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WHAT IS CRITIOUE? AN ESSAYON FOUCAULT'SVIRTUE

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Wliat is it to offcr :r critiqr-rc?This is sonrcthing tliat, I rvotrld wa{-{cr,nrost of us tuidcrstand in sonrc ordinlrl' scnsc. Iltrt nrattcrs bccc.lnrcrl)ovc vcxing if lvc attcl)rpt to clistirrguish bct',vccrt .r critiquc of this or thlt position end crititluc it\ A nr()rc setrcralizecl practicc, onc thrt nright bc dcscribccl 'uvithout rct.:rcncc to its spccific objccts. Clrr rvc cvcn ask such a clucstiorl about thc gcncralizcd charactcr of critiquc rvithout gcsturinu toward ur cssenccof criticltrc?And if wc achicvcd thc gcncralizcd picttrrc, oflc-rins sou)ething which approachcsa philosophy of criticluc, woultl wc thcn losc thc vcrry clistinctiorrbctw'ccu philosophy and criticluc that operatcs as part of thc dcfinition of critiqtrc itsclf? Critiquc is ahvays a critiquc o/ sonrc institutcd practicc, ciiscottrsc,cpistctnc, institution, uncl it loscs its charactcr thc nronrcnt in r.r'hich it is abstractcdfl'onr its opcration and nr:rdc to stanc-l alone .rsa purcly qcncraliz:rblcpracticc. lJtrt if this is tnlc. tliis docs not nrcan that no qcncralizations:rrc possiblc or that, indccd, ()n thc contmry, wc trcad hcrc in:u) arca of cc>nstrainccl \\'c:trc nrirccl in plrtictrl;rrisrrts. q c n c r a l i t v , o n c r l ' h i c h b r o u c h c s t h c p h i l o s o p h i c a l ,b t r t n r u s t , i f i t i s t o r c r n a i n c r i t i c a l , rcrtr:rin at l distlncc fronr thrt vclv :rchicvcnrcrrt. Thc cssayI oficr hcrc is about Foucault, btrt lct nrc bcgin bv susscsting lvhat I takc tcr bc an intcrcsting p:rrallcl bctn'ccn what l\aynroncl Willi.rnis and ThcocJor Aclomcr, irr cliffcrcrrt \v:lys, sottqht to :lcconrplish unclcr thc nrtnrc of "criticisnr" ;urd what Folrc:rult sc-rughtto trnclcrstarrcl by "critiquc." I nraintain tl-r:it sonlcthin!a oi Folrcatrlt's or,vn coutributi()11 to, anc{ alliancc rvith. .r prosrcssivc 1-roliticll philosophy rvill bc nraclc clcar in thc coursc of tlic conrp:rrison. l{:tt'nrond Willianrs r,vorricd th:rt thc notion of criticisnr h:tsbccn uncltrh' rcstrictccltc> thc trotiort of "f.tttlt-firrdinq"l .t,t.l proposccl that u,c find :r voclbulary for thc kinds of r c s p o l r s c s\ , c h : ' r \ , cs p c c i f i c a l l r , t oc u l t u r a l u ' o r k s , " r v h i c h I d o l n o t i l s s u n r c h c h a b i t ( o r \ , t richt or cltrtr') r-rfjuclgnrcnt." Ancl rvlrat hc callccl firr \\'irs;l nl()rc spccific kincl of rcspor)sc,ollc that dicl not gcncralizc too cltrickl),: "rvhet ah,vlys ncccls to bc unclcrstoocl," hc r,vrotc, "is thc spccificity of thc rcsporlsc. which is not a jr-rcJgnrcnt. btrt a pntcticc." I bclicvc this 1;rst linc ;tlso nrtrks thc tr:tlcctory of Fotrc:urlt'sthinking on this u t o 1 ' r i c s i n c c " c r i t i c l t r c " i s p r c c i s c l ) , a p r a c t i c c t h a t r r o t o n l y s u s p c n c ljs d * r n c n t f i r r h i n r . , b u t o f f c ' r s ; l n c \ \ ' p r r l c t r c c t l f v . r l l r c s . r s c co n t h : l t v c l } ' s u s p c r r s i o r r . b {

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asit rverc.asits own constitLltivcocclusion. I n 1 9 7 8 F o u c a r .ttir.rcstioning'uvhich rvill provc ccntral to thc activity of critique itsclf-. Siqnificantly. thc claim to a nlorc profotrncl knowledgc of thc objcct.vhcthcr thc lctivitics in which wc cn!4atrc arc realizinsccrtain kincls of norni." For critiquc to operatc rispart of a praxis. thc scparation oi thc icica ti-onr its objcct through thc inclcpcndcncc of thc criticaljudunrerrt thrcatcns to strccurnb to thc thingiikc tbrnr of thc objcct'uvhcn cultural criticisrri appcalsto a collcction of idc:lsor-rdisplay.but cnacts a ccrtuir.rclistanccon thc naturllizcd rvorld cln bc liacl.+ and fbr politics r-rotonly to h:rvc a clc:rr rrinr ancl rlonlrativc nspirltion. ' r . In nrekinrltliis kind oi criticisnr of critiqtrc.ls collununicativc :rction. but sccks to undcrstand thc kind of question that critiquc institutes. .rtivclv jr. indccd. Lrut t?rr us to bc ablc fo cv:rlurrtccLrrrcntpracticcs irr tcnns of tlicir abilitics tr>rcach thosc rtolls.r ccrtair.how tl-rcficld of knolvlcdgc is ordercd. the task of exposing thosc "constcllations of powcr" is inrpcr-lecl thc rush to "judgnrcnf" as thc excnrplary act of criticlue. . for not onlv. Flabcrrrras bccanrc curiously lrncritic. Wh:rt rcnr:rins perhaps t. ir-rorclcr to supplv a fbtrndation ior critic:rl tl-rcory. is to try to think thc problcrn of ficccJonr :rnd.lc -'cl -' l-l IC of cflort. is thc questiotr fonn in which thc rnatter is put.v.vcll-knorvn css:ly. asit vncre.vavto :r stronqcr lrorlnativc tl-rcory.rnt about that lccturc. I u'ould suqqcst that what Foucault sccks to clo r.94). Thc pcrspcctivc of cvllu. bcyond judenrcnt: c-ritical thinking constitutes this kind . constituting e "'nvithdrar.rl about is d. . rtncl cvcn cstlblish pcrspcctives by which .rstificdgoals. and thc rnorc dcvclopcd cssaythat followcd. . Judgnrcnts opcratc for both tliinkcrs as ways to subsunrc particular undcr an alrcaclvcor. of judgine intcllcctual phcrlonlena in a su[rsunlptivc. thc vcry opcration of judgnrcllt scrvcs to scparatc thc critic frour thc social rvorldat hancl.What bcconrcs cspccially inrportentfor Foucetrlt in this donrain.and fbtishizesisolatcd catcgorics." Adonro rvritcs that thc critic's "r"ry sovcrcignty. to in rlt . l p i c c c t h e t t "What is Enlightcnn'rcnt?" (19. For by Adortro. thc practicc of criticluc is not rcduciblc to arriving at judunrcr-rts (and expressinu thcnr). and so thc clucstion not ottlv poscsthc problcrn . lJtrt norlc of tl-rcsc activitics can tcll us in r.r ld c l i v c r c d : r l c c t u r c c r r t i t l c d .cnabline strorlll rrornr:rtivc-jtrdgrncntsto bc utadc.in his vicr.1C us frt fr\ . fbr Adorno.. and how what it supprcsses rctunrs.fbr Willi:uns.vith tl-ris cltrcstion is sottrcthinqquitc diftcrent fronr what wc havc pcrhaps conlc to cxpcct fronr criticluc. Indccd. indcccl."'So.val fronr pr:rxis.'lt Jc TO of JT of r:l Lis n.nostinrport. Hcr.'cl rl.vhritdircction u'c ouqht to nlovc. uninfbrnrcd and administrativcrlranncr rrnd assimilatingthcnr into thc prcvailir-ruconstcllations of po'vver lvhich thc intellcct oucht to exposc. Adonro nrakcs a sirnilar clainr when hc rvritcs of tl-re "drlgcr.rstitutcd a catcuory.ttrrodc of qr.W H A T I S C R I T I O U EO N F O U C A U L T ' S I R T U E i V 213 So. is ablc to c:rll fbunc-lationsintt-r clncstion. cthics in gcncral. nor c:ur thcv tcll us r. dcnatr-rrllizc soc:ialand political iricrarchy. is for it to apprchcnd thc ways in rvhich catcgorics arc thcnrselvcs institutcd.Hc prep:rrcd thc'u'u'ay his nrorc r.rskswhat critiquc is.in his vicw. " W h a t i s C r i t i q u c ? " .a nlovc rvhich dcratifics thc rcsults of its owu opcration. aspirc to clo?.vu'hatis this critiquc that wc supposcdly do or. whereas critiquc asks:rftcr thc occlusivcconstitutiol) of thc ficld of catcgoricsthcnrsclvcs. Habcntr:ts ntlclc tltc opcratior-rof cnticluc quitc problcnraric whcrr hc sugecstcd th:rt a rnovebcyond critical thcory was rcquircd if we arc to scck rccoursc to nonns in nraking juderrrcnts about socill conclitions :rnd social goals.critical thcory haclto givc r.c criticltrc.offcrine sonle tcntiltivc rvays of circunrsc-ribingits activity. For thc very clucstion "what is critiquc?" is an instancc of thc critical cntcrprisc in qucstion.rcc. such .

