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Continuum Studies in Continental Philosophy Series Editor: James Fieser, University of Tennessee at Martin, USA Continuum Studies in Continental Philosophy is a major monograph series from Continuum. The series features first-class scholarly research monographs across the field of Continental philosophy. Each work makes a major contribution to the field of philosophical research. Adorno’s Concept of Life, Alastair Morgan Badiou, Marion and St Paul, Adam Miller Being and Number in Heidegger’s Thought, Michael Roubach Deleuze and Guattari, Fadi Abou-Rihan Deleuze and the Genesis of Representation, Joe Hughes Deleuze and the Unconscious, Christian Kerslake Deleuze, Guattari and the Production of the New, edited by Simon O’Sullivan and Stephen Zepke Derrida, Simon Morgan Wortham Derrida and Disinterest, Sean Gaston The Domestication of Derrida, Lorenzo Fabbri Encountering Derrida, edited by Simon Morgan Wortham and Allison Weiner Foucault’s Heidegger, Timothy Rayner Foucault’s Legacy, edited by C. G. Prado Gadamer and the Question of the Divine, Walter Lammi Heidegger and a Metaphysics of Feeling, Sharin N. Elkholy Heidegger and Aristotle, Michael Bowler Heidegger and Philosophical Atheology, Peter S. Dillard Heidegger Beyond Deconstruction, Michael Lewis Heidegger, Politics and Climate Change, Ruth Irwin Heidegger’s Contributions to Philosophy, Jason Powell Heidegger’s Early Philosophy, James Luchte The Irony of Heidegger, Andrew Haas Levinas and Camus, Tal Sessler Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology, Kirk M. Besmer Nietzsche’s Ethical Theory, Craig Dove Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, edited by James Luchte The Philosophy of Exaggeration, Alexander Garcia Düttmann Sartre’s Phenomenology, David Reisman Who’s Afraid of Deleuze and Guattari? Gregg Lambert Žižek and Heidegger, Thomas Brockelman
G. Prado .Foucault’s Legacy Edited by C.
com © C.continuumbooks. Michel. ISBN-10: 1-8470-6595-3 (Hardback) ISBN-13: 978-1-8470-6595-7 (Hardback) Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Foucault’s legacy/edited by C. Title. 1926–1984. Prado.F724F74 2009 194–dc22 2008034111 Typeset by Newgen Imaging Systems Pvt Ltd. C. G. or any information storage or retrieval system. Prado. p. Foucault. Prado and Contributors 2009 All rights reserved. ISBN 978-1-8470-6595-7 1. I. including photocopying. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means.Continuum International Publishing Group The Tower Building 80 Maiden Lane 11 York Road Suite 704 London SE1 7NX New York NY 10038 www. electronic or mechanical. B2430. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. G. Includes bibliographical references and index. without prior permission in writing from the publishers. recording. G. cm. India Printed and bound in Great Britain by the MPG Books Group . Chennai. II.
Foucault. G. Prado 1. Hegel. Secularization theory. A philosophical shock: Foucault reading Nietzsche. reading Heidegger Babette E. Weakening ontology through actuality: Foucault and Vattimo Santiago Zabala 7. Foucault.Contents Contributors Editor’s introduction C. Secular self-sacrifice: on Michel Foucault’s courses at the Collège de France James Bernauer Select bibliography Index vi 1 6 19 42 68 90 109 124 146 161 167 . Two uses of genealogy: Michel Foucault and Bernard Williams Colin Koopman 6. and the theological origins of totalitarianism Michael Lackey 8. and the death of man Tom Rockmore 4. The temporality of power David Couzens Hoy 2. Babich 3. After knowledge and liberty: Foucault and the new pragmatism Barry Allen 5.
and pragmatism. Music and Eros in Hölderlin. Heidegger (SUNY 2006). author of Choosing to Die: Elective Death and Multiculturalism (Cambridge 2008). . Knowledge and Civilization (Westview 2004). co-editor of Michel Foucault and Theology: The Politics of Religious Experience (Ashgate 2004). Like Flowers: Philosophy and Poetry. Truth in Philosophy (Harvard 1993). Nietzsche. author of Michel Foucault’s Force of Flight: Toward an Ethics for Thought (Humanities Press 1990).Contributors Barry Allen. ‘Revising Foucault’ (Philosophy and Social Criticism. and many articles. Michael Lackey. author of The Time of Our Lives: A Critical History of Temporality (MIT 2009). James Bernauer. Nietzsche. editor of A House Divided: Comparing Analytic and Continental Philosophy (Humanity 2003) and other collections. and other books. The Critical Circle: Literature. author of Words in Blood. G. forthcoming). author of Pragmatism as Transitionalism (forthcoming). executive editor of New Nietzsche Studies. author of African American Atheists and Political Liberation: A Study of the Sociocultural Dynamics of Faith (Univ. and Critical Theory (Humanity 2004). forthcoming). Santa Cruz. Nietzsche. and numerous articles on Foucault. Boston College. Fordham University. author of Artifice and Design: Art and Technology in Human Experience (Cornell 2008). McMaster University. Prado (editor). and other articles. History. Critical Theory (with Thomas McCarthy. Santa Cruz. ‘Foucault’s Methodological Expansion: Adding Genealogy to Archaeology’ (Journal of the Philosophy of History. Babich. Critical Resistance: From Poststructuralism to Post-Critique (MIT 2004). Queen’s University (emeritus). Blackwell 1994). University of Minnesota. Colin Koopman. co-editor of special issue of Philosophy and Social Criticism (September 2005) commemorating the twentieth anniversary of Michel Foucault’s death. C. editor of Foucault: A Critical Reader (Blackwell 1986). Press of Florida 2007). and other books. Distinguished Professor at the University of California. Babette E. and Philosophical Hermeneutics (University of California 1982). David Couzens Hoy. Searle and Foucault on Truth (Cambridge 2006). Modernist God States: A Literary Study of the Theological Origins of Totalitarianism (forthcoming). Humanities Research Fellow in Philosophy at University of California. Habermas.
other books and many articles. Duquesne University. Santiago Zabala. Idealism. Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at Potsdam University Institute of Philosophy. and Analytic Philosophy (Yale 2005).Contributors vii Tom Rockmore. On Foundationalism (Rowman and Littlefield 2004). editor of Weakening Philosophy: Essays in Honor of Gianni Vattimo (McGill-Queen’s 2007) and Richard Rorty and Gianni Vattimo’s The Future of Religion (Columbia University Press 2005). McAnulty College Distinguished Professor. author of The Hermeneutic Nature of Analytic Philosophy (Columbia 2008) and The Remains of Being (forthcoming). . Hegel. author of Kant and Idealism (Yale 2007).
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‘Michel Foucault was perhaps the single most famous intellectual in the world. saying that Foucault ‘was the most famous intellectual figure in the world’ when he died. one can begin by considering the reputation that he acquired during his lifetime and the impact of his works on notable scholars in all the disciplines of the human sciences. this latter is not an easy task. Prado How does one assess a philosopher’s legacy? In the case of Michel Foucault. changed the basis for the work of all scholars.’2 Alan Ryan is still more positive. There has been notable lack of engagement with Foucault on the part of philosophers in the analytic tradition.5 Jonathan Arac is more assertive.’4 Miller makes a further comment that is most relevant to the articles that follow in this collection. . But in the case of this rather enigmatic figure. it is also necessary to consider the broader impact of his central ideas on philosophers outside his methodological and canondefined intellectual milieu.’ but he adds that Foucault’s international reputation ‘almost eclipsed his reputation in France. If evidence of Foucault’s far-reaching influence is required. contending that ‘Foucault’s work . it is commonplace for followers of theorists to express over-enthusiasm for the work of their favorites and to overstate its originality or importance.Editor’s introduction C.1 Despite this disinterest. G. Foucault’s central ideas have had an impact.’6 One may be forgiven for suspecting such claims to be exaggerated. But assessment of his philosophical legacy inevitably focuses on his influence on thinkers in his own canonical tradition. In the case of Foucault. ‘At the time of his death. one of the most influential thinkers of the latter twentieth century. one need look no further than statements by his biographers and commentators on his writings. . the claims seem not to be . Contrary to this.’ as James Miller writes. he tells us that scholars across the academic spectrum continue to grapple with the implications of Foucault’s research and dwell on the abstract questions he raised.3 David Macey makes the more modest claim that at his death Foucault ‘was without doubt France’s most prominent philosopher. though.
’9 A complication with assessing this influence. He was a critic and a genealogist whose analyses aimed at alterity.’ as saying that Foucault ‘wore masks. a nihilist.’8 Foucault failed to engage even Richard Rorty. the character of historical inquiry and the nature of personal identity. claiming he was ‘very proud’ that some thought him dangerous for being ‘an irrationalist. Foucault maintained that when he wrote. however. which Foucault achieved with impressive success. a philosopher who escaped—some would say transcended—his early analytic background to become North America’s answer to European postmodernism in general and to Foucault in particular. the origins of moral responsibility and the foundations of modern government. many. but seemed to relish it.’11 He could not imagine what intellectual activity can consist of ‘if not in the endeavor to know how and to what extent it might be possible to think differently.’10 The key to this multiplicity is Foucault’s own heartfelt assertion that the intellectual’s mandate is ‘[t]o change something in the minds of people. again like Nietzsche. Eribon remarks that ‘there are several Foucaults—a thousand Foucaults. students in various disciplines often are even more enthusiastic about Foucault than their professors. though. Foucault was a lover not only of masks but also of irony.’13 But this objective. he did it ‘above all to change myself and not to think the same thing as before.’ Eribon also quotes Georges Dumézil. What is certain. and literary criticism to film studies. was a profoundly oppositional thinker.’7 What Foucault likely found more difficult to deal with was dismissal or indifference. and that is what he got from the world of analytic philosophy. is that driven as he was to seek novelty of thought. There also is an extensive feminist literature on Foucault. insured that attempting to assess his legacy is a difficult task. is that. much of it favorable to his views or building on his insights and contentions. But as noted. Foucault is all things to all people.2 Foucault’s Legacy exaggerated. As Didier Eribon remarks. Nor is this interest in Foucault limited to professional academics. he was a master . like Nietzsche. Foucault was ‘completely ignored by most American philosophers. What is undeniable is that Foucault raised serious and demanding questions about ‘the reach of power and the limits of knowledge. if not most analytic philosophers see Foucault as a tradition-destroying postmodern and a threatening relativist.’12 Speaking of his own work. considering him a champion in the struggle against what they regard as stultifying disciplinary traditions. sociology. Foucault was aware of this hostility. ‘who knew [Foucault] better than almost anyone else. High estimation of Foucault is evident in disciplines from political science through cultural geography. and he was always changing them. Foucault.
true to Foucault’s enigmatic nature and diversity of approach to issues and questions. Foucault’s texts have been amply discussed and critiqued. his books ‘hardly ever refer back to his previous works. This is what the articles that follow do. he invariably succeeded in establishing new parameters within which others might think those problems through. This should come as no surprise because Foucault’s work does more than pose scholarly challenges and invitations. Thinking along with Foucault requires that we renounce the ahistorical naivety and self-certainty on which our thinking can all too easily run aground. and challenging thinkers of our time. enigmatic. variegated. then. Thinking along with Foucault decidedly is not for everyone. and the very fact that a discipline.Introduction 3 of suspicion. or an issue was established made him question it at the most fundamental level. they examine his contributions to contemporary thought by entering into various different conversations with one of the most innovative.15 Assessing Foucault’s legacy. His work resists holistic interpretation. Still less is thinking along with Foucault for those who seek facile solutions to problems centuries in the making and legitimized by discourses that though they appear unproblematic and self-evident are inevitably themselves part of the problem. It requires that we exercise a degree of historical consciousness and often enough a fair amount of suspicion. a history. and we approach many questions with those ideas at the back of our minds. Some of his most important ideas—especially that of power-relations—have been integrated into our own thinking. reflecting on his legacy is complicated by how there is no single work or theme that adequately represents the complex. who brandish the banner of ‘clarity’ and strive to reduce to zero the ambiguity of all that lies before them.’ either specifically or even by implication. Additionally. and that we undertake a deeper kind of inquiry into the conditions that fundamentally constitute knowledge and truth. Turning to what follows. is more a matter of initiating and developing various conversations. Twenty-five years after his death. but the huge literature that his work has inspired has not brought interpretation and assessment to completion. It is not for those who would theorize in an historical vacuum. And if Foucault himself was not often given to resolving the problems his analyses and suspicions unearthed. a methodology.14 Despite his own avowals about the unity of his overall project. David Couzens Hoy opens the conversation with consideration of Foucault’s contemporary importance and some intriguing thoughts on temporality. and evolutionary totality of Foucault’s thought and its several shifts in direction. Babette Babich takes a broad perspective on .
Zabala discusses the relationship between Foucault’s and Vattimo’s respective conceptions of philosophy and what their similarities and dissimilarities mean for understanding philosophy and its goals. Barry Allen focuses a little more tightly. He closes the volume with some intriguing reflections on the conceptual impact of Foucault’s thinking on our own thought about religion and facelessness as an aspect of subjectivity. a philosopher who. but it is one limited for brevity’s sake to citations in English and those works having the most direct connections to the various articles. particularly on Gianni Vattimo. depending on whether he is read as having been more importantly influenced by Nietzsche or by Heidegger. may be normatively confused. reached across the canonical divide to consider Nietzsche’s thought in his own work. Koopman discusses the difference between Foucault’s use of genealogy as problematization and Williams’ vindicatory genealogy which. To close this brief Introduction. Narrowing the perspective still more. Again taking a broader perspective. Readers should avail themselves of the rich resources provided in the many citations listed in the articles’ Endnotes. he looks at alternative interpretations of Foucault’s thesis about ‘the death of Man’ in light of Hegelian and anti-Hegelian readings of it. like Nietzsche’s subversive genealogy. Allen also treats the deeper issue of how Rorty and Foucault shared a surprisingly traditional discursive conception of knowledge. continues the emphasis on the social. it merits mention that the scholarship displayed in the articles that follow is most impressive. James Bernauer. though in the analytic tradition. Richard Rorty. Colin Koopman focuses on the Anglo-American milieu and particularly on Bernard Williams.4 Foucault’s Legacy differing construals of Foucault’s work. Santiago Zabala focuses on the Continental European milieu. one going beyond philosophy’s academic boundaries to social issues. an increasingly influential and widely-read contemporary. the next two articles explore connections between Foucault and particular philosophers. . who knew Foucault and studied with him. He examines the relevance of Foucault’s poststructuralist secularism to the role of theological beliefs and practices in the continuance and growth of totalitarianism. considering Foucault’s relation to the new pragmatism by tackling the intriguing lack of engagement between Foucault and pragmatism’s leading contemporary exponent. Tom Rockmore narrows the focus somewhat in considering one of Foucault’s most central ideas. At the end of the volume I provide a select Bibliography. Michael Lackey considers the significance and applicability of Foucault’s ideas for understanding a major contemporary political danger. with a view to showing the ambiguous consequences for philosophical thinking.
and Patrick Hutton. and Merleau-Ponty. David (1993). Robert Hurley. Miller 1993. I am certain that both your interest and time will be amply repaid because you will find much that is challenging in the articles that follow. Foucault. Miller 1993. for your time and for your interest in this collection. James Goldstein and James Cascaito. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. They think he has ‘nothing to say’ about ‘philosophical theories of truth and knowledge. . (1991). ed. 313. Ryan. Michel (1991). Ontario. Alan (1993). (1994). Gary. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press. L. Jonathan. Martin et al. Huck Gutman.’ Rorty (1982). Eribon 1991. Foucault. Moore.’ Inquiry.’ The New York Review of Books. H. 224. After Foucault. Armstrong] urged that “intellectual hygiene” requires one not to read . 13. Betsy Wing. Kingston. Michel (1986).. Husserl. ‘Foucault’s Life and Hard Times. and Wittgenstein tend to not consider Foucault a philosopher. (1988).Introduction 5 Lastly. 3. Michel Foucault. 3. James (1993).’ Nola. 2008 Notes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Analytic philosophers whose post-Kantian canon prioritizes the work of Frege. New York: Vintage. xi. M. Eribon. 12. 13. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. 9. Heidegger. Robert (1994) ‘Post-Modernism. Remarks on Marx: Conversations with Duccio Trombadori. A French Cultural Chernobyl: Foucault on Power/Knowledge. 10. Martin. I thank you. Trans. The Lives of Michel Foucault. Didier (1991). 13. New York: Semiotext(e). Trans. 13. Macey. the reader. 37(1): 3–43. seeing him as a postmodern who essentially broke with his Continental postKantian canon emphasizing the work of Hegel. New York: Simon and Schuster. Russell. 40(7): 12–17. Arac. 1988. Miller. Trans. ed. Richard Rorty notes ‘a distinguished analytic philosopher [D. 27. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. . Gutting. 3–4. . Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault. London: Hutchinson. Gutting 1994. The Passion of Michel Foucault. The Cambridge Companion to Foucault. The Consequences of Pragmatism. The Use of Pleasure. xi. vii. Foucault. eds.
The temporality of power
David Couzens Hoy
Twenty-five years after his death Foucault is larger than life. The end of his life in 1984 was only the beginning of an exponential increase in the influence of his thought. He always played down his importance as a particular individual. From his own point of view, his personal life and thus its end were not the most significant aspects of his intellectual existence. If he was modest about his personal life, indeed even secretive, he never extended that modesty and secretiveness to his thought and his writings. Nor should we in our attempts to assess Foucault’s legacy. Today it is impossible for a specialist in any figure of Continental philosophy to be taken seriously without also knowing Foucault’s work in depth. One can prefer any of the major French, German, Italian, Slovenian, Croatian, or Polish philosophers, but one must also be able to contrast that person’s thought to Foucault’s. In the last twenty-five years Foucault has thus changed from being one among many to the point where he is now more than ever the universal constant for contemporary European philosophy. And not merely for philosophers. While the current A to Z of philosophers from Agamben to Zizek have their adherents in philosophical scholarship, no other philosopher has achieved Foucault’s level of impact on fields other than philosophy. Some highly regarded philosophers raise the question whether Foucault should even be considered a philosopher. I view this attitude as a provincial envy of the degree to which Foucault has been appropriated in literature, history, cultural studies, gender studies, species studies, and the like. I would even speculate that the recent proliferation of the variety of topics that can now lay claim to being an academic program is due to Foucault. Thanks to his ability to traverse boundaries and to break down traditional barriers, ‘X studies,’ where X is an unlimited variable, may one day replace the traditional departments of the humanities. That day may well signal the end of ‘Philosophy,’ at least as an academic department in the humanities division. While analytic philosophy may
The Temporality of Power
have to be moved over to the natural or social sciences divisions of the academy, Continental philosophy may disappear into the various programs of humanities studies. (There is no need for young philosophers to worry about employment, though, for each program of study—and their number shall be legion—will need its own resident ‘theorists.’) Indeed, perhaps it is already the case that everyone teaching humanities is a Continental philosopher. Do you, the readers of this anthology, currently have peers who know nothing about Foucault? (Or at least, who would admit to knowing nothing?) Of course, we could all afford to know more about Foucault, even those of us who are considered Foucault specialists. That is why there is a growing rather than a shrinking need for volumes such as this one, where eminent thinkers and researchers raise and discuss their issues about the validity of Foucault’s ideas. Let me mention two major rubrics that feature in current Foucault scholarship, namely, materiality and ideality. Then I will turn to the theme that I wish to highlight, namely, temporality.
Consider materiality first. Although Foucault did not seem overly concerned with his own life and even his impending death, he was deeply involved with his bio-political studies of the concepts of life and death. While the phenomena of life and death are eternal and universal, the concepts of life and death have a history. He charts the ever-increasing penetration into our existence by the bio-political organization of life and death through both disciplinary power and biopower. Whereas the genealogy of disciplinary power uncovers the materiality of embodiment, the genealogy of biopower reveals the materiality of population. The contradiction of materiality is that our attempts to control the physical conditions of existence turn back on us with a vengeance and end by controlling us. The increasing erosion of our freedom by our very efforts to maximize our freedom is thus the quasi-dialectical motor of the history of statist biopower. One example that he provides of the dialectical contradiction built into biopower is atomic energy. Although initially developed for the improvement of life, atomic energy rapidly leads to the atomic bomb, which improves our ability to foster not better life, but instead, greater death. In depicting the contradictory effects of human bio-political efforts to improve life, Foucault’s genealogical account of life resembles Hegel’s analysis of life in the famous dialectical life and death struggle. Action in the name of life
can turn on us and Foucault posits that it can even result in the potential suicide of the human species. As an example, Foucault suggests that there could even be a potential worry about experiments with viruses. The effort to discover the secrets of life could possibly result in the production of a virus so virulent that it would wipe out all life on the planet. Another example that he provides is modern racism. Not the ordinary ‘ethnic’ suspicion of others who look and act differently from oneself, modern racism becomes ‘statist’ when it adopts a biologizing discourse that invokes terms such as purity, degeneracy, or inferiority. This example shows that the concept of life involves a contradictory materiality that has severe consequences for our existence, both private and public. Two other examples of biopower are not provided by Foucault’s writings. One is his own death, presumably through what we now call AIDS. As life and death are increasingly organized as a means of controlling populations and peoples, the meaning of ‘life’ changes in ways that Foucault was only beginning to work out when he came to his own end. The name of his particular death was barely coming into use at that time, so it is not clear that he or his friends fully understood the epidemic that was apparently the specific cause of his demise.1 Perhaps that does not matter, for medical science has many names for fatal diseases it does not understand. One suspects that major scientific paradigm changes or epistemic shifts will be required before these fatal illnesses will be understood. Another example of the dialectic of life and death as it plays itself out at the level of materiality is the apocryphal worry (at least we hope that the worry is merely fanciful) that the impending startup of the Large Hadron Collider outside Geneva may cause a disaster of planetary proportions. That is, through science’s efforts to extend human knowledge and to unlock the secrets of nature, the collisions of protons might in fact produce an infinitesimal black hole. Even though such a black hole would be very small, the speculation is that the tiny implosion would have the power to consume the entire planet.2
In addition to materiality, another topic that Foucault reinvigorates in his late work is ideality. By the term ‘ideality’ I mean the emphasis that philosophy has traditionally placed on the inner life, the mental, the representational, in short, on consciousness. The standard paradigm case of ideality is first-person subjectivity. The initial fame of Foucault’s early work
note that the key to punishment in the penitentiary is not so much the architecture as the daily schedule The striking contrast that begins the book is between a public execution in 1757 and the timetable for a given day in a penitentiary 80 years later. from Piranesi’s famous prints of dark. Nevertheless. the temporality of power. that is.’ All these points of view taken together constitute that meta-discipline of the humanities. and Sartrean preoccupations with ideality. When the question of the subject reemerges in Foucault’s later work on the genealogy of ethics in the 1980s. however. Kantian. it is conceived in an entirely new way. the transcendental unity of apperception. I think that the assumption of many scholars is that Foucault is primarily a spatial thinker. right from the start Foucault recognizes that the carceral is fundamentally a matter of ‘doing time. More influential outside academic philosophy are his genealogical studies of how the subject is constituted by both disciplinary power and biopower. with self-consciousness. conscience de soi—a term he says even as late as 1979 that he prefers to avoid. Especially in Discipline and Punish Foucault is preoccupied with architecture. however. wherein visibility is itself the trap. Now more than ever. practical selves change when we realize that we have become who we are as a result of relations of domination. These studies lead to his attempt to ‘think differently’ and to break with particular. Foucault’s intellectual trajectory thus shows subjectivity reappearing as a poststructural topic of concern after it had supposedly disappeared along with the structuralist rejection of the Cartesian fixation on the cogito.3 This move away from the priority of the cogito. infi nite prisons with no outside to Bentham’s Panopticon. The task then becomes to desubjectify or even to desubjugate ourselves by critically resisting our bio-political self-stylings. or the freely constituting consciousness is only one side of Foucault’s thought. The point is that our relations to our concrete.The Temporality of Power 9 when he was developing the method he calls ‘archaeology’ comes from his apparent break with these Cartesian.’ . the self that we are is one that we will need to examine critically from as many different angles as possible—hence the proliferating need for interdisciplinary ‘studies. the ‘history of consciousness.’ The temporality of power Now I shall concentrate on the central topic of this essay.4 Thus. constituted identities through what he calls desubjectification or désassujettissement.
shortly before his death in 1984: Here. as a genealogist or ‘critical historian’ he writes the ‘history of the present. in history. that— even without this solemnity—the time we live in is very interesting. or of completion or of a returning dawn. Many of his writings combine both of these methods. I can say so all the more firmly. or of high point. The solemnity with which everyone who engages in philosophical discourse reflects on his own time strikes me as a flaw. since it is something I have done myself. and so on. at any rate. what should the genealogist’s attitude be toward the present? Foucault might appear to be contradicting himself when he describes his relation to the present in the following remark that I quote at length from an interview that appeared in 1983. the time we live in is not the unique or fundamental or irruptive point in history where everything is completed and begun again. in post-Hegelian thought: the analysis of the present as being precisely. we are touching on one of those forms—perhaps we should call them ‘habits’—one of the most harmful habits in contemporary thought. it needs to be analyzed and broken down. Furthermore. Thinking about these methods helps to explain what otherwise might be taken as conflicting attitudes toward the temporal dimensions. How can there be a history of the present when the present has not yet turned into the past and thus could not yet be a topic for a historian? Furthermore. I think we should have the modesty to say to ourselves that. Take the dimension of the present first. we find this incessantly—or at least. I think. insistently enough. I propose as a thesis that for Foucault temporality is the mode in which the processes of materiality run up against and are resisted by the processes of desubjectification. his thought is in fact concerned with temporality throughout. I shall unpack this definition through examples of Foucault’s statements about the temporality of power. on the other hand. in modern thought even. and that we would do well to ask ourselves. ‘What is today?’6 . and since. on the one hand. Although as an archaeological historian he concerns himself with making philosophical points by studying the past.’5 The use of the methods of archaeology and genealogy are not confined to different periods of his life. We must also have the modesty to say. I speculate that the thoroughly temporal character of his thought is difficult to see at first because it can be found in so many aspects of his work. Foucault’s characterization of genealogy as ‘history of the present’ derives from an apparent paradox. a present of rupture. in someone like Nietzsche.10 Foucault’s Legacy My hypothesis is that despite Foucault’s tendency to think about power in spatial pictures.
’10 Transformation is. or the moment of either completion or returning dawn.’7 If we ask the question. disciplinary power is more diffuse and permeates society . of course. then. which is where the action is. after all. depending on which methodological viewpoint he is occupying. From an archaeological perspective. Our time. that is. as a methodological archaeologist he cautions against attributing too much importance to any given present.’9 The point of genealogical philosophy is to open up ‘a space of concrete freedom. The present changes. of possible transformation. or the high point. Foucault’s call is to live more fully in the present. Foucault’s method of genealogy is the key to action that is specific and transformative. How does he argue for it? Let me point to an example of his temporalization of power before trying to answer this question. Foucault therefore warns against thinking of the present as the crucial point of rupture. which is that the present is not very important in the grand scheme of things. In his 1973–1974 lectures on Psychiatric Power he distinguishes the temporality of the power of sovereignty from that of the disciplinary power that emerges in the late eighteenth century. however. genealogy should try to grasp ‘why and how that which is might no longer be that which is. is not ‘the unique or fundamental or irruptive point in history where everything is completed and begun again.The Temporality of Power 11 The apparent tension here is between an apocalyptic present that stands out as a moment of important crisis and a more humble present that is no different from any other present. This point is not the truism that one can live only in the present.’8 That is to say. the above quotation insists. One can be so focused on the past or the future that one fails to attend to the transformative possibilities that can be found only in the present. we should remember Foucault’s own advice. why Foucault now. a temporal notion. How can the ‘historian of the present’ have both of these attitudes toward the present at the same time? Foucault’s relation to the present is twofold. the second thing he says is that the present is in fact where we are now. each present is significantly different from every other present. First. The task of genealogy is to trace out the ‘lines of fragility in the present. Whereas the power of sovereignty involves the traditional model of power as possessed by the sovereign and imposed from the top downward on the subjects. But from the genealogical perspective. One can. Each present has its distinctive possibilities. each present is the only one in which we can act. be in the present but not be at all attentive to it. Therefore. the present is no different from any other present. and any given set of interests will never dominate the philosophical field forever. As a methodological genealogist.
towards the moment when it will keep going by itself and only a virtual supervision will be required. ‘looks toward the future. 1976 he adds biopower as the third major formulation of power. discipline looks ahead and is thus more oriented to the present and the future than to the past. in contrast. He starts off. security is only ever a matter of probability. life.’16 In contrast to discipline.’15 In other words. Modern temporality is produced through the conflict that results when the closure . On either account. it seizes the body and not the product: ‘it is a seizure of time in its totality. but a perception that ‘will open onto a future that is not exactly controllable. consequently. ceremonies. says Foucault. and body. will have become habit. of an ‘indefinite series of mobile elements. as we might expect. and it is repeated discontinuously in rituals.’13 In the lectures from 1975 to 1976 and especially in those from 1977 to 1978 he does not modify so much as he complicates this account of the temporalization of power. Security does not involve a static perception. when discipline.’12 Discipline. Disciplinary power. discipline is exercised on the bodies of individuals. When he spells out this notion of power in the lecture of January 11.’14 He then notes that the temporal dimension of security is also futural. and not of the time of service. and security is exercised over a whole population. by distinguishing the three forms of power spatially: ‘sovereignty is exercised within the borders of a territory. A more total hold. biopower generally and security in particular plans for an uncertain future that it would control by regulation that anticipates probabilistically rather than by deterministic mechanisms that operate on individual bodies. 1978. biopower is first discussed in terms of the mechanisms of security. and is thus essentially connected to the past.12 Foucault’s Legacy in a capillary fashion. This complication is necessary insofar as in the lecture from March 17. The experience of the temporality of modern society is the effect of these pincers. contrasts to sovereignty power insofar as it is a total occupation of the individual’s ‘time. This principle can be divine right or blood or birth. Disciplinary power involves a temporal gradient aiming at the telos where discipline will function permanently without the application of unnecessary force. and narratives that re-establish the tradition from time to time. not precisely measured or measurable.’11 Whereas sovereignty depends on the idea of precedence. his vision is clear: individuals in modern society are caught in the pincers of these different models of power. which draws on the work of the past to form present habits that will determine what people do in the future. The sovereignty model of power looks backward to the principle that founds its authority.
then. the inference is that any universal can have an end as well. and biopower). does that imply that they are a priori. present. he need not deny the applicability of all universal structures or values. but instead that the putting into play of these universal forms is itself historical. I grant that the French word tenaille suggests a two-jawed instrument of torture. and future—with this three-dimensional analysis of power. Furthermore. present. Foucault offers a compelling analysis of the temporality of modern society—past. ‘Singular forms of experience may perfectly well harbor universal structures. there is a better correlation to the three dimensions of time (past. The temporality of universals Are the three dimensions of power ‘universals’? If so. sovereign and disciplinary. Thus. (Think less in terms of an instrument of torture than of something more innocuous such as a drill chuck). contrary to critics such as Jürgen Habermas.’18 He then underscores the point by insisting that the idea that thought ‘should have this historicity does not mean it is deprived of all universal form. three prongs gives a better grip and can apply more force than two. In sum. that is. universals have temporality. Foucault himself believes that although experiences are always singular. The most effective reply is to point out that there can be a pincers effect generated by three prongs rather than two.The Temporality of Power 13 that the materiality of the past would impose on the present is opened up by the processes of desubjectification. Genealogy is the method for showing that a universal begins at some point in historical time. . Although Foucault may be suspicious of particular claims to universality. Insofar as anything that has a beginning also can have an endpoint. that Foucault cannot invoke universal principles. Or at least the genealogy challenges us to imagine a state of affairs that lacked the universal in question. In fact. disciplinary. and future) when there are three modalities of power (sovereign. Foucault could reject Habermas’ criticism of him for being a crypto-normativist who smuggles in universal standards to which he is not entitled.’19 On Foucault’s view. eternal and necessary (as Kantians would have it)? Or do universals also have temporality? There is no reason to believe.17 A possible objection at this point is that the metaphor of pincers works better when there are only two concepts of power at stake.
‘my theoretical ethic is opposite to theirs. Foucault has a clear sense of when injustice is committed. Foucault presents the genealogist as someone who supposes that ‘universals do not exist. which says that universals exist even if they are not a ‘thing. sovereigns. however. the critical pluralist can see that power unjustly violates the universal. In contrast to this insistence on universals. intransigent as soon as. where the discovery of reason also led to the invention of disciplinary power. It is “antistrategic”: to be respectful when a singularity revolts.14 Foucault’s Legacy Foucault thus does not reject all universals. A pluralist believes that universals are the results of interpretations. in ‘Useless to Revolt?’ Foucault opposes universalist ‘strategists’ who. They can have real effects and they are often insidious. So the critical pluralist can invoke the universal to counter injustice equally as effectively as the universalist. In sum. Other times.’ Sometimes a universal can cover up injustice. This methodology does not trivialize universals. will argue that the injustice can be seen to be inconsequential when viewed from the perspective of the greater necessity of the whole. For instance. Some interpretations are better than others and it is not the case that ‘anything goes.’23 From a fictitious relation. as objects that emerge historically when the subject tries to make itself into its own object.’20 In other words. or madness. Foucault maintains. . These are the rubrics standardly thought to be essential features not only of the present.24 Genealogy is the study of the emergence of universals and their transformation into attitudes of domination and subjection. In contrast to these strategic universalists. Foucault does in fact sometimes espouse a ‘methodological nominalism. Someone who is also a critical pluralist insists that not simply any interpretation will do. Paul Veyne. Foucault says. but instead he has a nuanced attitude toward them. as in the dialectic of enlightenment. I therefore see Foucault as a critical pluralist.’ genealogy maintains as a methodological hypothesis that universals do not exist but with the caveat that they are not thereby ‘nothing. Foucault’s thought must be that the universal is not the sole provenance of the universalist. society. and he will resist such acts of injustice in the name of the universal.’ In dialogue with the French historian. when faced with a particular injustice. In contrast to phenomenology.’22 The critical historian views these anthropological universals as historical constructs. subjects. Foucault’s ‘critical history of thought’ maintains a systematic skepticism toward ‘all anthropological universals.’21 By universals here he does not mean moral principles so much as explanatory concepts such as state. a real subjection can be born. but of any time and place.
‘for the Greeks what we have before our eyes is not our future but our past. How could the Greeks think about history.The Temporality of Power 15 The temporality of existence In Foucault’s last years Paul Veyne reports that he often reflected on suicide and finitude while working on the Stoics.27 Hand in hand with the development of historical consciousness goes the emergence of a deeper sense of self. in a remark echoing Heidegger. which is. His study of the practice in Antiquity of meditation on death brings out the differences between Greek understandings of temporality on the one hand and the Christian sense of time on the other. however. Foucault remarks in his lecture of March 24.’25 The practice of meditating on death might seem to controvert Foucault’s claim that the Greeks did not like to think about the future. the future is sealed off by the meditation on death. which Benjamin owned—Foucault writes. that is to say that we advance into the future with our back turned. 1982—which is an especially rich discussion of the temporality of existence—that the Greeks mistrusted the future and that they also were suspicious of thinking about the future. Foucault maintains. Christian ascesis differs from Greek ascesis in that the former wants to discover the self so that the self can then be renounced or repudiated. Either predetermined or senseless. we have learned to prefer that . Foucault’s reflections on the Greek sense of temporality are strongly influenced (without acknowledgment) by Walter Benjamin. and it is thus a way of not thinking about the future in the very act of seeming to think about it. that Antiquity views the future as a nothingness that does not exist. More recently. ‘Let it all hang out!’ tells us to let our deep. The flip side of Christian ascesis is the ‘California’ cult of the self. says Foucault. they did not develop the ‘historical consciousness’ that Foucault dates much later. Insofar as the Greeks placed a positive value on memory and such a negative value on the future. Bergson is presumably correct that temporal themes such as progress and history require being able to look at both memory and the future at the same time. there would be no historical sense of the past. however. and Martin Heidegger. In fact. Henri Bergson. if they did not think about the future? One might believe that without the future. of not letting oneself be worried about the future. inner self come to the surface and show itself for what it truly is. a ‘nullifying making present of the future. In a passage that clearly reflects Walter Benjamin’s image of the angel of history—as portrayed in a painting by Paul Klee entitled Angelus Novus. At least that was the message a few years ago.’26 The death meditation is more of a way of inuring oneself to the future. this is the case.
and that some deep dark secrets are better kept hidden. but instead. we should style our self in a new way. as I will now suggest by way of conclusion. .16 Foucault’s Legacy not everything needs to be flaunted.28 That is. Genealogy is thus not universal history. Foucault thus insists—presumably contra Bergson. because no such thing exists. The point is not to liberate our true self. However much he liked California. their emplotment ought to be genealogical. Whatever stories are told from now on. Foucault himself treats the cult of the self with disdain and derision. Either way—and here is the crucial difference from Hegelian dialectics—genealogy does not construct universal history.’ with both words in the plural. however else they are also constructed. then. The reason why genealogy can be dialectical is that it can serve either of two functions: it can be either vindicatory or unmasking. even if it is the history of universals. for instance. that is. The plural is important here. he distrusted the rhetoric of self-discovery and preferred instead the trope of self-creation. it should nevertheless be recognized as a major contribution to the recent history of thought. however. now more than ever While the genealogical method is not the only current approach to critical theory. Foucault. Or genealogy may vindicate aspects of ourselves that we have overlooked because they are so close to us and so crucial to our identities. So the old notion of time should be replaced by the notion of multiple time spans . I believe that this overcoming is best achieved through genealogical temporalization itself. Perhaps I should even say ‘the histories of universals. a single story about where humanity has been and where we are all going. In reality . and it must involve overcoming the duality of materiality and ideality. and therefore may want to reject. The methodology of critical history does not posit that there is a single time in which all events stand. This process of self-stylization has to occur genealogically. genealogy is not necessarily opposed to dialectical emplotments. is not a single time span [durée]: it is a multiplicity of time spans that entangle and envelop one another. Contrary to Deleuze. genealogy may unmask aspects of ourselves that we have acquired through domination. . who in a famous disagreement with Einstein asserted the oneness of time29 —on the multiplicity of temporalities: History. In point of fact. In my estimation genealogy is Foucault’s most important legacy.
