim,inshort,is that the willto truththatgovernsmodernityisthewillto extenddiscipline,toimposeformover that which wasnotdesignedtoreceiveit. And the"claim" is notsimplyaknowledgeclaim,althoughit isintimatelyconnectedtoclaimsaboutknowledge.Foucaultadoptstwointerlocking strategiestosupportthisclaim.First,thereis,asinthechapterinTheOrderof Thingsentitled"Manand hisDoubles,"anarchaeologicalaccountofhow modern under-standingsoffinitude-oflife,labor,andlanguage-eventuallycalltranscendental andteleologicalperspectivesintoquestionfromwithin. Inmodern discoursewewitness "theinterminableto andfroof a doublesystemof reference:ifman'sknowledgeisfinite,itisbecause he istrapped,withoutpossibilityofliberation,within thepositivecontentoflanguage,labor,andlife,andconversely,iflife,labor,andlanguage maybepositedin theirpositivity,itisbecauseknowledgehasfiniteforms."3In thissettingeveryarticulation ofthoughtpresupposestheunthoughtfrom whichitdraws nourishmentand,conversely,that which nourishesthoughtmustalways escapefullarticulation.Theperpetuation bythoughtof theunthoughtprovidesmaterial from which foundational theoriescan bestrippedoftheir foundationalpretensions.Foucault'sthoughtatthisarchaeologicallevel doesnotseektodefeat an orientation suchasTaylor's.Rather,itidentifiestheterrainuponwhich moderncriticsofepistemologicalfoundationalism(suchasHeidegger, Taylor,Foucault,Blumenberg,andRorty) compete

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