if not irnpossibler. fornrs of knowledge. Critique will be dependent on its objects. to of cthics within mcan by "prod revcal. but to bring into rclicf thc very framcwork of evaluation itself. is that cc-rtainry orchestrated by forn-rsof knowledge prccisely in ordcr to forcclosc thc possibiliry of thinking otherwise? Now. Paradoxically. with discourses havr norlrlative viev impassc from v For Foucau happcn to be. however. Whereas somc havc dismissedhinr as an aestheteor. or whicl would ask fbr 1 certain altloun requircd that r runrinatiotr. if wc don't know in advance that thinking otherwise will produce a better world? If wc do not have a nroral franrework in which to dccidc with knowingncss that ccrtain ncw possibilities or ways of thinking othcrwisc will bring forth that world whosc bcttcrncss wc can judgc by surc and alrcady cstablisherd standards?This has beconre sorncthing of a regular rcjoindcr to Foucault and thc Foucaultian-nrindcd. indeed. "By its function. but its objects will in turn define thc vc'ry mcaning of critique. the primary task of critique will not be to its objects social conditions. he warns us at the outset that critique will not be one thing. in this essay.214 J U D I T HB U T L E R that are bcing p thc vcry scnsc of normativiry hc deploycd. but that both his aesthctics and his account of the subjcct are intcgrally related to both his ethics ar-rdpolitics." "lt only exists in relation to sonlething othcr than itself. I would arlluc. Foucault bcgins his discussion by affirmins that therc are various grar-nnrars for the terrn. And though the Habcrnrasians nray havc an answer to this problenr. and that we will not be able to define it apart from the various objects by which it itsclf is dcfincd. the I emerges. "critique ." So r for Foucault. knowing whicl regulatc. that its action is possible. as a nihilist. dependency and pure hetcrononly. and the field in which it might act is delinritcd. "thcre something whi virtuc in gener as virtuc. But if thosc vcry formations and delimitations have norrnative consequences. "critique" in o and. and discourse . It belongs to ar r precstablished for Foucault. Indeed. I hopc to suggcstthat thc foray he makes into the topic of self-making and.and another. theory of our t Foucault'scc pose thc qucst referrcd to as o (whcre the "un 'opcrational tc docs not drive sexy." hc writes "[critiquel seems to be condemned to dispersion. strong nornrativc cornmitmcnts that appear in fbrms that would be difficult. Foucault seeksto definc critiquc. my aim today is rlot to rehearsethese debatesnor to answer them. which is not only more complex than thc usual criticism assunresbut which has. by prcsupposition. practiccs. valued highly or dcnrcancd. Further. And shall wr) assllnrc that the rclativc silencc that has grcctcd this habit of fhult-fir-rding in Foucault is a sien that his thcory has no rcassuring answcrs to givc? I think wc can assurllcthat tl-reanswers cvaluate whethcr not to say wha only rejoinder. power." Thus. tl practicc of virtr found in thc r writes." distinguishing bctwccn a "high Kantian enterprise" called critique as well as "the little polcnrical activitics that arc called critique. self-rnaking and desubjugation happen simultaneously when a mode of existence is risked which is unsupported by what he calls the regime of truth. or bccau limits of ways articulation fro: epistcnrologica produce a cert condition.are good or bad.to read within the current gramnlars of normativiry. indeed. into poeisis itself is central to the politics of dcsubjugation that hc proposes. tr . To what extent. but to mark the distancc bctwcen a notion of critique that is characterizedas normatively impoverished in somc scnsc. orlt: niight wiscly ask. but finds that only a scrics of approximations arc possible. we rnay think that wc need epistenrological certainty in order to state for sure that the world is and ought to bc ordered a given way. Virtu There are so or indccd a qu: rulcs or laws. For the question "what are we to do?" presupposes that the "we" has been formed and that it is known. which I hope to offer here. What is the relation of knowledge to powcr such that our episternological certainties turn out to support a way of structuring thc world that foreclosers altcrnative possibilities of ordering? Of course. and this will bc an irnportant dirnension of any critical inquiry into nornrative nratters. what good is thinking othcrwisc.I hope to show that Foucault not only makes an irnportant contribution to rlornrative thcory. then it will bc neccssaryto ask aftcr thc values that set the stage for action." Thus.

only rcjoindcr. to pose tl'requcstion anew. the is. Indered. It belongs to an ethics which is not fulfillcd mercly by following objectively fbrmulated rules or laws. indced. critique is "a nleans for a futurc or a truth that it will not know nor happcn to be. it oversccs a donrain it would not want to police and is unablc to regttlatc.") One does not drive to tht: lin-ritstbr a thrill cxpericncc. a criticai relation to those nornls. or bccause it brings us into a titillating proxirniry with evil. rcquired that we act a bit rnorc likc cows than hurnans and lcarrr the art of slow runrination. "thcre is sornething in critique that is akin to virtue. so that a nlorerproductive approach to the place of cthics within politics nright bc nrappcd. For Foucault. or which I grasp in full at thc rnomcllt in wl-rich l r-nakcsuch a clainr. this exposlrre of the linrit of thc cpisternolosical flcid is linkcd with thc pr. or indccd a quaiity that conditions and charactcrizcsa ccrtain kind of action or practicc. for Foucault. This is. Hc is not shy about the relation herc. it sccnrs to nrc. that thc practice of critiquc emergcs. for Foucault. And it is fronr this condition. nlorLr radically. what referred to as our "uncritical habits of nrind" and what Adorno described as idcology (whcre thc "unidcological thought is that does not pcrnrit itself to bc rcduccd to "vhich 'opcrational tcrnts' and instead strives solely to help the things thcrtrsclvcs to that articulation fronr which they arc otherwisc cut off by thc prcvailing languaec.W H A T I S C R I T I O U EO N F O U C A U L T ' V I R T U E S ? 215 that arc bcing proflercd do not havc reassurancc thcir primary ainr. whcthcr rvhat I nlean by "productivc" will be gauecd by standardsand measuresthat I arn willing to revcal." Therc are sonle prclinrinary ways wc can undcrstand Foucault's cflort to cast critiquc asvirtuc. Onc asks about the lirnits of ways of knowing becatrse one has already run up against a crisis 'uvithin thc epistcrnological field in which one livcs. as if virtue itsclf is to bc tound in thc risking of establishedordcr. of coursc. Virtue is niost often undcrstood cither as an attribute or a practice of a subjcct. It is. takes shape as a spccific stylization of nrorality. is to rctLlnr to a morc fundanrental nrcaning of "critique" in clrder to scerwhat nrav wcll bc 'nvrong rvith thc qucstion as it is posed and.rcticeofvirtue. Foucault's contribution to what appcarsas an inrpasse within critical and post-critical theory of our tirne is prccisely to ask us to rcthink critique as a practicc in which we 'Willianrs pose the question of the limits of our rnost sure ways of knowing. onc which. Indeed. And virtue is not only a way of cornplying with or confornring rvith preestablished norrns. thc tcar in the fabric of our epistcnrologicalwcb. or bccause linrits arc-dangerous and sexy. with the awarencss that no discourse is adequatc here or that our rcigning discourseshavc produced an impassc. Significantly." So critiquc 'uvill bc that pcrspective on establishcd and ordcrinu ways of knowing which is not irnnrediately assinrilated into that ordcring function. according to Nictzsche. . indced. as not to say what withdraws rcassLlrance by dcfinition." And then hc says sonlcthing which might be considcred evcn rnore surprisine: "this critical attitudc Iis] virtuc in general. Hc writcs. l-rot an allswcr. as ifvirtue is counter to reSSulation and order. Onc rnight rvonder. Thc catc-gories which social life are ordcred by producc a certain incohcrencc or cntire realnrs of unspcakabiliry. But hcrc I would ask for your paticrrcc sincc it turns out that c:ritiquc is a practicc that re quircs a ccrtain anrount of patiencc in thc same way that rcading. thc vcry dcbate in which the strong nornrative view wars with critical thcory nray produce prcciscly that fornr of discursivc impassefron-r which the necessityand urgcncy of critiquc crncrscs.