The Temporality of Power
there are multiple time spans, and each one of these spans is the bearer of a certain type of events. The types of events must be multiplied just as the types of time spans are multiplied. That is the mutation that is occurring at present in the disciplines of history.30 Multiple universals and multiple temporalities thus become the methodological assumptions of the genealogical approach. This conclusion offers a hypothesis about Foucault’s understanding of temporalization. We can now see why he wants both to minimize the present’s apocalyptic sense of its own importance and to maximize the significance of the present as the arena in which we have to act. We act insofar as we question our given identities. This process of desubjectification takes place in the present through a critical reworking of the materiality of the past in view of possible future transformations. The temporality of genealogy thus construes materiality as the past, ideality as the present, and transformation as the future. A critical history of the present studies the past to prepare for transformations of the present into different futures. In sum, engagement with Foucault’s legacy should always involve remembering that the time for transformative action is now or never, or better, now more than ever.
7 8 9 10 11
See Paul Veyne’s reflections on Foucault’s demise in his essay, ‘The Final Foucault and his Ethics,’ in Arnold I. Davidson, ed. (1997), Foucault and his Interlocutors, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 232. Reported in The New York Times, Tuesday, April 15, 2008, D2. Foucault, Michel (2008), The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978–79 Michel Senellart, ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2. Foucault, Michel (1979), Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan. New York: Vintage, 7. Ibid., 31. Foucault, Michel (1994), ‘Structuralism and Post-Structuralism,’ The Essential Foucault: Selections from the Essential Works of Foucault: 1954–1984, Paul Rabinow and Nikolas Rose, eds. New York: The New Press, 93. Ibid. Ibid., 94. Ibid. Ibid. Foucault, Michel (2006), Psychiatric Power: Lectures at the Collège de France: 1973– 1974, trans. Graham Burchell. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 47. Ibid., 46, my emphasis. Ibid.
Foucault, Michel (2007), Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1977–1978, trans. Graham Burchell. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 11. Ibid., 20. Ibid. Foucault, Psychiatric Power, 57. Foucault, Michel (1984), ‘Preface to The History of Sexuality, Volume Two,’ Paul Rabinow, ed. (1994), The Foucault Reader. New York: Pantheon, 335. Ibid. Foucault, Michel (2000), ‘Useless to Revolt?’ in Power: Essential Works of Foucault: 1954–1984, James D. Faubion, ed., trans Robert Hurley. New York: The New Press, 453 (emphasis added). The term ‘supra-historical’ I adapt from Nietzsche, ‘The Use and Abuse of History for Life.’ Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics, 3. Foucault, Michel (1998), ‘Foucault by Maurice Florence,’ Michel Foucault: Aesthetics, Method, and Epistemology, James D. Faubion, ed. New York: The New Press, 1998, 461. Foucault, Security, Territory, Population, 118. ‘A subjection is born mechanically from a relation.’ Foucault, Discipline and Punish, 202. Foucault, Michel (2006), The Hermeneutics of the Subject: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1981–82, trans. Graham Burchell. New York: Picador, 463. Ibid., 471. Ibid., 464. Bernard Williams distinguishes vindicatory from unmasking genealogy in Truth and Truthfulness (2002). Princeton: Princeton University Press, 36. See Hoy, David Couzens (2008), The Time of Our Lives: A Critical History of ‘Temporality’. Cambridge: The MIT Press, which goes into more detail about the issues raised in the present essay. Foucault, Michel (1972), ‘Return to History,’ James D. Faubion, ed. (1998), Aesthetics, Method, and Epistemology. New York: The New Press, 430.
15 16 17 18
26 27 28
A philosophical shock: Foucault reading Nietzsche, reading Heidegger
Babette E. Babich
Michel Foucault analyzes the formation of the ‘subject’ or ‘self’ in a postNietzschean, post-Heideggerian, quasi-Marxist, or today, we had better correct that to say, just because few scholars have any desire to be named Marxist: simply, vaguely leftist context,1 exceeding what has been called the poststructuralist as much as the postmodern moment by means of different epistemic discourses of imitation, representation, but also rhetorical or ‘stylistic’ discourses and including practical or therapeutic analysis.2 Additionally, to recall the important question of practice and the increasingly popular language of philosophical therapy, more than Nietzsche’s vision of either convalescence (and nihilism) or healing or indeed of the philosopher as lawgiver or a physician of culture, Foucault is illuminated by Pierre Hadot’s analysis of the Stoic ‘art’ of philosophy as ‘a way of life.’3 To many readers, Foucault’s reading of Nietzsche has seemed the most obvious of all and to the degree that Foucault’s epistemology foregrounds the genealogical transferences of power or its productive technologies, including the calculative stratagems and technologies of the body, manifest in the history of the natural and social or human sciences, as in art and literature, Foucault’s analysis has often been read as a straightforward elaboration/continuation of Nietzsche’s own ‘genealogy’ (as if this itself were somehow a transparent affair as I have long argued that it is not)4 and this is often coordinate with a variety of efforts to distinguish the two, where all such distinctions are always effective associations. 5 Nietzsche’s arch-polemical and highly elliptical genealogy goes beyond Foucault’s rather more traditional understanding of genealogy if only because and in great measure, Nietzsche often invents his genealogies which is not to say that he makes them up but only that he ‘paints’ his genealogies, like his hopes, on the metaphorically conceptual wall (Beyond Good and Evil (BGE) §296) in bold colors and broad strokes for the sake of what he called his future and for Nietzsche that future always means the
to be for Nietzsche and if only because and very like Foucault in this regard. ‘do not know what to do with themselves. Like the sun at evening. The Birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music in terms of the chronologically.’ (The Gay Science (GS) §56). ‘I have ventured to paint my happiness on the wall. GS §383). dappled happiness would be a ‘happiness humanity has not known thus far’ (GS §337).’ against the youthful enthusiasms of those who. Foucault’s Nietzsche only takes place by way of Heidegger albeit (and this point simply cannot be overemphasized) a very Francophone reading of Heidegger. Foucault scholarship overall tends to be split on these same terms. Nietzsche would compose his The Gay Science as a complex readerly appeal to philologists and scholars cum scientists of all stripes. Nietzsche concludes the first book of The Gay Science with a provocation against the all-too common ‘clamor about distress’ and the habit of those who seemingly seek suffering (Nietzsche’s readers imagine that he is here thinking of Schopenhauer or else of Wagner but the reference is perfectly political. one has also to note how very tendentious this had. full of tears and laughter’ (Ibid. This painted. as Nietzsche puts it. inevitably. Against the ‘clamor’ of the ‘politicians. when ‘even the poorest fisherman rows with golden oars. Foucault and Nietzsche.’ this would be ‘the happiness of a god full of power and love. my friends.’ Nietzsche proposes yet another and still indeed very Foucauldian tactic. Nietzsche also and always sought to do more than just one thing in any of his writings. recasting his first book.’ Nietzsche writes in a style captivating for Derrida and others on the seductive and forgotten art of friendship. cf.. culturally different example of the gai sabre that was the song tradition of the Provencal knight-poets or troubadours.7 In this multifarious fashion. where Nietzsche denounces the slogan ‘Neediness is needed! [Not ist nötig]. I argue that the opposition is misleading for the complicated reason that Foucault’s Heidegger can only be understood on Nietzschean terms while and at the same time. Foucault and Heidegger Although there is no lack of efforts to read Foucault and Nietzsche together or indeed to align Foucault and Heidegger.6 Highlighting Nietzsche’s re-envisioning of his first elaboration of the relation between music and word. one little adverted to by his advocates who often miss his extraordinarily melancholy but still and perfectly solar or divine joy: ‘—Pardon me.8 .’ a political convention that has yet to go out of style). In this fashion.20 Foucault’s Legacy reader. In the following.
Gary Shapiro offers an . On the level of rhetoric. somewhat artificially given the pleonastic character of the term for Foucault. But reading Foucault. or so one pretends. The difficulty here. is that reading both Nietzsche and Heidegger apart from one another is so common as to be automatic.9 —but it can also be argued that such rhetorical aims work in a wholly other sense in Nietzsche’s similarly ambitious strategy as a writer.10 at times regarded as a ‘Nietzschean’ of sorts and at times as if Foucault’s work simply elaborated upon or developed the Nietzschean project that is supposed to carry the name of a ‘genealogy’11 alternately opposed. Explicitly Heideggerian readings of Foucault are thus inclined to content themselves with more rather than less stumbling caricatures of Nietzsche and the same can be said for Nietzschean readings of Foucault which tend to be less clumsy than patently. like reading Deleuze. to an archaeology. a vague reflection on matters of philosophical style and rhetoric. like reading Nietzsche and Heidegger. Nietzsche: in Ricoeur’s shadow Foucault is at times read together with Nietzsche. both singularizing and pernicious. is itself a thoroughly politicized business where some and only some readings are engaged (or to be explicit rather than allusive: only some readings of what seem to be a limitless and seemingly interdisciplinary array are cited/criticized/discussed)12 and others are not. as part of this. vehemently anti-Heideggerian. and today one finds less and less the older argument that Foucault’s genealogy continues an archaeological project13 that somehow begins if not with Freud than surely with Nietzsche.A Philosophical Shock 21 For these and other reasons. Marx. reading Foucault qua Nietzschean (apart from Foucault’s Heidegger) is as misleading as reading Foucault qua Heideggerian (apart from Foucault’s Nietzsche). Critics on both sides argue that Foucault overlooks the philosophical specificity of either Nietzsche or Heidegger and that he does so for the sake of his own very particular social analyses of praxes and institutions. effecting a tactical chiasm between Foucault and Nietzsche as between Foucault and Heidegger. taking Foucault to be a master tactician in this regard and noting that Nietzsche too might be regarded in the same way. Indeed with respect to rhetoric and style. Foucault appropriates what he can take to be Nietzschean tactics for his own purposes—Michel de Certeau is superb on this. In addition to such selective scholarly receptivity we may add the bean-counting politics of scholarly name-dropping. supposedly sanctioned readings of Foucault have been more or less winnowed from the rest. There is. Freud.
For his own part. the ‘three masters of suspicion. and amidst. . that ‘there is no truth’ but continues further to compound his own reflections. Nietzsche’s philosophy. in a late-written preface to Human. and his project could be called a Critical History of Thought. the interpretive dynamic or contest between Ricoeur and Foucault (and I would add here: Deleuze) inevitably excludes Heidegger. very nearly post-political.21 Nevertheless a range of critically epistemic tactics often associated with Nietzsche recur in Foucault.22 Indeed. Nietzsche remains constant. in a provocative instantiation of what most commentators call his perspectivism. . Freud. such variations. it is the critical tradition of Kant. . that Ricoeur appropriates Nietzsche’s already conventional invocation not merely of the word but the phrasing of a ‘school of suspicion. Jefferey Minson has argued that associations such as these and others do not license us to reduce Foucault to Nietzsche (bracketing for the space of this essay just what such a reduction might mean). hence one may read Jean-Luc Marion’s Idol and Distance as offering another set of contenders for a new era. Ricoeur’s naming convention became standard even beyond Foucault. revelatory even.’ Foucault contends that to ‘the extent that Foucault fits into the philosophical tradition. Ricoeur reflects on ‘Interpretation as Exercise of Suspicion.’15 In just such a Kantian modality.’16 It is in this critical spirit17 that Foucault responds to Ricoeur’s lectures on Freud. All too Human reminds his readers that his ‘writings have been called a school of suspicion [eine Schule des Verdachts] .20 Nor is it irrelevant that in. and Marx.’ [HH §i].’ invoking the three musketeers of hermeneutics Nietzsche. is a sustained reflection upon the significance of or else on the consequences of this very lack of truth and our fondness for or belief in the truth (this corresponds to what he calls. Writing as ‘Maurice Florence. insofar as those relations constitute a possible knowledge [savoir]. For Douglas Smith. early and late. Denys. and in a serried array: our asceticism and our piety). Foucault is able to specify that ‘a critical history of thought would be an analysis of those conditions under which certain relations of subject to object are formed or modified. taken indeed on Foucault’s own terms14 just where Foucault contends that his project is a critical one that may be traced back to Kant. in the guise of Nietzsche. Hölderlin.’19 I note that it is significant.22 Foucault’s Legacy important correction of this habitual reading of Foucault.18 setting Nietzsche alongside Marx and Freud.’ where Nietzsche. further reflecting on the perspectival significance of such perspectives on perspectives and as such. If Nietzsche goes further than Foucault it is because he does not merely claim.
As already noted. it may be added that a good part of the reason for deciding that a lion’s share of the influence between Nietzsche and Heidegger should be given to Nietzsche derives from the habit of assuming that what a thinker says in his last publications represents what he ‘really. Freud and Nietzsche. ceteris paribus. like Dominique Janicaud in addition to scholars like C. etc. . the very same and still very analytic lens often reveals rather more Heidegger in Foucault than Foucault himself liked to confess. Hence and although one has now the benefit of several readings of Foucault and Heidegger. functionally adumbrates not the relevance of Heidegger for Foucault but his irrelevance. I am simply a Nietzschean.) in addition indeed to interdisciplinary readings that extend throughout the social sciences.26 Foucault and Heidegger If one has had one’s Heidegger only by way of analytic readings such as Dreyfus’ (very) influential approach. to be faced with a neatly exclusive disjunction between either Heidegger and Foucault or Nietzsche and Foucault but rarely both together.’ somehow. So we take Foucault’s off-hand reflections as an ultimate confession: ‘. 25 one continues even here and even for such recent perspectives. But I acknowledge it was Nietzsche who got the upper hand. Smith’s point is set contra Vincent Descombes’ interpretive troika for the explication of ‘French Philosophy.’ drawn from Ricoeur. and . the following reflections might also be extended to a reading of such (I am here speaking of Deleuze but it is important to emphasize that one might just as well refer to others such as de Certeau and Baudrillard.A Philosophical Shock 23 which did not mean (as Smith observes with some understatement) that Heidegger had no role to play.’23 But Foucault’s French readers are inherently strangers neither to Nietzsche nor to Heidegger and one can argue that. thinks.24 Heidegger himself is yet another story and not only for Foucault scholars. most French readers can be counted as exceptions. For it is key that with Foucault one has to do with a continental thinker who has enjoyed a long and fruitful reception among analytic scholars (not only Hubert Dreyfus and Gary Gutting but also Ian Hacking. etc. Heidegger is as absent from Foucault as from Ricoeur. . a claim repeated in tension with Foucault’s last interview ‘My whole philosophical development has been determined by my reading of Heidegger. Prado and others. G.).’ Thus the triad ‘Marx.27 As a corollary.
I try to see, on a number of points,and to the extent that it is possible, with the aid of Nietzsche’s text—but also with anti-Nietzschean theses (which are nevertheless Nietzschean!)—what can be done in this or that domain.’28 And yet what does Foucault tells us here? Perhaps it worth noting that by speaking of ‘anti-Nietzschean theses (which are nonetheless Nietzschean!)’ Foucault adumbrates an identifi ably Heideggerian reading of Nietzsche.29 One can and one has been urged to sidestep the rigors of both Nietzsche’s perspectivalism and his critique of the scientific limits of science. Most readers have enough to do follow Foucault. Indeed, Foucault himself has enough to do as when he reflects on the locus of power in writing and the diminution of the writer in modern times. Hence and on the specifically political issue of technoscience and biopower, Foucault could suggest that the modern scientific intellectual ‘emerged’ in the wake of the Second World War, ‘as a point of transition between the universal and the specific intellectual.’30 For Foucault, speaking of Oppenheimer in this particular context, it was owing to a very ‘direct and localised relation to scientific knowledge and institutions that the atomic scientist could make his intervention; but, since the nuclear threat affected the whole human race and the fate of the world, his discourse could at the same time be the discourse of the universal.’31 In the context of such ‘technico-scientific structures’ (and with respect to nuclear scientists, but also pharmacists and computer experts, etc.), Foucault is able to point out that ‘[t]ruth is’ in effect ‘a thing of this world: it is produced only by virtue of multiple forms of constraint. And it induces regular effects of power. Each society has its regime of truth, its ‘general politics’ of truth,’ i.e., ‘the types of discourses which it accepts and makes function as true.’32 As Foucault explains, and one can read Nietzsche (and indeed Heidegger on the same questions), such truth functional discourse technologies include ‘the mechanisms and instances which enable one to distinguish true and false statements, the means by which each is sanctioned; the techniques and procedures accorded value in the acquisition of truth; the status of those who are charged with saying what counts as true.’33 Thus Foucault refers no less to Nietzsche than to Kant’s conception of belief or opinion as holding for true [für Wahrhalten, tenir-pour-vrai]. But to connect such a critical perspective on truth as well as technoscience and thence indeed to include, as Foucault includes, politics/ society one needs to add Heidegger to Foucault’s Nietzschean and critical Kantianism (if only because Adorno would constitute an alternative or competing voice).
A Philosophical Shock
Foucault-Heidegger-Nietzsche: the politics of influence
I have been emphasizing the interpretive consequences to be drawn from the simplistic yet still dominant habit of reading either Heidegger or Nietzsche but rarely both together (the problem is compounded when one omits, as one tends to do in both cases, Heidegger’s and Nietzsche’s Kant or else and indeed Heidegger’s and Nietzsche’s Descartes). One assumes that Heidegger and Nietzsche are somehow antithetical thinkers, despite the famous/infamous detail that Heidegger devotes more of his writing (and reading) to Nietzsche than to any other thinker with the possible exception of Aristotle, whom Heidegger however also read as propadeutic to a reading of Nietzsche (not the worst idea in the world, provided indeed one reads one’s Aristotle as Nietzsche did, and that is critically not categorically). Thus, we noted that Hans Sluga felt no need to integrate Foucault’s recollection that he ‘had to read Nietzsche in the fi fties . . . Nietzsche alone did not appeal to me’ with his own claim that what was decisive for Foucault was Heidegger and not Nietzsche.34 It is likewise instructive that Dreyfus dismisses Foucault’s Nietzschean allusions although he too quotes the same final interview to emphasize his own focus on Heidegger.35 The problem, of course, turns upon Heidegger’s political liabilities (to speak gingerly here) and if Foucault is best set as far to the anarchic left as can be imagined (for an enthusiast of all things American, as he was), Foucault still and very blithely asserts contra the intellectually respectable dynamite that was/is Nietzsche and the very easy associative work that it is to read his genealogy as of a piece with Nietzsche that the decisive coordination was the two taken together, that is, Nietzsche and Heidegger. The combination functioned for Foucault, as it still ought to function for anyone, as an exactly ‘philosophical shock.’36 Indeed, the ongoing shock is and remains this same conjunction. If Foucault’s reading of Nietzsche and Heidegger highlights a connection that may have been old news for (classically formed!) continental readers (it is the very point of departure, for David Allison’s pathbreaking book collection, The New Nietzsche),37 Heidegger’s specific role in France has recently been highlighted in Janicaud’s two volume Heidegger en France and (for Anglophone readers), Ethan Kleinberg’s Generation Existential.38 Indeed I argue that such political and sociological issues can often be the only thing at stake in deciding who one cites and who one does not cite but also whether or not one finds a thinker to have been influential.39 We tend as Nietzsche says not merely to find just and only what we are looking for but we also tend to be incapable of seeing anything else.
We will be hard pressed to answer the question of debt or influence with respect to the question of Heidegger and Foucault just because, and like other French authors, Foucault himself does not read his Nietzsche or indeed his Heidegger as Anglophone scholars tend to read Nietzsche and Heidegger. That is: what Foucault does not do is ‘read’ (or cite) certain texts and then explain these same cited texts to readers who have already read (and indeed often cited and explained) the same texts themselves. The problem is compounded (and hence we have the problem to begin with) because and as we have noted the ‘influence’ of his interviewers, when asked about such influences Foucault amiably acknowledges the same. So far so good, but how are we to understand the very idea of an intellectual ‘debt’? We might go further and actually read Foucault. If so we may find ourselves in difficult straits, for Nietzsche tells us that reading does not come to us automatically: we need first to learn to read, and then we need to read in fact or actually, something we do only reluctantly and then only with authors who matter, or where the investment can pay us back (for the sake of, or as Nietzsche said, in order to write a book or essay of one’s own: in just such cases, so Nietzsche points out, one is, as Heidegger would say, still not reading). To trace Foucault’s reading of Nietzsche and Heidegger we ourselves need to read but that means to read as Nietzsche reminded us that one might read, rather than merely set off on a hunt for relevant names.40 To this degree, any effort to limn Nietzsche’s influence on Foucault has more to do with random detail than Foucault’s specific engagement with Nietzsche or with the inevitably metonymic Nietzscheanism of French philosophy—a Nietzscheanism culminating, with a Freudian tic troped by a pretended denial in Luc Ferry and Alain Renaut’s collection, Pourquoi nous ne sommes pas nietzschéens /Why We Are Not Nietzscheans.41 The authors in this collection hardly oppose Nietzsche as much as they reflect upon the loss of a certain way of philosophizing in Nietzsche’s name. Thus Robert Legros muses: ‘How could a philosopher not be a Nietzschean, when all of Nietzsche’s philosophy sets out to radicalize the two quests that are at the very birth of philosophy: to criticize the obvious tenets that carpet the world and, through, creation, to evoke wonder at the irreducible enigma the world conceals? How,’ he repeats for emphasis, ‘to pretend to be a philosopher without feeling oneself to be Nietzschean?’42 A similar sentiment echoes in Alain Raynaud’s insightful reflection on Nietzsche’s critical enlightenment
emphasizes it. henceforth medicine is no longer a matter of the relationship between ‘sickness and what alleviated it’ [The Birth of the Clinic (BC 55)] but a matter of teaching. in the philosophy of science. of show and tell. ‘miniscule and ubiquitously reproduced move of “gridding” (quadriller) a visible space in such a way as to make its occupants available for observation and “information. especially. xviii]) as Foucault details this in The Birth of the Clinic. this is also the effective invention of modern medicine (all diagnosis. and demonstration— and less and less a matter of healing: that issue remains the patient’s problem not the clinician’s. How do scientists see? How does science progress? There are convergent parallels with Norwood Russell Hanson’s extremely suggestive Patterns of Discovery but there are also parallels in Heidegger’s Being and Time and (specifically for Foucault’s analysis) in Heidegger’s ‘Science and World-Picture’ [Zeit des Weltbildes] a lecture from 1938. De Certeau. test. is useful here as he reminds us that what Foucault ‘discerns at this level’45 is ‘the move [le geste] which has organized a discursive space.” ’46 If this is the panoptic example of Discipline and Punish.A Philosophical Shock 27 perspective on the enlightenment itself. the same year in which the first translation of Heidegger’s work into French appeared (and including selections from Being and Time) in the collection Qu’est ce que la Métaphysique? 44 To Heidegger one must also add Merleau-Ponty especially with regard to the specific notion of phenomenology to which Foucault himself makes reference. as a post-Kantian project that was begun but ought not end with Nietzsche.’ 43 Looking to the very same Kantian adumbration of the question of enlightenment as his own self-description. Michel Foucault’s philosophy continues the same critical tradition. his own very formalistic ecce homo. Raynaud thus argues that if ‘Nietzsche can make of the Aufklärung an instrument for his critique of Reason. cf. Science and The Birth of the Clinic We have come to hear the relevance of Canguilhem and Cavailles in Foucault’s The Birth of the Clinic but of course the same text can be read between both Heidegger and Nietzsche as indeed with reference to other names. again. the patient remade as an ‘object of positive knowledge’ [BC 197. then we in turn can make of his “irrationalism” the means to continue the liberation that began with the Enlightenment.’ De Certeau points out that what is ‘decisive’ in such practices is less a matter of such discourses as might exclude ‘people from normal social intercourse’ than the very Cartesian. . and this is significant.
and Heidegger. . Foucault recalls that ‘accession to the individual’ recalls ‘the most concentrated formulation of an old medical humanism’ (ibid. hence Foucault’s coordination of Nietzsche. and gradually into them. to this sovereign power of the empirical gaze .’47 Here Foucault alludes to Heidegger’s emphasis on physis as well as his unmistakable notion of truth as aletheia. Hölderlin. Each move alludes neither to Heidegger nor to Nietzsche but to a Heidegger who reads Nietzsche.28 Foucault’s Legacy Speaking here of the change of clinical discourse and the changing perceptions of the ‘greyness of things.’48 In his preface to The Birth of the Clinic. Foucault reads not only Heidegger but Nietzsche. Thus with respect to ‘living individuality’ and beyond the highly charged (because philosophically decisive) ‘old Aristotelian law. which prohibited the application of scientific discourse to the individual’ (BC 170) in his prefatory reflections on the status of ‘scientifically structured discourse about an individual’ (BC xiv). bringing them nothing more than its own light. entitled: ‘The Old Age of the Clinic’ echoing the theme of the decline and the death of tragedy that was the subject of Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music. Sharing a Heideggerian lineage. . beginning with the title The Birth of the Clinic but also in Foucault’s fourth section. seeing and saying still are one. Foucault’s genealogy does not simply move to a kind of archaeology (any more than Bruno Latour’s strong sociology of science simply becomes a polite engineer’s history of lionized science). We must reexamine the original distribution of the visible and invisible insofar as it is linked with the division between what is stated and remains as unsaid. around them. Foucault’s readings between both Nietzsche and Heidegger are thus much closer to Heidegger’s own readings of Nietzsche than American scholarship tends to recognize. . The residence of truth in the dark centre of things is linked. . where Foucault notes the Heraclitean ‘obscurity.’ Foucault writes of the relation between ‘ “things” and “words” where . as he himself attests to this influence. the density of things closed upon themselves’ and the illuminating power of ‘the gaze that passes over them.) before going on to invoke the ‘mindless phenomenologies of understanding’ (and here Foucault deploys a very Nietzschean characterization) referring to the ‘sand of their conceptual desert’ and thence to the Heideggerian notion of the ‘non-thought’ (ibid. paradoxically.). .49 This ‘French’ Heidegger raises the question of the subject as Foucault poses it as a radically critical challenge (and not an appeal to a transcendental humanism) and when Foucault moves between anticipated or likely alternatives as so many misunderstandings he is reading rival theorists as much as Nietzsche and indeed and especially Heidegger.
Entstehung. in the innumerable words spoken by men – whether they are reasonable or senseless. the possibility and necessity of critique were linked through certain scientific contents. where Nietzsche raises the question ‘what was the real etymological significance of the designations for ‘good’ coined in the various languages?’ (GM I: 4). Nietzsche concludes the first section of his ‘polemic’ (the polemical scholarly attack is. Like Heidegger. the domain of its experience and the structure of its rationality’ (BC xv). Foucault emphasizes not only origin and genesis [Ursprung.). more often than not. as we recall. and especially the study of etymology. The critique thus invoked calls not only for Heidegger’s reading of Kant’s critique but for Nietzsche’s reading of the same critique: It may well be that we belong to an age of criticism whose lack of primary philosophy reminds us at every moment of its reign and its fatality: an intelligence that keeps us irremediably at a distance from an original language. leading us forward in our blindness. (BC xv–xvi) Nietzsche asks us to pay attention to the names and this we pretend to do. every “thou shalt” known to .A Philosophical Shock 29 In a voice including the language of Heidegger on science as much as Canguilhelm. contending as Nietzsche mused that ‘they all led back to the same conceptual transformation’ (ibid. throw on the history of the evolution of moral concepts?’ (GM I: 17) The challenge as Nietzsche poses it is one Foucault embraces. together with its historical possibility. Foucault writes that ‘[m]edicine made its appearance as a clinical science in conditions which define. demonstrative or poetic – a meaning has taken shape that hangs over us. but awaiting in the darkness for us to attain awareness before emerging into the light of day and speaking. to the patient construction of discourses about discourses and to the task of hearing what has already been said. to the fact that there is such a thing as knowledge. We are doomed historically to history. If Heidegger calls emphatic attention to what Nietzsche means by science [Wissenschaft] drawing a parallel to love and to passion [Leidenschaft]. Foucault is one of Nietzsche’s rare readers to suggest that we attend to Nietzsche’s questions. In our time – and Nietzsche the philologist testifies to it – they are linked to the fact that language exists and that. For Kant. Herkunft. the rigorously ‘suspicious’ subtitle of Nietzsche’s Genealogie: Eine Streitschrift) with a reprisal of this same question: ‘What light does linguistics. Genealogie] but also the good [agathon].50 Foucault thus alludes to the first section of On the Genealogy of Morals. where Nietzsche contends that ‘every table of values. Indeed.
One is not merely using the language of semiology and reading in what de Certeau called the squared or ‘gridded’ field of the clinic but an aural. the language Foucault uses of the ‘birth of truth’ (ibid. timeless. must collaborate: the ear and touch are added to sight’ (163). using the thread of logic. .) recalls Nietzsche’s emphasis on the ‘lateborn’ status of truth among human beings and indeed the discourse of corrective regulation. or to understand and “know” everything. Here Foucault points to what is elicited via questioning and its power to call forth ‘a remainder that is the very essence of that thought. Foucault seems post-Kantian as he notes almost in Heidegger’s voice that ‘in stating what has been said. ocular discursive adaptability that continually changes with the technologies of its adumbration. “I think that’s indecent. Nietzsche reflects on the purely epistemological idea of an all-seeing.’’ (The Birth of Tragedy (BT) §15)). singularly to be articulated in questioning. Both the later Heidegger and the Heidegger of ‘What is Metaphysics?’ echo Foucault’s declaration that ‘this unspoken element slumbers within speech.” (GS §iv) Emphasizing that ‘at the end of the eighteenth century . ‘The structure that commands clinical anatomy. requiring ‘a sort of sensorial triangulation in which various atlases. .’ which means that ‘it has the dangerous privilege images have of showing while concealing’ (xvii). is that of invisible visibility.’ (165). rather than a psychological one. “Is it true that God is present everywhere?” a little girl asked her mother.’ especially. ultimate truth: ‘Today we consider it a matter of decency not to wish to see everything naked.30 Foucault’s Legacy history or ethnology. and every one of them needs a critique on the part of medical science. requires first a physiological investigation and interpretation.). and all medicine that derives from it. one has to re-state what has never been said’ (BC xvi).’ (Ibid. the very idea of a transcendental.’’ (Ibid. haptic.). as Nietzsche goes on. From such a moralizing. hitherto excluded from medical techniques. and that thought is capable not only of knowing being but even of correcting it. driven outside its secret. In this triangulation one has not to do with three senses to which one might someday add one or two but with the enhancement and transformation of ocularity as such and that is to say of vision. Speech is thus for Foucault ‘an act of “translation”. can penetrate the deepest abysses of being. the physician’s . education was given a positive value as enlightenment’ (BC 64). all-knowing god. moralistic perspective. Foucault goes on. or to be present at everything. This for Nietzsche is the scientific conviction of our age: namely ‘the unshakable faith that thought. to add nudity. A Zarathustran echo in the idea (and the ideal) of ‘immaculate perception’ is also at work in Nietzsche’s late-written preface to The Gay Science in a remark Nietzsche sets into the mouth of a girl-child.
but the theoretical man enjoys and finds satisfaction in the discarded covering and finds the highest object of his pleasure in the process of an ever happy uncovering that succeeds through his own efforts.). as Nietzsche does. as ‘diseases of love: they are the Passion. medicine discovered that uncertainty may be treated.’ the same nudity Nietzsche seems to invoke when he speaks in the section of The Birth of Tragedy that seems relevant here: ‘[t]here would be no science if it concerned itself only with one naked goddess’ (BT §15). the birth of the clinic: In the period of Laplace.A Philosophical Shock 31 ‘invisible visibility. Thus this confused. pace Levinas and Derrida. negative concept . our own only-too-human mortality). the intellectual bachelor’s investigative ‘laying bare. was to be capable of transforming itself into a positive concept and offered to the penetration of a technique proper to calculation. Hence Nietzsche contrasts the gaze of the scientist (or Foucault’s clinician) with the artist: ‘[w]henever the truth is uncovered. Foucault speaks of ‘a language that did not owe its truth to speech but to the gaze alone’ (BC 69) and Heidegger speaks of calculation. sustaining focus on revelation. .’ (Ibid. . analytically. a life to which death gives a face that cannot be exchanged.’ (172). pace Heidegger. the clinic is read in Heideggerian terms that echo with Merleau-Ponty and Canguilhelm. either under his influence or within a similar movement of thought. Drawing. Foucault also traces the genesis of the pathological “fact” apart from the vagaries of individual illness. a terminology echoing in Foucault in what is also indeed the Marxist sensibility of his discourse (cf. the invention of positive diagnosis. the artist will always cling with rapt gaze to what still remains covering even after such uncovering. . BC 83–85). The point for Nietzsche as for Foucault is the point of perversion and the distractive.’ yet this ‘perverse’ emphasis does not follow for the reasons one might imagine. upon the inherently “ocular” (88) interest of science. If this reference to death inevitably recalls Being and Time and the death that is ultimately and always mine (and not just a trivial inevitability or a tragical fate not to be outgone). And it is Canguilhelm who can be heard (along with Bataille) when Foucault compares ‘chest diseases’ with venereal diseases. as the sum of a certain number of isolatable degrees of certainty that were capable of rigorous calculation. death is also the inherently singularizing end or limit of all mortal being in the world (and not only. (97) Speaking in terms of ‘events of the open domain’ (98).
Taxinomia. in the first case. the experience of individuality in modern culture is bound up with that of death: from Hölderlin’s Empedocles to Nietzsche’s Zarathustra and so on to Freudian man. the world is placed under the sign of finitude. theory of science and the agonistics of a discipline The language of mathesis. authorizes a scientific discourse in a rational form. his visible secret. Keeping to the tenor of Nietzsche’s own reflections on genealogy. Foucault’s reading of death in The Birth of the Clinic recalls Nietzsche: ‘Death left its old tragic heaven and became the lyrical core of man: his invisible truth. become .32 Foucault’s Legacy Reading Heidegger on death. and that the irruption of finitude should dominate in the same way. Foucault emphasizes the overall project of science in terms of Heidegger’s hermeneutic phenomenology. Western man could constitute himself in his own eyes as an object of science. only in the opening created by his own elimination: from the experience of Unreason was born psychology . a discursive existence. In this Kantian spirit. the emphasis is a Heideggerian one inasmuch as it is a focus on death: ‘after Empedocles. .). Foucault remarks that is perhaps understandable that ‘the figures of knowledge and those of language should obey the same profound law. in that irreconcilable. And. Theory of knowledge. both Kant and Hegel). following Foucault but not less after Agamben as well as Borges and Eco. alternately to be sure. he grasped within himself. Thus the sciences ‘always carry within themselves the project. which. however remote it may be. generally speaking. the harsh law of limit. Foucault invokes Nietzsche and Heidegger as much as Schreber and Lacan when he affirms that the ‘first scientific discourse about the individual had to pass through this stage of death.’ (197).51 If Foucault goes on to discuss Empedocles in a Hölderlinian mode. opens up the source of a language that unfolds endlessly in the void left by the absence of the gods?’ (Ibid.’ (198). in the second.’ (Ibid. . from the integration of death into medical thought is born a medicine that is given as a science of the individual.’ (The Order of Things (OT) 74).). and. and genesis as Foucault uses such terms in The Order of Things reveals his debt to Heidegger but emphasizes the Kant he sought to underscore (almost like Adorno who insisted on the need to privilege. the idea of taxonomy has in the interim. intermediate state in which reigns the law. taxinomia (or taxonomy). this relation of man to death. of an exhaustive ordering of the world.