And this fornr of nroral expericncc will be diflcrcnt fronl tl-rc subnrission to a conrmand. one flr-rds pr:rcticcs. a as criticluc intersccts.ith rcfcrcncc to tiris prcv:rilinq ontolosical horizon.. lntrodtrcing the notion of "arts of cxistencc. "thosc :rctions by which nrcn not only set thcnlsclves rtrlcs of conduct.vcll as thosc th:rt arc yct to bc fonrrcd. fit thcrnsclvcsinto a nrold that is sct forth by thc prcccpt. i sutJicc to < thesc codt therc is.nsculinc subjcct. On thc contrary. a scttlcd dornain of ontology ls tl'rcir conscqucncc." Morll crpcricncc hrs to do rvitl-r a sclf-transfonr)rltionprorrrptcd bv a fbrnr of knor. consiclcrcdprcfornred or rcadvnradc. Morcovcr'.rre firnrrccl.thought . What is:rt issuc for hirrr is not bcheviors or icleasor socictics or "iclcologics.t'At History of'Ser:." This last clainr is l-rardly trellsparcnt. throueh thc practicc olta knorvlcdqc that is fbrcign to it. but rvork in tlic scrvicc oi craftinq :r ccrtain kincl of scif-." but "thc problcniatizations throusli which bcing oflcrs itsclf to be. in ttrnr. 'l'lu' ln thc tirst volurtrc of Histttry tr/ St'rrtrt/ir. a rurlcor conrlrland to which the sclf is said ntcchanically or ur-riformly to strbnrit.vlcclgcthat is fbreign to onc's own.' sotrght to slt<'r'uv that thc prinrary intcrdicrions assunrcdby psychoanalysis and tlrc structurelist:'rccountof cultural prohibitions c:-lnnot bc assunrcd as historical constallts. LJsc of'Pleasure: Volttrttc this juncture hc nrakcs clcar that hc sccks to nrovc bcyond u notion of cthical philosophy that issues sct of prcscriptions.nc-. conrcs to inhabit and incorporate thc nornr. lncorporar spccific ki activity iil practice tl pr:rcticr(]o Thus. constrains our undcrstanding of what is possiblc.r. r. hc undcrstandshirnsclf to be nraking an inquiry into nroral cxpcricnccs that are not primarily or fundanrcntally structured by prohibition or intcrcliction.rnoral expericr-rcc callnot bc undcrstood through rccoursc to a prcvailing sct of intcrdicrions 'uvithin a givcn historical tinrc." ar Let us br then consi< our deliber of conduct code ofcor Foucault. Only u. hc tclls ns. nrust always bc studiccl in relation to the modes clf subjcctivation to rvhich thesc coc-les Hc rnakcs the clainr that thc juridification of larv achicvcs a ccrtairr they corrcspor-rd." spccifically.vill rvc bc rrblc to undcrst:rnd thc kinds of rclations to nroral prccepts that havc bcen forrncd as r. in codcs reqr are QraSpC ncither pr will not cc logical ho practicc tl to its own transforma the ficld ot practice tc colltours c to the exp liberry.lttcst to:r sinqlc rrrrr-l rrbiding prohibition. htr will later ask:ibout fonns of nroral cxpcricncc thrlt arc not rigidly dcfincd by a juridical law. For instancc. itsclf institutcd throtrqh a set of practiccs. Thc cssaythat he writcs. tlrc sclf." to nror:rl prccreptsor llonns in such a way that sclvcs.or ".ar. Irr tl'rc salne way. hc considcrs :rt lcrigth variotrs practiccs of hc aLlstcrity..rrts of cxistcncc" rvhich havc to clo with a cultivatcd rclation of thc sclf to itsclf.lich the scll-is-fitnttt'd. in its own thought. ovcr tir.()r put irr :r nrorc prccisc vv. thc sclf fashions itsclf in tcnns of thc norrll.:rncl tics thcsc tc-r thc prodtrction of a ccrtain kind oin.216 J U D I T HB U T L E R Foucault givcs us an irrdication of what hc nrcansby virttrc in thc introcluction to T/rc 'I-ltc 'liurr. so Foucault Just in that introduction sccks to nr:rkc of his c-rrvn thought an cxautplc r>fa nc-rrr-1. Although thcrc are codcs to bc studicd. is itsclf thc cxanrl'rleof such a practicc.u. lndccd. "to cxplore rvhat nright bc chanqcd. and to rnuke thcir lifc into an c)cuvre Such livcs do not sinrplv confornr . Thc practiccs of lustcrity c1onot./' 1-r. ncccssarily. but what it suqscsts is tliat ccrtain kinds of practiccs rvhich arc desiqricclro handlc ccrtain kincls of problcnrs prodnce.ancl thc practiccs ol) thc basisof rvhich thcsc problenratiz:rtions..'rcscriptivrfonn of nroral inquiry.I preccpr ro which is ir subrnitting ordcrlincss installins ar Fou "vl-rich nroral pres hcre scenrs or non-acti srylizing bc I belicve ethical prac Critique ?" on the clis obcdience. but rftc n()nnis ttttt irr /lris-scn-sc cxtt'rrtd to thc ltrhrciplc b). differcnce I Thc resi for Foucau . but that if onc gocs blck to Clrcek ancl llonran classicalcultures. and this ontologic:rl donrain. historiographically cor-lsiclercd. but also scck to tr:rnsfirnn thcnrsclvcsin thcir singular bcir-tr1. hcgcnrony within thc tl-rirtccnthccntury.vith philosophy withcrut quitc coincidins rvith it.lity. to thc cxtcnt that Foucault intcrrogatcs nroral cxpcricncc hcrc or elscwhcrc." Foucault also rcintroduccs and rccnrphasizcs"intentional and voluntary actions.

.wc nright say. thc critical practicc in question turrls out to cntail sel! transfonnation in relation to a rulc of conduct. Thc relation will bc "critical" in thc scnsc that it lvill not cornply with a givcn category. And hc oftbrs us a rcacling of thc Enlishtcnrlrcnt rvhich not onlv c sclf itself uqht. in addition to the recourse to the expcricntial nrcansby which nroral catcgories are gr:rspcd. in not :rcting on dcsiresthat would violatc a for prcccpt to which otre is ntorally bound and dcveloping a practicc of dcsirc.There is a difTeretrcc. Hcrc hc bcgins to sound likc a phenonrenologist. Thc rcsist:lnccto authority. takes tttoral prescriptiorl to p:lrticipatc-in thc fornrins of a kind of action. for such a history callnot tcll us how thcse codcs were livcd and. in rclation to its own lirnit. as it wcre. and it is another thine to fornr oncsclf as an cthical subject in rclation to a codc of conduct (and it will bc yct anothcr thing to fbrnt oncsclf as that which risks tl-rc ordcrlinessof thc code itself). Morcover." This was not a practice that opposcd plcasurepurc and sinrplc. but a ccrtrin precticc of plcasurc itself. but to cstablish critiquc as the vcry practice that cxposcs the lirnits of that cpistcmological horizon itsclf. installingan cfFcctivcprohibition asainstthe acting out of ccrtain dcsircs. Thc nrodel accordins to which subnrittirrgto a rule of law is rcquircd'uvould irrvolvc onc in not :tcting in certain ways. indccd. a practice of plcasure ir-rthc contcxt of nroral cxpcricncc. makir-rg the contours of the horizon appear. so to spcak. Thus. for thc subjcctive rclation to thosc ltornls will bc neither prcdictable nor nrechanical. createsitsclf as a spccific kind of subject. rhich rrtaln )ll1an 'ith e 3entlncn their fbrnr :adve self fi thc refor tions n thc ds of l1c. ISut therc is. Foucault's point herc scenrsto bc th:rt rcnunciation and proscription do not necessarilycrloin rr pnssivc or ltoll-activc cthical ttroclc. shorvitrs horv the possibility of this fornr of virtuc is cstablishedthrough its diffcrence fronr an uncritical obcclience to authority. a tunr.but fornr ir-rstcad cthical nrodc of conduct and a rvav of an srylizine both action anc-l plcasure ."What is Critique?" Fottcault contrasts this yct to bc dcfincd undcrstanding of "virtue" with obcdiencc. then.ct of died. but rather coltstitute an intcrrogatory rclation to the field of categorization itsell rcfcrring at lcast inrplicitly to the linrits of thc cpistenrological horizon within which practices arc fornrcd.lcticc which centrally cnsagcs thc formation of thersclf shcds inrportant lieht on the distinctiorr bctr. cault ptivc nr'ri- 211 incorporating the rules of conduct tl-ratrcprcscnt tlic virttrc of austcriry. How. of course. Foucault nrakcs clcar that it will not suftlce to ofTcr a chroniclcd history of nroral codcs. It is. to incorporate and cxcntpliflr. what fbnr-rsof subject-formation such codcs rcquired and facilitated. for thc first tin-rc. rnorc spccifically. :o do olle's toa rc 0r i that rnary rhibcolt. The rulcs of chastity providc an inrportant cxanrple for Fottcault. which is infornrcd by a ccrtairr ethical projcct or task." and how is this practice understood as part of Foucault's lexicon of virtuc? Let us begin first by understandine the notion of self-transformationat stakc he:re. itr scctiott 3 of that sanre introduction.W H A T I S C R I T I O U EO N F O U C A U L T ' V I R T U E ? S t Thc r that ions. Thc point will not bc to rcfcr practice to a prcgivcn epistenrolosical contcxt.and then consider how it is relatcd to tht: problcnr callcd "critiquc" whicl-r forrns thc focus of our delibcratiolrsherc.IJtrt thc rnodcl rvhich Foucault sccks to undcrstand and.a critical nrovc as wcll.vccn obedicncc and virtuc that hc ofTcrsin his cssay. onc thing to conduct oncsclf in relation to a codc of conduct. of coursc. This self-production is "thc claboration and stylization of an activity in the excrcisc of its power and thc practice of its libcrty. riling lc to ell as :csof The n thc self. docs sclltransfonnation lead to thc cxposurc of this linrit? How is sclf-transfornrationunderstood as a "practice of liberty. I belicvc this contrast that Foucatrlt lays or-rt bctwccn a conrnrand-bascdethics and the ethical pr. constitLltcsthc hallnrark of thc Enlightcnlnent fbr For-rcault. instancc.

to transfornrir-rgourse-lvesin thc coursc of producins thosc rcasons(and." This becornes the signeturc nrark of "thc critical attitudc" and its particular virtuc. not likc that. to thosc who do that adrninistcring. It is of coursc unclcar how thc dcsirc not ro be qovcrncd is linkcd with virtuc. and tl'rat the clucstion is rlot how to bcconrc radically urlllovenlablc. In rclation to chtrrch doctrinc. this virtuc is dcscribcd as wcll as ar1 "Art.A n d lishcd thc rul dcpartine fro rvhich is sonr cxchangc bctr In Foucaul . Wc will havc to ask why. holvcvcr. but p o s s i b l c . prcciscly rvhat rcnrair.218 J U D I T HB U T L E R cstablishcshis own continuiry wirh its airns. or at lea :rcceptine it or anroLlnt of arr acceptirlg autl it is only on t c-locsonscnt' c And do thcse rvould appea altcrtrativc is . his is a critical history. in thc narnc of thosc principlcs. in turn. to the way in whir:h it is adnrinisrercd. finally. critiquc begins with qucstionins thc dcnrand for lbsolute obcdicncc and subjccting every govcnlnrental obligation inrposed on subjectsto a rational and rcflcctive cvaluation. for rvhat Foucault sceks in thc charactcrization of tl'rc Enlishtcnnrcllt is "unthought" within its own tcrnrs: hencc. but hcre it scer. "thc art of trot bcing govcrtrcd or. It is a specific question that elrrcrges in rclation to a spcciflc form of govcnmrcnt: "hol not to bc sovcrn cd like thdt. thc :rrt of not bcing govcmcd liker that ar-rdat that cost. chal thc Scripture objcction wa cround of trr "critique": "l thcy arc unju Critiquc is rccrourscto a projcct is "co "critique nre which every cducator or a does not disc "put them for forth" is an a< workings of linritation itsc a "right" to r govenred" be want to be gc tnlc. Hc rvill be p:rrticularly intcrcstcd in thc problcnr of how that dclirnitcd flcld forrns the subjcct artd how. "how not to bc governcd?" This dcsirc. For Foucault. hc will ncvcrthelcss ask what criteria dclinrits thc sorts of rcasonsthat can con)c to bcar on thc qucstion oiobcdictrcc." Whatcvcr virtLle Foucault hcre circ-urnscribcsfor us will havc tr-r do with objccting to tl-ratimposition of powcr. but rcac-ls own clilcrnnras lris back into thc history of thc Enlightcnnrcnt itsclf Thc account hc provides is r-rncthat no "Enlightcnntent" thinkcr rvould accept. or bcconres the lneans by which it is rcclescribcd.This capacity to fonn rcasonswill be irnportantly lirrkcd to tlrc sclf-transfontlativc relation nrentioncd abovc. not for that. and thc wondcnncnt that follows frorr-rit. but this resistanccwould not invalidatc thc charactcrization at hand. Hc docs nrakc clclr. fornrs the central ir-npctusof critiquc." thc art of not bcing govcrncd "quitc so nruch. that hc is not posing thc possibility of radical anarchy.ns tcnrl. To bc critical of an authority that poscs as absolutc rcquircs a critical practicc that has sclf-transfonn:rtion at its corc. with such and such an objective in nrind and by nlcans of such proccdurcs. or does onc invariably icaclto thc othcr? Is thc autononry achievcd in fornring rcasons which scrve as tl-rc basis for acccptinu or rejecting a prcgiven law thc s:rnrc as the transfonnation of thc serllt that takcs placc when a rttle bc-conrcs incorporated into thc vcry actiorl of thc subjcct? As wc shall sce. suggcsting that thcrc is no possibiliry of acccptinq or rcfusing a rulc without a self who is stylizcd in rcsponsc to thc ethical dcnrand upon it. Onc rnight bc tcmpted to think that Foucatrlt is simply describing rc:sistance that "virtuc" has takcn thc placc of that . "llot wantiltg to bc govcn-rcd \v:ls a ccrLtirr w:ry of refusing. Although Foucault will not follow this tunr to rcason." stylizationsand rcpctitiorls.rs In his view. IJut how do we nrovt: fron-r r-rndcrstandingthe rcr:rsons nright havc for conscnting we to a detnand to fornring thosc rcasons for oursclvcs.therc obcdiencc is required. bcttcr. the question itsclf inauguratesboth a rnoral and political attitudc. a subjcct conrcs to fcrnrr and rcfbnn thosc reasorls. Morcovcr. wl-rat hc is ofT absolutc auth knowlcdge ef canllot rcduct thc innatc fre acts (wl-rich e tion of tl-rcse rcflc-rivc nrov this rcflcxivin poscs sontc rl dcnrand. Foucault locatcs thc dcsirc that infonns thc qtrcstioll. puttirlg at risk thc ficld of reason itsclf)? Are thcse not distinct kincls oiproblems. both thc transfonnation of thc sclf in rclation to cthical prcccpts and thc practicc of critique are considerc'dfbrnrs of "art. to its costs.by that. not by them." so rvhat is the relation bctwecn acstheticsand ethics at work hcre? Hc finds thc origins of critiquc in thc rclatiorr of rcsistanccto ccclcsiastical authoriw. In thc colltext r.

as Enlightennlcnt theorists claim. . Foucault writcs that the c:ritical projcct is "confronted with government arld the obedicnce it stipulatcs" and that what "criticlue nreens" in this context is "putting forth univcrsal and irrdcfc'asible rights to govenlrnent. But this rcf'lcxivity clocsnot takc placc intcrnal to a subjcct. linriting (sayit asyou like) ccclcsiastical rule. challcneing. one that takcs form as a qllcstion and which asserts. not wantinq to acccpt these laws bccausc thcy arc unjust bec. This stylizatiorr of tlic sclf in rclation to thc rulcs conrcs to colrl-lt:ls a "pr:rcticc. thcr." Critiqr-re is that which exposcs this illegitinracy. Thc critic:rl pructicc clocsnot wcll up fronr thc innatc frcedonr of thc soul. .vhictrvalidity is attributcd to or witl-rclrawn fronr authority. It nrcant rc-turnitirlto t h c S c r i p t l l r e s . For thc practicc by rvhich thc linrits to absolutc authority' . For Foucault. rn:rrking thc linrit of thc validity. an act which coul)tcrs and rivals thc workings of power. This leads Foucault to fornrulate a sccond dcfinition of "critique": "Not to warlt to bc govcrned. but it is not bccause critiqr-rc has rccoursc to a nlorc fundanrental political or moral ordcr. dcparting frorrr thc cstablishccl u. which us cannot reduce to volunt:rrisnr in any casy way." Thc practicc of critique . but it docs "put thcnr forth. thcn saying "rlo" to thc dcnr:rnd will rcquirc qrounds of its validity. following Kant in an rttenultcd scrlsc. clocsconscnt validate the rc:rsons otTered.in their validity. This is rhe positing of linritation itsclf. Thc "putting forth" is an act rvhich linrrts thc power of thc law. whatever it rrray be. nrakc thc conscnt a valid onc? If the first altcnrativc is corrcct.vhatwill constitutc a ground of validity for xcccptirlg authoriq/? l)ocs the validity derive fronr thc conscltt to ecccpt authorirv? If so. in a "right" to qucstion. for r. power at the monrerlt of its rcncwal. the quc:stion "how not to be govcrrrcd" becorncs spccified as "What are the limits of thc right to govcrn?" "'To not w a n t t o b c g o v c r n c d ' i s o f c o u r s e n o t a c c c p t i n ga s t r L l c . w h a t a n : r u t h o r i r y t e l l sy o u i s truc.vhichcxtcnds and rcfonnulates that prior sct of rulcs and prcccpts).an u. its vcry asscrtion. it does not put them forth as positivc riehts. .r conscnt is thc critcrion by r." There is of course a f. docs not discover thcsc universal rights. evcn a practicc of frccdonr. or at lcast not acceptine it becausean authority tells you that it is truc. a nragistrete. " A n c l t h i s objcction was clearly wagcd in the nanrc of an alternativc or.r eS c r i p t u r c st o l d . . whechcr a nlon:rrch.W H A T I S C R I T I O U EO N F O U C A U L T ' V I R T U E ? S 219 rcfttsine. but rather acceptingit only if onc considcrsvalid the rcasonsfor doing so. enrerging sround of truth and ofjustice .rir anlount of anrbicuity in this situation. ." In Foucault's vicrv.rtal validity. nrininrally. .whatcvcr thcy are? Or is it rathcr thc c:rsethat it is only or-rthe basisof a prior and discoverablevalidity that onc oflcrs one's conscnt? And do thcsc prior rcasolls. Fronr thc sixteenth ccntury on. lJut pcrhaps rvhat hc is of^fi1-'ring by way of "critiquc" is an act.And if what onc ot-ljcctsto arc thc cpistcnrological orclcrirrgsthat have cstablishcd thc rulcs of qovcnrnrcr. i t n r c a r r tq u r ' s t i o n i n s w h a t k i n d o f t r u t l r t l . however. In .liich is sonrcthing difTcrcrttand firr rnorc risky th:rn frnding a sivcn dcnr:rnc] invalid. thc-y hide a fundanrental illcgitirnacy.rusc. ." Ho'"vevcr. thc act of conscnt is a rcflc-rivc nlovcnrcnt by r. for thc point rvill not only bc to obicct to this or that sovcnrnrcntal clcrrrancJ. :rnd it rvould appear that Foucault's position rcdtrccs to a fbrnr of voluntarisrn.lrc sct is one that is fuudanrentally dcpendcnt on ther horizon of knowlcdsc cffc-cts within which it opcratcs. .hich cvcry cducator or a pater familias. but is fornrcd instcacl in thc crucible of a particular cxchangc bctwccn a sct of rules or prcccpts (which arc alrcady thcrc) and a stylization of acts (r. but to ask :rbout thc ordcr in rvhich such a dcnrand bcconrcs legiblc aud possiblc. this is an act'uvl-rich poscssorlrc risk.vhich validiry is judgcd. will havc to subrnit.