Although and like Nietzsche and Heidegger.’ (Ibid. Mathesis itself is to be understood. . and therefore of attributions and judgments: it is the science of truth. the general law of beings. only Ian Hacking has taken Foucault as relevant for the philosophy of science and then only. for it too is a science of order—a qualitative mathesis.). (OT 127–128) For Foucault.).). . . As the ‘knowledge of beings. by contrast.’ (OT 74). along with Ricoeur rather than with Gadamer ‘from Schleiermacher to Nietzsche and Freud. All that existed was living beings. .A Philosophical Shock 33 quite common as Foucault had defined it and as Agamben following Taubes had also defined it in distinctly Heideggerian terms: not only as a matter of regional ontologies but ontic articulation and indeed not only in terms of the very Heideggerian conception of mathesis 52 but a peculiarly Heideggerian reflexive use as Foucault emphasizes that ‘Taxinomia is not in opposition to mathesis: it resides within it and is distinguished from it.’ taxinomia ‘treats of identities and differences’ as a ‘semiology confronted by history . there was a very simple reason for it: that life itself did not exist. finally to become biology . apart from some early first attempts. Foucault was concerned with reading the history of science for the sake of a philosophical understanding of science. in historical and social terms but that is also to say as carefully distinguished from the philosophy of science proper. but they do not realize that biology did not exist then. and this has been decisive for subsequent readings. and at the same time the conditions under which it is possible to know them’ (ibid. ‘in the strict sense. Indeed.’ (Ibid. and that the pattern of knowledge that has been familiar to us for a hundred and fi fty years is not valid for a previous period. the very idea of natural philosophy as is under siege: the idea of natural history is transformed taxonomically. if biology was unknown. it defines .53 Foucault can also be read in correspondence with Heidegger’s own reflections on physics qua physics or biology as biology when he observes that historians of science want to write histories of biology in the eighteenth century. And that. which were viewed through a grid of knowledge constituted by natural history. his readers have been chary of this association. The contemporary critical change from the Classical period takes place in the alteration of mathesis reframed to constitute ‘an apophantics and an ontology’ leaving the human sciences or better said the humanities on the side of ‘history and semiology’ on the hermeneutic schema Foucault traces here.’ as ‘a science of equalities.
This echoes Heidegger’s claim that the essence of technology is nothing technological54 as indeed Heidegger’s still more intriguing claim that the essence of the polis ‘is nothing political. 56 ‘Ought we not to remind ourselves—we who believe ourselves bound to a finitude which belongs only to us. Biology. his ‘Promise-Threat. What is lacking is ‘radical questioning’ (ibid. with a more extreme doubt than Descartes’ own and just as Nietzsche called for a more radical doubt than Descartes. our concern for him. but in order to recompose it and discover what has made it possible through the blind resemblances of the imagination. Life thus ‘becomes one object of knowledge among others. as on grammar. Nietzsche proposes to consider the parallel right and wrong of rationality and logic itself.’ (OT 162). which it takes over on its own account and brings to bear. but in order to reveal its foundation.’ as Foucault describes ‘the notion that man would soon be no more—but would be replaced by the superman’ (OT 322).’57 Writing ‘beyond’ good and evil.). the dream tiger of Nietzsche’s reflection upon the limits of truth and knowledge/reasoning/ power in his never published post-Kantian reflections on language. on all possible knowledge. OT 160–162).’ (OT 116). to all criticism’ if it also ‘resists this critical jurisdiction.’55 Foucault’s reflection on the implications of Nietzsche’s teaching of the Overman. The tiger’s back to which we are bound is. it decomposes the language of everyday life. it criticizes language. and which opens up the truth of the world to us by means of our cognition—ought we not to remind ourselves that we are bound to the back of a tiger?’ (Ibid. explaining that ‘this meant that man had long since disappeared and would continue to disappear. in this respect. ‘On Truth and Lie in an ExtraMoral Sense. our humanism.’ turns out to be other than a philosophy of life and is hence and historically nothing ‘vital. were all sleeping serenely over the threatening rumble of his non-existence. and that our modern thought about man.58 . is combined with a rigorous reflection on the consequences of the Eternal Return (legions of Nietzsche commentators have yet to do the same).). in its own name. This takes Foucault farther than Heidegger. Foucault’s reflections are thoroughly epistemological in Nietzsche’s radical sense but also with respect to Heidegger’s brief on humanism.) as Heidegger defines it but what is at stake is the genesis of the very ‘life sciences’ themselves out of the spirit (or echoing Nietzsche: out of the death) of natural history per se.’ Thus ‘Natural history is situated both before and after language. social conventionality and logic. And so Nietzsche borrows from standard texts to do so.’ (Ibid. and is answerable. of course.34 Foucault’s Legacy (cf. now defined as the ‘science of life.
Foucault contends that ‘man is also the locus of a misunderstanding’ (OT 323). animate with a kind of frozen movement that figure of himself that takes the form of a stubborn exteriority?’ (Ibid. This modality frames Foucault’s revision of Kant. already Heidegger’s. . but of being. In this sense. a point coordinate with Nietzsche’s contention that ‘mathematics is merely the means for the general and ultimate knowledge of man.) and finally and with respect to science the shift has been ‘from the possibility of a science of nature to the possibility for man to conceive of himself. .). Speaking in the same Kantian terms of the human being as ‘the locus of an empiricotranscendental doublet’ (OT 322).A Philosophical Shock 35 Reading between Heidegger and Nietzsche.’ (325) Thus Foucault has all along been speaking of Heidegger if indeed by way of Nietzsche and Hölderlin (cf. and . Nietzsche is the prophet of an end inaugurated not so much by ‘the absence or the death of God .’ (GS §246). The consequence is a tragically (in Nietzsche’s sense) rigorous (in Heidegger’s sense) musing upon the limits of cognition. OT 333–335). the question is no longer that ‘of truth.’ (OT 351). most of all when he invokes mathematics in his concluding chapter on ‘The Human Sciences’ pointing out that ‘the recourse to mathematics. in one form or another. and secretly impregnated with a potential discourse—of that not-known from which man is perpetually summoned towards self-knowledge. Foucault accords with Kant. as Heidegger reflects on the observation that ‘man everywhere encounters only himself’59 —Foucault’s vanishing subject is already Nietzsche’s. and justification.) to the very Nietzschean and Heideggerian (cum Lacanian) question ‘How can man think what he does not think. And Foucault has been speaking of Nietzsche all along.’ (ibid. Nietzsche’s plaintive cry ‘Two thousand years and not a single new god!’ might suggest how we should hear the supposed death of the subject. such as we find in ‘The “Cogito” and the Unthought’ in The Order of Things. not of the possibility of understanding. If Heidegger’s counter to Heisenberg is right—Heisenberg had thought. but of the possibility of a primary misunderstanding. not of nature. There is thus for Foucault a fourfold shift. as the end of man’ (OT 385) and Foucault in a Heideggerian voice traces the ‘wake of that death and in profound coordination with it—what Nietzsche’s thought heralds is the end of his murderer: it is the explosion of man’s face in laughter.). finding its fundamental necessity ‘in the existence—mute. inhabit as though by a mute occupation something that eludes him. moving from the question ‘How can experience of nature give rise to necessary judgments?’ (ibid. has always been the simplest way of providing positive knowledge about man with a scientific style.’ (Ibid. form. but of man. yet ready to speak.
laughing in Nietzsche’s voice at our own and ongoing self-presumption—this is Foucault’s ‘Promise-Threat’ of the Overman—‘one can certainly wager that man would be erased. Marx’ in: Martial Guerolt. 340–345. G. and those who do so tend not to get the Nietzsche bits straight (as Gillian Rose and Howard Caygill have noted).. Cahiers de Royaumont (Paris: Gallimard. for an overview of some of the difficulties that bedevil any reading between Nietzsche and Marx. Michel Foucault: Philosopher (New York: Routledge. This point goes beyond the differences between Ursprung and Herkunft as Foucault himself has emphasized in his discussion of ‘Nietzsche. still more recently..’ Notes 1 2 3 4 Beyond Michel Foucault’s own ‘Nietzsche. History’ . 283–300. Nietzsche. Force.’ American Anthropology 86 (1984): 263–178. Edward McGushin’s Foucault’s Askesis: An Introduction to the Philosophical Life (Evanston: Northwestern University Press. ‘From Marx to Nietzsche: Neo-Conservatism. Freud. Echoing Heidegger’s anti-humanist reflections and hence far from a world transfigured in our own image. One tends not to read Nietzsche and Marx together. Foucault.’ Telos 37 (1978) or Anthony Giddens. Note that C. see Etienne Balibar’s insightful discussion. ed. McGushin emphasises Foucault’s reading of Descartes. 183–192. 1992) 38–58. More broadly. ‘Foucault and Marx: The Question of Nominalism’ in Timothy J. ed. to note that one has to add Marx is the equivalent of a sigh. Genealogy. as Beatrice Han highlights Foucault’s reading of Kant in Foucault’s Critical Project (Stanford: Stanford University Press. ‘Rationality.. Foucault’s Askesis and Paul Veyne. 2007). 2000). like a face drawn in sand at the end of the sea.’ Profiles and Critiques in Social Theory (1982): 215–230. but as those scholars who once read Marx now abjure him (and his works) and newer scholars have never read him.36 Foucault’s Legacy the return of masks. Michel Foucault. and Power: Foucault and Habermas’ Criticisms’ in Armstrong. The effort to find a voice for Marx in Habermas (and indeed Habermas’ criticism of Foucault) yields considerable challenges on more than one level. 2000) in addition to. see Clifford Geertz’s reflections on academic-cum-cultural power-exchanges in his ‘Anti-Anti-Relativism. Michel Foucault Philosopher.’ (Ibid. Armstrong.. not exceptions. Hadot himself remains best on this but see McGushin. and trans. 1967). 1995) as well as Wilhelm Schmid’s Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Lebenskunst: Die Frage nach dem Grund und die Neubegrundung der Ethik bei Foucault (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. See Pierre Hadot’s influential Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault (Oxford: Blackwell. See Dominique Janicaud on this. One has to add Marx along with Heidegger and Nietzsche. ed. Prado adverts to the important influence of both Nietzsche and Heidegger in Starting With Foucault: An Introduction to Genealogy (Boulder: Westview Press. Efforts. include James Miller’s ‘Some Implications of Nietzsche’s Thought for Marxism. 2002). and Problems in Contemporary Political Theory. ‘Foucault and Going Beyond (or the Fulfillment of ) Nihilism’ in Armstrong ed.).
com/textes/anglais/interviewnemo. Companion to Nietzsche (Cambridge: Blackwell. 1985) among many others. See too Armstrong. ed. 171–190. Babich. ‘The Use and Abuse of “Ursprung”: On Foucault’s Reading of Nietzsche. 1992) as well as Jeffrey Minson’s Genealogies of Morals: Nietzsche. 1984). Foucault and his Interlocutors (Chicago: Chicago University Press. especially Pizer but see also C. Accessed May 18.’ Corbin goes on to emphasize. Chapter 5. as well as Babich. The relevance of such an array is evident in Arnold Davidson’s nevertheless selective and consequently limited collection. ‘Foucault and Bourdieu’ in The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley: University of California Press. and the Subject (Albany: State University of New York Press. so to speak.” Far from it! The philosopher’s investigations should encompass a wide enough field that the visionary philosophies of a Jacob Boehme. Although Jacqueline Stevens. The most insightful reader of/between Nietzsche and Foucault remains Gary Shapiro. Starting with Foucault: An Introduction to Genealogy (Boulder: Westview.. See for a creative instantiation. ‘The Significance of Michel Foucault’s Reading of Nietzsche: Power. See for example. see Keith Ansell-Pearson. Nietzsche: A Critical Reader (Cambridge: Blackwell. As Henry Corbin says in his June 1978 interview with Philippe Nemo: ‘A philosopher’s campaign must be led simultaneously on many fronts. her essay is a useful counter to the current. For an illustration.. See above notes. ed. Leidenschaft and Music’ in: Keith Ansell-Pearson. 1998) including Hadot and Derrida. Otherwise. ‘philosophia no longer has anything to do with Sophia. largely analytic rage for reading Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals in preference to his other works. his Archaeologies of Vision: Foucault and Nietzsche on Seeing and Saying (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. and Political Theory’ in: Peter Sedgwick. 13–30. etc. Prado. the Subject. Foucault’s Nietzschean Genealogy: Truth. science. See for an introductory discussion.htm.. Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. G.amiscorbin. 2006). can be set there together. 1994). of a Swedenborg etc. On reading Nietzsche’s ‘genealo gies’ (of morals.A Philosophical Shock 37 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 and as his readers in turn have analysed his emphases. ‘On the Morals of Genealogy’ Political Theory 31/4 (2003): 558–588 manages to overlook John Pizer’s. ed. 1995) and Todd May’s work in addition to Stuart Elden’s several studies (also to be considered in conjunction with Heidegger).’ http://www. ed.) see Babich. Power.’ Nietzsche-Studien 19 (1990): 462–478. especially if the philosophy in question is not limited to the narrow rationalist definition that certain thinkers of our days have inherited from the philosophers of the “enlightenment. of an Ibn ‘Arabi. 45–60. 1992).. Michael Mahon. Donzelot and the Eccentricity of Ethics (Basingstoke: Macmillan. 97–114. among others. 2008. See Michel de Certeau. Nietzsche’s Philosophy of Science: Ref lecting Science on the Ground of Art and Life (Albany: State University of New York Press. religion. ‘Gay Science: Science and Wissenschaft. Michel Foucault Philosopher. ‘The Genealogy of Morals and Right Reading: On the Nietzschean Aphorism and the Art of the Polemic’ in Christa Davis Acampora. . 2006). 1995). in short that scriptural and visionary (imaginal) works may be accommodated as so many sources offered up to philosophical contemplation. Foucault.
1967). 221. Nietzsche’s Philosophy of Science. Shapiro. 1970) and The Archaeology of Knowledge (New York: Pantheon. Cahiers de Royaumont (Paris: Gallimard. 1980). Transvaluations: Nietzsche in France 1872–1972 (Oxford: Clarendon Press. Nietzsche. Gilles Deleuze. In Paul Rabinow and Nikolas Rose. 1980] and on de Certeau’s Foucault. Thomas A. 87–111. 1988) and Jean Baudrillard’s famous.’ New York Times Book Review. See Ricoeur. 33. 2007). . Paul Ricoeur. The discussant in question is. Transvaluations. 40–44. 46–56. The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (London: Routledge. 1–5. 1971. perhaps unsurprisingly. 1972) George Steiner. Babich. here 1. Archaeologies of Vision Foucault and Nietzsche on Seeing and Saying (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2. Maurice Florence [Michel Foucault]. Cf. 32–33. 1970). 1977). Originally published as: Oublier Foucault (Paris: Editions Galilée. Denis Savage (New Haven: Yale University Press. . 28. Smith is careful to advert to the importance of Heidegger in France precisely for the sake of understanding Nietzsche’s influence in the same context that the ‘reception of Nietzsche in the late 1960s and early 1970s thus implies an engagement with Heidegger . and very short: Forget Foucault (Cambridge: MIT Press. see Timothy Rayner’s Foucault’s Heidegger: Philosophy and Transformative Experience (New York: Continuum. 2003). ‘Nietzsche.’ Smith. Bryan Reynolds and Joseph Fitzpatrick. Freud. Freud & Philosophy. Carlson (New York: Fordham University Press. Genealogies of Morals but see too the alternative readings by Alan Megill and May. ‘The Transversality of Michel de Certeau: Foucault’s Panoptic Discourse and the Cartographic Impulse’ Diacritics 29/3 (Fall 1999): 63–80 in addition. foregrounding what amounts to a calculatedly elective affinity. 1996). That other scholars apart from Dreyfus find Heideggerian elements in Foucault’s writing is patent but Rayner. Foucault. Humanities in Society. 1965). See Jean-Luc Marion. 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 . ‘The Mandarin of the Hour – Michel Foucault..’ 1. Freud & Philosophy: An Essay on Interpretation. 225. of course. trans. Cf. Foucault (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 2001). seems only to address scholars who follow Dreyfus’ Foucault/Heidegger. trans. Feb. De l’interpretation: Essai sur Freud (Paris: Seuil. 2003). insightful. Idol and Distance. ‘Foucault. But see especially Michel de Certeau’s L’Invention du quotidien: I Arts de faire [Paris: 10/18. Ricoeur. See Nietzsche’s own discussion of this in On the Genealogy of Morals and see for a discussion of this very specific distinction with reference to the conceptual relevance of relativism. 183–192. 3 (Winter.38 12 Foucault’s Legacy For an example of such restrictive engagement. Dreyfus with a rather spare nod towards Rabinow. and rather than the several German varieties of Kant. Douglas Smith. Ibid. ed. 1977). 266–267. See Minson. The Essential Foucault: Selections from the Essential Works of Foucault 1954–1984 (New York: The New Press. to Elden’s work on Foucault. cf. Foucault. trans. Marx’ in: Martial Guerolt. NB: this is a French rather than an Anglo-American Kant.
Searle and Foucault on Truth (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.. see Alan Schrift.’ 250. Philosophy. The incompleteness of the sentence attests. 2005). Culture. 80–95. to its oral character. Sluga. See further. . Using Foucault’s Methods (London: Sage Publications. ed. 2001). that Foucault had been invited.). ‘Michel Foucault’s Immature Sciences’ Nous 13 (1979): 39–51 but it is Gary Gutting who authored Michel Foucault’s Archaeology of Scientific Reason (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.’ in Armstrong. Ibid. Foucault and Heidegger: Critical Encounters (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Like Flowers: Philosophy and Poetry. analytic and not. accurate indeed inasmuch as professional philosophy seeks to follow an explicitly Anglo-American lead but although the ambition is . Dreyfus. The New Nietzsche (New York: Dell. a recollection which confirms quite apart from its personal significance for Prado.. ed. Foucault. ‘Politics.’ in: Gary Gutting. See Dominique Janicaud.’ 251. Thus Hans Sluga argues that Paul Rabinow and Dreyfus overstate Foucault’s Heideggerian influences in Sluga ‘Foucault’s Encounter with Heidegger and Nietzsche. Prado can ruefully recall that as a student he opted not to hear Foucault speak.. see Gavin Kendall and Gary Wickham.A Philosophical Shock 25 39 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 See for a recent collection.. See Ian Hacking. Heidegger. 2001).. As Foucault goes on to say: ‘I’m not looking for anything else but I’m really searching for that . Heidegger en France (Paris: Albin. Words in Blood. 2006). eds. Foucault. For a how-to.. in two volumes and Ethan Kleinberg.’ 127–128. David Allison.’ 250. See Prado. ‘Foucault’s Encounter with Heidegger and Nietzsche. David Allison. Derrida is the almost (not really) martyr of the difference it makes not to have such an open reception while Jean Baudrillard has the best credentials for such a regrettable distinction. 2004). ‘Truth and Power. G. as had MacIntyre and Rorty. Foucault’s Heideger. ed. undergirding the ambiguity that permits contrary interpretations. 1999) and note that while Kendall and Wickham mention Nietzsche (if only in passing). 110–139. 2006). 128. 2003) in addition to Rayner. to give a lecture in the first place. Generation Existential: Martin Heidegger’s Philosophy in France. 1927–1961 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Schrift emphasizes the growing influence of analytic philosophy in France. Nietzsche (Albany: State University of New York Press. C. ‘Truth and Power. 1977). Music and Eros in Hölderlin. Ibid. The Cambridge Companion to Foucault (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2005). ‘On the Ordering of Things: Being and Power in Heidegger and Foucault. Reading the New Nietzsche (Lanham : Rowman & Littlefield. Michel Foucault Philosopher. Saying this does not mean that it is easy to incorporate Foucault in the increasingly quantified constellation or image of the social sciences. Twentieth Century French Philosophy: Key Themes and Thinkers (New York: Wiley. See note 27 above. Alan Milchman and Alan Rosenberg. 131. On these sensibilities.’ (Ibid. Ibid. 1989). See my discussion of this theme throughout Babich. . they steer well clear of Heidegger. For yet another reading. of course. Foucault.
The Practice of Everyday Life. Raynaud. eds.. 141–157. ed. 110–140. De Certeau. Like Flowers. Richardson would draw attention to the same Heideggerian difference between the said/unsaid. 46. See Tilliette. Why we are Not Nietzscheans. ‘Nietzsche as Educator. Jacques Bouveresse. This text was first translated in 1938 by Henry Corbin as Qu’est ce que la Métaphysique? Suivi d’extraits sur L’Être et le Temps et D’une Conference sur Hölderlin (Paris: Gallimard. Reading the New Nietzsche. 1963). 2003). What does not waver.. Luc Ferry and Alain Renaut. I discuss this and other issues in Babich. etc. William J. Why we are Not Nietzscheans. see the conclusion of Babich.. Schelling.. the very idea of the hunt itself has lost a bit of luster: given search engines. De Certeau. Through Phenomenology to Thought (The Hague: Nijhoff. In a book of the same era. 63–103. romantic idealism from Schiller to Hegel. ‘The Nietzschean Metaphysics of Life. all we need do is click and we on our way to an automatic table of answers. doch dichterisch wohnet / Der Mensch auf dieser Erde’. Xavier Tilliette. and Jacobi.. See William J. G. 149–162. trans.40 Foucault’s Legacy clear it cannot be consummated simply owing the French background in the history of philosophy that is anathema to analytic philosophy. x–xii. For a reading of Hölderlin’s Hyperion and death. we know. This philological analysis is a focal point of Foucault’s ‘Nietzsche. Robert Legros. Gaston Granger. Heidegger und Hölderlin (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann. xi. and Philosophy’ in C. ‘Hölderlins Empedokles im Lichte Heideggers.’ in Peter Trawny. Freud..’ in Ferry and Renaut. Words in Blood. Preface. 1997). Prado. here 111. 2000). Robert de Loaiza. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. eds. The Practice of Everyday Life. on the other hand. and so exceeds a comparable formation for their Anglo-American counterparts that the distinction wavers. Heidegger’s Speaking Language. bien entendu. In today’s electronic era. See for a discussion and further references Allison. The Birth of the Clinic. 46–47. is the enthusiasm for things analytic in Paris as in Oxford. ‘On the Analytic-Continental Divide in Philosophy: Nietzsche’s Lying Truth. Such a historical background characterizes those Schrift identifies as the ‘leading’ French scholars. Why We Are Not Nietzscheans. here 145. 1963 [Fordham University Press. ‘Voll Verdienst. Marx. BC xiii. 1951 ). A House Divided: Comparing Analytic and Continental Philosophy (Amherst : Prometheus/Humanity Books. discussing Hölderlin and Heidegger invokes the same Corbin we noted above on the matter of multifarious proficiency in connection with the difficulty of reading Heidegger and Hölderlin for.’ Empedocles leaps into the volcano and the Freudian man. 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 . Originally published as Naissance de la Clinique (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. eds. 2003]). 157–162. on the one hand.’ in Ferry and Renaut. students of literary criticism and. Richardson. is concerned with death as with sex and Nietzsche has plans for Zarathustra or a substitute to die. Michel Foucault. ed. such as Jules Vuillemin.
2006) and for a critique of this reading of mathesis.’ see the first two chapters of Babich. KSA 11. 4. (Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann. Walter Biemel.. 2006). 2005). Gary Gutting. Nietzsche. .877. 589–599 as well as Stuart Elden on calculation in Speaking Against Number: Heidegger. Errancy. 640–641. Nietzsche. and Desire (Dordrecht: Kluwer. (New York: Harper Torchbooks. Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari (in fi fteen volumes) (Berlin : Walter de Gruyter. 27. and Gelassenheit.’ 211–223. Dmitri Ginev. Martin Heidegger. Hölderlins Hymne ‘Der Ister’ (Summer semester 1942). §14b. Heidegger. 1993 ). The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. 1995). Blackwell Companion to Continental Philosophies of Science (New York: Blackwell. From Phenomenology to Thought. 2004) is an exception. 211–223 as well as Joseph Rouse and Yvonne Sherrat. 1. 1977).. Kritische Studienausgabe ed. The Question Concerning Technology. William Lovitt. 80 . Words in Blood. Structures of Power. Heidegger cites Werner Heisenberg. Thought. Knowledge and Civilization (Boulder: Westview.’ in Babich. ‘Heidegger’s Philosophy of Science: Calculation. 1980).’ . Like Flowers. ed.A Philosophical Shock 52 41 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 See on Heidegger’s mathesis. In addition to Gutting and Hacking. Context of Constitution: Beyond the Edge of Epistemological Justification (Dordrecht: Springer. ed. ‘Das Naturbild. Martin Heidegger. trans. see Linda Alcoff’s essay on Foucault ‘Foucault’s Philosophy of Science: Structures of Truth. Language and the Politics of Calculation (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Babich. For further references and a discussion of such ‘borrowings. cited above. ed. Barry Allen.
on the surface. filled with genocides of all kinds. one must conclude that despite his efforts he fi nally does not . to break out of Hegel’s French connection. and against which it reacts. Hence. which belongs to the general effort. The last century was one of the bloodiest in human history. and less than obviously correct. within whose enormously broad position the French philosophical discussion unfolds. far too many also die in violent ways often linked to the particular historical moment in which they lived. and the death of man Tom Rockmore This is a chapter about the relation between Hegel’s role in French philosophy since roughly the first third of the last century. Hegel. What is the meaning of Foucault’s famous thesis of the death of man? Death is unfortunately an everyday occurrence.2 And early in this century it is hard to be optimistic that it will be better. Is he finally successful in breaking out of the Hegelian framework? Or out of the French Hegelian framework? Or is the result.Chapter 3 Foucault. Descombes’ suggestion that Hegel is the master thinker. But many. But it becomes easily legible and very interesting. One set of questions concerns the interpretation of his thesis. But ‘man. but puzzling thesis of the death of man. and Foucault’s familiar. as Descombes claims for French philosophy in general. has clearly not ‘died’ if the reference is merely to physical death. perhaps not even interesting. typical among leading French thinkers of his generation. even if one might still dispute its central claim. that in effect to play the game of the master is to lose to the master of the game? If Descombes’ claim holds for Foucault.’ at least ‘man’ as ordinarily understood. over some seven decades. A second set of questions concerns the relation of Foucault’s thesis to Hegel. Everyone who does not die in another way in the meantime will eventually die a ‘natural’ death occurring at the end of life. Foucault’s thesis is puzzling. if read against the complex Hegelian background of twentieth-century French philosophy. difficult to grasp.1 is illustrated by Foucault’s thesis. not clearly intelligible.
would turn out to be Hegelian. since it provides helpful insight for this discussion6: All the great philosophical ideas of the past century—the philosophies of Marx and Nietzsche. Who is an existentialist and when existentialism begins depends on the point of view. Hegel’s French connection The Hegelian background of twentieth-century French philosophy is not well understood. which belongs to the antiHegelian effort to break out of Hegel’s enormous and continuing impact on French philosophy. an important French Hegel scholar. Most. phenomenology. These two questions are related. with at least one way of reading Hegel’s position. but not identical. which must be cited at length. the nature of the subject. I will be arguing that Foucault’s thesis. Reasons include the lack of interest of Hegel scholars in the unusual French reading of Hegel. in a famous passage. who. whose positions depend on their reading of Hegel. which appears to be a reaction against Hegel. one of the ways of grasping one of the deepest of his insights. In that case. since Kojève. is mainly ignored. dominated and perhaps still dominates French philosophy. at least at first glance. and . hence for whom it is crucial. which at first glance appears not to be Hegelian. 5 In a comment on the work of Jean Hyppolite. In an important sense Foucault’s thesis is not anti-Hegelian but Hegelian. Merleau-Ponty called attention to Hegel. perhaps all of the important French philosophers since the 1930s are marked by their encounter with Hegel. hence a grasp of the specific nature of French Hegelianism that. hence contained within his overall position. Yet this encounter. indeed disinterest of those interested in French philosophy in Hegel. even for such authors as Levinas or Merleau-Ponty.The Death of Man 43 go farther than Hegel. which is not often discussed. The meaning to be attributed to Foucault’s thesis of the death of man requires an understanding of the philosophical context in which it arose. can be understood as in fact broadly compatible.4 The case for Hegel’s importance for philosophy in general and with regard to French philosophy is made in related but different ways by Merleau-Ponty and Descombes. smacks of German idealism in a way that has nothing at all to do with French philosophy. even to be anti-Hegelian.3 which is fully matched by the lack of interest. whom he understood as the first existentialist. his view of the subject. German existentialism.
then no task in the cultural order is more urgent than re-establishing the connection between on the one hand. a leading twentieth-century anti-Hegelian. it suggests that since Hegel all the important ideas emerge in reactions of different kinds to him.44 Foucault’s Legacy psychoanalysis—had their beginnings in Hegel. which later phenomenologists and historians of phenomenology consistently work to suppress.8 Third. on that other. That is where their common language can be found and a decision confrontation can take place. which can respect the variety and singularity of individual consciousnesses. A cardinal example is the view that Husserl invented phenomenology. civilizations. the thankless doctrines which try to forget their Hegelian origin and. and even the most objective historian will be led to ask which of them went furthest). whose version of the critical philosophy carries forward many of Kant’s insights in forging a link to history that cannot later be reversed. Hegel is the most important Kantian. If Kant is certainly the single most important thinker of modern times. First. as he also suggests. broader than the understanding. as it turns out. since our historical moment . This myth. if we remain dedicated to a new classicism. Not that Hegel himself offers the truth we are seeking (there are several Hegels. There would be no paradox involved in saying that interpreting Hegel means taking a stand on all the philosophical. an organic civilization. This passage is important for our purposes for four reasons. while maintaining the sharpest sense of subjectivity. that origin itself. and which is routinely repeated by Husserlians. Certainly one of the most obvious connections is. Merleau-Ponty points out the importance of reestablishing connections to Hegel. is based on ignorance about or willful disregard of the prior philosophical tradition. ways of thinking. there is the suggestion that.7 Second. Hegel’s successors have placed more emphasis on what they reject of his heritage than on what they owe to him. which have been covered up in different ways. but all our antitheses can be found in that single life and work. Hegel’s importance is acknowledged by Heidegger. But. and religious problems of our century. He is the inventor of that Reason. it was he who started the attempt to explore the irrational and integrate it into an expanded reason. political. If we do not despair of a truth above and beyond divergent points of view. which remains the task of our century. which is by now well entrenched. and historical contingency but which nevertheless does not give up the attempt to master them in order to guide them to their own truth. the connection to phenomenology. who points to the need to dialogue with and overcome Hegel if Western philosophy is to remain viable.
French Hegel studies quickly began to take off. Merleau-Ponty’s suggestion that Hegel is the central philosopher of our time suggests that he is also the central ‘French’ philosopher. Pierre-Jean Labarrière. different ways to comprehend the dimensions of his enormous and continuing influence. who are both in Christian orders.17 After Wahl’s book. became interested in his work. the first such work in French devoted to Hegel’s thought. the Kant scholar. Since Wahl.’14 In a lengthy work on scientific explanation. rereads French philosophy through Hegel. efforts to surpass Hegel remain within the folds of the vast Hegelian position. Hegel’s thought was discussed by a number of French writers.16 In an influential work.11 At the beginning of the twentieth century. Léon Brunschvicg. Jean Wahl drew attention to the relation of Kierkegaard and Hegel. In other words. and remained in correspondence with him.The Death of Man 45 is circumscribed by Hegel or the reaction to him. In the last decade of the nineteenth century. French Hegel studies continued in a desultory manner. in lectures at the Sorbonne that were eventually published in book form. different ways to understand his ideas. writing in Merleau-Ponty’s wake. including Alexandre Kojève. This suggestion is developed by Descombes who.10 In Cousin’s wake. Gwendoline Jarczyk. there are obviously different ways to interpret Hegel. neutral presentation of Hegel’s life and thought. Finally. Such discussions include several chapters in a work by Victor Basch on classical German views of political philosophy12 and a monograph by Paul Roques. an important but traditional French Hegel scholar. Victor Delbos. there is no way to go beyond Hegel in our time. Labarrière and Jarczyk. have done .15 The neo-Kantian.13 Slightly later. Emile Meyerson wrote an entire volume on Hegel’s philosophy of nature [Naturphilosophie]. French Hegel studies began in the nineteenth century. Lucien Herr contributed a short. there have been a number of important students of Hegel in France. Jean Hyppolite. but Descombes is thinking of his more charismatic ‘French’ counterpart Alexandre Kojève. Bernard Bourgeois. the dominant philosophical presence in the French debate. and now Jean-François Kervegan. different ways to assess his accomplishment. In his remark. contributed a violently critical chapter on Hegel in his account of consciousness in Western philosophy. as Merleau-Ponty points out. mentioned Hegel in the context of a discussion of ‘Kantian factors in German philosophy from the end of the eighteenth to the beginning of the nineteenth centuries. French interest in Hegel began during his lifetime—he died in 1831—in Victor Cousin’s discussion of the Phenomenology of Spirit in his courses at the Collège de France in 1828.9 Cousin met Hegel in Heidelberg in 1817 and 1818. Merleau-Ponty has in mind Hyppolite.
Kojève represents the Marxist. after a lengthy period in Germany. whose many translations and commentaries are justly regarded as important. with Lukàcs. Kojève. including their views of Hegel. Kojève. or so-called young Hegelian reading of Hegel. he rereads the Phenomenology through the lens of Hegel’s . Raymond Queneau.18 who remains a controversial figure in France. called attention to himself in his effort to rehabilitate Carl Schmitt. Jacques Lacan and Raymond Aron) most of whose members later became well known in French culture. anthropological view. where he acquired a doctorate under Jaspers. but French Hegel studies as they continue today are mainly due to Hyppolite’s influence.20 who was only translated into French later.g. Besides the fact that they were interested in Hegel and died in the same year. and the Collège de France. who took his place at the Sorbonne. but otherwise typical academic interpretation. to France. emigrated from Russia. whereas Hyppolite illustrates first-rate. Their Hegel interpretations also differ markedly. Bourgeois is a classical Hegel scholar. is anachronistically influenced by Marx and Heidegger. theological approach to Hegel in working out a strongly left-wing. the Ecole normale supérieure.46 Foucault’s Legacy much to call attention to Hegel from an orthodox Christian perspective. and Michel Foucault. He famously taught himself German at the same time as he produced the first translation into French of Hegel’s Phenomenology (1939). they are different. whose original name was Alexandr Kojevnikov. the German Nazi legal theorist. Speaking generally. Georges Bataille. but who are not known to have attended his lectures. His nearly native grasp of German was a huge asset in explaining Hegel’s Phenomenology to French scholars who did not know German well enough to read Hegel in that language at a time when there was no French translation of the book. Others influenced by Kojève’s reading of Hegel. later a professor at the Sorbonne. the year of the student revolution in France. was not constrained by fidelity to the text. Jacques Derrida. which produced a sensation in French philosophy. His famous lectures on Hegel at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes (1933–1939) were attended by a group (e. who was not an academic and had no academic ambitions.19 The two dominant figures in French Hegel studies in the twentieth century are certainly Kojève and Hyppolite. Andre Breton. Kervegan. include Jean-Paul Sartre. In effect. Kojève has had an immense and continuing impact on later philosophy in France. Maurice Merleau-Ponty. On the contrary. Hyppolite was a product of the French elite system of schools. 1968. His Hegel. Kojève sharply discounts the familiar right-wing. opposed in nearly every important way.