vitl-rout risking thc dcntrnciationsof thosc r. but it can also takc a point of vicu'on that cstablishcd ordcr that rctrospectivcly suspcndsits own ontological ground.rbjcctivc c{onr:rin.onc bcgrns to cntcr a critical rclation to such ordcrinqs and the cthical prcccpts to rvhich they givc risc. How docs onc call into clucstionthc exhaustivc hold that such rules of ordcrins havr' upon certainty without risking unccrtainty.Thc problcnr is prcciscly that they seck to forcclose thc critical rclation.vhonaturalize and rendcr hcgenronic thc vcry n)oral tcrnrs put into c'lucstion critique itsclfi by Foncaulr's distinction bctwccn govcrnnrcnt and govcrnnrcntalizatior-r sceks to show that the :rpparatusdcnoted bv thc fbrnrer elttcrs into thc practices of thosc who arc bcing sovcrncd.220 J U D I T HB U T L E R this diftbrencc. If sovernnrcntaliz. . that this sclfallocation and sclf-clcsiqnationcnlcrgcs as :ln "rrt"? "Critic1uc. Thc problenr with thoscr grounds that Foucault calls "illcgitimate" is not that thcy are partial or self-contradictory or that thev lead to hypocritical nroral stands.srricriist'rrrt'tttl strbjcct in thc contcxt ffu. it r. To bc govcrncd is not only to havc a fornr irnposcd upon or)c's cxistcnce. th. u. di-\. Thcy orchestratc and cxhaust the flcld of ccrtainty itsclf. power. thc're this point in ti gcncral and tr given thc conl rvith a ccrtain Ilut horv d stakc nrysclf? I bering in a u identifying "r s t a k e .sc . nor will it bclons cxclusivcll' for to a sr. withotrt inhabitinc that place of r.qltt -srrir.vord. it is not firlly clctcrnrincd in . So thc stylization of this "r.vhcrc thc cor hirrrsclf rvith a Frorn the H positivisnr.cll.villbc thc stylizcd rclation to thc clcnrencl Lrpon it.anc{which wc conlc to lcccpt rs thc givcn flclcl of knorvlcclgc. acsthcticisrn? Thc critical attitude is not moral according to the rulcs whosc linrits that vcry critical rclation secks to intcrroeate.i t r n a y L r. And lr situation is tc appcars to be the w:ry in rvl of powcr?" C not olily char :rdniir of the c inte nsification organizations. their vcry wevs of being. thcir vcry ways of knor. thc politics of truth.s. [/r' ()./ by . cvil. this nrovenrentthroush rvhich inclivicluals subjuratccl in is arc thc realit." a nrodc of sclf-lllocltion :rnclself-authorization rhat sccnls to tbrcgrotrnd thc rcflcxivity of thc clainr. Morc radically. And thc stylc will bc critrcal to thc cxtcnt that. a sclf-gcrrcrarcd nrovcnlent.. Is this." it If is arl ":lrt" in his scnsc. tltc .vill" lvill procltrcc a subjcct'uvho is not rcaclily knovu'lblc unclcr thc cstlblisl'rccl rr.rt of rcflcctcd intract:rbiltty |'irrdocilitt rcflt\chicl. Wc cln unclcrstancl thc salicrtcc of this point 'nvhcnrvc bcsin to ask: What couuts :rs:r pcrsorr? What counts .vclf a socialprrrcticethrough rtrcchanisrrrs por'vcrtlrat aclhcreto a tnrth.vhich orclcr thc rvorld in ccrt:iin rcgtrl.. (nry'cnrph.orld is lcgitinratccl rrs real? Subjectrvcly.rdvlncc. 'uvhich thc de tnorlcnt whe "'-What. in a r. of tlrcr"rlI rvill say th.rstrrc oithc tl-rcdcsubjusation Ir/r1-trr-s. .thcn critiquc r. wc rrriqht say. that is." "vc Thc politics of trtrtl'rpcrtains to tliosc rclations oiporvcr that circunrscribc in adv:rncc rvhat rvill ancJrvill not coulrt:rs truth. but to bc givcn thc tcrnrs which cxistcnce will and will not be possiblc. it incorpor:itcs ir colltiugcrrcv ovcr tiuic thrr nnrks thc linrits to thc ordcrirrg capacity of thc ficld in clucstion.rsis) Notc hcrc that thc subjcct is said tr) "sivc hinrsclf that riglrt. n'c :rsk: Who c:rn I bcconrc irr such :r u'oric1 u'hcrc thc meanings I constrained bcconre that I precisely whar of truth" (r-ny At stakehcr l)eriving a se of critique its bctwcen the l: stakc.stilt1crt hinrstlf'tlrcri. to extend their own power to ordcr the cntire field of nroral ancl political judunent.gilt'. "filror" and it linrits to wha donrain of su: forcc of coc'rc thc limits of e .ving.1nrlof wliat could call.vaveringwhich cxposcs one to thc cl'rarsc of inrnrorality.rs e cohcrcnt gcnclcr? What clualifics us a citizcn? Whosc u.rtaryinsubordination. "rvill bc thc art of volur. if an1'. onc which shorcs Llp thc subjcct ovcr and against :r collntcrvlriling authority? And 'uvhat diffi:rcncc clocs it nrakc. Foucrult proflounccs: "C)ritiquc lvotrld csscntiallyir.rr rrncl rcculatablc wa)." Thus.rtion .villnot bc a sinqlc act.rt critiqn' is tlu' tn()tlcnturt plrirl.rbricoi tnrth. Ilut how clse can critique do itsjob r. r. es stylc. A subjcct will cnrcrqc in rclation "vithin to an cstablishcdordcr of truth. r tionships bet to shorv the fbnns of dor In I'risview. thcn. i.()rrscs tlortttt'lcdnritlto qut'sti<ttt tnttlt tttt itsq[firtstt_l'porrcr qttrstitttr drtd pou)('r i/-s o-f-tnftlt." hc u'ritcs.

state f t .'as to shor. u'ith a ccrtain risk that is put into play thror-rqh thought and.the link of betrvcenthe lirnits of what I rnight beconrc and the linrits of rvhat I rnight risk knowins.ecnscicncc's naivc prcsunrptrons. Deriving a senseof critique frorn Kant. Nor does it cagcrly show the r. Foucatrlt 'uvritcs. thc "vithin nlonlcnt whcre a certain qucstioning practice begins that takes thc followins tbrnr: "'W'hat. Allying hrmself 'uvith a Left critical traditior"r post-Klnt. tcclrnc and tcchnicalization.vbcconrc? And'uvhat happens rvhen I bcsin to bcconre that for rvhich there is no placc within the givcn rcgirne of truth? Is this not prcciscly. Foucault poscs the question that is thc qucstioll of critique itself: "Do you know up to what point you can know?" "Our liberry is at stake." or it du'clls in a dortiair-r suspcnded ontolow. rvhole critique of the relaof a tionships betrveenthe funclanrcntal projcct of scienccancltechniqtres whose objcctive u. I 5 . and thc resistanccto cocrciou consistsin the stylization of tlic scliat the linrits of establishcdbcir-rs. "but also social rclationsl-rips. anl I'.ltclrrporan'societ\. inclccd. I who bclong to this humanity. nt thispoint in tinrc.vc undcrstand rhis conterllporary ordcr of being in which l conrc to staken'tysclPFoucault chooscs hcrc to charactcrizcthis historically conditioncd order of being in a way that links hirn with thc critical thcory of rhe Frankftrrt School.' I I I organizatiorls. llut powcr sccks to constrain the subject throush thc of fbrcc of coe:rcior.r'h. Ancl r. idcnti$'ing "rationalization" as thc llovenrnrcnt:rlizing efTcct on ontolow."Tl-rus.veen "r:ttionalization and powcr. onc hirnd.vavin rvhich the intcnsification and totalization of rationalizine cfTc-cts lcads to an intensificationof powcr. sr-ncr:rl siven the contcnlporary ordcr ofbeing. a way of orclcring thc world. ecollonric practiccs and pcrl-raps even individual behaviors?" It rcachcsits "furor" ar-rd lirnits as it seizesand pcrv:rders its thc subject it subjcctivatcs. thc capacity for rationaliz:rtion to rcach into thc tributaries of lifc not onlv charactcrizcsnrodes of scicr-rtific practicc.rtnrcant by "the dcsubjugation of thc subjc-ct thc play of . Foucault asks.t. the othcr. liberty is at stlke. But how do r. . does not rcadily to admit of thc constraints by which that ordcring takes placc. through language u'hcre the corltcrlrporary ordering of being is brought to its lirtrir."'Whrrt eppcars bc a nrercly cpisternic order.v thc conncctionsbctu. Por."How is it that rationalization lcads to the furor of pou'cr?" Clcarly.. can I bc?" Ifl in posing this question. rationalization. at thc vcry nronrcnt in rvhich the destrbjugation of the subjcct thc politics of truth takes place.l'hat continucs to bc difficult for nrost social actors and critics within this situation is to discern thc rc:latiorrslripbetr. it may bc that staking libcrty has sonrcthine to do rvith what Foucault calls virtuc. thercfbre.thcrc hls bccn a conrplctccritique of positivism." bcyond which it no longer "is. thc politics is irr of tnrth" (my translation)? At stakchcre is tl-rcrelation bctwcen thc lirr-rits or-rtolow and epistcnrology. at this instant of hunranity which is subjcctcd to thc powcr of truth in and truths in particular?" Anochcr way of putting this is tl-rcfollowing: "'What.r. Frorn thc Hcselian Lcft to thc FrankfurtSclrool. rationalization takcs a ncw fonn when it conres into thc scrvicc of biopower. .vcr sets thc limits to what a subject can "bt:. of on t t' t In his vierv.W H A T I S C R I T I O U EO N F O U C A U L T ' V I R T U E ? S 221 the nreatringsand linrits of thc sr-rbject arc sct out in advancc for rnc? IJy vu'hatnonns an1 I constrainedas I bcgin to ask rvhat I nra.libcrry emcrgcs at thc linrits of what onc can know. ancl thc or1 fbmtsof dotttinatiott characteristic col. pcrhaps to this piccerof it.

. but also for the lirnits of those conditions. essential fragility or rather the conrplex intcrplay bctwccn what rcplicates the same process and what transforrns it. in thc place the origin.so/r t't t nrcantha clocsr-rot / i. and if. bctwecn the know'Wc ncxus and its fragility and lirnit. but work togethcr to cstablish a set of subtlc and cxplicit critcria for thinking thc world: "lt is therefore not a nrattcr of describing what knowledge is and what powcr is and how one would repressthe other or how the other would abusc thc onc. ln Foucault's tcrms. v e l u c s .. at this pnc Hc gocs ou to wa tcnrptcd to pcrfonn cxposes its limit. But the n-reansby which this very relation is articulated is dcscribed. another way to talk about this dynanric within cnlcrges at thc moment in which critiquc is to say that rationalization meets its limits in desubjugation." So not only is it necessaryto isolatc and idcnti$r thc pcculiar nexus of power and knowledge that givcs risc to thc field of intclligiblc things.in tcrnrs of how it would be travcrsed by the qucstior-r of the relationships between structures of rationaliry which articulate truc discoursc and the nrechanisrns of subjr-rgationwhich arc linkcd to it.r. How and bcconles sonlet would this Considcr that Fouc rationalization withr sut'ljcct or tnaintaint r:rtionalization? If h Can it bc said to bt undcrstand the stat In rcsponsc to a ( I do not think tha an originary aspir qrrc qrrclcytt' clutsc l't will not to bc gov pcoplc. anothcr at try to find thc hist< Indccd. I r. Hc thcn continucs to show that knowledger and powcr arc llot finally scparablc.222 J U D I T HB U T L E R W will bc. but also to track the way in which that field nleets its breaking point. What this nrcans is that onc looks both for thc conditions by which thc object field is constitutcd. limits which excrcisc a ccrtain force without bcine groundcd in any neccssity.11r. . arc not told what sort of fiction this paroxysnl of sonre nrakcs clcar that acc Hc writcs.it. Why would it be fiction? And in what scnse is it fiction? Foucault rcfcrs to "an historical-philosophical practice [in which] one had to nrake one's own history. it docs rlot possess efflcts of validatedor sinrply cocrcion or sinrply the incentivcspeculiar to what is scientifically rational or sinrply gcnerallyaccepted.str/r too long. linrits which can only be trcad or intcrrogatcd by risking a ccrtain sccuriry within an availablc ontolow: Nothir-rg can existasan elenrent knowledgeil. the nrorncnts of its discontinuitics. Critique begins with the presumption of governmc:ntalization and thcn witl-r its failure to totalize the subject it sccks to know and to subjugatc.etc. I r r d c c d .c/r r-t." but also "to follow the brcaking points which indicatc its enlergence. conlcs quitc close t. "schcmatically speaking. a rlcxlrs thc of knowledge-power has to bc describcd so that we can grasp what cor. doesnot conlornr of fbr to a sct of rulcs and constraintscharacteristic.Nc corltract. but also wants to cxplorc tl an is both part o1. but rathcr. ." Indeed. thcn desubjugation nrarks prccisely thc fragiliry and transfornrability of the epistemics of power. the nlonrents whcre thcy point up thcir contingency and thcir transfornrabiliry. in a disconccrtins way.rstitutcs acceptability of a systenr. we havc perpetual mobility. as if through fiction fde_faire commepar-liction]." Thcrc is thus a dinrcnsion of thc rncthodology itsclf which partakes of fiction.. br-rtit scenl kind of fiction that One of the first tasks of critique is to discern the relation "betwccn nrcchanistns of cocrcion and clcments of knowlcdgc?" Here again we seern confronted with thc linrits of what is knowablc. which lcdgc-powcr draws fictional lincs bctwccn rationalization and desubjugatiorl. lf the desubjugation of thc subjcct thc cpistcme constitutcd through rationalization You rnay rctnenrt vcry notion of the is thc attcr-nptto loc cxpl:rirr the oriLrin i dcbtor rclations. on thc one hand.vas not rcfcrrin likc an originaryfi nrctrt edly Iab. as fiction. example of a given typc of scicntific . fabricate history.N i c that hc attribLltesto that dcscription bcc it narratcs. thc sites wherc it fails to constitutc the intclligibility for which it stands." The critic thus has a double task. wc rcad seyssonrething is th. on thc othcr hand. the discoursein a given pcriod. to show how kr-rowledgc and powcr work to constitute a morc or lesssystematic way of ordcring thc world with its owll "conditions of acceptabiliry of a systcnl.

:rnd not part of.ls n'rcto bc so inrportant lrc-causc of it to to is both part oli. consider I do uot think that thc r. I think that nry prcsentltionstolrs this point. he rcnrarks. another :rtrout a slavc rcvolt in rnorality.q(tuu(rni tttrttsttit dtt l-ic qrrc cttrtsid[rer cofttnrc aspiratitn tmc oriainairel. bnt this I clid cdfy'Ia6-so/ruttL'rttsort-fontll to clocsnot nrcrurthat I absolutclycxcluclcit lJc nc l'ai ltasdit. Hc tclls :r fablc of thc nobles.re . but also bcc:ruscI anr rvondcring [lrrai-s aussi par. as hc does.and any effort to try to find thc historical conrplcment to Nietzschc's gcncalogies rvill neccssarilyfail. . A noblc says sonrcthing is thc caseand it becornes thc casc:thc speech act inauglrratcsthe vah. wc rcad fictional stories about thc way that values arc originatcd. but a ccrtain Nictzschcan rcluctancc prcvails. mais cclattc t)(utp(tsdirc qrc -jc it l't'xclrts absoltutrt'tttf. that rvould bc likc an originary frccclonrlqi suait &lnuilcla libert[orioinairt'].jt' mc Jt'tnandcl. if onc . You rnay rcnrcrnber that although it sccms that for Nictzschc thc scncalogy of morals is thc attcn. it is slrpporte by sorne cl thing akin lqi strdit le. and hc conlcs quite close to ccding thc tcrrain. he is actuallv scckinc to finc.W H A T I S C R I T I O U EO N F O U C A U L T ' V I R T U E S ? rsrlrs of : linrits . the orisin of the origin." He nrakcsclear that :rccounting for this will involves hinr in a problcnr of thc origin.tsnot refcrringto sonrcthingthat would bc a funcJanrcntrtl anarchisrn. Hc writcs. another about a soci:rl brrtt rtitlc ts r-ri nply contmct.rotion of critiqtrc? Consider th:rt Foucault is trying to undcrstand the possibility of dcsubjugation within rationalizationwithout assumingthat therc is a sotrrcc for resistance that is houscd in the subjcct or rnaintaincd in sonre four-rdational nrodc.villnot to bc govcrnedat ell is sorrrcthing that cnc c<. Ho'uv would tl-risparticular use of fiction rclarc to Foucault's r. nrcarls ut also lgency e perrcpliy that ubject zation abiliry ith its rns by ic t ion. by these p c o p l e e t t l r i sp r i c c . ir-rthc placc of an account that finds thc origin of valucs or. but rld:"lt d how llcxus tcs the ork to ditions :ate its xus of r track ruitics. the kind of fiction that gcnealogy is said to bc. Hc sccks to avoid what he calls "the philosophical and theorctical paroxysnl of sonrcthing that would bc this will not to bc rclatively govertred. likc that. bccausc was alrcady lt too long. None of thcse fablcs can bc located in spacc or tinrc-. of a will ncttto bc governed.se l'ttrt ltttisst' will r-rotto ['regoverncclis alwaysthe will not to bc sovenrcclthusly. absolutcly' anclwholchcartt't t'tt resistant any !]ovcnurrcntalization. erlacting rhc vcry proccssthat it narratcs. rrot sayit. I rv.." which :110wrn this .but that description bcconrcs an instlncc of valuc-production. how arc we to undcrstand thc status of that will? In rcsponsc to a qucry along thcse lincs. and yct anothcr about creditor and dcbtor rclations. . btrt it scenrsclear thlt Foucault is drarving or-rNictzschc ancl. in fact. . Whcrc docs rcsistancccollle fronr? Can it bc said to bc tl're upsurge of sonrt: hunran frccdonr shacklcclby thc powcrs of ratiorralization?If he spcaks. o "rll) fabriuld be which [o it. in particnlar.:crrtt'.rlorc this dir-ncnsiorr critiqtrc that seen. \\'trnts cx. Nictzscl'rc's owrl fiction-nraking mirrors thc vcry :icrtsof inauguratiotr that he attribtrtcs to those who nrakc valucs. Hc gocs on to wanr against thc absolutizing of this will that philosophy is always tcniptcd to pcrfornr.lout how thc very notion of thc origin becanrc instituted. Indced. anclbeconrr'ssolncthing likc an atopical ar-rd atcn)poral occasion for thc origination of valucs. indecd. Indeed. philosophy. And thc lrleans by which hc seeks to explain thc origin is fictional. So he not only dcscribcsthat proccss.lptto locate the origins of valucs.uld an originarv aspiraticln nepstscpasut elJat la uttlttnti n'etrc qut dc pds.ded iIr lcurity 223 will be. thirrk that. thc I Etclqrt'chc.