Kojève was claiming that history had already come to an end. Nietzsche. The fantastic influence of Kojève’s Hegel was made possible by the fascination with this avowedly brilliant. frequently in excruciating detail. sober scholarly commentator.’ but that Heidegger was later at pains to refute. Kleinberg is the first to assert in detail that Kojève is the central influence in the French Heidegger debate. French philosophy has long favored foreign models. who has always been less influential than such other phenomenologists as Husserl and Heidegger. or master thinkers. There is a measure of truth in his suggestion that French thought continues to react less to Hegel. Yet his flamboyant approach left strong traces in the later French debate. Hyppolite. who was less exciting. It is then no accident if four decades after his lectures ended Descombes understands philosophy since that time in terms of the Hegelian analysis of recognition.21 To the best of my knowledge. the discussion often progresses through commentary.The Death of Man 47 famous analysis of the master-slave relation. as Ricoeur remarks. in the twentieth century. on selected central figures. the outsider who galvanized French thought. Kojève. but rather to Kojève’s Hegel. Henri Bergson was the dominant figure. In comparison. He had no equal in French philosophy and no successor. Russian-born Hegel commentator as well as by the specific structure of French philosophy. was the very model of the well-informed. As his lectures were coming to an end and the world was sliding toward the onset of the Second World War.22 He appeals to the reaction to Kojève to understand the French Heidegger. After Sartre published Being and Nothingness (1943). as a basic opposition between sameness and otherness (le même et l’autre). Early in the last century. and whose theories form the horizon of the debate at any given moment. His impact was only heightened by his mastery of the text. his grasp of German. such masters of suspicion as Freud. which he describes as arising in reaction to Heidegger as read by Kojève. In France. Descombes’ reading of French philosophy since Kojève through his Hegelian glasses is further reinforced by Ethan Kleinberg. For whatever reason. he nearly instantly became world famous and the main intellectual force in both .23 Kleinberg contends that Kojève’s view that Heidegger has roughly the same philosophical anthropology as Hegel leads to the characteristic French anthropological reading of Being and Time.24 but also Heidegger. and the paradoxical nature of his claims. some of whom are French and others of whom are foreign. Kleinberg reads Kojève as a reader of Heidegger who is also reading Hegel. was sui generis. which Sartre expounded in ‘Existentialism is a Humanism. and Marx.
alternative conceptual models or master thinkers within the French context. What is often called French postmodernism is a concerted protest by different thinkers working in Kojève’s wake to liberate themselves from the influence of his reading Hegel. Lyotard’s refusal of general explanation (méta-récits) counts as a refusal of system. including through the slippery notion of deconstruction. He later gave way to Heidegger who reigned as the central ‘French’ master thinker until the cause célèbre of his Nazism came to the attention of the wider public in the later 1980s.28 Hegel is widely present in Derrida’s writings.25 The reaction to Kojève’s Hegel took different forms. such as a rejection of perceived Hegelian principles. who was influenced by Heidegger. which sometimes seems to us to be revolting) in identifying the Concept and Time. Being and Time presents incompatible views of transcendental phenomenological truth [veritas transcendentalis]30 and a hermeneutical conception based on the circle of the understanding. where Hegel is often understood as presenting a closed system. Though extremely critical.31 Kojève. ‘Hegel was able to bring the history of philosophy (and.48 Foucault’s Legacy French philosophy and literature. insights and arguments as well as the acceptance of other. Guattari and Derrida all belong in different ways to the anti-Hegelian camp. Guattari and others pale by comparison with Derrida’s critique. His writings on Hegel and Husserl mainly apply Heideggerian insights. He goes so far as to claim that it is impossible to finish reading Hegel and that in a sense that is all that he is doing.29 Derrida has written widely on the positions of Husserl. Deleuze. often very critically. In France. Though there is no agreement about postmodernism. hence.’32 Derrida. which he waged over many years. Heidegger. Deleuze. and Hegel. this is often a point of attack. history in general) to an end and to initiate the era of wisdom (whose light already shines on us. According to Kojève. which can be depicted as a skeptical extension of Hegel’s critique of the capacity of language to pick out individual objects in the opening arguments of the Phenomenology to the general problem of knowledge in general. such supposedly postmodern thinkers as Lyotard. which are connected together through subterranean passages they call ‘rhizomes. makes this point against Hegel in his critique of the supposedly Hegelian . develops a similar point. to their positions. but silent presence in French philosophy.26 This line is further pursued by Deleuze and Guattari who organize their work in a discontinuous manner into plateaus. but also burns us. more than it warms us. Derrida paradoxically indicates the deep impact of Hegel on his own ideas. who descends from both Heidegger and Kojève.’27 The implicit and explicit criticisms of Hegel formulated by Lyotard. which is still such a large.
Foucault also wrote on Hegel for the DES. since French philosophy has always been broadly humanist. In the process of coming to intellectual maturity. Foucault rebelled against Hegel as well as Sartre. whom he embraced. Like many others of his generation. and. is condemned to meditate on previous forms of thought. or Heidegger. represented a form of intellectual terrorism. Sartre’s journal.37 Yet Foucault spoke for other contemporaries when in an interview he satirized Sartre as a man whose thought belonged to an earlier period: ‘The Critique of Dialectical Reason is the magnificent and pathetic effort of a man of the nineteenth century to think the twentieth century. in imitation of the North American model.36 in France Foucault never reached the level of either Sartre. Though important in the French context. the last Marxist. centered on competing conceptions of subjectivity. a masters degree in philosophy. eventually writing his Critique of Dialectical Reason [Critique de la raison dialectique. In fact he explicitly disclaims this possibility in his insistence that philosophy.The Death of Man 49 theory of ‘absolute knowledge as closure or as the end of history.39 . even as directed against French philosophy itself. In this sense. Like Althusser. which comes after the fact. like others of his generation. later turned against communism and Marxism as Sartre moved in that direction. It is perhaps not as well known as it ought to be that Foucault grew up intellectually in a conceptual environment dominated by Hegel. I would even say. reacted. what is at present called. whose thought he studied and against which he.’33 Yet Hegel never claims to bring philosophy to an end in his system. Sartre is the last Hegelian and.’38 For the young Foucault. whom he criticized. Les Temps Modernes. 1960]. as directed against a number of contemporary French thinkers such as Sartre under the influence of such French philosophical models as Heidegger and Nietzsche. hence the French name ‘glas. His striking thesis of the death of man arises in the context of the anti-Hegelian revolt in Kojève’s wake.34 Derrida further attacks the related idea of total system in his concerted effort to toll the bell as it were for the Hegelian system. Foucault who was earlier a member of the French Communist Party. This thesis can be understood as directed against a certain view of Hegel.’35 Foucault’s thesis in the French context I come now to Foucault. Foucault rebelled against usual sexual stereotypes and other social conventions as well as the intellectual trends of his time.
and against any view of the subject from the angle of vision of traditional humanism. According to Didier Eribon. which was translated only later into French. Heidegger. Heidegger’s supposed humanism.41 Sartre was also quickly attacked from another direction by Heidegger. this attack signaled the end of Sartre’s intellectual hegemony on French intellectual life. Sartre’s colleague attacked the Sartrean conception of the subject as nondialectical and starkly dualist in ‘The Battle over Existentialism’ (1945). Sartre’s view of the subject was again attacked slightly later by the structural anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss in La Pensée sauvage. who. and phenomenology as existential phenomenology. his alliance with Marxism and the French Communist Party was called into question. for instance in ‘Existentialism is a humanism. written while he was under severe pressure after the war. was closer to Hegel than the still very Cartesian Sartre. Sartre’s journal.’45 In the Letter on Metaphysics (1948). Merleau-Ponty. was paradoxically combined with an emphasis on the deconstruction or better the later banishment of the subject. The attack on this concept arose from different directions nearly simultaneously. Sartre’s existentialism turns on the improbable view of subjectivity he works out in Being and Nothingness.44 Heidegger’s attack was directed against the humanism Sartre featured. now gave way in The Letter on Humanism to a theory that retreated back behind the modern concept of the subject. understood this work as indicating a new. who lived in the French occupation zone. different route to follow. after the war.46 The central role of Dasein in Being and Time. His Letter was simultaneously directed against a selection of his own earlier views. . Heidegger here professes a new. in rejecting Sartre’s effort to ally existentialism with ontological phenomenology when. Heidegger. in effect a form of humanism without a subject. which helped him gain access to a dominant position in the French intellectual establishment.42 The reactions to this latter attack diverged. sought to protect himself by cultivating friends in the French cultural world. In the meantime. which became extremely influential. who understood the subject not as transcendent to but as in the world. at the time the leading sociologist.40 In the pages of Les Temps modernes. nearly seamlessly replaced his French counterpart as the central intellectual reference. when the attack succeeded rapidly. supposedly deeper humanism.43 Pierre Bourdieu.50 Foucault’s Legacy A recurrent theme in the discussion at this time was the subject. against Sartre’s view of subjectivity. his slightly younger colleague. Heidegger’s thought had evolved from an earlier period in which a conception of the subject appears to be central in his thought to a later period in which it seems to disappear. including his effort to recover metaphysics as well as his conception of the subject as Dasein.
This point is strikingly made by Bergson: ‘All modern philosophy derives from Descartes . was very influential. . as identical with philosophy itself. Sartre sought in effect to reinforce his view of the subject in responding to Merleau-Ponty’s criticism. . sought to weaken or eliminate subjectivity as a factor in their theories. Montaigne and even conceivably Augustine. In his later Marxist period. Heidegger’s attack on humanism. The turn from a ‘Cartesian’ view of the subject to a disembodied. . Heidegger seemed to be making good on his claim to be a modern pre-Socratic. which immediately parachuted him to the forefront in French intellectual circles. . but without humanism in the old. especially in France. In the last paragraph of his critique of Sartre’s concept of the subject in the ‘Battle over Existentialism. Others rushed to criticize Sartre as well as to work out his post-Cartesian view of the subject. unrevised. nearly formless Critique of Dialectical Reason (1960). His new view of thought beyond a subject was even less Cartesian. Descartes raises against his theory the possibility that he is quite simply mad. This project was later carried out by Sartre from his deeply Cartesian perspective. even antiCartesian in reversing the traditional French approach to philosophy on the basis of the subject. initially in Search For A Method (1957) in which he offered existentialism to ‘prop up’ Marxism so to speak.’47 This idea is independently reaffirmed by Derrida in a dispute with Foucault concerning a remark in Histoire de la folie about Descartes. hence as not transcendent to it. metaphysical sense. later in the gigantic. All the tendencies of modern philosophy coexist in Descartes . in particular German idealism . whether under Heidegger’s influence or independently.48 Foucault’s comments on this passage49 led Derrida to remark that not only did Foucault misread the cogito in this work but this misreading proves that the act of philosophy can no longer be anything other than Cartesian. is certainly not Cartesian. The Cartesian element in French philosophy is often regarded. and any traditional form of subjectivity. In place of humanism.50 In now giving up the subject and returning back behind Descartes. . All modern idealism comes from there. In an important passage in the first of the Meditations. Others.’ Merleau-Ponty suggests integrating existentialism into Marxism. epistemological placeholder view of . . Heidegger now claims that the true humanism is to be found in thinking (Denken) lying beyond philosophy. His earlier conception of Dasein as a subject always already in the world.The Death of Man 51 simultaneously rejects Dasein. traditional humanism that in his opinion is inevitably based on metaphysics. Heidegger suggests a turn to what he calls humanitas in the service of being.
this point can be illustrated through the theories of Lévi-Strauss. advances a related thesis concerning the end of human being.63 Althusser’s intervention in the debate was meant to defend the orthodox Marxist view of Marxism as a science by admitting .62 The formulation of a humanist. Althusser and Foucault. who simply assumes without argument that philosophy has come to an end in Hegel’s theory. 54 and so on could be mentioned. revolutions and philosophy.55 Barthes substitutes a concept of the author writing for the concept of the person. Heidegger’s thesis was anticipated by Kojève. In French philosophy. as transcending philosophy in a science of history and society. the end of history is also the end of human being. According to Kojève. historical human individual following from the end of wars.53 Under the influence of Kojève and Heidegger. Derrida. Although any number of French structuralist figures. that although there are myths there are no authors. Piaget.59 This view has been understood as the claim. resolutely philosophical reading of Marx’s position threatened the Marxist view of Marx.60 Althusser’s so-called theoretical antihumanism is the basis of his structuralist Marxism61 that refuses any form of anthropology.52 Foucault’s Legacy subjectivity51 resulted in a series of variations on the ‘decentered’ conception of subjectivity featured in the later Heidegger. His antihumanism is intelligible against the background of the Marxist debate roughly since Lukács’ brilliant History and Class Consciousness. 56 The structural anthropologist Lévi-Strauss advances a conception of history independent of human being. Piaget. including Barthes. here influenced by Marx.52 This thesis echoes through recent French philosophy. The emphasis on alienation in Lukács’ book that was later confirmed by the publication of several unknown. Goldmann. anthropological. early Marxian texts led to the idea of Marxist humanism. 58 Lévi-Strauss takes a similar line in maintaining that all culture can be understood as the result of the unconscious imposition of form by the human mind that is basically the same in all times and places.57 In the Critique of Pure Reason. in which history is the beginning point but not the end point of a quest for intelligibility. a similar thesis was quickly worked out by others. is concerned to avoid a conception of the subject that has anything to do with lived experience. notably in the views of Foucault and Derrida. Kant makes the possibility of knowledge depend on an unconscious and unknowable activity through which a conceptual subject ‘constructs’ the knowable object of experience. who is typical of structuralists in that regard. Deleuze. originally formulated by Engels. Kojève. the end of the free. The latter was influenced by Heidegger during his period in Germany before coming to France. for instance.
64 His antihumanist reading of Marx.70 Among the structuralists. . As Foucault later put it. the result is an anonymous system without a subject that marks a return to the seventeenth century.68 Foucault’s aim in his early work is in part to show how and when human being became an object of science in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Foucault maintains that the conception of human being is ‘finished’ [‘fini’].72 Influenced by Kojève.71 then Foucault is not a structuralist.73 Heidegger and others. as has been claimed. they are not even sciences at all since they rely on a conception of human being that cannot be known. He objects to the very idea of social science as in principle mistaken. Lévi-Strauss and Althusser put subjectivity into parentheses in order to constitute structuralist anthropology and Marxism as social sciences. is to abolish the subject as Marx understood it in order to ‘save’ the Marxist view of Marx. But man has not been put in the place of God since there is only ‘an anonymous thought. theory without identity . .65 is intended to show that in his mature work Marx moves beyond anything resembling a conception of the subject in order to carry out a scientific study of practice.’76 . that cannot be the object of a science.69 And his later work precisely centers on tracing various forms of human practice. Nietzsche and others.67 Foucault’s radical attack on a certain conception of human being is misconceived as an attack on human being as such. ‘structuralism’ is nothing other than a superficial effort to formulate a general methodology for the human sciences. more precisely his claim that Marx breaks with the very idea of a universal essence of man in favor of a specific analysis of levels of human practice. hence against the Cartesian heritage.66 Foucault’s thesis of the death of man arises in the context of a general French turn against subjectivity.74 This conception came into being in the eighteenth century between two types of language. knowledge without a subject. when human being gave itself a representation in the interstices of language temporarily in fragments. Social sciences are not only false sciences. which cannot be understood apart from the political struggle to maintain Marxist orthodoxy. Although he indicates that Nietzsche is more important to him than Heidegger– parenthetically a Nietzsche read through Heideggerian lenses–he sees the latter as the essential philosopher. Althusser’s intent. under the influence of Heidegger. If. or as antihumanism.The Death of Man 53 the existence of Marx’s early philosophical writings–once they were published it was hard to deny this fact–while denying their importance.75 Our task today is to think the disappearance of human being since it is now in the process of disappearing. since it is limited to an analysis of the concept or the representation of human being.
the realm of philosophical discourse. In an important passage linking his genealogical analysis to subjectivity.88 For Foucault.79 where subjectum is a translation of hypokeimenon. In a typically lengthy discussion of Foucault’s remark in passing on Descartes’ thought. Since truth is relative to the domain of power. that on Foucault’s reading of Descartes there could be something outside of. or abstract philosophical discussion. it is only in the modern age that the world has a picture. His insistence that one needs to dispense with the constituent subject would lead to the death of subjectivity only if there were no other alternative. he insists on the need ‘to arrive at an analysis which can account for the constitution of the subject within a historical framework.82 Descartes can only be overcome by overcoming modern metaphysics and Descartes’ Meditations provides the pattern for an ‘ontology’ of the subject defined as conscientia. for instance in the Kantian or Marxian senses. the mechanisms of power are prior.54 Foucault’s Legacy Foucault’s thesis can be understood as amplifying Heidegger’s later turn away from the subject. but also to subjectivity. criticizing Derrida for reducing ‘discursive practices to textual traces. and the phenomenological view of subjectivity.87 and since there is nothing outside of power structures.83 In his own way. thereby adumbrating his own later view of textuality [textualité]. who asks rhetorically whether every age has its own world picture. He does not so much dispense with as offer a novel analysis of the subject. For Foucault. According to Heidegger. this leads to analysis of the mechanisms of power within which the ideas of truth and of subjectivity are meaningful. in which the subject evolves over time.89 He sees the alternatives as the idealist view of the subject as constitutive.80 the emergence of the world as picture is the fundamental event of the modern age. suggests that the concept of the subject or even the subject comes into being and passes away. Heidegger. or prior to. not only to the analysis of truth. In ‘The Age of the World Picture’ (1938) Heidegger claims that every age is grounded by metaphysics.’86 points to the need to go beyond the texts. Foucault argues a similar point.84 Derrida objects. through historical analysis. even in historicized form.78 In the modern period man has changed in becoming subject. which in turn depends on a world picture.77 It is decisive for the modern age that the world is transformed into a picture and man into a subjectum.81 and the interpretation of man as subjectum is the metaphysical presupposition for all future anthropology.85 Foucault’s response. who is also influenced by Nietzsche. the problem is not to change people’s consciousness but rather to change the regime that produces the truth within the particular relations of power.’90 The result is to make subjectivity genuinely .
into which it is born. except in exceptional circumstances. domains of objects. In comparison. and more generally the entire social world. human being to society. In Kant’s wake. assumes concrete form as the property of another.94 Foucault downplays the active side of human being in emphasizing the way that for . for instance. which are sold in the market place. the externalized activity of finite human beings. which describes the way in which human beings literally ‘concretize’ themselves in what they do. with prominent exceptions. which are basic to modern capitalism. According to Hegel. and which. such as his self-transformative. that in and through their activity human beings produce objects. in which it is socialized.93 further underlies Marx’s ‘constructivist’ view. which. etc. Hegel. Foucault continues: ‘And this is what I would call genealogy. transforms the highly abstract transcendental unity of apperception that Kant advances in the critical philosophy into finite human being. or commodities. discourses. Objectification. it does not itself either shape or constitute. is the basis of Marx’s theory of alienation. Foucault stresses the way that human beings are constrained by their surroundings. for instance workers in modern industrial society. Like Fichte. who rethinks the conception of the subject. themselves. Fichte. individual to group. which describes the effects of objectification on human beings in various complex ways. This general point is developed in various ways by a collection of later thinkers. human being is always already in a pre-existing social and historical context.’91 Foucault on the constitution of the subject Foucault’s thesis of the death of man presupposes an underlying contextualist theory of human being. their social relations.. which comes directly out of German idealism. hence by which it is shaped or constituted. who is thinking within the horizon of Adam Smith’s understanding of modern capitalism. this is a form of history which can account for the constitution of knowledges. For Foucault as well as many others.’ Lukács famously conflates with alienation.92 This concept. Nietzschean view of creating oneself as a work of art. works out a seminal conception of objectification to describe the relation of subject to object. under the heading of ‘reification.The Death of Man 55 historical by inverting the relation between subjectivity and objectivity or history. without having to make reference to a subject which is either transcendental in relation to the field of events or runs in its empty sameness throughout the course of history.
who for the most part are not free to constitute themselves. hence shaped by their social surroundings. In this specific sense. to get rid of the subject . Here is the passage98: I wanted to see how these problems of constitution could be resolved within a historical framework. and Heidegger. or a linguistic and/or semiotic approach to relations of signification. but passive. in which he defined intellectual maturity as independence. he chooses a purely descriptive approach toward phenomena of power. instead of referring them back to a constituent object (madness. fabricating a subject that evolves through the course of history. reports he was not interested in analyzing the phenomena of power or. or whatever). Most people are hemmed in. Foucault sees his central theme as writing ‘a history of the different modes by which. or directed toward explanation. who claims to shun questions of theory and methodology. forced into certain predetermined molds by their surroundings in myriad ways he sought to document. I don’t believe the problem can be solved by historicizing the subject as posited by the phenomenologists.95 Though he responds to Hume’s attack on causality. or descriptive. though he cannot deduce or otherwise justify freedom. in elaborating the foundations of such an analysis. Like Descartes. hence wholly free. are rather constituted by their surroundings. his writings are generally phenomenological. Very much like the post-Kantian idealists.96 Instead of following an economic approach to relations of production. human beings are made subjects. Kant shuns the latter’s view that reason is the slave of the passions. he is claiming that human beings are not producers but rather products. But this historical contextualization needed to be something more than the simple relativization of the phenomenological subject. Foucault was fascinated by Kant’s famous article on the Enlightenment. Foucault reacts to Kant.’97 In effect. Foucault. In looking back at his work. He is interested in describing ways in which human beings. claims in a late interview in distinguishing his view from others that the subject simply vanishes so to speak. or at least of the traditional conception of subjectivity? Foucault. One has to dispense with the constituent subject. Kant presupposes that the human subject is completely unlimited. as he says. in our culture. Foucault later claimed his overriding aim was to write a history of different ways that human beings are made into or constituted as subjects. not dynamic. who addresses. obstructed in their actions. in short the result of their relation to their social surroundings. this question repeatedly.56 Foucault’s Legacy the most part human beings are not active. but in a different way. hence less than free. But what then is left of the subject. criminality.
and within philosophy from Aristotle to Heidegger to understand the human subject as made in the image of God. a certain conception.The Death of Man 57 itself. takes issue with the repeated effort over several thousand years in the West in theology and philosophy. to arrive at an analysis which can account for the constitution of the subject within a historical framework. Foucault. And this is what I would call genealogy. a form of history which can account for the constitution of knowledges. which both endures and constitutes. that is. including knowledge of human being. and so on. that’s to say. as homo economicus. there is no central core of human being that persists outside time since literally everything is historical. without having to make reference to a subject which is either transcendental in relation to the field of events or runs in its empty sameness throughout the course of history. we simply cannot explain how infants learn to speak. since the biological being routinely referred to in this way continues through time and history. explains historical events. who denies there is a single privileged manner of designating human being. or native—hence the term ‘nativism’—in all human beings. as endowed with the capacity for speech. Foucault cannot literally be claiming that human being simply disappears. His view seems to be that there is nothing like a permanent essence of human being. which Foucault designates as the phenomenological subject. Hence. He dramatically calls for renewed attention to the problem of being in a time of peril. in his case the deep structure common to all natural languages that is innate. One of the consequences of the widespread attack on subjectivity is the proliferation of theories in which the subject plays no central role. which allegedly controls and constricts human being.. discourses. he disagrees with someone like Noam Chomsky. This historicist approach leads to two distinctive claims concerning the constitution of human being and knowledge of all kinds. who thinks that. not in terms of human actions.100 He apparently has in mind a formation that obtains at a given historical moment. Dasein. as a social being. According to Foucault. who takes a strongly historical approach. passions and decisions. but rather to such factors as what Heidegger calls the gigantic.99 This leads to the view that events are not due to a person or group of persons. for instance. is no longer acceptable. At most. domains of objects. a way that human beings are. and. etc. who is perhaps influenced by . such as the Second World War. unless there is a fi xed human essence. Foucault. but rather in relation to being that has supposedly withdrawn. such as modern technology. This passage demands careful attention. more recently. Heidegger.
Heidegger. In this respect. His thesis seems to be that there is no single truth about human being. as a consequence.58 Foucault’s Legacy Heidegger.103 Different times give rise to different representations. If the historical moment and. His archeological survey of the human sciences consists in describing the different historical spaces that obtain in a specific time and place. then so-called dividing practices through which temporally dominant theories or institutional structures group people into categories. such as human being.104 Like Merleau-Ponty. and disciplines one selects to alter one’s own subjectivity. under Hegel’s influence. Foucault’s historicism102 further results in a distinctive approach to knowledge. but there is no privileged representation and certainly no possibility of ascertaining the truth in any usual sense. He further goes out of his way to refuse the Husserlian solution that consists in attributing priority to the observing subject in order to go to the things themselves. in different historical moments. criminality and sexual practice. Foucault is close to MerleauPonty’s own concern. seems to forget earlier attention to a conceptual grasp of human being. The dividing practices comprise studies of sickness. routines. practices. then the view. Once again he seems close to the later Heidegger’s rejection of his earlier view of subjectivity. economics and biology. The forms of inquiry include such sciences as linguistics. He retrospectively groups his many writings into three forms of ‘subjectivisation’ (subjectivization). and finally methods. including the French anthropological reading of his thought. or ways in which the human subject is constituted. Finally the ways one alters one’s own subjectivity are studied with respect to the ancient Greeks and Romans. the discursive practice that obtains changes. less dramatically advances the idea that whatever human beings are at any given moment is not due to the actions of other human beings but rather to the social manifestations of power by which the subject is constituted. the very concept is initially formulated during the Enlightenment period.101 These include studies of the genealogy of forms of inquiry or sciences. since different views emerge within different historical formations. to relate claims to know to the historical moment. but rather clearly embraces this inference. he refuses any claim that goes beyond relating the views about cognitive objects. like Hegel. Foucault does not shy away from. also changes. for instance the view of human being. in perhaps thinking of Kant. to which they are indexed and in which they are true. health. who. rejects the idea of human being he associates with Christianity as well as . to the historical moment. who proscribes the concept of the subject as the result of a metaphysical investment we need to transcend. According to Foucault.
’ which is also ambiguous. His interest lies less in knowing the cognitive object than in delimiting possible knowledge of the cognitive subject. Foucault calls attention to the recent vintage of the concern with human being in the human sciences. . is couched in astonishingly similar language. Thomas Kuhn famously uses the ambiguous term ‘paradigm’ to refer to paradigm changes that obtain after a scientific revolution. then. In The Order of Things (1966) this term refers to historical worldviews. before discarding one episteme for another. based on what he calls epistemes. which Heidegger ties to Descartes. maintain them for a period. ‘one can certainly wager that man would be erased. and which he later abandoned. within which ‘man’ is represented in the so-called modern episteme.The Death of Man 59 the possibility of representing what he calls the event (Ereignis).’ and in The Archeology of Knowledge (1969) it designates the discursive regularities in various cognitive disciplines in particular historical moments. The answer to the first question is that the conception of human being is an episteme Foucault relates to the rise of the human sciences. or psychology. If. like a face drawn in sand at the edge of the sea.’106 Foucault states a related view.107 Foucault uses ‘episteme.108 The difference is between the view of the cognitive object one might favor and what in fact obtains. In talking about the history of science. as Foucault famously remarks. as he suggests. One way to put the point might be to note that the conception of human being is coeval with the rise of the human sciences. Hegel and the death of man I began by asking two questions about the meaning of Foucault’s thesis of the death of man and its relation to Hegel. sociology as well as literature and mythology.’109 Conclusion: Foucault. he fatefully compares human being to ‘[a] fleeting cloud shadow over a concealed land . is merely another discursive regularity linked to the rise of the human sciences. that. Yet if one were at some point to abandon the link between an anthropological conception of the subject. or conceptual schemes. for human sciences based in philosophical anthropology one were to substitute a more positivistic approach grounded in the structures .105 With this idea in mind. as opposed to human individuals. The difference in the way he employs the term has been noted in the discussion. . The conception of human being. From the historical vantage point that considers dominant epistemological conceptions with respect to forces that bring them into being. which Heidegger rejects in ‘The Age of the World Picture. when it concerns human being.
then if not biological individuals at least the epistemological conception of man would disappear. Foucault’s Heideggerian anti-Hegelianism. is really only a form of French Hegelianism. an anti-Hegelian. given Hegel’s influence in the French debate. such as Derrida. for instance in Cassirer and Dewey. In a sense to say Foucault is closer to Heidegger. one of his intentions was to rebel against it.60 Foucault’s Legacy that at any given time constitute subjects. The similarity lies in the broadly humanist. historicist analyses featured by Foucault and many others in France and elsewhere. In the French context. in virtue of Kojève. writing in Hegel’s wake. The three readings of Foucault’s thesis are. subject-centered. or even diverse Hegelian angles of vision. which stresses the historical nature of the subject. It seems plausible that. and Heidegger is also read from a humanist perspective as philosophical anthropology. a large variety of anti-Hegelian. which emerged under the influence of Kojève’s famous lectures on the Phenomenology. a Hegelian interpretation of his thesis. more specifically Hegelian way of reading Foucault’s thesis. French anti-Hegelianism and French Hegelianism all emerge out of the stunning influence of Kojève’s reading of Hegel on the later debate. Hegel is often read from a humanist perspective as philosophical anthropology. which has always been concerned with humanism in a broad sense centering on the conception of the subject. for instance in the Letter on Humanism. and which was virtually everywhere when he began to write. Foucault ostensibly pursues this turning away from man in his thesis about the death of man. hence the turn away from Dasein toward the anti-Cartesian self-manifestation of being described after the so-called turning of his thought. who were also influenced by Hegel. The Heideggerian reading points to the wide influence in the French debate of Heidegger’s later retreat behind the subject. or three different kinds of French Hegelianism. hence is himself an anti-Hegelian who breaks out of the all-encompassing French Hegelian mold. brings Foucault’s position close to Hegel’s even if. is to miss the point. Foucault may well have intended the thrust of his position as a reaction against French Hegelianism. like many others in his generation. There is a third. only three different forms of the same underlying view. . A second reading is generically antiHegelian. if it is that. Foucault’s thesis lends itself to divergent readings from Heideggerian (and Nietzschean). French Heideggerianism. Despite Foucault’s intention. as seems likely. For since the French Heidegger is read through Hegel. The answer to the second question is more complicated. and depends on how one interprets Hegel and the French Hegel.
Notes 1 See Vincent Descombes (1981). British empiricist philosophy has always favored an anthropological approach to philosophy that. Foucault’s thesis of the death of man is another form of French Hegelianism. Descartes. L. hence unaware of and uninterested in the intrinsic historicity of his own enterprise. like Hegel. Foucault. The former’s concern with the constitution of the subject is narrower and more focused than the latter’s broader interest in the relation of human being to modern industrial capitalism in all its dimensions. which arises early in Christian philosophy. believes our cognitive views.112 Foucault seems to be uninterested in the way his approach to subjectivity relates to other views of subjectivity unfolding after Kojève’s intervention in the French discussion. Kant and many others. belong to the history of philosophy. perpetuates and develops a philosophical insistence on the centrality of human being. in the final analysis. M. trans. the stress on human being. New York: Cambridge University Press. Foucault and Hegel approach it from different angles. spread through the debate. . Modern French Philosophy. including our views of the subject. who is aware that all philosophical theories. Hegel formulates the initial and still most influential version of this approach. which many others. change as the historical moment changes. three forms of ‘humanism’ can be distinguished: the revival of classical letters. Although broadly humanist. centrally concerned with subjectivity. and though a charter member of the French revolt against Hegel. I conclude that. This emphasis. and a claim for the social relevance of philosophy. but that all knowledge necessarily presupposes a conception of the subject of knowledge.110 For present purposes. Harding. and despite his intentions. Hegel. in the post-Kantian reaction to critical philosophy. Yet these differences finally pale before the deep agreement about the need to grasp the modern world through an understanding of human subjectivity in the historical context. He thinks that in writing the history of different ways in which the subject is constituted one can turn away from any conception of the human subject. which will later disappear.111 is later developed in different ways by Montaigne. Scott-Fox and J. including Foucault later develop. for instance in Augustine’s pioneer conception of a subject to account for human responsibility incumbent upon original sin. including his own.The Death of Man 61 Discussion of humanism often tends to equate the genus with one of its species.
and with a preface by Hubert Dreyfus and Patricia Allen Dreyfus (1964). Etudes d’histoire de la pensée philosophique. De Kojève à Hegel: 150 ans de pensée hégélienne. Histoire. ‘Premières confrontations avec Hegel. 107–140. 271–281. Paris: Odile Jacob. 694. Herr’s discussion was the only decent one available at the time. See Lucien Herr. II: Philosophie. translated. New York: Meridian Books. Critique. 1–25. 157–176. sa vie et ses oeuvres. Walter Kaufmann (1956). Paris: F. translation. 178. 215–220. See. Hegel in His Time. Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale. See Victor Basch ( 1927). The Basic Problems of Phenomenology. For a summary of Meyerson’s reading of Hegel. Paris: Editions Rieder. for a relatively recent instance. De l’indifférence. The discussions in numbers 28 and 32 deal most closely with Hegel’s thought. See Hannah Arendt (1980). nos. and lexicon by Albert Hofstadter.’ in Maurice Merleau-Ponty. see S. See. Paris: Larousse. for an exception which reflects a strongly Christian perspective. trans. see Jacques d’Hondt (1988). Les Doctrines politiques des philosophies classiques de l’Allemagne. Jacques Lacan and Co. introduction. and 35 (1928). Essai sur la banalisation du mal. in Lucien Herr (1932). Paris: Albin Michel. For an account of Cousin’s rationalist reading of Hegel without the conception of dialectic. e. 195–196. For a study of Merleau-Ponty that considers his relation to Hegel. Sense and Non-Sense. Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. There are few French studies of French Hegelianism. See Raymond Queneau. see Alexandre Koyré (1973). Philologie. London: Polity Press. 28 (1921). 32 (1925). ‘Les Facteurs kantiens de la philosohie allemande de la fin du XVIIIè siècle et du commencement du XIXè siècle. Paris: Payot. ‘Hegel. For a discussion of the relation of Cousin to Hegel. For Queneau. Paris: Gallimard. 1925–1985. 29 (1922). 569–593. 27–47. See Martin Heidegger (1982). Delacampagne is influenced by Arendt’s view of the banality of evil. Alcan. Alcan. Paris: Fayard.62 2 Foucault’s Legacy See. See Emile Meyerson (1921). Introduction à l’histoire de la philosophie (1825. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre. See Victor Delbos (1919). See. 1890–1893).: A History of Psychoanalysis in France. London: Routledge. De l’explication dans les sciences. with an introduction. rpt. Priest. nos. see Roudinesco. g. Evanston: Northwestern University Press. I am unaware of any study of the relation of Levinas and Hegel. 26 (1919).. Christian Delacampagne (1998). for this thesis. Peterborough: Broadview. prefaces. John Burbidge with Nelson Roland and Judith Levasseur. 1841). Husserl: Founder of Phenomenology. 63–64. Merleau-Ponty thought it was not possible to escape from Hegel. Gwendoline Jarczyk and PierreJean Labarrière (1986). Choix d’écrits. ‘Hegel’s Existentialism. 529–551. 136–137. 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 .’ (1963). edited. New York: Penguin. Dermot Moran (1905). and new translations.’ in La Grande Encyclopédie Larousse. See Paul Roques (1912). 132–161. Merleau-Ponty (1998). Cours de philosophie. See Victor Cousin (1991). 27 (1920). Paris: F. Hegel.
Paris: Editions Verdier. Histoire et conscience de classe. that is the focus of its first part. Paris: Editions de Minuit. See Kleinberg. Alexandre Kojève (1955). Heidegger et le national-socialisme. 2. Paris: Alcan. Being and Time. perhaps the earliest ‘French’ figure to become deeply interested in Heidegger as well as the co-inventor (with Blanchot) of the third phase in which French readers rebel against the ethical inadequacy of Heidegger’s position in Being and Time in substituting ethics for ontology. Generation Existential: Heidegger’s Philosophy in France. New Haven: Yale University Press. Symposium. 2. trans. See Jacques Derrida (1972)..’ in Working Through Postmodernity: Essays in Honor of Gary B. 1927–1961. Yves Charles Zarka (2005). 339–362. Tom Rockmore (2004). Levinas is an early. Paris: Presses universitaires de France. Paris: Rieder. ed. Le Malheur de la conscience dans la philosophie de Hegel. 18. Paris: Éditions de Minuit. translation and foreword by Brian Massumi. La condition postmoderne: rapport sur le savoir. Madison. Freud and Philosophy: An Essay on Interpretation. Paris: Presses universitaires de France. According to Kleinberg. 32. See Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (1987). See. See Heidegger. See Jean-François Kervegan (2005). Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press. This leads to tensions in Being and Time and in the understanding of the book (17). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. chapter 2. which is the focus of the second part of Being and Time. in slighting the problem of being. which was organized around Jean Beaufret. inclined toward the collective. 103. 1927–1961. Carl Schmitt: Le politique entre spéculation et positivité. 2 vols. Paris: Editions de Minuit. ‘Le Concept et le temps. . Un Détail nazi dans la pensée de Carl Schmitt. Heidegger’s influence in France was seriously undermined by Farías and then by the enormous reaction to his work. Paul Fairfield. vol.’ 188–194. ‘Derrida and Heidegger in France. See. The initial set of French readers concentrated on specific aspects of human being.The Death of Man 16 63 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 Léon Brunschvicg (1927). Levinas is crucial to this reading of the French grasp of Heidegger. Generation Existential: Heidegger’s Philosophy in France. for discussion. See Heidegger. Kostas Axelos and Jacqueline Bois. Kleinberg implies that both readings are ‘correct’ since Heidegger is simultaneously following both Kierkegaard and Dilthey (12). Hegel. no. for a recent study. See Jean Wahl (1929). The second reading. See Victor Farías (1987). See Ethan Kleinberg (2005). Positions. 62. three readings emerge from a deep tension in Heidegger around the relation of the individual to the collective background (11). § 32: ‘Understanding and interpretation. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. See Georg Lukács (1967). See Paul Ricoeur (1970). See Jean-François Lyotard (1979). 382–401. See vol. Le Progrès de la conscience dans la philosophie occidentale. Being and Time.’ Deucalion 5. 8. Summer 2004.
189. M. See Eribon. 8. Notes and Preface by Arlette Elkaïm. In his discussion.’ See Piaget. See. 2 vols. 188. Michel Foucault. See Kojève(1947). Paris: Minuit. 460. In my view. See The Philosophical Works of Descartes. 297. translated by Elizabeth S. Piaget distinguishes between the conception of the human individual that is not relevant and the idea of the ‘epistemic subject’ or ‘cognitive nucleus. See Jean-Paul Sartre (2007). 56–59. Dieter Thomä (1999). Anti-Cartesianismus. See Claude Lévi-Strauss (1962). Le Sens pratique. Glas. 15 juin 1966. See Pierre Bourdieu (1980). Existentialism is a humanism. New York: Simon and Schuster. trans. Hegel. in HegelWerke.g. XX. Paris: Editions du Seuil. Frankfurt a. The Passion of Michel Foucault. cited in Franz Böhm (1938).’ in Jacques Derrida (1967). 25n5. Le Structuralisme. 188. Paul Veyne. L’Ecriture et la difference. since there is no agreement about the nature of ‘structuralism.’ in Jean-Paul Sartre (1955). Paris: Larousse. 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 . See Eribon. New Haven: Yale University Press.: Suhrkamp. 5–7. Introduction by Annie Cohen-Solal. Haldane and G. Paris: Denoël. 71–82. R..’ Goldmann can be counted as a structuralist since he calls his method ‘genetic structuralism. See ‘Cogito and Histoire de la folie. Sense and NonSense. Le Structuralisme. Paris: Editions de Minuit. W.’ Cited in Didier Eribon (1991). Leipzig: Felix Meiner Verlag. 120. Paris: Presses universitaires de France. New York: Collier Books.64 33 Foucault’s Legacy See Jacques Derrida (1967). F. 145. 58. Paris: Plon. a respected intellectual and a close friend. Die Zeit des Selbst und die Zeit danach. See Jacques Derrida (1972). Paris: Flammarion. trans. for this interpretation. e. La Philosophie. Michel Foucault. 95. London: Cambridge University Press. See ‘Cartesian Freedom. Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philosophie. Paris: Gallimard. Any list of structuralists is arbitrary. See Michel Foucault (1972). 352. Deutsche Philosophie im Widerstand. See James Miller (1992). Paris: Gallimard. Histoire de la folie. wrote: ‘L’oeuvre de Foucault me semble être l’événement de pensée le plus important de notre siècle. I. ‘L’homme est-il mort?’ Arts et loisirs.Sartre. Carol Macomber. La Voix et le phénomène. See ‘The Battle over Existentialism. Ross (1970). Michel Foucault. T. Miller’s tendency to see Foucault as assuming Sartre’s mantle and as dominating French thought overstates the case. Marges de la philosophie. 434–437. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. See Jacques Derrida (1981). La pensée sauvage. cited in Eribon. Michel Foucault. Introduction à la lecture de Hegel. cited in Eribon. 144. See. G.’ in Maurice Merleau-Ponty. 1915. Henri Bergson (1915). After Foucault’s untimely death. Annette Michelson.’ See Piaget (1968). 115. 476. Literary and Philosophical Essays.
‘L’homme. Stoekl argues that Foucault is doubly dependent on both Heidegger and Nietzsche. 228–229. suffices to make language ‘hold together.The Death of Man 56 65 See Roland Barthes (1977). 174–198. L’Esprit révolutionnaire. see Lucien Sebag (1964). 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 See Claude Lévi-Strauss (1964). 158–185. ed. 28 juin–5 juillet 1984. Brussels: Editions Complexe. Paris: Plon. New York: Vintage.’ Immanuel Kant (1998). Music. Un entretien avec Michel Foucault. 28. Dutt.’ in Leszek Kolakowski (1978). 158–185. Louis Althusser (1970). trans. he desired only to point out how the concept of ‘human being’ was constituted at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth centuries.’ in Allen Stoekl (1992).’ Critique. 599–618. juillet 1967. empty outside the very enunciation which defines it. ‘Mort de l’homme ou l’épuisement du cogito. ‘Death of the Author. For this reading. just as the I is nothing other than the instance saying I: language knows a ‘subject.’ not a ‘person. see Jean-Yves Calvez ( 1970). and the Performative in the Twentieth-Century French Tradition. 183. . ‘Le Marx d’Althusser. for a critical discussion of his views. See ‘L’Homme est-il mort?. Essays in the Rhetoric of Contemporary Criticism. In an interview published shortly after this article. C. edited and translated by Stephen Heath. This view is formulated in many places in his corpus. See Paul de Man (1983). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Agonies of the Intellectual: Commitment.’ in Le Nouvel Observateur. cited in Luc Ferry and Alain Renaut (1988).’ in Image. See Claude Lévi-Strauss (1962).’ in Leszek Kolakowski (1978).’ Arts et loisirs. Text. 347–348. the author is never more than the instance writing. For Marx. La Pensée de Karl Marx. La Pensée sauvage. B 181. no. see ‘Le Marx d’Althusser. Kant described this activity as ‘an art concealed in the depths of the human soul. See Gilles Deleuze (1966). see Chapter 7: ‘Foucault and the Intellectual Subject. For critique of Althusser’s antihumanist structuralism. see Georges Canguilhem (1967). La Pensée 68. 129. Critique of Pure Reason. Paris: Payot. New York: Hill and Wang. Michel Foucault (1984). Anthropologie structurale. Ben Brewster. New York: Cambridge University Press. In a famous passage. Paris: Editions du Seuil. Blindness and Insight. Marxisme et structuralisme. On the relation of structuralism and Marxism. Deleuze. P. le premier juin 1966. Subjectivity. 38. Foucault’s close associate. 242. Paul Guyer and Allen Wood. 15–21 juin 1966. Paris: Plon. New York: International Publishers.’ and this subject. Bruxelles: Ousia. L’Esprit révolutionnaire. for instance in Friedrich Engels (1941). and that Foucault’s Nietzschean affirmation of the death of man depends on the indissociable link between Nietzsche and Hegel. to exhaust it. For a French humanist reading of Marx. 11. Foucault points out that in Les Mots et les choses. 15. For a study of Foucault’s concept of the subject. 145 Linguistically. Les Nouvelles littéraires. trans. Paris: Gallimard. Ludwig Feuerbach and the Outcome of Classical German Philosophy. See. une existence douteuse. correctly emphasizes this point. 33.’ suffices. no. that is to say. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.
Michel Foucault: Beyond Structualism and Hermeneutics. Elements of the Philosophy of Right. 602. See Michel Foucault (1980). The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. for an analysis of Foucault’s view of power. 5. Dits et Ecrits. and Afterword: ‘The Subject and Power. The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. ed. Sartre noted in his journal that Simone de Beauvoir thought that the human species came into being and would pass away at a future time. See. L’Ecriture et la difference. See Heidegger. 222–243. The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. ed. trans. Michel Foucault (1926–1984). See Jean-Paul Sartre(1983). See ‘What is Enlightenment?. See ‘Cogito et histoire de la folie.. 140. Allen W. See Afterword: ‘The Subject and Power. New York: Pantheon. H. 208. Colin Gordon. New York: Cambridge University Press. Les Mots et les choses. 117. Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics. 15 mai 1966. See Michel Foucault (1972). g. Nantes. The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. 133. 131. See Foucault.’ in Martin Heidegger (1977). 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 . Novembre 1939–Mars 1940. Histoire de la folie.66 71 72 73 Foucault’s Legacy See de Man. 1991. Rodney Livingstone.’ in Michel Foucault (1994). Paris: Editions du Seuil. 97–98. See.’ in Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow (1983). 189. 208–226.. Michel Foucault. 32–50. ‘On the Genealogy of Ethics. See Foucault. See Heidegger. See Heidegger. Les Mots et les choses. Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings. For instance. Entretien. The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. 129. B. See Foucault. no. Blindness and Insight. IV. See ‘Le Sujet et le pouvoir. 152. 51–97. History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics. translated and with an introduction by William Lovitt. trans. 56–59. See § 67 in G. cited in Didier Eribon. The ‘romantic’ view of the end of human being disseminated independently by both Kojève and Heidegger echoed widely throughout French thought of the period. 128. See Heidegger. e. 394. The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. Wood. Knowledge/Power. 5. F. See ‘Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat. Histoire de la folie à l’âge classique. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.’ in Foucault Reader. Paris: Gallimard and Seuil. Paris. Les Carnets de la drôle de guerre. The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. Foucault. Les Mots et les choses. Foucault. See Heidegger. Nisbet. 378. See Foucault. Philippe Chevalier (2004). 1972–1977. Knowledge/Power. Foucault. 134. W. New York: Pantheon. Gallimard. La Quinzaine littéraire. 129–130.’ in Jacques Derrida. 133. Editiions Pleins Feux. 83–222. 35. Paris: Flammarion. Paris: Gallimard.’ in Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow.’ in Foucault Reader. ‘The Age of the World Picture. Hegel (1991).’ in Georg Lukács (1971). 397. New York: Harper and Row. Le pouvoir et la bataille. edited by Paul Rabinow (1984). See Heidegger. 340–372. 117. Cambridge: MIT Press. Power/Knowledge.
trans.. 58–59. 176–177. for discussion. James M. trans. 208. edited by John Protevi (2005).’ 257–322. I. . trans. See Michel Foucault (1973). Foucault. Foucault. New York: Vintage. Gay. Grumley (1989). See. §§ 189–208. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. 135. On Free Choice of the Will. See Martin Heidegger (1959). Ladelle McWhorter.’ in Heidegger. ‘Episteme. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. xi.’ in John E. See. who usefully considers humanism as the revival of classical letters. Ralph Manheim. Chapter 7: ‘Anti-totalising Skepticism or Totalising Prophecy. See ‘The Age of the World Picture. Edie. Indianapolis: Hackett. New Haven: Yale University Press. 12–42. Thomas Williams. London: Routledge. 387. The Order of Things: An Archeology of the Human Sciences. The Question Concerning Technology. Elements of the Philosophy of Right. The Question Concerning Technology. See Augustine (1983). the account of the ‘System of Needs’ in Hegel.’ in Michel Foucault: Beyond Structualism and Hermeneutics. See ‘The Age of the World Picture. The Order of Things. ‘The Subject and Power. See. The Primacy of Perception. 227–239. An Introduction to Metaphysics.’ in Heidegger. The Question Concerning Technology.The Death of Man 98 99 67 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 Foucault Reader. Evanston: Northwestern University Press. g. 153. 50. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.’ in Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1964). 153. History and Totality: Radical Historicism from Hegel to Foucault. Chapter 5: ‘The Era of Pagan Christianity. ‘The Age of the World Picture. on this point. e.’ in The Edinburgh Dictionary of Continental Philosophy. devotes insufficient attention to its other dimensions. See Thomas Kuhn (1970). 183–205. The Enlightenment: An Interpretation.’ in Heidegger. See ‘The Primacy of Perception and Its Philosophical Consequences. See Peter Gay.
’ But when Foucault redescribes the relation between. the relation between Plato and Heidegger. What’s more. Rorty seems unsure what he is supposed to do with it. especially Discipline and Punish and The History of Sexuality. Both advance nominalistic ideas of knowledge and truth. Why then the reticence to work with Foucault as Rorty does his other authorities? One reason has less to do with Foucault than with his (mostly American) following. That’s surprising.1 He seems to have chosen for his private poetry the assumptions . he’s a good liberal. Foucault places a strain on Rorty’s distinction between public and private. make epistemology untenable. they agree that Nietzsche and developments in postmodern European philosophy. I think Rorty didn’t know what he was supposed to do with the conclusions of the major works. medicine and welfare in terms of biopower and governmentality. ironical about the contingency of things. It’s not just an imaginative construction. and for the same reasons. say. say. For instance. As for Foucault. Some of Rorty’s most strongly-worded criticism is turned against what he calls a ‘Foucauldian Left’ of avant garde humanists in the field of Cultural Studies. It broaches ‘public’ matters. or so Rorty believes. They both consider the idea of truth as adequacy or correspondence no less untenable. Rorty is happy and says. Both are historicist. There must be hundreds of references to Derrida and Davidson for every one to Foucault.Chapter 4 After knowledge and liberty: Foucault and the new pragmatism Barry Allen Foucault’s name is relatively rare in the lists of heroes and allies Richard Rorty frequently constructs. like the loyalty we may feel to political institutions and their representatives. not just a private poem. There is little if any disagreement between Rorty and Foucault on many philosophical questions. especially Heidegger. ‘That’s interesting! I never thought of looking at it that way. If Derrida redescribes. Foucault is surely as ‘imaginative’ a philosopher as any other Rorty might name.
I want to develop some of the substantial agreement between Foucault and Rorty in their view of knowledge and truth. as is the motivation for developing them. Despite different motivations. identifying the forms of verifiable knowledge. Knowledge after Nietzsche The textbook questions of epistemology include the definition of knowledge. and efficient. ‘It’s the right thing to do. is a vision of ‘the immutable structures within which knowledge. is that a theory of knowledge is a kind of logic or methodology of knowledge. because his loyalty toward them is not as it were extensional. rigorous. according to Rorty. I think Rorty is unsure what that should imply for the solidarity he feels with liberal institutions.Foucault and the New Pragmatism 69 of the public institutions that Rorty most regards. If you say ‘modern institutions of social welfare. His major criticism of Foucault is precisely that he doesn’t explain anything on this point. Foucault may not feel that loyalty.’ But if the same history and rationality is redescribed in terms of biopower and a political anatomy of the body. and the question of certainty—do we have it? Must knowledge be certain?2 That’s questions enough. but we need one more. life. What is the point of these questions. and can be expected to make our knowing more disciplined. and Kant.’ Rorty might say. Before I get to that. The merits of this argument remain to be seen. procedures in epistemology remain similar. shared by Plato. their discontent with epistemology. The idea is to establish a meta-order in the field of knowledge. and elucidating the criteria of evidence and truth. Their ideas are similar. or the value of theories that answer them? What good can be expected from inquiry in this direction? Two answers are traditional. or perhaps chooses to keep it private.’ He diagnoses the desire for a theory of knowledge . The goal. the criterion of truth. the nature of evidence. He doesn’t tell ‘us’ what to do with the new language for describing institutions to which ‘we’ feel loyal. He redescribes in imaginative new ways institutions that Rorty does not want to have redescribed. Locke. and unwarranted skepticism. not independent of how they are described.3 This rationale is now largely discredited. ambivalence. A second rationale for epistemology is to provide philosophers with an occasion to stand up for values thought to be under attack by reckless skeptics of reason and truth. The first. and culture must be contained—structures set by the privileged representations which [epistemology] studies. What may be mere discretion Rorty reads as evasion.
That defines the proposition. and enlightenment have a dark side. Rorty wrote a whole book to explain to epistemologists what’s wrong with epistemology. It is a new superstition. an unconscious aspect in which they participate in the very irrationality they profess to overcome. In a wonderful way even radical postmodern nominalists like Foucault and Rorty confirm this presumption. one whose superstitious quality is newly apparent. following the path Plato started in philosophy of excluding techne and its works from philosophical ideas about knowledge. objects which impose themselves. knowledge that fails to fit the format of a logical proposition (and this includes everything material. In the Third Essay of the Genealogy of Morals he argues that the intellectual passion for truth is an unconscious religious passion. especially to those who may still feel attached to the idea that truth is divine. science. as its unit. . that in us the will to truth becomes conscious of itself as a problem?’7 The .70 Foucault’s Legacy as ‘a desire for constraint—a desire to find “foundations” to which one might cling. for which Western philosophy is not prepared: ‘And here again I touch on my problem. It also became traditional to understand truth as the identity of what is and what is said. philosophically most important knowledge) has to be true. a way for atheists still to believe in God. or primary exemplification something that can be true. ontos and logos—the onto-logical theory of truth. the desire for confrontation and constraint. which degenerated into the so-called correspondence theory. representations which cannot be gainsaid . or rather.6 Philosophical discourse on knowledge in the West is stuck in the assumption that knowledge (or the best. In a blow. that knowing has at its core. perhaps because he thought Nietzsche already had.’4 From Plato in Classical times to the innovations of Stoic logic and their translation into Latin by Cicero to the theories of the medieval Schoolmen. How could knowledge be false? But it is an assumption. Nietzsche understood that the question he is raising is a new one. The topics of knowledge and truth figure prominently in Nietzsche’s work from early to late. and one with an important implication. most important knowledge (episteme. frameworks beyond which one must not stray. namely. on our problem.5 It may seem innocuous to say that knowledge has to be true. Foucault never did that. my unknown friends (for as yet I know of no friend): What meaning would our whole being possess if it were not this. Modern ideals of truth. . To turn away from religion because it is untrue is not the triumph of rationality over superstition. scientia) as knowing the truth. mechanical. it became traditional in Western philosophy to think of the best. artifactual) disappears from view.
Scientific knowledge of truth is a modification of technical competence. even Analytic philosophers have mostly abandoned the correspondence theory. That was the argument of Being and Time (1927). The simplest. introducing special tools and specially contrived applications. . It is not really a problem about knowledge. Then Science. Nietzsche initiated the now prevalent skepticism among philosophers about the ‘correspondence’ theory. as in a laboratory. Beginning a bit later. Let me briefly touch on a few others before taking up Foucault. most helpful meaning for the expression ‘postmodern’ refers to trends first in German and French thought and now international. science. Heidegger’s strategy is to reject the problem as inadequately formulated. These days. ‘On Truth and Lie in a Nonmoral Sense’ has practically all the arguments against correspondence that Nietzsche returns to throughout the later work. Knowledge of truth is not the primary meaning or value of knowledge. and they are a good part of all the arguments anybody has invented for questioning the correspondence theory. all draw it. of philosophers who take Nietzsche seriously. is how-to competence with tools. Heidegger turns the other way. What comes first. especially in what he says concerning knowledge. It is a problem about being especially about the relation between being and our being. independently came to similar conclusions. The death of God is just the beginning. Analytic philosophers have so far refused to draw this conclusion. stepping back to the origin of discredited (‘metaphysical’) ideas of knowledge and truth.8 He moves in a direction opposite to that of Nietzsche. however. Continental postmoderns. From the critique of truth Nietzsche steps forward to new problems of knowledge and science. Yet it was always Nietzsche’s conviction that without this ontological idea of truth the value of knowledge becomes newly problematic. as they dutifully demystify demystification and discover that truth is a sort of lie. especially William James. pushing modern culture over the edge of the nihilism that has haunted it since antiquity. In later works Heidegger emphasizes the genealogy of modern science and technology. and truth. The problem of knowledge in postmodern thought begins here. The unpublished essay of 1873. Truth is next. and pursue different strategies for dealing with it.Foucault and the New Pragmatism 71 demystifying critics and lovers of truth must now contemplate their own irrational delusion. as if there were unsounded depths in them from which we might still profit. Nietzsche expects a violent Selbstaufhebung of Western reason. the American Pragmatists. trying to reconnect with their roots at the beginning of Western thought. and makes knowledge of truth possible.
Habermas says it’s different for truth. a norm. calm in their mystified false consciousness about truth. a difference in the responsibilities of a speech act.’9 Habermas does nonetheless want a philosophical theory of knowledge and truth in the light of Nietzsche’s critique. the polytheism rank. contrary to the promise of Socrates and Plato. they are that much surer of their discipline. that is. He follows postmodern European philosophy in rejecting a metaphysical theory. dismissing the old Greek metaphysical approach to truth. the critique of correspondence is one of the few good ideas Nietzsche had. I undertake the distinctive obligation of ensuring that my statement holds up under any challenge. the contingency unmissable. and a difference in how we relate to each other in the public space of reasons. As he sees it.72 Foucault’s Legacy Jürgen Habermas thinks Nietzsche over-dramatizes the nihilism a critique of correspondence must induce. It has taken a century for Europe to catch up to Nietzsche. The unity isn’t there. The incredulity is not just that we’re wised up and no longer credulous. It is a social relation. The difference between justification and truth is not a difference of ontology or epistemology.’11 Nietzsche pointed out how modern science has pushed knowledge and happiness further and further apart. the postmodern condition. Truth is not a relation to a corresponding thing in itself. from any interlocutor. A little false consciousness is desirable in the sciences. . As Habermas puts it. Habermas thinks we are owed a better explanation of truth’s point or value. of methodical progress within an unproblematic framework. . It is a normative difference. Knowledge is no longer a . This is no more than another way to say ‘God is dead.’ A metanarrative is a philosophical whopper that legitimizes a culture’s values. ‘A proposition is true if it withstands all attempts to refute it under the demanding conditions of rational discourse. relative to context. You cannot tell a credible metanarrative in a time like ours. Having the truth is not the same as having a good argument or interesting evidence. ‘The glory of the sciences is their unswerving application of their methods without reflecting . cannot be all that philosophy has to say. When I advance a claim as the truth. in any context. The justification for statements is always justification in someone’s eyes. The sciences will happily ignore philosophy and keep doing what they do best. From knowing not what they do methodologically. I commit myself to the universal validity of my statement.10 But a critique of the past. but Jean-François Lyotard thinks it is now an accomplished state. which he memorably defined as incredulity toward metanarratives. He looks for it in the ethics of discourse. False consciousness has a protective function.
I’m not sure Lyotard’s ‘Report on Knowledge’ adds much to Foucault. discoursetranscendent. Foucault once suggested that the ‘general theme’ of all his work is ‘the discourse of true and false. truth-values are purely relational. the deep structure. or a patriotic duty. My problem is to see how men govern (themselves and others) by the production of truth . the styles of reasoning ‘which enable one to distinguish true and false statements. Its value has nothing to do with wisdom. Both questions assume that there is more to these values than currency. purely logical true-or-false.’ These rules define the depth grammar of historical knowledges. ultimately arbitrary artifacts of discursive economy. enlightenment. the techniques and procedures accorded value in the acquisition of truth.15 . The price of a commodity is what it sells for. falsifiable discourses that bear on them. produced for sale. not the being of a being. consumed to produce more. a form of Bildung. [and] the status of those who are charged with saying what counts as true. nor can we believe that truth will make us free. dollar is really money (‘I understand that it circulates. I would like. What you get from knowledge.12 Who knowledge helps and who it frustrates cannot be told in advance. a matter of arbitrary syntax. the good of it. which Foucault rejects. Its cause is in the language-game. is access to ‘a complex conceptual and material machinery. or for that matter to Max Weber (writing on ‘science as a vocation’).’ helpful in the game of advantages. the discursive formation.’ He explains that he means ‘the correlative formation of domains and objects. His concern is with the underlying rules. if anything. . regardless of what. A statement’s truth-value is merely its currency.’ He says: ‘It’s not just their formation that interests me but the effects in the real to which they are linked . the means by which each is sanctioned. The important thing is not being true but passing. We cannot trust knowledge to favor the Good.’14 The truth in question here is not the onto-logical adequation of intellect and being. . A statement has no inherent.Foucault and the New Pragmatism 73 training for minds. . It is a product. in short. to make a good move. S. conventional. or emancipation. The historical and practical (if not onto-logical) truth-value of a statement is what it passes for. the discursive apparatus ‘according to which the true and the false are separated and specific effects of power attached to the true. but should it? Is it really money?’). and of the verifiable. to resituate the production of true and false at the heart of historical analysis and political critique. a care of the self. currency. Like prices or money. To ask whether a statement is ‘really true’ is like asking whether a U. people make of it.’13 As a historian of knowledge Foucault is not interested in how or when this or that truth was discovered. .
anything that is taken seriously as a candidate for truth. which Nietzsche showed to be a deeply compromised project. But it can and does govern (that is. It does not matter to the experience of the convict whether the criminology in which his warden has an advanced degree is a respectable science or a positivist farrago. or even between true and false. this circulation in an economy of serious speech acts. a logos. and that the most important knowledge is discursively articulated and if not onto-logically true. for instance. Philosophers have always considered knowledge of truth to be most worth their attention. or what is taken seriously. or said to be known (what passes for knowledge). pursued in earnest only by those equally compromised in self-knowledge. what passes for true. that others know better. It is the logic of epistemology that makes a historian of knowledge a historian of truth. logical. after all. What is received as known and enjoys the credibility of truth may align itself with administrative convenience and disciplinary authority and become largely indifferent to performance. Foucault may think the sole use for such a distinction is to carry on epistemology. that the unit of knowledge is linguistic. Foucault also seems to consider normative ideas of knowledge and truth obstacles to due appreciation of truth’s politics. For that purpose it is counterproductive to say that there is. Yet there is a price to pay for indifference to normative knowledge. counts as knowledge. believed. at least passing for true in discourse. that knowledge comes in a statement or speech act. conducting or governing those who receive it as an important truth. Foucault is no exception. meaning one that distinguishes knowledge from what is claimed. that there are unconsidered alternatives. Effective truth-value is credibility. Without sharing the normative concerns of epistemology Foucault nevertheless confirms its assumptions about knowledge. modify. that they do not know. It is no good citing Foucault to the experts and problematizing their governmentality. There is only one way to counter the power of disciplinary expertise. discursively articulated. All there is to ‘knowledge’ on Foucault’s account is serious truthcandidacy. a statement’s capacity to penetrate people’s practical reasoning. The most important knowledge is claimed. prestigious discourse. Anything that passes. or to say they are arbitrary differences in the deployment of . no significant difference between knowing and not knowing. He has no use for a normative concept of knowledge. passing (in discourse) for true. which is the politics of what passes. conduct) the circulation of statements. What you have to do is show that they are wrong. It is this currency. that is decisive for both history and experience.74 Foucault’s Legacy Power cannot make it true that black is white.
the universe more like a frontier to explore than a fi nished system. The future is open.17 Rorty rewrote American Pragmatism in terms that emphasize its similarity to postmodern European thought. Unless you take knowledge seriously enough to think there’s a difference between the mere claim to it and the quality itself. unfinished place. ‘without bounds in space or time. as if the triumph of the Good might be a foregone conclusion. doubt about PlatonicChristian assumptions concerning ‘the Truth’ provoked not a crisis of nihilism but a feeling of relief. They can agree with Foucault that knowledge and truth are instruments of social power. without final limits of origin or destiny. These Pragmatists can agree with everything Nietzsche implied in his statement ‘God is dead’ while not following him in his nihilism. Pragmatic philosophers like William James and John Dewey work in terms as non-metaphysical as Nietzsche or Foucault. as did Nietzsche. Pragmatism is a vision of the world as an evolving.18 His argument in Philosophy and the Mirror of . Rorty creates a postmodern Pragmatism. No one in Europe challenged these assessments. inspiring a critique of rationalism in European philosophy parallel with Nietzsche’s. without his grim refusal to acknowledge that some ‘knowledge’ is more properly knowledge and some ‘truths’ not really true. Yet by Nietzsche’s standard.’ William James said the same thing. yet they take pains to reconstruct the normative understanding of knowledge and truth. If they are wrong it had to be shown. Pragmatism must seem tame and much too democratic. providing an alternative to Nietzsche’s nihilism and Foucault’s scholarly antinomianism. the Pragmatists argued. and Foucault applauded when Deleuze said it again. action can make a real difference.16 In such a world.Foucault and the New Pragmatism 75 discursive power. and it was Richard Rorty who showed it. And inspired it was.’ John Dewey said. Their hope was not the rationalistic optimism Nietzsche criticized in Socrates. Our fate isn’t sealed. Heidegger was contemptuous of American philosophy and dismissed Pragmatism as a naive metaphysics of technology. a universe with the lid off. ‘a wide open universe. Instead of presenting Pragmatism as an alternative to postmodernism (as Hilary Putnam does). why should you care that knowledge and truth may be mobilized for effects of disciplinary power? Pragmatism old and new To the first generation of American Pragmatists. hopeful. and that should make us hopeful.
then we are well on the way to seeing conversation as the ultimate context within which knowledge is to be understood. not because it is so wonderfully true.’19 You ‘know’ whatever others let you get away with claiming. including Heidegger and Derrida. but because the evidence is well put together. these were the conclusions reached earlier among the Pragmatists. and that too is a bias of epistemology. V. which tends to make the most important knowledge dialectical. statement. Though a critic of epistemology. a harder steel. Only a proposition. carries the right prestige. What is more. but rather as a right. Knowledge for Rorty is a statement that wins the right compliments. to be described by scientists or philosophers. especially Dewey. of Foucault). by current standards. defensible with good reasons. Doing so mystifies the relationship of knowledge and technical effectiveness (this is also a worry for Foucault’s account). The implication is that there’s no more to knowledge than the economy of such claims. justified by reasons. and truth as preeminent Analytic practitioners like W. Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature is a book written for epistemologists about epistemology. Conversation is urbane and civilized. as we have seen. discursive. Statements count as knowledge not by adequacy to being but by . a discourse no one can refute. dialogical. offered to a dubious subdiscipline as therapy for the neurotic gnosisosis whose symptom is taking epistemology seriously. What does consensus in a language game have to do with inventing a faster computer. the proposition must be well-justified. were coming to the same conclusions about language.76 Foucault’s Legacy Nature is that European philosophers then studiously neglected in Analytic training. and so on. Rorty looks for the norms of knowledge in those of conversation. Quine and Donald Davidson. There is for instance a logocentric. but I doubt that it is the right place to look for the norms of knowledge. or a new shape for an aircraft? If the norms of conversation have little or nothing to do with technology or technical achievement. how can they be the norms of knowledge as we know it?20 Sunk in the order of discourse Knowledge for Foucault is what passes for true in a historical economy of discourse. the conclusions carefully considered. Rorty nevertheless shares some of its assumptions about knowledge (the same is true. ‘If we see knowing not as having an essence. I think we have to wonder about that. To be acclaimed. propositional bias in his work. to believe. or claim solicits the agreement that defines knowledge. meaning.
the most important knowledge is a statement with a discursively articulated truth-value. especially by the authorities. by passing for true. claims must pass through a critical public-reasoning process. seem to find their point in the new statements they make .’ and how inventions like timetables. securing the consensus of the right authorities. without a foundation deeper than discourse.Foucault and the New Pragmatism 77 currency.’ making them ‘scriptuary and documentary’ and therefore discursive. he finds no important difference between truth and justification. it must be thoroughly uncontroversial. and what he calls ‘disciplinary knowledge’ is more than talk. He admits there is more to knowledge than discourse. but the radical stance is also a seductive guise for some old assumptions about knowledge. knowing how to talk. is ‘a ritual of discourse. for instance. discursive. less obviously discursive artifacts. and might as well be called true—certainly it is believed-true. offering an account in terms of the ethnocentric consensus. for him. A linguistic or discursive bias runs deep in Rorty’s thinking. ‘ “Thinking” [is] simply the use of sentences’. He discusses the use of architecture in creating ‘disciplinary space. of constituting files. This may look like a radical nominalism. of arranging facts in columns and tables’—are ‘procedures of writing that made it possible to integrate individual data into cumulative systems. is belief-plus-ethnocentric consensus. Yet only a statement or claim could solicit such agreement. Rorty acknowledges the normative difference Foucault abandons between knowledge and what passes.’ The techniques of ‘examination’—‘small techniques of notation. and the artificial nipple were enrolled in producing the docility of disciplinary subjectivity. and to win it. If only as an automatic compliment to conspicuously justified statements truth remains an a priori condition on knowledge. alarm clocks. like alarm clocks and artificial nipples. Like Rorty. ‘Language provides our only cognitive access to objects’. that is. what passes for true.’ hence propositional.21 Once again. Rorty seems to drop the old condition that knowledge be true. It seems important to reduce as much as possible to something about language. There is no concrete meaning for the abstract term ‘knowledge’ apart from valued instances and admirable examples—admirable to us. Some of the techniques and technologies he discusses belong to discourse. To count as knowledge. The economy of knowledge is one of statements and truth-values. Confession. of registration. but he still does it. The best or most important knowledge is discursive. as indeed it is. Thus he says such things as. Like Rorty. Rorty’s ethnocentric we. the technical is silently written out of philosophy. and ‘All our knowledge is under descriptions. Knowledge.22 Foucault does this differently. linguistic.23 Other.
The ‘objects’ of knowledge. knowledge is sunk in the order of discourse. One remains within the dimensions of discourse. for instance. ‘that we understand knowledge when we understand the social justification of belief. What is objectionably ‘positivist’ in both thinkers is their unappealable decision to admit discourse or the discursive but act as if nothing else counts as . rather than as an attempt to mirror nature.78 Foucault’s Legacy possible. their distribution in a given “population. . community. Then we lost faith in transcendence and explained truth immanently in terms of social factors. ergo. . First we tried to explain truth in terms of Nature. consensus. . . and thus have no need to view it as accuracy of representation. His ‘archeology of knowledge’ is a late. the foundation of things.’ He says we should ‘see knowledge as a matter of conversation and of social practice. like language. we wish to do. have no reality apart from the agreement of those who talk about them. Foucault falls into this pattern too. to substitute for the enigmatic treasure of ‘things’ anterior to discourse the regular formation of objects that emerge only in discourse. making the practices that mobilize them knowledge-practices. truth and knowledge are social constructions. The only nondiscursive that matters to knowledge is prediscursive. As Foucault explains: What. the calculation of the gaps between individuals. and possible to say something scientific about ‘collective facts. making it possible to say something scientific about an individual (delinquent. Both thinkers find a new and imaginative way to reaffirm that knowledge is discursively articulated and subject to the condition of truth. in short. but by relating them to the body of rules that enable them to form as objects of a discourse and thus constitutes the conditions of their historical appearance. is to dispense with ‘things’ . to write it in a file. the ‘things’ true statements are true to. or take up Rorty’s pragmatic point of view—either way. Durkheim. on its way to language. [and] to define these objects without reference to the ground. their associated institutions knowledge-institutions.’26 There’s no thing in itself to make truths true. dangerous offender). and ‘the prediscursive is still discursive . schizophrenic.27 Look at knowledge as Foucault does. It is the discursive accomplishment of a statement that dignifies nondiscursive artifacts as knowledge.’25 Rorty says it is the ‘crucial premise’ of his argument in Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. sophisticated version of the positivist-sociological ‘social determination of knowledge’ thesis (Marx.” ’24 Foucault seems to acknowledge the nondiscursive only to subordinate it to discourse. Mannheim). and intersubjectivity.