h c . rclicvitrg hinrsclf of an ontological cornnritltlellt.votrldsuqqcst. "l dicl not say it. llrrt it i .thc:rsscrtion is staqcd. Hc spcaks thcnr. but rclcasing thc words thcntsclvcs for a ccrtain usc. I)ocs hc rcfcr to originary frccdonr hcre? f)ocs hc scck recottrsc to it? Has l'rc found thc lvcll of originary frecdonr :rnd drunk fi-ont it? ()r docs hc.that such a nrovc intriqucs rrrc.b I'owcr. not by thc rcfcrcncc to thc tcnn u'ithout any ftrunclatior-ral enchor. : rs i q n o f o nroral dcspair. thc vcr nright say "oriein: t h c s r r t r j c t 'u ' h o i s t which rrriqht :rctu I n c o n c l u d i n g . onc is urippcd and frccd bv the words orte ncvcrthclesssays. it. :rnciI c-lonot nrcarl to rchabilitatc Aristotlc in thc fornr of Fotrcault (although. but only through stagirtg thc rvords. prcciscly to tl'rc cxtclit that thc practicc of this kind of spcakinu posits a valttc wlrich it docs not knorv how to ground or to sccrlrc for itsclf. in a fornr of art that slrspcncls ontolopry anci brin{.post it.vh is brokcn. signific:rntly." and I supposc tliat it givcs hinr grcat a pleasurc to Llttcr thcsc words.He bravcs it anyway. This is virtuc in thc nrininral scnsc prcciscll'bccatrsc it oflcrs the pcrsl ltrtltoritl'. and r fcrnrrinrr.rcs an allcsory for a ccrtain risk-taking that h:rppcnsat thc liniit of thc cpisrcnrolosicalficld.224 J U D I T HB U T L E R ()l. plcasurc :rnd fcar. say it without cluitc sayint it? Is hc invokir-rs it so th:rt wc ntight rclivc its rcson. A n d t h i s b c c o t n e s a p r a c t i c r c f v i r t u c . as I r. indcccl. For whcn one spcaks in th:rt wey. nnd I nrcntion it hcrc tcl oftr'r it :rsa possibility rvitliout conrnrittirrq nrysclf to it at once). thc otre which for a tinrc rclicvcs thc phrasc "originary frccdonr" frclnr thc cpisternic politics rvitltin which it livcs which also pcrfonns a ccrtain dcsubjueation of thc sr-rbjcct rvithin thc politics of truth.b t r t l r o r v i sinrplc nlettcr of s( individuel clclinrits T l r c s c l f .vith a cultiv:rtcd r thc strangc sort ( Indccd.vondcrs out loud fbr us? Tl-rc inausural sccnc of criticlue involvcs "tlrc art of voluntary instrbordination. Like thcnt.tttachcs hint to I rccoqnizc and r. thc inclividtral or. rcfusal govcrnrtrcntality. akin /o thc historical practicc oi rcvolt" (nry cnlphtsis).r critic rccoqnizc the wa1 fornration itself. but apparcntly not quitc thc sanre.hat its anchor nrust bc. btrt by the artftrl pcrfcrrnr:rnccof its rclcasc frclnr its ttstt:rldiscttrsivc cotrstraints. In this vcrbal gcsturc torvarc{thc cnd of his lccturc.e l i r r r i t st d i t:ttion that thc sclf 1 in pl:rcc. is not ca thclt trlrlts around thc subjcct is thc btrrtlcrr of. politics is nctt sintply a rt)ettcr of spcakins. hc alsolcts u tcrn)s of :rny rccciv oi thc rcvision of t of subjcction or str f i r r r r r c d . And that it is tl-risspccch act. nrcntion it." he rcnrarks. but r. indccd. I r.a n d n o t . :rncl thcrcby shorvs that a cert:rin intclligibility cxcccclsthc linrits on intcllicibility that powcr-knorvlcdsc has alrcady sct. a n c ln o 1 rvho is fornrcd bv t rvho cnclcarrorstcr and cr:rftiug.Thus.r\'.vrotc also rcfi'rs to suc t l r en r s c l v e s r r t h c i i tliink that this eivc :rt the ('xpct)se ic o l ) o c t h i c s . subjugating hirn to its tcrnrs? Ancl how cloeshe draw fronr thc vcry tcnns that hc rcfuscs?What artfirnrr is this in whicli a ncarly collapsiblc critical distancc is pcrfornrcd for us? AncJ is tl-risthc sanrc distancc that infomrs the practicc of wondcring. but in the fornr of a conjcctlrrc. "origitnry frccdotn" is givcn hcre. his becon.rt tlrc lirrrits i its o Wlrat desubjuu:r To qlirt . p c r h a p s . insistcr-rcc.n'. rcndcrcd artfull. I confess. a ccrtain frcedonr is cxcnrplificc-l. a s h i s c r i t i c s p r o f c s s .prcciscly so it nri{rht bc spokcn. on thc other. As for Fotrcault's tnctrtiotr of "origit'tary frccdonl. strlrjcctcd to an ontolosical strspcnsion. This not knor. olte of ol) irancl. and kno'"v its powcr? Thc staginc of thc tcnn is llot its asscrtiotr. What discoursc ncarly serduccs hinr herc.rnccs. of qucstiorling? What liniits of knor." And thc voluntary or.v. aftcr cxercising that vcry proxinrity in thc opcrl for us in wl-rat can bc undcrstood as sortrcthing of a tcasc. the non-acccptalrcrt: a rcal llovernr)rcltt." hc ofTcrsand withdraws it at oncc.fcrr it kno'uvs th:rt it callnot qrotuid thc clain-rof original frccdonr.fronr thc conccit that onc nright only uttcr it knorvinq in advancc w. and so his nrcr-rtior-r. of Whatcvcr this is that otrc draws upon as ollc rcsistssovcnlnrcntalization will bc "/iftc atr originary ficcdont" and "sot-ttcthir-rs.lto thc historical practiccof rcvolt."7 Fotrcau cvcr v-claylifc rvhi . Fotrcault'sqcsturc is ocldly bravc. us Fottcault fir-rds w:ry to say "oriuinary frccdonr.fbrnrlti w h c r c s o c i a ln o n n : cor)tcxt of a sclf-rl Althoueh Fouca tcxt.virtg docs hc darc to broach as hc r. posits if rrn1.11r'r.vc ntiqht sa1.()f collrsc. if v c t h i c a l p r a c t i c c .rs into thc strspcnsionof disbclicf.vinu pcrnrits for thc particullr trsc it has rvithin his discotrrsc.J Foucault dcfincs tl r. aftcr conring quitc closc to sayir-rg aftcr showing us how hc :rlniostsriicl it.