’29 But there always comes a but. This dichotomous treatment of Nature and Society combined with serene indifferent to anything ‘technical’ mark the ideas of knowledge in Rorty and Foucault as offspring of the Western logos. but says nothing of possible alternatives. Rorty reads Foucault In Contingency. There is no “we” to be found in Foucault’s writings. .’ but he refrains from ‘tell[ing] us the right thing to do in the future. ancestors like Jeremy Bentham and James and Mill were trying to do the right thing. in my view—consists in showing how the patterns of acculturation characteristic of liberal societies have imposed on their members kinds of constraint of which older. must rather respect them. How would he prevent pain and suffering.’31 In other words. any communication . For Rorty. that is. he lauds Foucault for having shown how ‘today’s chains are often forged with the hammers that struck off yesterday’s. . if not with hospitals or state-administered welfare? Foucault ‘certainly said a lot of useful things about contemporary institutions. and Solidarity. What Rorty calls ‘the extraordinary dryness of Foucault’s work’ is ‘produced by a lack of identification with any social context. Rorty makes a criticism of Foucault that he repeats and develops in later discussions. Something important has been left out. . Praise is always qualified. it does not follow that knowledge and truth are but the loquacious shadows of social representation. premodern societies had not dreamed. Irony. knowing that we too can only try to do the right thing. ‘A large part of Foucault’s work—the most valuable part. .’28 Striking the same note ten years later.Foucault and the New Pragmatism 79 knowledge. the criticism always the same. Foucault describes new threats and dilemmas for liberty.’ He emphasizes Foucault’s understanding of ‘how we tricked ourselves in the past . This enormous privilege for discourse puts both thinkers in the shadow of Platonism. something we might have done too.’30 This omission is chalked up to detachment taken too far. So we must not despise them. with no ideological alloy. Even if we agree that truth is not an adequacy or correspondence.’ adding that Foucault ‘was more inclined to admit than Marx’ that the ‘sequence of hammers into chains is unlikely to end with the invention of hammers that cannot be forged into chains— hammers that are purely rational. as Foucault himself paraphrases Rorty’s criticism. He always begins with something to admire. exhibiting the unexpected and painful consequences of our ancestors’ attempts to do the right thing. he does not situate his argumentation .
necessary to make the future formation of a “we” possible. a specialists on AIDS in Africa. managing salaries and contracts. That’s a lot fewer dying children. ‘But the problem is. tracking drugs and supplies. whose values. computerized and networked—allowed Tanzanian health care workers to reduce child mortality by twenty-five percent in two years. but those of solidarity and citizenship.’32 On the one hand. whose traditions constitute the framework for a thought and define the conditions in which it can be validated. health. infant mortality.’ To which he replies.’33 Skepticism about the value of disciplinary surveillance is an attitude held only by people unconsciously enjoying its security. His account is morally one-sided. and so on. he is not detached enough. compensate for those constraints. reason. ‘my disagreement with Foucault amounts to the claim that this decrease does. and social security. The surveillance of populations through records of births. and makes him evasive about his obligations to other people—not his ‘private’ obligations. and cases of disease. dangers. for all the insidious counterproductivity. He sees threats. by elaborating the question. to decide if it is actually suitable to place oneself within a “we” in order to assert the principles one recognizes and the values one accepts. Because it seems to me that the “we” must not be previous to the question. in fact. ‘Reporting births. surveillance technologies—records of child deaths by location. it can only be the result—and the necessarily temporary result—of the question as it is posed in the new terms in which one formulates it. but they are. she has no such obligations. deaths. emerging forms of discipline and control. Rorty says Foucault and Plato share an assumption that ‘unless there is some interesting connection between what matters most to an individual and her purported moral obligations to our fellow human beings. rather. In an example of globalized Western discipline. maintaining ledgers and creating systems of inspection may not sound like the stuff of great medical heroics.80 Foucault’s Legacy relative to any specific group or community ‘whose consensus. Private self-creating poetry gets the upper hand. Rorty seems to think Foucault’s work is too detached to be useful for deciding what ‘we’ should do. Helen Epstein. precisely. On the other hand. disease. and so on can prevent a lot of suffering.’35 Foucault almost seems to confirm this improbable reading when he says that we should ‘get rid of . these innovations (some of them anyway) did a lot for the suffering of many people. observes. Doesn’t that compensate anything? Referring to the decreased suffering attributable to such things as state welfare.’34 Rorty seems to argue that Foucault doesn’t strike the right balance. Rorty says. without pausing to admire how. or if it is not. deaths.
‘analytical or necessary’) connection with economics or politics. He excoriates what he calls the ‘Foucauldian academic Left in contemporary America. and what is due to the relation we take as subjects to ourselves. Foucauldians do not even have that. if that is what it is. and the problem of individual conduct. I tried to locate three major types of problems: the problem of truth.’39 . the problem of power. What bothered me about the previous books is that I considered the first two experiences without taking the third one into account.Foucault and the New Pragmatism 81 [the] idea of an analytical or necessary link between ethics and other social or economic or political structures. so what? Why is this lack. and also in Discipline and Punish a lot of things which were implicit could not be rendered explicit due to the manner in which I posed the problems.’ Well.’36 I take him to say that the ‘ethical’ (Rorty would say ‘private’) work on the self has no ‘interesting’ (that is. Engels at least had an eschatology. You can’t imagine yourself out of debt.’ dismissing them as a ‘school of resentment’ peddling ‘rationalizations of hopelessness. including obligations of solidarity. as Rorty tries to make it. That does not mean. ‘Foucauldian theoretical sophistication is even more useless to leftist politics than was Engels’ dialectical materialism. economic. objectionable? Apparently because it makes them ‘exactly the sort of Left the oligarchy dreams of: a Left whose members are so busy unmasking the present that they have no time to discuss what laws need to be passed in order to create a better future. It means those obligations do not derive ideologically or morally from how one chooses to care for oneself. where he overcomes his erstwhile inclination to efface freedom and subjectivity from his work.37 The criticism is suggestively answered by his late work on subjectivity. that one has no such obligations. What he calls ethics refers to the particular relation to self (rapport à soi) that structures the way individuals make themselves moral subjects. or political structures. It is ‘private. The Order of Things.’ But nothing you do in private nullifies public obligations. Foucault has been criticized for emphasizing discourse over subjectivity and agency. in Foucault’s dramatically non-Kantian usage. He tries in this late work to strike a balance between what power and knowledge contribute to subjectivity. doesn’t have much to do with where you stand in relation to social.38 Rorty seems especially to dislike Foucault’s followers on the left. He explicitly understands his last work as compensating for something elided in his earlier work: In Madness and Civilization. Ethics.’ He says.
without having any better idea what to do instead.’40 Complacent is a favorite word of Rorty’s critics on the Left. and they were not without success. increasing responsiveness to the needs of a larger and larger variety of people and things. J. We can do no better. We claim only an experimental success: we have come up with a way of bringing people into some degree of comity. I think these readers must not appreciate how profoundly skeptical he is of Theory.82 Foucault’s Legacy Looked at pragmatically. We pragmatists are not arguing that modern Europe has any superior insight into eternal. and the fellow citizens who administer them. ‘I just can’t think of anything I learned from post-Mill writings that added much. What is more. by now unimaginative idea that has the pragmatic virtue of having not been made irrelevant by the history of the last century. he says. which looks more promising than any other way which has been proposed so far. irresponsibly—are better seen as the skeptical outcome of a fruitless foray into the wilderness of contemporary theory. we are not left defenseless against the counterproductivity of our ancestor’s well-meaning innovations by the very institutions they bequeathed us.’41 Rorty’s version of liberalism is a pragmatic default position. Foucault’s work (and much of the work that cites him as an authority) seems to undermine solidarity with the ancestors who invented disciplinary biopower and modern governmentality. Views they criticize as ‘complacent’—meaning arrived at casually. and of increasing human happiness. uncritically. Rorty’s liberal ancestors were trying to do the right thing.44 . Mill’s suggestion that governments devote themselves to optimizing the balance between leaving people’s private lives alone and preventing suffering seems to me pretty much the last word. despite some unexpected consequences. in terms of effect. it is a well-aged. S. In a passage criticizing Foucault. ethnicity.’43 The practical success is so resounding that Rorty indulges in a not very pragmatic hyperbole. and to conceive of moral progress as ‘a matter of increasing sensitivity.42 What modern Europe supposedly discovered is how to make the things that usually divide people (religion. Instead of a bold new alternative. ‘Contemporary liberal society already contains the institutions for its own improvement—an improvement which can mitigate the dangers Foucault sees. We do not claim any superior rationality. Western social and political thought may have had the last conceptual revolution it needs. sexuality) seem unimportant. ahistorical realities.
for Rorty it is always the problems that are the problem. something ‘we’ can try instead.’47 Foucault too is drawn to this liberalism. which is that the rationale for private liberty is self-invention. If no alternatives are presently known. because they may not know what options are available. the rationale for government is not the prevention of cruelty. Instead. so that everyone can work on them? Alas. He seems to think that criticism is uninteresting unless there is a new idea. People’s ideas about alternatives are limited by their information. to have it made explicit and let the problem stimulate whom it may. creativity. indeed. He calls it ‘a fundamental fact of all history’ that ‘the ultimate product of all political activity frequently. but simply to make it as easy as possible for people to achieve their wildly different private ends without hurting each other. which may explain why Rorty can describe Foucault’s politics as ‘the standard liberal’s attempt to alleviate unnecessary suffering. fails utterly to do justice to its original purpose and may even be a travesty of it. as a matter of course. One who will take nothing as authoritative save free consensus between as diverse a variety of citizens as can possibly be produced. ‘The point of a liberal society is not to invent or create anything. Why is it their job? Why isn’t their work to make the problems known. ‘Governments and social institutions exist only for the purpose of making a new sort of individual possible. People can know what they don’t like without having a clear idea of what to do about it. Then Rorty adds Mill’s coda. I wonder about that. and Solidarity Rorty explains liberals as ‘the people who think cruelty is the worst thing we do.Foucault and the New Pragmatism 83 Max Weber may be right that whatever anybody does in politics will always have unexpected.’ something Rorty explains as ‘willing to leave [people] alone to be as self-inventive or as . imagination. not just for theory but for practice. even evil consequences.’ He was ‘a good liberal.’45 Perhaps Rorty believes that merely pointing out more examples is not an interesting criticism.’ Locke said as much. The good liberal Throughout Contingency. It would be wrong to silence critics until they have their own answers. Rorty restates the classical liberal idea that government is not an end in itself. it is done for the sake of private liberty.’46 Yet when he spells it out. Criticism may even be part of the process of generating new alternatives. then we need to know that. Irony. whereas their discontent may express information that can and should be more widely appreciated.
the sign of something still cathected and repressed. historically the fi rst though not the only sort of liberal. In the sixteenth century that began to change. speaking on issues. registers.’48 Which is somehow a bad thing. For a long time. He defi nes this liberalism briefly as ‘a critique of the irrationality peculiar to “excessive government. There was seldom much to spare for innovative ventures in policy or regulation. It does not .49 Some advocated extending the new instruments of government as far as possible (that’s the argument of the Polizeiwissenschaft Foucault studied). including the apparatus of records. signing petitions. enabled early-modern governments to maintain convenient and constantly updated information about subjects and other resources. and so on. and indexes. another Inquisitorial inheritance. New instruments of disciplinary control were coming into use. These governments also experimented with other instruments of control.” ’50 Liberals after this model. and readily mobilized military forces supplied with uniform equipment and powerful weapons.’ of course. In Foucault’s words. ‘trying to serve human liberty . It was Locke’s principle. . new sources of finance and techniques of accounting. Liberals came into being as the opposite mentality. homeless stranger to humanity and to history. he was (‘much of the time’) on the side of the angels. and by means of. but the activity that consists in governing human behavior in the framework of.84 Foucault’s Legacy banal as they liked. state-institutions) cannot be its own end. and we have seen that it is still Rorty’s. The ‘liberal’ point of view emerges in modern politics with the early-modern rise in the resources available to governments. settled and guarded frontiers.’ Foucault hints at a not disinterested interest in what he sees as the key liberal innovation in political reasoning. the suspicion (or certainty) that government tends to excess and must be checked.’ But in writing the historical and philosophical works for which he is famous. These. dossiers. . it was all governments could do to maintain their territory against external threat. a limitation. including improved maps and more accurate means of measuring time. rootless. trying to achieve the same political consequences which a good humanitarian bourgeois liberal would wish to achieve. In ‘The Birth of Biopolitics. Government (meaning not the institution ‘government. better roads and communications. stand on a principle. Some were inherited from the Inquisitions. holding Foucault back from pragmatism. since antiquity. together with a probabilistic style of reasoning about evidence.’ In his work for causes. he was trying ‘to be a faceless.
which ‘exists when governmental practice is limited in its possible excess by the fact that it is the object of public debate as to its “good or bad. the liberal principle belongs to a style of political reasoning that can be detached from economic and juridical ideologies. He continues in this vein.51 Foucault’s remarks about this first liberalism seem to imply that its principle is no less cogent today. For instance. the only real space for political struggle and contestation. 53 .’ Then or now. ‘That criticism can come from within or without. philosophical problem of our days is not to try to liberate the individual from the state and from the state’s institutions. even under the best possible conditions. referring to ‘philosophy as a critical analysis of our world.’ ‘The target nowadays. but the biopolitical one of refusing to be what knowledge knows that we are.” ’52 This remains political life today. For Mill and then Rorty it is self-creativity. but to liberate us both from the state and from the type of individualization which is linked to the state.Foucault and the New Pragmatism 85 have its reason for being in itself. agents. rather than a politics pursuing a certain number of more or less clearly defined goals.’ In other words. ethical. he says.’ he says. should not be its regulative principle. He goes on to credit liberalism with all but inventing modern political life. instruments. ‘Rather than a relatively coherent doctrine. and its maximization. occasions. We have to promote new forms of subjectivity through the refusal of this kind of individuality which has been imposed on us for several centuries. it can rely on this or that economic theory. in what he elsewhere says of the aesthetics of existence and work on the self. Foucault said that from his perspective it was the ‘problems of governmentality and the techniques of government’ that are ‘the only political issue. ingenuity. Events since Foucault’s death have confirmed the steep rise in resources. I would be tempted to see in liberalism a form of critical reflection on governmental practice. and the liberal critique of the irrationality peculiar to government must inherit this relevance for the political reason under which Western governments continue to operate. There remains Mill’s coda to the classic liberal principle.’ is no longer the Socratic one of knowing ourselves. Foucault continues: The political. and effectiveness devoted to the government of action and choice. social. Foucault seems implicitly to take that on too. Instead of calling this disciplinary surveillance we call it security. or refer to this or that juridical system without any necessary and one-to-one connection. which is to explain the point of the liberty liberalism defends.” its “too much or too little.
Truth in Philosophy. 163. Nietzsche. by developing their subjectivity? What then when precisely this liberty is subverted in the name of taking better care of us? Foucault understood that personal identity is never not a social construction and never merely one. . On this history. Liberals believe that political government is secondary to the ethical ends of the governed. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall. no change in how we understand Heidegger has any relevance to liberal politics. Friedrich (1967). Boulder: Westview.’54 Notes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 See Rorty. homeless stranger to humanity and to history. §27. which already has it. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Foucault seems all but to say that there is today a ‘we’ which includes him. They may not be much. see Chisholm. Foucault. who feel that this principle is principle enough for reasoned and passionate politics. Republic 518c–d. This is discreetly said. the illiberal idea that security is more important than liberty is becoming newly legitimate. Richard (1979). Irony. 1–4. Contingency. .’ Plato. On the Genealogy of Morals. Third Essay. I develop this criticism of discursive bias in the theory of knowledge in my (2004). by contrast. Roderick (1977). and Solidarity. At the same time. not to put the power of sight into the soul’s eye. but what individuals make of them is what they make of themselves. ‘There may well be an art whose aim would be . especially in comparison with Rorty. Richard (1989). rootless.’ Yet his work seems to undermine loyalties that Rorty won’t abandon. but it may be enough to indicate how far we are from Rorty’s depiction of Foucault as ‘a faceless. see my (1993). Rorty. Perhaps Foucault sees the loyalties differently. where people make good the liberty liberal government assures them of. and it worries him that the loyalty of others may not survive habituation to Foucault’s way of describing them. What is liberalism. New York: Vintage.). . Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. Knowledge and Civilization. is. Today. Power does not operate on a pliant and indifferent body. politically very close. The body is alive and has resources. Theory of Knowledge (2nd ed. trans. Rorty believes.86 Foucault’s Legacy Rorty insisted on the irrelevance of Heidegger’s politics to the philosophical interest of his work. without the ‘private’ sphere. ‘a good liberal. instead of looking in the wrong direction. Princeton: Princeton University Press. On these epistemological themes. but to ensure that. it is turned the way it ought to be. even for Rorty. Walter Kaufmann.
‘Nietzsche’s Theory of Knowledge. Bouchard. ed. Harmondsworth: Penguin. 24. 371–372. Debra Morris and Ian Shapiro. Shapiro. Julian Young and Kenneth Haynes. 171. Rorty. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Habermas. 79. ‘Questions of Method. Martin (2002). Gordon Burchell. The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Knowledge and Human Interests. Rorty addresses some of these doubts in his ‘Response to Barry Allen. and Truth: Philosophical Papers. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972–1977. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Jürgen (2005). Rorty. 120. Philosophy and Social Hope. John (1993). and Michel Foucault (1980).’ see Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. William (1978). I develop this argument in ‘Postmodern Pragmatism’ (2008). 36. Medina and D. 76. Hans (1993). I respond in a chapter on Rorty in Knowledge and Civilization. Michel (1972). Foucault. Vol. F. Oxford: Blackwell. §1065. eds. Dordrecht: Kluwer. and Nietzsche (1967). On the German reception of American Pragmatism. . 170.’ The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality. 123–124. trans. 52. A. New York: Pantheon Books. and Peter Miller. On ‘truth’ and ‘knowledge’ as ‘automatic and empty compliments. Michel (1979). J.’ Nietzsche. ed. 298. Rorty. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 48. 55. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. 389–390. 74. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Richard (1999). Michel (1991). Rorty and His Critics. Jürgen (1999). see Joas. Jean-François (1984). See Habermas. Political Writings. J. Alan Sheridan. 85. On the Genealogy of Morals. ‘Theatrum Philosophicum. ‘Richard Rorty’s Pragmatic Turn. C. Babette Babich. trans. and Richard Rorty (1991). Geoff Bennington and Brian Massumi. Theories of Knowledge. See also James. Lyotard. M. and Critical Theory. Chapter 8 (on Foucault).Foucault and the New Pragmatism 8 87 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 See for instance ‘The Age of the World Picture. Relativism. Truth and Progress Philosophical Papers. Philosophical Topics 36 (2). Gordon. Foucault. New York: Vintage Books. ed.’ in Robert Brandom (2000). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.’ Truth: Engagements Across Philosophical Traditions. eds.. eds. Colin Gordon. 3. trans. Dewey. Off The Beaten Track. On Deleuze. 1. Vol. The Archaeology of Knowledge. Sheridan Smith. Boston: Beacon Press. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Objectivity. 315.’ Language. CounterMemory. Jeremy J. and Richard Rorty (1998). Jürgen (1971). New York: Pantheon. and trans. Habermas. Foucault. D. On ‘passing for true’ see my Truth in Philosophy. trans. Michel (1977). Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. Pragmatism. Wood. New York: Blackwell. trans. Practice. 10. see Foucault. 190–191. This point of view was already sketched out in Being and Time §69b. Walter Kaufmann and R. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. Ibid. Indianapolis: Hackett. Ibid. New York: Pantheon. 20. Pragmatism and Social Theory. Hollingdale. ed.’ in Heidegger. 131.
Rorty. 27–29. Foucault Reader. Disability and Culture. Epstein. I develop this reply to the ‘complacency’ charge in ‘A More Laudable Truthfulness. 63. Charlottesville: Prickly Pear Pamphlets. and Solidarity. Contingency. 310. Rodney Livingstone. New York: Oxford University Press. Archaeology of Knowledge 47–48. (1995). 242. Irony. 30. ed.. Shelley (2005). Indianapolis: Hackett. Politics.. 37.’ The Vocation Lectures. ‘Death by the Numbers.’ Foucault and the Government of Disability. Contingency. Strong. On the Inquisitions and probabilistic reasoning. 22–24.’ Ingstad. On Foucault’s activism. Contingency. and Solidarity. see Tully. Ibid. xv. S. 43. New York: Pantheon. Rorty. eds. 197. Rorty. Ibid.88 27 28 Foucault’s Legacy Foucault. Rorty. R. eds. 78. and Solidarity. Essays on Heidegger and Others Philosophical Papers Vol. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Social Hope. Rorty. Michel (1988). and Whyte. Irony. ‘Governing Conduct. Rorty. ed. see Halperin. 64. 2. Rorty always attributes this to Judith Shklar.’ New York Review of Books 54:11 (June 28 2007). Max (2004). R.’ in Paul Rabinow. for instance Whyte. Foucault. I discuss their criticism in (2005). ‘Foucault’s Nominalism. trans. David Owen and Tracy B.. Richard (1998). 63. Philosophy. see Rorty. Truth and Progress.). Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow (2nd ed. S. and Problematizations. Rorty. Rorty. Rorty. (1991). 194. 38. ed. Michel (1983). Edmund Leites. Rorty. Especially by critics in Disability Studies. Helen (2007). 196. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (1995). New Haven: Yale University Press. Irony. ‘Foucault and Epistemology. 243. Morality and Politics in Modern Europe. Shirley Robin Letwin. 195.. ‘On the Genealogy of Ethics. Berkeley: University of California Press. Michel (1994). ed. Oxford: Blackwell.’ Foucault: A Critical Reader. ‘Politics as a Vocation. Against Bosses. Contingency. 385. See Oakeshott. 63. Kritzman. Contingency. L. Richard (1986). Michael (1993). David M. ed. Irony. my emphasis. Irony. Rorty. 242.’ Paul Rabinow. Achieving Our Country.’ Conscience and Casuistry in Early Modern Europe. ‘Polemics.’ Common Knowledge 14 (2008): 193–200. (1995). Against Oligarchies: A Conversation With Richard Rorty. B. Richard (1998). and Solidarity. 173–174. Rorty.’ in Michel Foucault: Beyond Hermeneutics and Structuralism. Derek Nystrom and Kent Puckett. D. 86. Rorty. Saint Foucault. eds. Weber. ‘Disability Between Discourse and Experience. See also ‘Preface to The History of Sexuality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Heidegger and Others. The Foucault Reader. Politics. and Solidarity. I discuss this history at more length in ‘Foucault and 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 . Tremain. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 236.. Culture: Interviews and Other Writings 1977–1984. Richard. ed. 63. Oxford: Blackwell. 320. James (1988). Heidegger and Others. 139. Foucault. Heidegger and Others. Achieving Our Country. There was a less successful effort earlier to dismiss Foucault. David Couzens Hoy. Foucault. Volume II.
’ Organization 4: 31–48. see Colapietro. and ‘The Subject and Power. Michel. James D. I am grateful to Colin Koopman for these bibliographical references. ‘American Evasions of Foucault. Michel (1997). 77. (1998). Paul. ‘Dewey or Foucault? Organization and Administration as Edification and as Violence. May. my emphasis. ‘On What We May Hope: Rorty on Dewey and Foucault. 195.’ Canadian Journal of Political Science 37: 951–977. Vincent M. Vol. The Essential Works of Michel Foucault. New York: New Press. (1997).’ in The Later Foucault: Philosophy and Politics.’ in Dreyfus and Rabinow. London: Sage. ed.. ‘Michel Foucault: Nietzschean Pragmatist. Chandra (2005). . ‘The Birth of Biopolitics. and the Experience of Literature.’ Ethics. 307–323. 216. (1998). 21. Heidegger and Others .. Mark (1988). Rabinow. Ibid. Todd (2004). 35–93.’ Raritan 7 (Winter. ‘Foucault and Rorty on Truth and Ideology: A Pragmatist View from the Left. ‘Foucault and Pragmatism. 1988): 94–114. Weaver. Kumar.Foucault and the New Pragmatism 89 50 51 52 53 54 Modern Political Philosophy. Foucault. and to David Rondel for helpful comments. Rorty.’ New Literary History 36 (2005): 543–557. (1994). Jeremy Moss.’ International Studies in Philosophy 36: 63–75. William G. Timothy (2005).’ Foucault Effect. Marshall. Michel Foucault.’ Studies in Philosophy and Education 13. Ibid. Foucault. 77. 74. 1. ‘Pragmatic Humanism in Foucault’s Later Work. O’Leary. Reynolds.’ Contemporary Pragmatism 2.. ‘Foucault. For further discussion of the relationship between Foucault and American pragmatism. Joan (2004). Maslan. ed. Dewey.’ Southern Journal of Philosophy 36: 329–351. ‘Governmentality.
Was problematization really always at the core of Foucault’s analytical ensemble? Or was this merely another one of Foucault’s famous backward glances in which he sought to impose a consistency on what was in reality the fragmented history of his various research projects? By taking Foucault at his word. On the other hand we can discern the more normatively-ambitious uses of genealogy featured in the work of other prominent thinkers. most notably Friedrich Nietzsche and most recently Bernard Williams. ‘The Concern for Truth’ Michel Foucault’s final description of his genealogical and archaeological inquiries in terms of the concept of ‘problematization’ is.Chapter 5 Two uses of genealogy: Michel Foucault and Bernard Williams Colin Koopman The notion common to all the work that I have done . —Michel Foucault. we can open up an investigation of what it might mean to take up genealogy (leaving archaeology to the side on the present occasion) as a form of the history of problematizations. difficult to comprehend. is that of problematization. . Nietzsche and Williams used genealogy as a normatively determinative mode of inquiry which can supposedly settle the question of the value of . On the one hand we can discern Foucault’s use of genealogy as a project in critical problematization. There are considerable differences separating Foucault’s use of genealogy as a history of problematizations from Nietzsche’s and Williams’ more normatively ambitious uses of genealogy. . Taking Foucault at his word when he speaks of the importance of problematization for the full range of his thought enables a much-needed comparative discrimination of (at least) two different uses of genealogy. 1984. Doing so enables us both to appreciate the precision of Foucault’s use of genealogy and to understand how Foucault’s precise uses of this analytic-diagnostic tool have perhaps been wrongly conflated with other prominent uses of genealogy. most commentators have found.
Nietzsche. what is nonetheless revealing is an exploration of the specific terms on which these varying conceptions of genealogy can be differentiated. these two thinkers each used genealogy in very different senses insofar as Nietzsche’s genealogy was an attempt to undermine and subvert certain modern moral practices whereas Williams’ was an attempt to vindicate and strengthen certain modern moral notions concerning the value of practices of truthfulness. used genealogy to engage in philosophical critique without offering normative judgments. The point. Foucault used genealogy to develop a form of critique that did not rely on the traditional normative ambitions which have motivated so much of modern philosophy. To the extent that Foucault’s genealogies either credit or discredit certain views about what we ought to do. And to the extent that Foucault’s genealogies are compatible with straightforward normative commitments. It is my claim that Foucault’s project differs from more normatively ambitious uses of genealogy and that much light is shed on the way in which Foucault used genealogy as a critical apparatus by explicating this difference. and so much of modern ‘critical’ thought. Such an exploration particularly helps us recognize the complex relationship between genealogy and critique. Although the minimal conclusion that Foucault’s genealogy differs from Nietzsche’s and Williams’ genealogy may not be all that surprising. The point is rather that Foucauldian genealogy by itself does not form the basis of normative commitments straightforwardly understood. Foucault.Two Uses of Genealogy 91 the practices which we might use genealogy to inquire into. these views were not developed by Foucault in the straightforwardly normative fashion that Williams’ vindications and Nietzsche’s subversions seem to lend themselves to.1 This does not mean that we cannot find political and ethical commitments in Foucault nor that Foucault contradicts himself in holding such commitments. And yet there are neither any principled reasons why those who take up genealogy on Foucault’s model of problematization could not at the same time hold normative commitments nor any principled reasons why genealogical problematization could not be used in support of certain political and ethical commitments. it is not the case that genealogy as problematization by itself generates such normative conclusions as they are traditionally understood. rather. I defend and explore this contrast between these two different senses of genealogy—genealogy as critical problematization and . is that the kind of critical resources which Foucault’s genealogy is keyed to are not the kind of traditional normative resources which fuel the projects of Williams. perhaps a Kantian after all as he himself insisted on more than one occasion. Of course. In this essay.
In developing my argument in this way I do not mean to suggest that Nietzsche’s use of genealogy is identical to Williams’ such that the two are easy substitutes for one another. I focus on Williams rather than Nietzsche for two reasons. I find that Williams’ use of genealogy exhibits a version of normatively ambitious genealogy that is at least as sophisticated as Nietzsche’s usage of genealogy as a form of subversion.2 Genetic reasoning is. I shall show that normatively ambitious uses of genealogy too readily commit the genetic fallacy.92 Foucault’s Legacy genealogy as normative evaluation. although this is a claim which I shall not defend presently. Genealogy and the genetic fallacy One way of understanding the difference between the normative use of genealogy and the problematizing use of genealogy is to focus on a wellknown criticism of genealogy: the charge that genealogy commits the genetic fallacy in conflating the past historical development of a practice with the present justification of that practice. I shall lastly discuss why Foucault’s problematizing genealogy is not deprived of effective critical resources by virtue of Foucault’s refusal to engage in normatively ambitious projects of vindication and subversion. leaving Nietzsche largely to the side on the present occasion. Williams’ claim to the banner of genealogy deserves to be taken more seriously than it has by contemporary scholars already familiar with the work of Foucault and Nietzsche. taking Foucault as representative of the first and Williams as representative of the second. somewhat less fallacious than is commonly presupposed by philosophers who are not inclined to take history very seriously. the charge of the genetic fallacy. First. Second. it is not difficult to discern some of the ways in which . in my opinion. The impossibly strong claim that practices of logic and justification are rightly conducted without the slightest concern for inquiry into the history and evolution of such practices makes sense only by rigorously denying the counterclaim that justification itself is a temporal process that takes place both within and through time. But despite any misgivings one may have regarding the genetic fallacy itself. I shall also show that an interpretation of genealogy in terms of Foucault’s own category of critical problematization enables a form of genealogy that does not commit the genetic fallacy. My strategy here will consist of contrasting Foucault’s genealogy as critical problematization from Williams’ genealogy as normative vindication in the context of a challenging criticism which is often issued against genealogies: namely.
my strategy will be to show that Williams was like Nietzsche in that he tended to deploy genealogy with high normative ambitions and in so doing often risked committing the genetic fallacy. or at least he urges that there is precious little we can say of such matters. Foucault. Returning to Foucault and Williams.4 Whether or not one agrees with the very idea that genetic reasoning is fallacious. Williams’ Truth and Truthfulness is best read as a book that is trying to change the questions we ask of truth. and instead opts for a very different inquiry into the value of truth.. Williams boldly gives up the project of trying to say what truth is. It is not at all clear that the historical development of our practices can be as strictly determinative of the current justifiability of these practices as Nietzsche and Williams sometimes seem to claim. had more modest uses in mind in writing his genealogies and so avoided committing the genetic fallacy.Two Uses of Genealogy 93 the charge of the genetic fallacy has at least some purchase on the ambitious normative uses to which Nietzsche and Williams (and others) have put their genealogical inquiries. truth among them.3 Williams attempted the similar project of showing how the genealogy of certain of our practices connected to the concept of truth can result in a ‘vindication’ of truth and its values against currently fashionable criticisms. Weaker claims for the mere relevance of genealogical histories to questions of normative assessment are more widely accepted. Genealogy as normative vindication: Williams In order to grasp the specific force of genealogy in Williams’ work. the charge that genealogy commits the genetic fallacy at the very least can serve to focus our attention on the possibility that Nietzsche and Williams sought to use genealogy for purposes that risk positing an unsettling view of the relation between historical development and normative justification. punishment. it is important to first understand the general project of which this genealogy is a part.g. The important question raised by the charge of the genetic fallacy concerns strong claims that genealogy normatively bears on justification to such a degree that genealogy by itself can determine justifiability. madness) under consideration in those books. on the other hand. though at the same time managed to write books which are still broadly relevant to the important normative practices (e. ‘I shall be concerned throughout with what . Nietzsche attempted to show that the genealogy of the moral system of the will to truth can be used to subvert that morality and many of its central concepts. sexuality.
. ‘what is truth?’ we should simply point to Tarski’s T-Sentences: ‘P’ is true if and only if P. moreover. The idea of the various forms of minimalism and deflationism which take their cues from Tarski is that we should move talk of truth over from the theory of knowledge to the theory of meaning and replace epistemology with semantics. by Nietzsche. ‘Nothing ties minimalism to an instrumentalist view of the value of truth. Williams personally conveyed to her that he had been planning a book on Nietzsche as early as the 1970s. When asked the philosopher’s question. The questions posed by Nietzsche bring to life a whole new domain of problems that enables a different kind of philosophically informative work on truth. effectively.” ’5 That is Williams’ primary concern and we ought not lose sight of it. One way of understanding Williams’ project is in terms of the concerns of twentieth-century analytic epistemology. Williams fashioned an impressive combination of epistemological minimalism plus moral seriousness about truth.94 Foucault’s Legacy may summarily be called “the value of truth.’7 Williams notes that his question about the value of truth is really Nietzsche’s question: ‘The problems that concern this book were discovered.’8 It is rarely remarked that Williams had in fact long been taken by Nietzsche’s question—while he did not deal with this question in detail until his 2002 book he registered his interest in the problem as early as 1981 in a little-read review essay where he stated that Nietzsche helps us bring into focus the particular ‘demands’ of ‘truth and truthfulness’ and then went on to boast that ‘Nietzsche was the greatest moral philosopher of the past century.6 But. The going consensus these days holds that analytic theories of truth running from Tarski to Davidson teach us that there is very little to say about truth indeed. insists Williams.10 All of this provides a warrant for reading Williams’ work on truth as motivated by Nietzsche’s questions about truth. Williams’ achievement was to assume these lessons of twentieth-century philosophy of truth and yet still insist that we can do robust philosophical work on truth.’9 According to Maudemarie Clark. Williams allows something like minimalism and deflationism to reign when we face the conceptual question of ‘what is truth?’ but insists that we need something a great deal more robust if faced with the moral question of ‘why value truth?’ Many proponents of minimalist theories of truth have taken the lesson of their theories to be that truth by itself is of precious little value since the real aim of belief is not truth so much as it is justification amongst our peers. In his deft combination of Nietzsche’s provocative questions with the rigorous skepticism of twentieth-century analytic epistemology.
Williams admits that there are histories of theories of truth. This concept has no history: truth is what truth is. by contrast. Truth remains a metaphysically and epistemologically minimal notion about which we can say very little while truthfulness reveals the moral richness of truth. the connections between the more philosophical part and the more historical part are not perspicuous. There are all kinds of different odd ways of being truthful. The purpose of distinguishing truth from truthfulness in this way is to bring into view a series of questions concerning the moral status of truth which have been occluded by more classical quests for a definition of truth. but truth itself does not. as instructive and engaging as they are. that does not show that these practices of truthfulness actually emerge vindicated from your tale.Two Uses of Genealogy 95 It is through this combination of epistemological minimalism and moral robustness that Williams invokes his central distinction between truth and truthfulness. Specifically. Yet just as clearly Williams took his genealogy of truthfulness to somehow vindicate the value of truth. Truth. but always and everywhere the same. ‘I had trouble seeing the continuity between the first half and the second half of Williams’ book. Once you get the concept right you will see that truth (that is. Their suspicions might run like this: ‘And so what if truthfulness has the history you tell us it does. not what truth does. Richard Rorty expresses puzzlement about such matters when he notes that. and about one’s society. remains a minimal semantic concept about which we can say precious little. is something whose history is rich and varied. and for him a moral philosophy of timeless truth is not exactly identical to a genealogical history of truthfulness. and of speaking truthfully. genealogy takes the form of an inquiry into various forms of truthfulness. will be a ‘vindicatory’ history in that they will enable us to see ‘why truthfulness has an intrinsic value. why it can be seen as such with a good conscience. says Williams. for Williams. the correct theory of minimalist truth) is the sort of thing that ‘is not culturally various. To inquire into the moral value of truth Williams undertakes a series of genealogies of truthfulness. about oneself. why a good conscience is a good thing with which to see it.’14 Clearly Williams took truth to be more than just truthfulness. But the concept itself? No history there. of telling the truth.’12 In Williams’ hands. Is this sloppy slippage or ingenious integration? .’11 Truthfulness. he offers rich and illustrative chapters on the history of telling the truth about the past. These genealogies. Different forms of truthfulness have a history. then. Williams still must squarely face a question that will motivate some critics to charge that he has committed the genetic fallacy.13 At the end of these genealogies.’ I am not sure how Williams saw himself around such suspicions.
Some contemporary thinkers. With this. maybe Hume. These contemporary debates clearly recapitulate some of the most crucial intellectual clashes that emerged in Darwin’s wake in the latter decades of the nineteenth century. goodness. then humanity is stripped of its intrinsic dignity. Historically variable moralities of truthfulness might have a value. not Nietzche. and so we can do what we need to in order to improve upon them. however. Williams perhaps among them. Similar battles were brewing back in Hume’s day too. truth must stand outside of history as an impermeable reality whose value speaks for itself. then we are not pristine in the timeless image of the holy. Williams wants to vindicate truth by showing it to be something worthy of ‘respect’ and this means showing it to be intrinsically valuable.15 This point helps us grasp one rather important implication of Williams’ insistence that the concept of truth itself has no history. Williams thus reserves truth as something capable of possessing intrinsic value by insisting that the concept of truth has no history. we did not have to have it. and Nature. he sets out specifically to vindicate truth as ‘intrinsically’ valuable. Reason. then it would seem flatly incoherent to claim that truth itself is intrinsically valuable. If so. which raises the following problem. find parts of the message problematic because they believe that in order to be really valuable. Darwin’s critics worried. What these values might help us appreciate.16 Other contemporary thinkers. find a Darwinian version of the message about truth an uplifting one because it suggests that our values are our achievements. is the greater intrinsic value of something that does not vary with history. Take the debate between William James and Charles Peirce over . then it is at least minimally plausible for Williams to claim that truth is intrinsically valuable. and value. the nineteenth-century culture wars were underway. But if truth has a history. If homo sapiens is the contingent product of a long process of unplanned evolution. namely the concept of truth itself. or perhaps even earlier. but things just so happened to work out that way. but such value could only be instrumental. Whatever value we do have. Rorty among them. valuable all by itself.96 Foucault’s Legacy A great deal in Williams’ account seems to turn on the particular kind of vindication for truth that he seems to have in mind. If truth has no history. but Darwin. Contemporary debates about Truth can be seen as an analogue of these old debates about Man. This presumption might be seen as a response to a concern that has always pursued genealogists going back to the very first genealogist: no. Consider Darwin’s genealogy. I detect a sensible presumption in Williams’ approach to the effect that if something is intrinsically valuable then it cannot be subject to the contingencies of historical evolution. When Williams sets out to vindicate the value of truth.