ould sirnply rctrlnr to thc introduction to LJsc Plcanw whcrc ttf' Foucaultdcfincs thc practiccs th:rt conccnl hinr." Thc sclf dclinrits itsclf . but to risk orrc's vcl forur:rtion as a subjcct. Aithough Fotrcltrlt rcfi:rs quitc straichtfonvardly to intcntic'rnanr{ dclit'rcrationin this tcxt.tttuchcshinr to his orvn identitv. ancl how it bcc--onrcs kind clf . in "Thc Subject ancl Power." And whcn that law faltcrs or is brokcn. On thc contrary.W H A T I S C R I T I O U EO N F O U C A U L T ' V I R T U E ? S 225 it oflcrs thc pcrspcctive by rvhich thc subjcct gains :r critic. Foucault introc'luccsthc tcrrns.v. is not casilv. Eng. Thus. "lnodcs oisubjcction or subjcctivation. :rnd tc'lrn:rkc thcir lifc into ali ocLrvrc. bnt horv it bcconrcs sclf-fbnning.s k i n g t h c s u b j c c t r at thc linrits of its ordcrir-rq.. imposcs a law of trtrth on hinr which hc nrust reco$rizc and lvhich othcrs havc to rccognizc in hinr.rtc. hc also lcts us knorv hor. I u." Wc nrigl-rt in think tlut this eivcs support to thc charsc that Fouclult has fullv acsthcticizcd cxistcncc at thc cxpcnsc of cthics.ty "originarv frecdonr."7 Foucault r.rt tl-rcsclf pcrforlrs takcs placc throush llonns rvhich lrrc. tl'rc lorrnation of thc subjcct is thc institution of thc vcry rcflcxivity thet indistingtrisheblv :rssunrcs tlic burcicnof fbrnration.rinr "this iornr of powcr [t]rat] aprplicsitsclf to inrrncdi.Thtts.vill cl.r fornring. thc "arts of cxistcnc:e.ts wrotc c. Itidcccl." this sutljcct is both craftcc-l in and cr:rfting. 'l'|rc Irr concluding. and thc linc bctrvccn horv it is fonrrcd. the vcry possibiliw oi rccoqnition is inrpcrilcd. .vho is said to bc rootcd in that tcnn.v rvc rtrights.r' diflcult it rvill bc tc'rundcrstanclthis sclf-stylization in tcrtnsof anv rcccivccl undcrstandin{rof intclltior) and dclibcrrtion.vaysin which thc cocrcive c:fTc'cts knowlcdgc arc at work in subjectof fonttatiou itsclf-.'uvhcnI'rcintrocluccsthc notion clf ":rrts oicristcncc" Foucrrult I also rcfcrs tc-rsttch :trts oi cxistcncc :rs producinu strbjccts who "scck to transfonrr thcntsclvcs thcir siriqul:rrbcinq.rl distancc r>n cstablishcd x u t h o r i t v .lnd no politics. in plrrcc. alrcrc11. So whcn wc ask hor. dcnotcs :l "1'rroccss which thc or it in individualclclinritsthat p:rrt of hinrsclf tl-ratn." Thcsc tcnns do rrot sirrrply rcl:rtc tl'rc r.rya sr-rbjcct is fornrccl. n'cn'dav liti' u'hich catcsorizcs thc individual. For it is not thc c. rclcasing it." and say it in thc woncJcring.rrnd whcrc both arc prodtrcccl in thc contcxt of a sclf-nrrkirrq u. nrarks hirn by his own indivicl-rality.rscthat a subjcct is fornrcc-l :rncl thcu turns around and bcgins strddcnlv to fbnrr itsclf. btrt thc dclirrritatiortth.regest onlv that hc h:rsshown us thlt thcrc carr bc no cthics. hc rcnrinclsus that this cthicrrl labol carr orrlv takc phcc lvithirr a rvic'lcr . if 'u"u'c think this acsthctic nrodc c>fsclf-nrrkine is contcxtLr:llizccl lvithin ethical practicc.rgcc-l ":lrts of cxistcncc. paradoxically. wc :rlso put rnto qtrcstion tlic subjcct r. lvitltout rccoursc to tl'rissingular scnsc of pocisis.I l u t i t i s : i l s o : l n : r c t o f c o u r a q c . This kincJof fornrulation brings us closcr tcr the strartgc sort oi virttrc thrrt Fouc:rult's anti-found:rtionalisn'rcronrcsto rcprcscnt.hich is ncvcr fullv sclf-in:'rusumtcd. inclisptrtably.rnclclccidcson thc rrratcrialfor its sclf-nrakinq.irlicr. Thc "indistir-rguishabiliry"of this linc is prcciscly thc jtrncturc rvhcrcsoci:rlnonrls intcrscct rvith cthical dcurands. a c t i n g w i t h o u t g L r a r .ill lorrrr thc objcct oihis rrroml practicc. This bccornir-ruof ln cthicai subjcct is not a sirtrplc n'ulttcr oi sclf-knovu'lcclgc sclf-ltrvlrrcltcss. T'he strbjcct rvho is fonncd bv thc prrincipicsftrnrishcclby thc discourscc>f trtrth is not vct thc subjcct rvho ctidc:rvors to fbnn itsclf.Who would Foucanlt bc if he rn'crc to uttcr suc-hrvords? What dcsut-:jurrationdocs hc pcrforrn for us with this uttcrancc? To gain a critical distancc ironr establishccl authoriry nlc:urs for Foucault not only to rccogrrizc thc r."as having to do rvith a cr-rlrivatcd rclation of thc sclf to itsclf. if cvcr clrar'r'n.fbr a vcnturc rvhich nright actually givc thc tcrnr ncw substanccand possibility. but I rvcruld sr. l n t c c s i. For an unclcrstanding of thc rcvision clitcnns that his us:lgc rccluircs.

thc politics of norms. 'I-fu Forrcault. Vttlumt Orrc (Ncw York: I\andonr House. That thc ransc of its possible forms is delimitcd in advance by such nrodes of subjectivatior-rdoes not nrcan that the self fails to form itself.1 9 u 5 ) . cds. thcrc is no sclf-fornring outside of thc noms that orchcstratc thc possiblc tbrrnation of thc subjcct. M i c h c l F o u c a u l t . a nronrcnt of cthical questionine which bc a sr"rbjcct requircs that we break thc habits ofjudenrcnt in favor of a riskicr practicc that sccks to vicld artistryfrorn constraint. 1997).75-6.r a l l y a l c c t u r c g i v c n a t t h e F r e n c h S o c i e t y o f P h i l o s o p h y o n 2 7 M a y 1 9 7 8 . Critiqrc. F o r a n i t r t e r e s t i n ga c c o u l r t o [ t l i i s t r a n s i t i o n f r o n r c r i t i c a l t h e o r y t o a t h e o r y o f c o n r r r r u n i c e t i v c actiotr. in shorter fonl. c t a l .I anr grateful to Williarn Connolly and Wendy Brown lor their verr. occupyir-rgthat ontologically insecure position which posesthc qucstion ancw: who will herc. which is to say that it risks its dcforrnation as a subject. transcript by Moniquc Enrcry. 1 9 f 3 6 ) .rpter 7. C)r-r the contrary. ther"r virtue trccomes the practicc by which thc self forms itsclf in desubjugation. tcnn carries rnore agency than thc fomrer. I)rcyfus ancl Paul Rabinow. and Lltopia: A Sndy of thL'f:owtddtictnsttl'Critical Michel T l u ' t t r l ( N e w Y o r k : C o l u n r b i a U n i v e r s i t y P r c s s . He makes clcar that therc is no sclf-forrning outsidc of a r-nodeof subjcctiv:rtion. as the Raynrond Lecture at Williams Carnbridge Univcrsity in May of 2(XX). that thc sclf is fully fornrcd. . it is conrpclled to fornr itsclf. " Michel Fc'rucault. . l\ayrrrond Willianrs. " ' W h : r t i s C r i t i q u c ? " r n T h e P o l i t i t so . 1()78).1 9 f J 4 ) . s u b s e q t r e n t l yp u b l i s h e d in Bulletin fu ln Socittl. Scc ch. one nright say. 6 7 Miclrel Foucault.3 0 .1 3 . t r a n s l a t e di n t o E n g l i s h b y L y s a H o c h r o t h .tlity. Keywttrds (New York: ()xford Univcrsity Press. and what wili count as a iifi:. NItrnn.aix dr la philosttlthic84 2 (1990). The sclf fornrs itsell but it fornrs itself ' TOTAL ot Notes This essay wls originally dclivered. " C ) u l t u r a l C l r i t i c i s r r r a n d S o c i c t y . l ' T r u t h . this volurnc. rcviscd by S u z a n n e D e l o n n c . M A : P r c s s . The History o-f Scxu.226 J U D I T HB U T L E R political context. Vtlttnrc lilo (Ncw York: MIT P a n t h e o n P r e s s .1 ." and it nrav be that for Foucault thc la\ "vithin a set of fonn:rtivc practices that arc charactcrizcd as nrodcs of subjcctivations. Ilut if that sclf-forming is donc ir-rdisobcdicncc to the principles by which one is fornrcd. scc Seyla tsenhabib. A d o r n o . 1976).. . The Subject and Power.35-63. Wc have rnoved quictly from the discursive nc-ltion of thc subject to r n)ore psychologically resollant notion of "sclf. Llsc ttf' Pkantrr: Tltt' History ol Scnnlity. ivlicltel Ftntcmtlt: Bryond Structuralismand Hunrcntatics (Chicago: Univcrsity of Cll'ricairo Prcss. S y l v c \ r c L o t r i n g c r a n c l L y s a Hochroth (Ncw York: Senriotcxt(c). 1982)20 n -2 u . Or. but to fornr itsclf within forrns that are already nrorc or le-ss in operation and underway. " i n P r i s m s( C a n r b r i d g e . T h i s c s s a yw a s o r i g i r . which is to say.fran.e d .' r-rscfulconunt:nts on carlicr drafts. T h e o d o r W ." in Hubcrt L. it is cornpellcd to fornr itsclf rvitl-rin practiccs that arc more or lessin placc.

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