18 But Williams and Rorty would have agreed that historical investigations of various forms of truthfulness are where all the most important work in a moral philosophy of truth will get done. Rorty was among those who objected to the whole package. It remains a measure of the long distances which separated the two thinkers that Rorty could never have made sense of Williams’ two crucial ideas that truth has intrinsic value and that it has no history. but that ‘philosophy needs to make room for history’ when we turn toward ‘specific cultural determinations’ of truthfulness.Two Uses of Genealogy 97 truth. but we should not deny Williams’ achievement in having shown us just how well all these things can be packaged together. The achievement that we call truth is a grand achievement. . thought that in order to be really valuable truth must stand on its own outside of the contingencies of human evolution. thought of the value of truth as constructed by and amongst we humans. But truth creates its defenders and gives them strength. The forms of these dispositions and of the motivations they embody are culturally and historically various. Peirce. . One of his achievements was to suggest that we can combine these ideas with a minimalist conception of truth and a genealogical explanation of truthfulness.’17 The more Jamesian Rorty thought that if we take care of freedom then we will be free enough to take care of truth. Peirce wrote to James in 1902: ‘No doubt truth has to have defenders to uphold it. but no less worthy for it. We might object to the whole package. and it is our achievement. This is because genealogical inquiries can help us understand the specific historical content which fills out an otherwise empty ahistorical concept of truth. The more Peircean Williams thought that taking care of freedom means taking care of truth first. structural features’ of truth. ‘[I]n many cases the content of our concepts is a contingent historical phenomenon . Williams writes. like Rorty. The admittedly vague answer which Williams seems to offer to the challenge posed by Rorty seems to be that philosophical reflection provides us with a minimal . James. Despite the usual concerns one might have about Williams’ readiness to invoke such properties as ‘intrinsically valuable’ and ‘timelessly ahistorical’ one can still admire the coherence of his account and the sense in which everything neatly hangs together. like Williams. Williams was right to insist that truth can be intrinsically valuable only if it is ahistorical. Williams’ version of this idea is that such historical investigations help us approach truth itself and whatever intrinsic value we can glimpse of it.’19 Williams’ view is thus that we can use philosophical reflection to discern ‘the necessary.20 These are the two halves of Williams’ enterprise between which Rorty can find no clear connection.
But his supposed vindication of truth is puzzling. impressive. but ultimately unsuccessful. Williams’ genealogies of the moralities of truthfulness are rich. But no matter what one wants to prove about the situations in which one finds oneself. albeit not on genealogical grounds and definitely not on uncontroversial grounds. . my point is that what does the vindicating in Williams’ account may not be the genealogy after all. I regard Williams’ work as an ingenious. Williams himself would have realized the obvious danger involved in using genealogy to vindicate anything. . It is in this sense that an ahistorical concept of truth is intrinsically valuable. but rather the philosophical reflections on . Leaving the controversies over truth to the side. Nietzsche thought that he could use genealogy to seal some fairly controversial conclusions about modern morality. While we could perhaps do without this or that particular form of truthfulness. attempt to get a great deal of normative mileage out of a method or analytic of inquiry that is better reserved for elucidation. It is time to confess that I am among those who do not buy Williams’ story about intrinsic value and a concept of truth that is beyond history. we would still need some forms of truthfulness in our lives in order to get by at all. Williams vindicated— Nietzsche subverted. Even if we could get by without telling the truth about the past or telling the truth about ourselves. Like Williams. and learned.98 Foucault’s Legacy outline of an ahistorical concept of truth such that genealogical reflection can then go on to provide us with the historical details that fill in this thin concept with rather much thicker content: ‘General reflection can show that something has to support the disposition . and intensification. one should not use genealogy to try to prove anything about the present. I see Williams as having backed into a nongenealogical account of truth as an ahistorical concept. always and everywhere. Aware of his proximity to the genetic fallacy.’21 It is in this sense that Williams’ project on the whole is meant to offer a vindication (a real vindication and not just an ethnocentric paean) of truth as intrinsically valuable. This certainly helps along his vindicatory story about truth. other than that the present need not be the way that it is. explication. the genealogy is supposed to show us that the collective effect of all these forms of truthfulness is to impress upon us that surely we could not do without any kind of truthfulness at all. But what particular range of values in a given cultural situation will perform this role is a matter of real history. even though the contingent determinations informing this necessary value shift according to the historical exigencies of different practices of truthfulness which impress us around here and just now.
they are not. a history which Williams has shown us ought to be taken very seriously indeed. these show us at best why truth might have been taken to be valuable at some point in our history. ‘It is better to play down the “intrinsic. Insofar as Williams explicitly oriented his conception of genealogy toward normatively rather ambitious purposes. That may be to the advantage or disadvantage of genealogy. almost by definition it seems. he failed to fully explicate the senses in which his genealogies might be useful for quite different purposes of social-scientific and humanistic explication and problematization. As for the real historical genealogies.Two Uses of Genealogy 99 truth. All the real normative mileage is being run not by the genealogical components in Williams’ work but by the philosophical components which stipulate a formal theory of truth and then through armchair reflection attempt to show how this formal concept is intrinsically valuable. not genealogical. we would do well to turn away from Williams and his theoretical remarks about intrinsic value and ahistorical truth so that we may turn toward some other genealogist whose work offers an explicit engagement with such theoretical explorations. But they could not be used to show that truth is intrinsically valuable nor could they be used to show that truth has no history. truthfully. A central part of Williams’ genealogy is the first more philosophical half of the book in which he offers armchair musings on why a very minimal concept of truth may be taken to be intrinsically valuable to any form of human social life. I agree with Ian Hacking who urges that. Here are important episodes in the history of truthfulness.22 Williams calls this an ‘imaginary genealogy’ and it is meant to provide the essential outline of a story about the value of truth which a real ‘historical genealogy’ then comes along to fill out in the second more historical part of the book. But it is not clear why this armchair reflection is a genealogy at all in that it seems more in keeping with the traditional philosophical technique of a thought experiment. The best chapters of Williams’ book offer edifying intellectual histories of different practices of truth-telling. . And surely it is the case that his genealogies are indeed useful for these purposes. Perhaps now is the time to take up Foucault again.” ’23 Those aspects of Williams’ vindicatory story in which he plays up the ‘intrinsic’ and the ‘ahistorical’ are. But it would surely be a disadvantage to pretend that the vindicatory thought experiments are genealogical when. But if we are interested in theoretically exploring the ways in which such genealogical histories can be used to explicate our contemporary practices of truthfulness and intensify the problematizations constitutive of those practices.
In Nietzsche’s hands. The point of problematization for Foucault was not. 24 genealogy as practiced in Foucault’s more cautious sense is indeed evident in many of his works. genealogy was used as part of a local critique of some of our moral practices. as per Nietzsche.25 A similar reading of problematization is also the best way to make sense of Foucault’s earlier genealogies of punishment and sexuality in Discipline and Punish and The Will to Know (volume 1 of The History of Sexuality). In comparing Foucault and Williams. In Foucault’s hands. the effect of which was to simply clear the board of our existing moral conceptions. Despite his having been severely and widely misread in these regards. must face.100 Foucault’s Legacy Genealogy as critical problematization: Foucault Foucault was well aware of the problems facing any normatively ambitious use of genealogy such as that featured in the work of Williams or Nietzsche. most notably our own modernity. Foucault uses genealogy to clarify the way in which these practices have themselves problematized certain assumptions about power and freedom which have tended to persist. the effect of which was to problematize these practices in a way that showed their need for future revision. the same sorts of observations apply insofar as Williams used genealogy to vindicate the current setup of the board which equally prevents us from rigorously questioning the problems implicit in the setup in the first place. In The Use of Pleasure and The Care of The Self. Rather. Foucault uses problematization neither to undermine nor to vindicate ancient ethical practices.26 Here Foucault’s strategy is not that of undermining modern notions of power and freedom (as these are exemplified in punitive and sexual practices). Modern punishment and sexuality do not demonstrate that repressive theories of power and emancipatory theories of freedom are wrong or bad. but to show the way in which certain features of these practices were understood as the primary problems which these practices were made to address. they show rather that for we moderns power and freedom have precisely become the . This was made especially evident when he came in his later years to describe his own historical research through the lens of the concept of problematization. genealogy was used as a global critique of the modern moral system. Nietzsche cleared the board while Foucault pointed out problems on the board of which we were not formerly aware but which he thought could only be addressed from within the limits of the board. to use history to subvert some of our most central modern practices. The point was rather to use history to show the way in which certain practices have structured some of the core problematics which a given period of thought.
Although it would be useful to revisit Foucault’s major genealogical treatises with this revised conception of the critical role of genealogy in mind. A second aspect concerns the way in which such inquiry functions to clarify and intensify the hybrid network of problems and solutions inquired into.27 A quicker way of putting my interpretation to the test is to compare it to Foucault’s own observations about genealogy as a practice of problematization. it is outside of the scope of this paper to exhaustively engage these complex texts. In a manner somewhat .Two Uses of Genealogy 101 problematic field on which we are most earnestly focused. The point rather is that genealogical problematization by itself neither legitimates nor deligitimates. whether consciously or not. A first aspect is a genealogical inquiry into the emergence and descent of certain problems and their corollary conceptions of what might count as a solution. Power as discipline and freedom as liberation are not delegitimated by Foucault. But the first thing to note is Foucault’s own claims for the importance of problematization for all of his work. Foucault’s use of genealogy as a means of clarifying and intensifying this problematic or problematization is however not incompatible with attempts to destabilize practices of discipline and liberation. By clarifying and intensifying these hybrid networks. problematization functions to both open up problems in their emergence and to make them available for critical scrutiny. I will begin with a summary overview of Foucault’s concept of problematization and then move on to unpacking this summary on the basis of his varied writings about problematization. In sum. genealogy enables us to recognize our problems as contingent products rather than as necessary givens. This dual-aspect description of genealogical problematization can be discerned in many of Foucault’s own writings and conversations about problematization. but are rather shown to be the most critical problematic on which we moderns find ourselves obsessively working. genealogy also enables us to adopt a more reflective relation to the problems in which we already find ourselves. Genealogical problematization instead helps us recognize that constitutive practices such as these form fields in need of further work. Problematization as Foucault practiced it can be seen as a form of inquiry with two aspects. but by studying their emergence the problematizing form of inquiry is able to open these problems up to more rigorous forms of critical scrutiny. By inquiring into the emergence of hybrid networks of problems and solutions. Inquiry in the form of problematization is preceded by the problems which are the objects of its study. enmeshed. For the sake of orientation.
at a given moment. .28 Regardless of the accuracy of this self-description. what it does defi nitively establish is the great importance of the notion of problematization in Foucault’s thinking about all of his work in his final years. Showing a practice to be good or bad is ultimately a way of solving problems rather than provoking them. with the maximum complexity and . Foucault’s emphatic response apparently demanded an exclamatory emphasis when transcribed into a written text: ‘No!’ Foucault then used this question as an opportunity to specify the way in which he saw his historical research functioning: ‘I would like to do the genealogy of problems. If everything is dangerous.102 Foucault’s Legacy typical of his intellectual tendencies. he was careful to establish this point in a more rigorous fashion.30 Foucault was clear about this in many of his reflections on his use of genealogy.’29 Foucault was always more interested in posing challenging questions than in definitively solving problems. most often in interviews. of problématiques. Foucault was asked if his histories of ancient thought were intended to revive a golden age of ethics which might be a plausible substitute for our current moral practices. This explains why Foucault vigilantly avoided the ‘blackmail’ of being ‘ “for” or “against” ’ modern regimes of truth. .’31 At other times. which is not exactly the same as bad. in Discipline and Punish I was trying to analyze the changes in the problematization of the relations between crime and punishment through penal practices and penitentiary institutions in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. though it must be said that I never isolated this notion sufficiently . then we always have something to do. Foucault came to describe all of his work under the rubric of problematization: The notion common to all the work that I have done since History of Madness is that of problematization. In an interview with Paul Rabinow and Hubert Dreyfus. madness was problematised through a certain institutional practice and a certain apparatus of knowledge. and to raise them with the greatest possible rigor. Similarly. genuine way. In the lengthy interview with Trombadori: My role is to raise questions in an effective. In History of Madness the question was how and why. but that everything is dangerous. My point is not that everything is bad. Sometimes he merely mentioned this point casually in the context of other discussions: ‘[W]hat I have been trying to do this evening is not to solve a problem but to suggest a way to approach a problem.
and thinking in the present. ‘a remarkably able Kantian. madness. that we must concern ourselves with the problematic relations between modern power and modern freedom.’35 A Kantian more invested in the analytic and diagnostic explication of the conditions of the possibility of the present than he was in the traditional philosophical practice of issuing specific judgments in metaphysics . beliefs. In this sense Foucault is. beliefs. Genealogy taken in this sense is an initiating. phase of thought. acting. Genealogy seeks out the limits that condition our possibilities for being. It is to insist that they constitute a field on which we find that we must continue to work. It is more on the order of ‘problematization’— which is to say. and conceptions. Foucault is saying. for example between the powers which we at times unthinkingly use to regulate sexual practices and the freedoms which we attribute to certain supposedly liberating sexual practices.’34 These many methodological reflections on problematization suggest that the point of Foucault’s genealogies was to neither subvert nor vindicate existing practices. Rather. To say that practices are problematic is not to insist that they are wrong. and that concern every life—cannot easily be resolved. practices.Two Uses of Genealogy 103 difficulty so that a solution doesn’t spring from the head of some reformist intellectual or suddenly appear in the head of a party’s political bureau. as Ian Hacking has noted. consider this line from the essay on methodology published as the ‘Introduction’ to the second volume of The History of Sexuality project: ‘The proper task of a history of thought is: to define the conditions in which human beings “problematize” what they are. and the world in which they live. it was to critically show the way in which certain practices. the development of a domain of acts.33 Lastly. Genealogy brings into critical focus the problems which further critical work must attempt to develop solutions for. and conceptions have become problematic in the history of thought due to the contingent intersection of a complex set of enabling or disabling conditions. The problems I try to pose—those tangled things that crime. rather than a concluding.32 In another interview with Rabinow: My attitude isn’t a result of the form of critique that claims to be a methodical examination in order to reject all possible solutions except for the one valid one. and thoughts that seem to me to pose problems for politics. what they do. for example. and sex are.
and repeatedly criticized precisely along these lines by a number of prominent commentators. Foucault’s more modest deployment of genealogy is not subject to any traditional form of the charge of the genetic fallacy insofar as it refuses to enlist genealogy in a project of normative justification. I am not conceding Fraser’s claim that Foucault’s work is objectionable due to its being normatively . says Fraser. The best way of defending Foucault against Fraser’s criticism is to provisionally concede her admittedly controversial premise that genetic reasoning is fallacious in order to then go on and refute her other premise which asserts that Foucault’s genealogies exemplify genetic reasoning of precisely this objectionable kind. This point is important not in the least because Foucault has been amply. in other words.’38 Is this not the sort of view I am retreating to? Not quite. Foucault’s work yields normative confusions rather than normative conclusions. was that Foucault is full of ‘empirical insights’ but also rife with ‘normative confusions’ or what Habermas would later call ‘crypto-normativism. Fraser’s claim. Fraser’s criticism of Foucault is based on an interpretation of Foucault’s use of genealogy according to which the genealogist deploys carefully-developed empirical insights which in combination with some minimal set of other relevant considerations are supposed to establish the normative conclusion that certain of our practices are bad or unjust. 36 This criticism misses the point that Foucault did not use genealogy in order to normatively evaluate the present practices whose histories he was writing. Foucault is supposed to commit the genetic fallacy insofar as he uses empirical insights to establish normative conclusions. Many devotees of Foucauldian genealogy are likely to find my defense here to cede too much ground to Fraser. He rather used genealogy in order to clarify and intensify the dangers of the present whose histories he studied.104 Foucault’s Legacy and morality. did not use genealogy in order to definitively establish normative conclusions about the practices he was investigating. Perhaps one of the most cogent arguments to the effect that Foucault commits the genetic fallacy was offered by Nancy Fraser. But. Foucault’s thought tracks a quite different orbit than that described by Williams’ genealogy and Nietzsche’s too. Yet it is precisely this attempt to establish normative conclusions on the basis of descriptive claims about the historical evolution of practices that critics such as Fraser find objectionable in genetic reasoning. we should not move too quickly in generalizing this point to Foucault. for that matter. severely.37 Foucault. after all. While the normative ambitions characteristic of Williams’ and Nietzsche’s deployments of genealogy risk committing the genetic fallacy.
It also helps us recognize the sense in which Foucault’s critics too often attack his genealogies on a level where they never operated. First. This can be described as an analytical and diagnostic project. my defense also does not require us to regard Foucault’s work as critically ineffective even if it is not as normatively ambitious as Williams’ and Nietzsche’s work. These materials for self-transformation. thinking. was just not straightforwardly normative in the sense that Fraser’s argument requires. Second. Foucauldian genealogy is an exercise in clarifying and intensifying the problematizations which condition the ways in which we constitute ourselves in the present. Indeed there is all the reason to think that the genealogical project of developing a historical critique of the present (in Kant’s sense of critique) provides many of the tools we would need to even set about the project of normatively engaging ourselves in the present. Two observations are relevant at this point. It is these problematizations that crucially condition our possibilities for acting. The genealogist analyzes and diagnoses practices in a way that reveals the problematizations enabling them. While genealogy is not itself normative. either valid or corrupt. as I see it. By rereading genealogy (and perhaps also archaeology though I have not . are what a genealogy seeks to recover in locating the precise practices and procedures which have contributed to our current forms of constituting ourselves. Genealogy as problematization does not seek to establish normative conclusions to the effect that certain practices are either good or bad. It is on the basis of these problematizations—the constraints and limits which they establish—that we continually fashion and refashion ourselves. Genealogy remains relevant to evaluation just insofar as the clarification of the historical development of particular problems is not entirely irrelevant to present inquiries aiming to resolve these very problems we now find ourselves in the midst of. according to Foucault. my defense of Foucault against Fraser does not require us to regard his work as incompatible with normative evaluation. Foucault’s work. either just or unjust. Genealogy as problematization only aims to provide us with materials which we will need if we are to engage in the difficult practice of reconstructing ourselves. and being in the present. The ultimate goal of genealogy as such is an explication and conceptualization of a complex set of practices that have contingently coalesced.Two Uses of Genealogy 105 confused. and that is why Foucault does not commit the genetic fallacy. it can nonetheless be critically engaged in and broadly relevant to forms of inquiry involved in the normative evaluation of practices. The contrast to Williams helps us recognize that Foucault’s genealogy properly understood as problematization is not an exercise in legitimation and delegitimation.
3. Nietzsche’s Postmoralism. Subjectivity. ‘Is There a Genetic Fallacy in Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals?’ International Studies in Philosophy 27. Genealogy. 2002. 1993. ed. Truth. Cambridge: Harvard University. 6. Bernard (1981). 107ff. Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy.’ Gary Gutting (1984). Carol Diethe. An Introduction to Logic and Scientific Method . Ibid.106 Foucault’s Legacy dealt with this here)39 in light of this conception of problematization. and Truth. Essential Works. Nietzsche: Life as Literature.’ Yovel. and ‘Foucault. Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry: Encyclopedia.. 1926—. Williams.’ History and Theory 42. 120. See Richard Rorty (1998).. no. We are today. Williams. ‘Nietzsche’s Centaur.’ London Review of Books. trans. ‘Another New Nietzsche. Bernard (2002). ‘Is Truth a Goal of Inquiry? Donald Davidson versus Crispin Wright. ‘On the Rejection of Morality: Bernard Williams’ Debt to Nietzsche. Clark (2001). 61. Cambridge: Cambridge University. Friedrich (1994). Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff. (1997). and Kevin Klement (2002). see also Barry Allen (2003). and David Hoy (1986). . Cambridge: Cambridge University. 12. see Morris Cohen and Ernest Nagel (1934). ‘When Is Genetic Reasoning Not Fallacious?’ Argumentation 16. we can come to an understanding of how genealogy can gain critical purchase without being put forward as a straightforward normative project of legitimation or delegitimation. New York: Harcourt. Cambridge: Cambridge University. June 17. Volume 1: Ethics. ed. Maudemarie. Truth. Dec. New York: The New Press. For one of the best criticisms of Nietzsche along these general lines see Alasdair MacIntyre (1990). 263. The Cambridge Companion to Foucault. no. possibly the first statement of the genetic fallacy. 1981. no. once again. 2003.. Ibid. Truth and Progress: Philosophical Papers Volume 3. Michel. 4. Jul. Princeton: Princeton University. 20–38.40 Notes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 For self-descriptions as a Kantian see Michel Foucault.. 373. and Tradition.’ Richard Rorty (1998).. Ibid. For a classic. Hume. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. On the Genealogy of Morals. Williams. Notre Dame: Notre Dame University. Oct. Nietzsche as Affirmative Thinker. 66.. 17.. For more recent probing see Margaret Crouch (1993). 36. ‘What is Enlightenment?’ Paul Rabinow. Williams. On the genetic fallacy in Nietzsche see Alexander Nehamas (1985). as Foucault himself suggested we should. 3. note 3.’ Richard Schacht (2001). ed.. ‘Nietzsche. ed. and the Genealogical Method. in want of such a practice of critique. For a defense of Nietzsche see Paul Loeb (1995). ‘A “Limited” Defense of the Genetic Fallacy.’ Metaphilosophy 24. Nietzsche.
Hacking. Williams offers this early account as an explicitly ‘fictional’ genealogy. Ibid. trans. Robert Hurley. Michel (1995). 1. Truth.. ed.. Volume 1: Ethics.. Foucault. Rorty.’ London Review of Books. 58. New York: Vintage. but for a fuller account see Bernard Williams (2005). Robert Hurley. Frederick Lawrence. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. and Michel Foucault (1990). See Jürgen Habermas (1987). Ethics without Ontology. Michel (1990). ‘To the Sunlit Uplands. trans.’ Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline. In chapter 3 he offers an entirely different genealogy of the origins of truthfulness itself. ‘Another Nietzsche’. Truth. 93 Ibid. no. 1902. See Edward Craig (2007).’ Canadian Journal of Philosophy 34. See Richard Rorty. New York: Vintage. Cambridge: Cambridge University. The Care of the Self: The History of Sexuality. and 9 of Williams. Volume 3.’ Lawrence Kritzman (1990). Foucault. ‘On the Genealogy of Ethics: Overview of Work in Progress. Williams. ‘Dewey Between Hegel and Darwin’ in Rorty. 2004. ‘Critical Notice of Truth and Truthfulness. Williams. The Thought and Character of William James. New York: The New Press. In the Beginning Was the Deed: Realism and Moralism in Political Argument. Chapter 3.. Culture. Richard (1998). 286. 256. Truth. as quoted in Ralph Barton Perry (1996). ‘Genealogies’ arguing that the specific advantage of Williams’ genealogy is that it enables us to explicate the elusive connection between instrumental and intrinsic value. ed. 257. 375.html. 31. Subjectivity. Bernard (2006). ed. 92. Michel (1997). The Use of Pleasure: The History of Sexuality. 192. but Edward Craig considers at length the complex relationship between historical genealogies and fictional state of nature stories in Williams. Unlike the later historical genealogies. Williams. Richard (2002). 38. I leave imaginary genealogies to the side. Cambridge: MIT Press. . Politics. Alan Sheridan. Nashville: Vanderbilt University. ‘Revising Foucault’. 11.’ Alan Thomas (2007).. Oct. Volume 2. Williams’ book is actually more complex. ‘The Concern for Truth. Harvard: Harvard University. Philosophy. ‘Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline. Cambridge: Cambridge University. The genealogy of liberal social critique (Chapter 9) is the least developed. Foucault. Volume 1: An Introduction. 8. Bernard Williams.lrb. Ian (2004). and Michel Foucault (1988). The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity.uk/v24/n21/print/rort01_. trans. Michel (1990). ‘Another Nietzsche’ agreeing with Hacking and contrast Craig. See also Allen. ‘Genealogies and the State of Nature. The History of Sexuality.’ interview by Rabinow and Dreyfus. Peirce to James. I describe Discipline and Punish and History of Madness in these terms in Colin Koopman. Robert Hurley. New York: Vintage. On Williams and Rorty see Hilary Putnam (2004). 147. Truth and Progress: Philosophical Papers Volume 3. New York: Vintage. Princeton: Princeton University. Essential Works. Princeton: Princeton University. Mar. trans.Two Uses of Genealogy 13 107 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 See chapters 7. Foucault. 2002. New York: Routledge. It is not clear that armchairthought experiments are really genealogies at all. trans.co. June 12. and Truth. forthcoming in Philosophy & Social Criticism. in Paul Rabinow (1997). Available online at http://www. see also Allen.
Essential Works.. ‘Foucault on Modern Power: Empirical Insights and Normative Confusions’ and ‘Michel Foucault: A Young Conservative?’ in Nancy Fraser (1989). ‘Self-Improvement’ in David Hoy. Foucault. ‘Foucault. Michel (2000). Autonomy. 114. ‘Interview with Michel Foucault’ by D. The Politics of Our Selves: Power. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. and Christoph Durt. 288.’ James Faubion (2000). Foucault’s Critical Project: Between the Transcendental and the Historical. Stanford: Stanford University. Ian Hacking. ‘Adding Genealogy to Archaeology. New York: The New Press. ‘Polemics. trans. New York: The New Press.. 238. 10 Hacking. ed. in James Faubion (2000) ed. Michel (1997). Subjectivity. Allen’s book corrects the defects of the reading of Foucault as a Kantian offered in early literature. New York: Columbia. Discourse and Gender in Contemporary Social Theory. most notably in Béatrice Han (2002). Foucault. Essential Works. which provided me with the resources to research and write this paper. Politics and Problematizations’. Barry Allen. Unruly Practices: Power. and especially David Hoy. and Truth. I describe the compatibility of archaeology and genealogy in Foucault’s general analytic-diagnostic orientation of problematization in Colin Koopman (2008). ‘Foucault on Modern Power’ and Habermas. Essential Works. no. Amy Allen offers a different approach by accepting Fraser’s premise that Foucault used genealogy to develop genetic evaluations and refusing Fraser’s premise that genetic reason is fallacious. Volume 3: Power. Ian (1984).. interview by Rabinow. 311. See Nancy Fraser (1989). I acknowledge a Postdoctoral Research Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. see Amy Allen (2008). Volume 3: Power. ‘What is Enlightenment?’. . Michel (2000). Edward Pile. Hans Sluga. Trombadori. Lastly. Foucault: A Critical Reader. ed. ‘ “Omnes et Singulatim”: Toward a Critique of Political Reason.. Autonomy. For helpful discussions of Williams and Foucault I would like to thank Amy Allen. ed. and the Genetic Fallacy. Volume 1: Ethics. 3. For important questions in response to a presentation of this material at the Eighth Annual Meeting of the Foucault Circle. For recent revisionist work on the importance of Kant for Foucault. Fraser. New York: Blackwell. Philosophical Discourse. For their comments on earlier versions of this paper I thank Ryan Acton. Care of the Self. 312–313.’ Journal of the Philosophy of History 2. I thank Dianna Taylor. Foucault. Foucault. see Allen’s forthcoming paper.108 30 31 Foucault’s Legacy 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 Foucault. in Paul Rabinow (1997). and Gender in Contemporary Critical Theory.
indispensable for understanding his fundamental philosophical task: weakening ontology through actuality. 1984 When authors become classic figures it is not simply because of their originality but rather because of the influence. It can be found in Vattimo’s recent and forthcoming works more so than his older ones. and Richard Rorty much more clearly than his sway over his own students. Heidegger. and Ernst Tugendhat. and religion are not straightforwardly . Jacques Derrida.Chapter 6 Weakening ontology through actuality: Foucault and Vattimo Santiago Zabala But what therefore is philosophy today—I mean philosophical activity—if it is not the critical work of thought on itself? And if it does not consist in undertaking to know how and to what extent it would be possible to think differently. consequences. Hannah Arendt. Foucault’s influence on the Italian philosopher Gianni Vattimo is much more significant than one might expect. but most important. instead of legitimating what one already knows? —Michel Foucault. these influences are not particularly evident in the direct disciples of an author but rather in those readers who do not necessarily pursue the intuitions of the classic authors faithfully. L’Usage des plaisirs. and effects of their work. Hans-Georg Gadamer. One can see Martin Heidegger’s influence over Paul Ricoeur. While Vattimo’s books on Nietzsche. While Heidegger’s disciples pursued their master’s works one way or another. A collection of essays on the influences. postmodernity. the other philosophers only responded to some particular conception or idea in Heidegger’s work and therefore employed them in a much more circumscribed way. Contrary to what most think. consequences. or effects of a classic author is not only an occasion to evaluate once again his significance but most of all to specify how his thought affected others.
The goal of this paper is to outline Vattimo’s ontology.1 In order to outline Foucault’s influence on Vattimo. Baroni. Vattimo foresees the essence and outcome of his philosophical program.3 At this colloquium.’ My hope is that both parts will show how Vattimo has brought forward what I propose to call ‘Foucault’s attempt’ at an ontology.110 Foucault’s Legacy concerned with Foucault’s writings. the second will show how Vattimo fused together this ontology and his philosophy of ‘weak thought.’ In his own ontology. Taubes. sketched. where he was invited by Gilles Deleuze. and planned by Vattimo because it is not an ontology that he endorsed at the beginning of his philosophical journey.6 . Ramnoux. While this could not have happened otherwise (because an ontology that precedes philosophy automatically presupposes truth instead of committing itself to the search for truth). Demonbynes. demystified. the ones that unmasked. as an outcome of hermeneutics. which consists in weakening the strong structures of reality through interpretation. 1954–1975. that is. Wahl. Marx’—analyzed the system of interpretation founded in the nineteenth century. since 1988 the Italian philosopher has been outlining and planning an ontology that refers specifically to Foucault’s ‘ontology of actuality. which. Foucault’s lecture— which was first published in the Cahiers de Royaumont of 1967 and is now available (with the transcription of the discussion) in Dits et écrits I. and exposed our most established beliefs. That Foucault recognized that all his ‘philosophical edification has been determined by the reading of Heidegger’ and also that Heidegger is the author he wrote least about ‘but read the most. Vattimo not only attended Foucault’s lecture but also took part in the discussion afterward with other participants who included Boehm. under the title ‘Nietzsche.’ The first part will analyze Foucault’s article where he planned the ‘ontology of actuality’. and Kellel. Foucault indirectly indicated the ontology for the ‘event of Being’ that Vattimo was searching for. this is one of the few places in which he analyzes it. It is curious to note that in his recent autobiography. Vattimo recalls meeting Foucault for the first time in July 1964 at a colloquium on Nietzsche in Royaumont. as I’ve said. Although Foucault did not conceive hermeneutics as a philosophical discipline as Vattimo did. philosophical hermeneutics.’5 that is. has only been announced.’2 induces me to think that Vattimo has brought forward what perhaps was Foucault’s ontological or Heideggerian silent project.4 It is no surprise that Foucault chose those same philosophers whom Paul Ricoeur would later consider the ‘masters of suspicion. Freud. but rather it is one embraced at the end. I will divide this paper in two parts: ‘Ontology of Actuality’ and ‘Being as Event.
Nietzsche.’7 that is. .’12 Although Vattimo agreed with most of Foucault’s thesis. has had its system of interpretation. I’m even afraid of not being able to show it. While ‘resemblance.’11 Having said this. But take The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon for example: Marx never presents his interpretation as the final interpretation. that is. ‘In opposition to the time of signs. after Marx. and that there is no short-gap explanation in the ground.’10 In this play of mirrors everything becomes ‘interpretation. but isn’t there in Marx a necessary point of arrival? What does infrastructure mean if not something which must be considered as a base? Foucault responded: As far as Marx is concerned. What he finds most significant after Marx. like Nietzsche. . which is linear in spite of everything.13 . there is a time of interpretation [explains Foucault]. each sign is in itself not the thing that offers itself to interpretation but an interpretation of other signs. if in the sixteenth century something could be said and deciphered only when things resembled each other. and Freud is the primacy of interpretation with respect to signs. its particular interpretation of Being that characterized its relation to reality. that we could interpret at a more profound level or more general level. ‘the minimal unity that interpretation had to maintain. . in other words. he was surprised that Foucault presented Marx as an antifoundational theorist together with Nietzsche and Freud.’8 that is. For this reason.Weakening Ontology through Actuality 111 The French master began his lecture by explaining how ‘each cultural form in the Western civilization . discovered the infinity of interpretation. Vattimo posed the following question in the discussion: If I understood correctly. an interpretandum that is not already interpretans. He knows well. .’9 in the twentieth century it is a ‘perpetual play of mirrors. provided the ‘place’ of interpretation. which is circular. but the interpretative nature of reality is an integral part of Nietzsche’s and Freud’s demystifications. and in opposition to the time of dialectic. incomplete. I fully agree with you as far as Nietzsche is concerned. Marx did not consider interpretation a consequence of antifoundationalism. when they involve us in an interpretation that always reflects back on itself: ‘there is never .’ in the sixteenth century. Nietzsche. which is a time of definite terms. and says so. and Freud it is only possible when things reflect back on each other. Marx should be classified with those thinkers who. I hardly developed my idea.
‘ontology of actuality’ was opposed to an ‘analytics of truth. and consciousness had been abundantly absorbed into Western culture. ‘historical ontology of ourselves’ was opposed to the ‘critical ontology of ourselves. dropping the term ‘ontology of actuality’ in favor of ‘historical ontology of ourselves.112 Foucault’s Legacy Although Vattimo was probably correct to point out that interpretation for Marx did not possess that incomplete. infinite. facts. If radical demystification is nothing more than the recognition of the primacy of interpretation over signs. Although an extract of the course was published under the title ‘Qu’est-ce que les Lumières?’ in Le Magazine Littéraire.’ it should be pointed out that this expression was first used by Foucault on January 5. Foucault (just as Ricoeur would a few years later) only wanted to champion these three masters’ demystifications of our most foundational beliefs. 1983.’16 If Foucault did not develop this concept in his other writings it is not only because he sadly died the following year but because he did not conceive of ontology as the philosophical history of Being. he preferred ‘historical ontology’ to ‘ontology of actuality’ because he felt closer to historicism than to ontology or.17 In sum.’ and in the second edition.’ If we compare both editions we can easily observe that Foucault meant the same thing by both formulations and probably found ‘historical’ and ‘critical’ more appropriate because they could both be used as opposing modifiers to the ‘ontology.14 Foucault the following year published a longer version of the same text in English. and circular nature that it had for Nietzsche and Freud. This might also be why he immediately dropped the word ‘actuality’ in favor of ‘historical’ in the second edition. for that matter. and Freud’s demystification of power.’ Foucault never used the term ‘ontology of actuality’ again. only after Marx. and objects.’ In the first edition. Nietzsche. but he did refer to ‘historical ontology’ a few months later in an interview with Paul Rabinow and Hubert Dreyfus in Berkeley15 and to ‘formal ontology of ourselves’ in ‘The Political Technology of Individuals. Ontology of actuality Before venturing into the philosophical meaning of Foucault’s ‘ontologie de l’actualité. to philosophy. nature. But what is the difference between these two so-called ontologies? Foucault used this pair of terms to distinguish the possibility of choosing between ‘a critical philosophy which presents itself as an analytical . then the infinite nature of interpretation must be the vital part of any philosophy. It is no surprise that hermeneutics received full philosophical significance with Heidegger. in a course at the Collège de France.
’18 In other words. it is seeking to give new impetus. or thinking what we are.Weakening Ontology through Actuality 113 philosophy of truth in general and a critical thought which will take the form of an ontology of ourselves. and its goal is not that of making a metaphysics possible: it is genealogical in its design and archaeological in its method. but on the contrary only to historical investigations into the events that have led us to constitute ourselves and to recognize ourselves as subjects of what we are doing. would not turn to projects that claim to be global as an analysis of truth (or a critical ontology of ourselves) would. and do as so many historical events. the ‘handbook of reason that has grown up in the Enlightenment. For this reason. thinking. say. published in 1781. Foucault goes on to specify that ontology of actuality is not transcendental. that is. And this critique will be genealogical in the sense that it will not deduce from the form of what we are what it is impossible for us to do and to know. doing. and hoped for. without subjecting itself to any external authorities (such as God or Nature) in order to determine by itself what can be known. an ontology of actuality (or a historical ontology of ourselves). that is. published in November 1784 and his three Critiques. Archeological—and not transcendental—in the sense that it will not seek to identify the universal structures of all knowledge or of all possible moral action. if this new historical ontology is archeological.19 In sum. Foucault considers Kant’s three Critiques as the Enlightenment’s guide. say. it is so because it will not seek to identify the universal structures of all knowledge but instead will only try to treat the instances of discourses that articulate what we think. and saying. from the contingency that has made us what we are. do. or think. 1788. but will seek to treat the instances of discourse that articulate what we think. but it will separate out. as far and wide as possible. according to Foucault.’21 But by being the handbook of reason. and do as so many historical events. done. the same Enlightenment also becomes the age . Ontology of actuality does not try to ‘make possible a metaphysics that has finally become a science. the possibility of no longer being. an ontology of actuality.’20 But how did Foucault individuate what he distinguishes between? Foucault formulated this distinction between an ‘analysis of truth’ and an ‘ontology of actuality’ through a careful analysis of Kant’s article ‘Was heist Aufklärung?’ [‘What Is Enlightenment?’]. and 1790. Kant described the Enlightenment as the moment when humanity put its own reason to use. to the undefined work of freedom. respectively.
he went on to call a ‘historical ontology of ourselves. like the Critiques. the age that made possible Kant’s masterpieces. which consists in metaphysical questions such as ‘what is truth. that is. Foucault sees in Kant’s text a fundamental distinction between a ‘formal ontology of truth’ and an ‘ontology of actuality. Nietzsche. While many believe this small text represents only a significant fusion between critical and historical reflection. and unhistorical subject.23 In order to fully comprehend the meaning of Kant’s question we must compare it with the Cartesian question: Who am I? ‘I’ for Descartes is conceived as the unique.’ the latter which. or God?’ While these questions belong to the field of the ‘ontology of truth. as I said. and at any moment. Heidegger. anywhere. ‘What are we today?’ has characterized philosophy ever since because. nature. And this is precisely what Kant avoids because his question allows an analysis of both us and our actual present. we can say that none of these philosophers searched for formal structures with universal values but rather engaged in a historical investigation into the events that led them to recognize . with actuality. the significance of his work with respect to knowledge. revolutionized philosophy. ‘actual’ events that surround him. does not demand an understanding of the present on the basis of a totality or on the basis of a future achievement but only on the basis of a difference within actuality. Husserl.’ or better. a reflection on history and a particular analysis of the specific moment at which he is writing and because of which he is writing. In is in the reflection on ‘today’ as a difference in history and as motive for a particular philosophical task that the novelty of this text appears to me to lie. as Aufklärer. closely and from the inside. By questioning the ‘historical.’ ‘contemporary. according to Foucault. universal. Kant. Fichte. Hegel. This is where Kant’s article ‘Was heist Aufklärung?’ comes in.’ which does not acknowledge their actuality. as Foucault says. In sum. the Frankfurt School have tried to answer this question.’ This historicalontology question. that is.’25 One way or another. as part of the Enlightenment?’24 belongs to the ontology of actuality. for Foucault it is the first time that a philosopher has connected in this way. Kant avoids the universal philosophical trap. by asking ‘what are we. But if this ‘I’ is also everyone. Max Weber. it loses its relation with the present. ‘Kant. For Kant this question. It marks the entrance into the history of philosophy of a question that modern thought was not capable of answering: ‘What is the Enlightenment? What difference does today introduce with respect to yesterday?’22 It is in this small text that this question was first formulated and.114 Foucault’s Legacy of these Critiques.
‘analytics of truth.’ It is no surprise. who set against philosophy as ‘analysis of truth’ a philosophy understood as ‘ontology of actuality. as we will see. Although Foucault did not elaborate the meaning of the term ‘ontology.’ explicitly preferring the second. ‘actuality’ was replaced by ‘historical.Weakening Ontology through Actuality 115 themselves as subjects of what they were doing. As we will see. Another way to formulate this antithesis might be that adopted. as I said. if the first edition (which was a transcription of a course) of Foucault’s essay on Kant had not been published. then. After all. it is first necessary to understand the meaning of ‘weak thought’ and how he inherited the event of Being from Heidegger’s destruction of metaphysics. But before analyzing how Vattimo managed to place the history of Being into Foucault’s ontology of actuality. In fact. Foucault’s influence over Vattimo is circumscribed by his ‘ontology of actuality. Vattimo formulated the term ‘weak thought’ in order to abandon philosophy’s traditional claim to global descriptions of the world because after . that ‘ontology of actuality’ questions were raised by philosophers because. ‘philosophy is in fact the most general cultural form in which we might be able to reflect on the reality of the west. thinking. Vattimo might not have focused on this ontology of actuality because in the second edition. it is actuality that captured Vattimo’s attention because. a philosophy that does not include the philosopher in its own sphere does not faithfully reflect ‘reality.27 Being as event As I said at the beginning of this paper. it is the cornerstone of his weakening of ontology. as Foucault notes.’ which allowed the Italian philosopher not only to overcome metaphysics but most of all to locate the ‘Being as event’ that he inherited from Heidegger.’ that is. and saying in their actuality. delineates new possible distinctions and articulations in the antithesis. philosophy in itself must reflect on its own contemporary debates. Instead. such as analytical versus Continental philosophy. and freely applied by the late Foucault.’ which could be interpreted just as another version of historicism.’ such dichotomy. to metaphysics. also beyond its own explicit intentions. as both editions demonstrate. Vattimo preferred the first formulation because it is easier to oppose to its counter.’26 In other words. Vattimo has brought forward Foucault’s attempt at an ontology that was promised but not pursued. Although the distinction between ‘ontology of actuality’ and ‘historical ontology of ourselves’ is not terribly signifi cant.
indicates most of all ‘that Being is not. he also showed that we can no longer conceive the notion of an entity as a self-evident present object. that is of freeing thought from objectivity. but just interpreted as something weaker. on the other hand. objectivity is a result of our interpretation and not the cause. In sum. but rather as a possibility of emancipation. such as an ‘event’ following Heidegger’s indication after his destruction of metaphysics in Being and Time. Heidegger individuated in it what metaphysics has always ascribed to Being: stability in presence. Being is not what endures. the difference between Being and beings. But the act of modeling beings on Being. or occurs. but of an awareness of a condition. that is. While past philosophers interpreted this forestructure of objectivity as a transcendental or dialectical totality. since we still haven’t found the correct description of reality. All the objects in front of us are already the result of a series of descriptions.’29 Although it is just ‘on the forgetfulness of this difference that metaphysical thought was able to evolve into a strong thought. Heidegger’s ontological difference. and reality which have conditioned it until now. positions.’ ‘weak. Being. This means that Being can be distinguished from beings only when it is understood as an event instead . limits. thought is much more aware of its own restrictions. According to Vattimo.116 Foucault’s Legacy those masters’ demystifications we mentioned above. In this condition Being is not set apart. the weakness of ‘weak thought’ should not only be interpreted in contrast to ‘strong thought’ nor as the result of a discovery (that there is no objective description of truth).28 When Heidegger declared in Being and Time that ontic knowledge presupposes a knowledge or foreunderstanding of Being as such. it should not be interpreted as a failure. and boundaries. On the contrary. Entities are what can be said to be.’30 the destruction of metaphysics employed first by Heidegger and then by Derrida has not only produced ‘weak thought’ but also dissolved Being into its own ‘becoming’ of interpretations. But doesn’t philosophy become strong again once it incorporates weak thought? Doesn’t it fall again into that metaphysics it tried to avoid? According to Vattimo it doesn’t because for weak thought the history of metaphysics is not the history of an error from which we must set ourselves free given that we have now ‘found’ the ‘correct’ description of reality. befalls. in other words. what is and cannot not be—as Parmenides would have it—but only what becomes because it ‘becomes’ from the ontological difference. also indicates the (forgotten) difference between Being and beings. While the Italian term ‘debole. we must only adjust to this ‘condition’ of thought.’ has a very negative connotation just as in English. of appropriating to themselves the notion of Being. and placements that constitute them. truth.
’32 But what makes possible our experience of the world in this condition without objective presences? What is the a priori in this postmetaphysical world? The a priori that makes possible our experience of the world is Ge-schick. They are points of reference we keep encountering each time we engage in thinking here and now.’31 This light can also be understood as the linguistic horizon that surrounds us because beings become visible to us only within a historically determined horizon since it is impossible to attribute to this field the immutable objectivity of the ‘objects’ that appear within it. interpretations. in the forwarding and destiny (‘Ueberlieferung’ and ‘Ge-schick’) of a series of echoes. But this is only possible if Being and event are fused together. . In sum. Being becomes an event because philosophy no longer corresponds to the Platonic agenda of understanding Being through the Eternal but rather seeks to do so through its own history. Being now ends up stripped of the strong traits attributed to it by metaphysics. Being that can occur does not have the same traits as metaphysical Being with the simple addition of ‘eventuality.Weakening Ontology through Actuality 117 of as a present objectivity. of reassembly. it is ‘comparable to the light by which entities become visible. is on the way. transmission. or Ueber-lieferung.’36 But if Being for Vattimo consists in a transmission. . Being never really is but sends itself. destiny-forwarding.’33 The term ‘Ereignis’ (event). and .’35 In this condition. as the instituting and transforming of those horizons in which entities time and again become accessible to man. the new ontological approach that excludes all essentialist views of Being. it transmits itself . according to Vattimo.34 was meant to mark. is a labor of stitching things back together. But if Being is not in the presence of things. it redirects itself toward history. that is. and deconstructions that ‘are “givens” of destiny understood as a process of transmission. used by Heidegger to indicate (not define) Being in Contributions to Philosophy. linguistic resonances. Such a Being would derive not from Being ‘as it is’ but from Being viewed as the product of a history of formulations. the ‘difference’ of the ontological difference indicates that we can only truly distinguish Being from beings when we conceive ‘it as historical-cultural happenings. after deconstructionism. Vattimo’s starting point is not only the end of metaphysics but also the end of deconstruction: ‘what is ahead of philosophy as its goal. how can we acknowledge or compare it? Vattimo explained that although Being is not identifiable with beings. with the particular entities given to us in our experience.
For Vattimo. or theorem (such as the idea of truth as the conformity of the proposition to the thing) is an event. happened and happening. is an infinite process in which every response changes and modifies the nature of the call to the extent that it affects the very Being that is being interpreted. interpretation can correspond to different events of Being since each interpretation itself is different. while description corresponds to stable presences. Hermeneutics becomes in this way the most appropriate philosophical position for grasping Being’s vocation of giving itself as the truth of human language.’37 Having said this. which is not an object of philosophical research but rather that into which Being is always-already thrown. essence. what is the philosophical position that corresponds to this process of the weakening of Being? If philosophy becomes a labor of stitching things back together. Being presupposes this disclosure. an ontology of weakness where philosophical efforts ought to focus on interpretation as a process of weakening the objective weight of the presence of Being. would not depend on our decisions but rather on recognizing how we belong to this same destruction. but of the fact . a historical aperture or disclosure of Being that must be interpreted. But as things are. . it must be because ‘Being lacks a reason’: there is no reason sufficient to explain why Being is. one might think that language is something bigger than or prior to Being. that is. it is an event of Being itself. Interpretation. unlike description. while on the contrary. to ‘a philosophy of “decline. and why is there something rather than nothing? If this question has not yet been answered.’ explains Vattimo. This implies the weakness of Being since ‘if Being had a strong reason to be. of reassembling the events that constitute Being after deconstruction. in other words. Being .’38 For these reasons Vattimo believes that philosophy is weak thought.118 Foucault’s Legacy messages coming from the past and from others in the form of events. then the static subject-object model of descriptions will not be applicable anymore and will have to be replaced by an active practice of interpretations. this ‘eventuality’ indicates that everything we see as a structure.” a philosophy which sees what is constitutive of Being not as the fact of its prevailing. would have strength. and therefore it presents itself as the most appropriate method for the ‘thinking that corresponds to Being as event. . is historical and casual. Vattimo has taken literally Heidegger’s indication that the new epoch of Being. Another argument in favor of Vattimo’s weak thought lies in philosophy’s inability to solve the fundamental question of ontology: Why is there Being. ‘then metaphysics would have significance. after the destruction of metaphysics.
if Being has been able to endure so long. that is. that is. in the subjective sense of the genitive. and the ‘hermeneutic’ nature of philosophy after Heidegger’s destruction of metaphysics. . ‘to grasp what is meant by “Being”—the word itself and virtually nothing else—in our experience now. a theory of present existence is a theory that has no other source of information or legitimation apart from the present condition itself.41 Vattimo has explained why Foucault’s ‘ontology of actuality’ represents the most persuasive way to collect the event of Being. an ontology that not only recognized its historical transmission but.’ such as objectivism or transcendentalism would automatically throw Being into metaphysics again. but only the event of those appeals that come down to us through its history. in an ‘analytics of truth’ where Being would represent what endures and cannot not be. if Being after Heidegger’s destruction can no longer be the metaphysical knowledge of Being qua beings. . This is why among the most committed philosophers in favor of ‘weak thought’ was Richard Rorty who was among the first to overcome .Weakening Ontology through Actuality 119 of its disappearing.’39 After all.’43 But as I said. but also to battle against those metaphysical positions that still today reign over contemporary philosophy. ‘weak thought’ can help to contrast those analytical and phenomenological philosophers (such as Barry Smith and Jean-Luc Marion) who tend to use ontology as a descriptive science of the existent. Ontology of actuality is the most persuasive ‘answer to Heidegger’s call to recollect Being’ says Vattimo. Since the publication of ‘Ontology of Actuality’ in 1988 and then in many of his other writings. as in Aristotle. the ‘eventual’ status of Being. In other words. it is not ‘because of its force . he still needed to locate Being in an ontology. The ontology for which we are searching with Heidegger’s help is a theory that speaks of actuality (the objective genitive) and also belongs to it. Because there is no other way to grasp Being as something stable apart from its event (that is. the specific historical aperture in which it arises by allowing Being to appear). but because of its weakness. then the new philosophical task after metaphysics is to ‘weaken ontology through actuality.42 Any source of legitimation other than its ‘present condition. most of all. that could articulate the historical events that constituted it in our present.’ But Vattimo’s ontology of actuality is not only an appropriate way to pursue Heidegger’s post-metaphysical indications.’40 Although Vattimo individuated the ‘weak’ condition of thought. such as Beyond Interpretation and Nihilism and Emancipation.
Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics. and P.44 These disputes are just residues of a metaphysical culture that even Foucault wanted to surpass. This is one of the few interviews not translated in the threevolume English translation of Dits et écrits edited by Paul Rabinow for The New Press.46 Although I believe Foucault would have approved of Vattimo’s appropriation of his terminology to locate the eventuality of Being that he inherited from Heidegger. Foucault. Paris: Gallimard. 1522. in a biographical interview for his seventieth birthday. fragile. Foucault’s influence over Vattimo is essential to the point that the Italian philosopher recently declared. I will only use his published work for my theme in order to facilitate anyone working today. 1954–1975. Paris: Gallimard. Foucault. only the effects Foucault’s work had on others is important. This is perhaps why Rorty entitled a collection of his interviews Take Care of Freedom and Truth will take Care of Itself 45 and Vattimo his autobiography Not Being God. Foucault’s recognition of Heidegger’s influence is also indicated in Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow (1982). Michel (1994). and most of all weak. also forthcoming in English. but he has recently changed the title to Of Reality. 603–607. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. demonstrated he was also looking for a culture in which the realms of faith and scientific knowledge were compatible. as I said at the beginning of this paper. Note the transcription of the discussion with Foucault is not included . after all the fact that ‘ontology of actually’ for him was not supposed to turn to projects that claimed to be global as ‘analysis of truth’ did. But as a consequence of interpretation truth can only be contingent. Vattimo.120 Foucault’s Legacy those realist and anti-realist disputes such as atheist versus theist or more recently analytical versus Continental philosophy. that ‘the idea of ontology of actuality could also be interpreted as a retrospective vision of my philosophical path.’47 Notes 1 2 3 4 Gianni Vattimo announced a book to be titled Ontology of Actuality in his 1994 work Beyond Interpretation. But in order for such a philosophical culture to persists it is necessary to set apart ‘truth’ as a value. ‘Discussion. and time should not be wasted in such historical investigations because. this concern is not significant. 122.’ Dits et écrits II. but on the contrary. Reggio Emilia: Aliberti.’ Dits et écrits I. Una autobiografia a Quattro mani. And as we saw. Paterlini (2006). Gianni. Non Essere Dio. Although I have seen the manuscript of this work. 1976 –1988. Michel (2001). Columbia University Press. as the only matrix capable to increase or decrease knowledge. in favor of truth as a consequence of interpretation. ‘Le retour de la morale. to historical investigations into the events that constitute our actuality.
New York: The New Press. This edition of the essay was not translated into the three-volume English translation of Dits et écrits (which includes both editions) edited by Paul Rabinow for The New Press. about time as time. Freud. and Truth. Freud. ed. Subjectivity. 304–319. Foucault. Foucault. Subjectivity.’ 270. and recently as Michel Foucault. Foucault.’ Aesthetic. Marx. James D. New York: The New Press.’ Foucault Studies 3: 107–12. 269–278. Marx. ‘Review: Michel. Hurley and others. ‘The Political Technology of Individuals. trans. ‘Nietzsche. 403–417. Hurley and others. Foucault. Freud and Philosophy: An Essay on Interpretation. Ricoeur. ‘Nietzsche. Foucault’s recently published 1981–1982 lectures at the Collège de France. Freud. ‘Qu’est-ce que les Lumières?’ Dits et écrits II. ed. trans. Faubion (2000).’ but rather with how the ‘self’ and the ‘care of the self’ were conceived during the period of antiquity. New York: Pantheon Books. Some commentators. Yet conceptual discussions of this order are notoriously absent from Foucault’s writings.’ ‘ontology of ourselves. ‘On the Genealogy of Ethics: An Overview of Work in Progress. and then in Michel Foucault (1997). about the unaccomplished as unaccomplished. ‘What Is Enlightenment?’ Ethics.’ 603–604. R. trans. Method.Weakening Ontology through Actuality 121 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 in the English translation of Michel Foucault (1997).. Foucault. 253–280.’ 275. are neither concerned with hermeneutics as a philosophical discipline nor with the ‘subject’ as ‘self-knowledge. ed. Foucault. Stephen Adam Schwartz. and Epistemology. which is an investigation of how philosophy should deal with world events. ‘Nietzsche. was translated first in The Foucault Reader. and Truth. New York: Oxford University Press. Only the second edition. Freud. ‘Nietzsche. Marx. James D. ‘Discussion. about the past as past. Michel. Marx. 1976 –1988. Paul (1970). from 1984. Which amounts to saying . One of the first philosophers to comment on Foucault’s ‘ontologie de l’actualité ’ (sometimes translated as ‘ontology of the present. Freud. Foucault. This course was partially published first in Le Magazine Littéraire 207 (May 1984): 35–39.’ 272. Foucault.’ or ‘ontology of current events’) was Vincent Descombes (1993) in The Barometer of Modern Reason: On the Philosophies of Current Events. Foucault.’ 270. Michel (2000). consider the title ‘misleading’ and thought The Care of the Self ‘would have been a more apt title’ (Mark G.’ Power..’ 278. Marx. Vincent Descombes confirms this in his outstanding analysis of Foucault’s ontology of actuality: An ontology of the present must tell us about the present as present. Marx. Freud. ‘Nietzsche. Marx. New Haven: Yale University Press. In keeping with the positivist program. Paul Rabinow (1984) ed. Kelly (2005). such as Mark G. E. The Hermeneutics of the Subject. The Hermeneutics of the Subject. ‘Nietzsche. Freud. he can only conceive of studying a concept in the historical mode.’ 275. R. ‘Nietzsche. New York: The New Press. Kelly. Faubion. Paul Rabinow. 1498–1507. E. Foucault. 32–50.’ in Ethics.
trans. L. ‘Ontology of Actuality’ Contemporary Italian Philosophy.’ Aesthetic. 149. Foucault. eds. ‘Weak Thought and the Reduction of Violence: A Dialogue with Gianni Vattimo by Santiago Zabala. and Epistemology. S. Vattimo. Michel (2000). ‘What Is Enlightenment?’ 315. trans. ed. Faubion (2000). The Adventure of Difference: Philosophy After Nietzsche and Heidegger. .’ 157. Harrison. D’Agostini (1997). R. in Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 10 (1984): 151. A detailed history of Vattimo’s weak thought can be found in my ‘Introduction’ to Weakening Philosophy. foreword to F. 5.’ Power.’ trans.’ 151. or an obviousness that imposes itself uniformly on all. and Weak Thought. Gianni (1993). prima facie. Cambridge: Polity Press. The Barometer of Modern Reason. Hurley and others. Santiago Zabala (in press).’ 156.’ 403. ‘Dialectics. The Adventure of Difference. it has nothing to do with any sort of ontology. Foucault. It is interesting to notice that Foucault himself used the terms ‘event’ and ‘eventalization’ in order to make ‘visible a singularity at places where there is a temptation to invoke a historical constant. 250. 18) 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 Foucault. Foucault. Difference. New York: State University of New York Press. ‘The Subject and Power. Gianni. ‘Dialectics. Milan: Cortina. Gianni (1988).’ trans. Foucault. ‘Philosophy and Psychology. Foucault. Vattimo. Vattimo. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. trans. Mascetti. ‘What Is Enlightenment?’ 305. Vattimo. Santiago Zabala (2007) ed. J. Res 4: 87. Vattimo. Common Knowledge 3: 463. xv. Art’s Claim to Truth. New York: The New Press. ‘What Is Enlightenment?’ 309.. trans. Gianni (1984). Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press. Difference. Method. Foucault. James D.’ trans. and Weak Thought. Gianni (1982). New York: Columbia University Press.122 Foucault’s Legacy that an entirely historicist philosophy may well be political but. Vattimo. an immediately anthropological trait. ed. ‘Questions of Method. R. D’Isanto. Analitici e continentali. Faubion (1997). Vattimo. New York: The New Press. Snyder. 3–34. 86. Vattimo. trans. Vattimo. Schroeder. Foucault. D’Agostini. Gianni (2002). ‘Difference and Interference: On the Reduction of Hermeneutics to Anthropology. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press. James D. Michel (1997). ‘Dialectics. ‘The Political Technology of Individuals. and Weak Thought. Analitici e continentali. T. Foucault. Parvis Emad and Kenneth Maly. xv. and Weak Thought. Gianni(2007). Harrison. Difference. Harrison.’ Michel Foucault (2000). ‘What Is Enlightenment?’ 308. Guida alla filosofia degli ultimi trent’anni. 335. Gianni. Contributions to Philosophy (From Enowning). T. Vattimo. Y. Vattimo. ‘Qu’est-ce que les Lumières?’ 1506–1507. ‘What Is Enlightenment?’ 315. (Descombes. Martin (1989). Blamires and T. Vattimo. Heidegger. C.’ in Faubion (2000). P. The End of Modernity. Vattimo. Difference. Benso and B. 226. ‘Dialectics. foreword to F.
Take care of Freedom and Truth Will Take Care of Itself: Interviews with Richard Rorty. W. McCuaig.. ed. (2008). Iride 49: 492. New York: Columbia University Press. Santiago Zabala (2004). 6. Cambridge: Polity Press. Amherst: Humanity Books. Gianni.. G. A detailed analysis and development of Vattimo’s event of Being can be found in Santiago Zabala. Mendieta. ‘Philosophy as Ontology of Actuality: BiographicalTheoretical Interview. E. Vattimo. Nihilism and Emancipation. Nihilism and Emancipation. Rorty.. Richard (2006).’ L. A House Divided: Comparing Analytical and Continental Philosophy. Prado (2003). Beyond Interpretation. 86. Webb. Vercellone. The Remains of Being: Philosophy After its Deconstruction (Forthcoming 2009). . Gianni (2006).Weakening Ontology through Actuality 123 42 43 44 45 46 47 89–107. Savarino and F. Vattimo. Vattimo. Nihilism and Emancipation. trans. eds. New York: Columbia University Press. D. Rome: Meltemi Publishers. trans. ed. Stanford: Stanford University Press. 8. Vattimo. Addio alla verità. ed. 1997. A very clear example of this division among contemporary philosophy can be found in C.
academicians. which functions to unveil ‘the fascist regimes of Christian theology and sexuality in the bondage of a fixed self. In this essay.’ Jeremy Carrette cites some memorable passages from the ‘Preface’ to clarify his ‘queer theory’ approach to Foucault. whether those interlocutors were citizens. politicians. I argue that.Chapter 7 Foucault. the lack. for Foucault.’ Rey Chow combines Foucault’s ideas from the ‘Preface’ with a Freudian theory of projection to justify her claim that ‘Fascism has become for us the empty term. one of his life-long objectives was to construct a nonauthoritarian discursive model. it is impossible to understand ‘the fascism in us all’6 that made Hitler and the Nazis so effective without taking into account the crucial .’3 James Bernauer makes extensive use of the ‘Preface’ in his essay.’2 In ‘The Fascist Longings in our Minds.5 While many contemporary scholars agree that there is a strong antifascist impulse running throughout Foucault’s writings. in ‘Beyond Theology and Sexuality. For instance. for as Foucault makes abundantly clear in a 1984 interview. onto which we project all the unpleasant realities from which we want to distance ourselves. and the theological origins of totalitarianism1 Michael Lackey Michel Foucault’s provocative remarks in the Preface to Gilles Deleuze’s and Felix Gauttari’s Anti-Oedipus about the omnipresence of fascism have inspired scholars to reflect more on the anti-fascist impulse at the core of Foucault’s writings than on Deleuze’s and Guattari’s text. there has been some confusion about Foucault’s take on the role of religion in the formation of a fascist technology of the self. Secularization theory. one that would establish a civil relation between interlocutors.’4 That scholars have used the anti-fascist remarks in the ‘Preface’ to understand the core concepts at the heart of Foucault’s work should surprise no one.’ to demonstrate ‘that Foucault’s style of analysis should make him the “patron saint” for the study of Nazism. or countries. ‘Michel Foucault’s Philosophy of Religion: An Introduction to the Non-Fascist Life.
peculiarly subterranean form of falsity that exists on earth. and Anderson. and fascism. What exactly secularization is. I briefly examine secularization theory. Foucault’s work will force us to reconsider those canonical studies. Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism. Pecora praises Foucault for teaching us ‘how to rethink the Enlightenment’s idea of progress. Vincent P. Horkheimer. such as Erich Fromm’s Escape from Freedom.’ but he faults him for failing to understand ‘the story of secularization that accompanied it. I analyze Hitler’s religious conception of the political. contra Pecora. Foucault recognized many years ago that the traditional Enlightenment story about secularization was an incoherent fiction that significantly distorted our understanding of intellectual and political history. For instance. Here are three separate models: (1) given the way science and reason supplanted religion and faith. and Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities. that it is impossible to understand the origins of totalitarianism and fascism without taking into account a distinctly religious conception of the political subject. Foucault would argue. an intellectual move that has baffled some prominent scholars. Arendt. In the first. First. The consequences of using Foucault’s work to understand the origins of totalitarianism and fascism are staggering. As I will demonstrate. which hold that secularization was a precondition for the emergence of the nation-state. In the second part of this essay. totalitarianism. Recent studies have been posing a substantive challenge to the traditional secularization hypothesis. he would argue. Examining Hitler’s speeches and writings. Adorno’s Dialectic of Enlightenment.Secularization Theory and Theological Origins 125 role Christianity played in the formation of the Western political subject and the modern nation-state. that secularization has never even begun to take hold much less to occur in the West.8 Scholars have consistently claimed that secularization has been underway in the West from the Enlightenment to the present. and consequently. Max Horkheimer’s and Theodor W. continues to perplex. Foucault refused to give credence to the secularization hypothesis. Adorno. I have dug out the theologian instinct everywhere: it is the most widespread. which holds that science and reason have been slowly but surely supplanting religion and faith.9 (2) given the way the Protestant Reformation shifted epistemic authority . contra Fromm.’7 But if my interpretation of Foucault is convincing. will shed considerable light on the distinctive theological technology of the self that made fascism flourish. I contend. There are two stages to my argument. however.
’16 For instance. But in 1886. that with the passage of time. thus leading him to do an extensive analysis of ‘the secret black art of [the] truly grand politics of revenge’12 and to prophesy the coming of the twentieth century’s political horror show: ‘The time for petty politics is over: the very next century will bring the fight for the dominion of the earth—the compulsion to large-scale politics.10 or (3) given the way translations of the Bible into vernacular languages led to the proliferation of irreconcilable religious schisms. he started to realize that the God-concept is not disappearing from the culture as he had formerly thought: ‘I fear we are not getting rid of God because we still believe in grammar . and a close reading of Nietzsche’s writings from 1882 through 1885 indicates that he would have probably accepted the central premise at the heart of traditional secularization theory. but it is also assuming a more prominent role in the political sphere. But a casual glance at the writings of some prominent writers tells a much different tale. Friedrich Nietzsche’s madman from The Gay Science boldly proclaimed God’s death. in 1882. . Such are the standard versions of the secularization hypothesis that have dominated.126 Foucault’s Legacy from the unified Church to the individual conscience. First. thus leading to the rise of a nonreligious mentality in the West. which is why he warns his reader in The Anti-Christ ‘not [to] underestimate the fatality that has crept out of Christianity even into politics. In the year 1899.’17 Twain does not totally exonerate religion. in ‘Concerning the Jews.’15 We see a similar pattern in Mark Twain’s writings.’14 Gone is the cocksure atheist of 1882.’13 The second shift relates to Nietzsche’s critique of God and religion. Indeed. In fact. who claims in The Origins of Totalitarianism that twentieth-century anti-Semitism is based on ‘a secular nineteenth-century ideology’ that is distinct from traditional ‘religious Jew-hatred. if religion plays a role in justifying the culture’s anti-Semitism.’ an essay published in the September 1899 issue of Harper’s Monthly.11 the credibility of the church and its truths has been significantly undermined. not only is the God-concept not disappearing. Twain tries to explain the origins of Western anti-Semitism. Throughout this essay. we could say that Twain would have agreed with Arendt. who boldly claimed that the God-idea is on the wane. Twain says that he is ‘convinced that the persecution of the Jew is not due in any large degree to religious prejudice. for he does claim that. for Nietzsche. . Twain offers a tentative . While Nietzsche continued to argue in the years 1886 through January of 1889 that God is both an incoherent and dangerous idea. science would eventually supplant religion. For instance. it is only a minor one. there was a palpable shift in the Uebermensch philologist’s writings. they became more intensely political.
What really accounts for rampant anti-Semitism is the Jewish superiority in making money: ‘I am persuaded that in Russia. But this whole political agenda. Twain revised his view about the role religion was playing within the culture. Twain says: For two years now Christianity has been repeating in Russia the sort of industries in the way of massacre and mutilation with which it has been successfully persuading Christendom in every century for nineteen hundred years that it is the only right and true religion—the one and only religion of peace and love. and Germany nine-tenths of the hostility to the Jew comes from the average Christian’s inability to compete successfully with the average Jew in business—in either straight business or the questionable sort’ (2000: 242–243). Utilizing a benevolent discourse about the Blessings of Civilization.’ Twain claims that a Christian conception of the political has been central for the justification of the invasive and intrusive politics of Russia. For two years now the ultra-Christian Government of Russia has been officially ordering and conducting massacres of its Jewish subjects. and the United States. Austria. Discussing the many pogroms against Jews in Russia during the years 1903 through 1906. Twain argues. which holds that imperialist powers dominate lesser nations for their own good. Now let us consider a passage Twain penned on June 22. Twain concludes that ‘Jewish persecution is not a religious passion. but not for the other nine’ (2000: 242).’ but his contention that the early twentieth-century pogroms are part of a long line of massacres Christendom has been committing ‘in every century for nineteen hundred years. 1906. are members not only of the church.’ Between the years 1899 and 1906. has been premised on a Christian conception of the political: We know this.18 Striking in this passage is not just Twain’s reversal regarding the causes of ‘Jewish persecution. including our Congress and our fi fty [sic] state legislatures. but also of the Blessings-of-Civilization Trust. Therefore.19 . it is a business passion’ (2000: 249). Indeed. in his 1901 essay. Great Britain. ‘To the Person Sitting in Darkness. The Head of every State and Sovereignty in Christendom and 90 per cent of every legislative body in Christendom. Western leaders have been able to vindicate their invasive politics and to mobilize the masses to support their agenda.Secularization Theory and Theological Origins 127 quantification of religion’s role: ‘Religious prejudices may account for one part of it.
For Twain, it is impossible to understand or appreciate the West’s imperialist political agenda without taking into account the Christian orientation of Western legislators, that body of leaders that both frames the nation’s agenda and legitimizes the global project. Let me supply one last example to illustrate my point. As a college student at Cambridge, E. M. Forster rejected Christianity sometime in 1898 or 1899, an experience that he considered one of the most momentous of his life.20 Not surprisingly, religion is treated as a charming but increasingly obsolete fiction in his early works. For instance, in the 1908 novel, A Room with a View, the narrator says that ‘the thing one never talked about—religion—was fading like all the other things.’21 Given this situation, religion is of marginal importance in the novels from 1907 until 1910, a fluffy subject for fluffy characters (such as Mr. Beebe in A Room with a View) or a twisted subject for twisted characters (such as Mr. Pembroke and his sister, Agnes, in the 1907 novel, The Longest Journey). But by 1913 and 1914, when Forster was penning his overtly homosexual novel, Maurice, religion became an extremely ominous presence, a socio-cultural power that enforces strict gender and sex roles (as with Mr. Ducie’s sand diagrams depicting the God-mandated heterosexual Ideal) and identifies and defines ‘sexual irregularities’ in order to monitor and control human sexuality (as with Mr. Borenius, who claims that ‘when the nations went a whoring they invariably ended by denying God’22). In 1918, so dominant was the religious mentality within a political context that Forster wrote in a letter to his friend, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, that England is a ‘God State.’23 By 1924, with the publication of A Passage to India, Forster suggests that it is impossible to understand the colonizing politics of the British Empire without taking into account its religious justification, which is best expressed in Isaiah 9:7: ‘For unto us a child is borne, unto us a Sonne is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder.’ As chosen people, who take their cue from God, the British are divinely ordained to rule and govern (the government shall be upon Christ’s shoulder, and since the British are the Imperial ministers of Christ, the government falls upon their shoulders), which explains why the British have been authorized to control India. Mrs. Moore, who turns against ‘poor little talkative Christianity’ in A Passage to India, does so, because she finally realizes how it has justified Britain’s invasive and intrusive politics, a point she makes when she specifically alludes to the Isaiah passage.24 Given the overwhelming power of religion to structure social forms and to determine the political agenda, it should come as no surprise that Forster claims in 1939 that ‘this is an age of faith.’25
Secularization Theory and Theological Origins
A German philologist, an American satirist, and an English novelist all undergo a similar experience. Initially, they all accept the traditional view that the West is becoming secular, but they all ultimately reject that view. Since they all draw the same conclusion but at different historical moments, it would make more sense to say that something changed, not so much in the culture, as in the way that they conceptualized historical and political events. Put differently, they adopted a different model of secularization, which led them to shift their view about the religious orientation of the culture at large. This is most obvious when we think about Twain’s example. In 1906, Twain does not say that a religious resurgence occurred within the culture, thus justifying the claim that religion has been the cause of the 1903 through 1906 pogroms against Jews in Russia; rather, he revises his earlier view by claiming that Christendom has been consistently justifying the persecution of Jews for the last nineteen hundred years. In other words, Twain makes use of a new secularization model in 1906 that enabled him to see the religious causes of persecution that he did not see when he penned his 1899 essay, ‘Concerning the Jews.’ Other than Nietzsche, no one, I contend, provided us with a more astute model for identifying the subterranean theological impulses operating within language, psyches, culture, and the polis than Foucault, and, therefore, no one has been better positioned to shed more light on the theological origins of totalitarianism and fascism than Foucault. For Foucault, who claims that ‘the death of God profoundly influenced our language’26 and led to the death of the subject, 27 secularization is a process of coming to secular consciousness, one of identifying and exorcising theological assumptions that continue to inform systems of thinking even when one has rejected the God-concept. Within this tradition of secularization theorists, it is not enough simply to ignore religion or to deny God’s existence. One must perpetually examine the degree to which one’s system of thought is based on a theological model of knowledge. It is such a view of theological assumptions that is central to Jean-Paul Sartre’s critique of the Enlightenment. Seventeenth- and eighteenth-century rationalists may have believed that they had supplanted God and religion, but since they held firm to a belief in human nature, they were unwitting believers.28 Therefore, to actually be secular, according to Sartre, one must reject the existence of human nature: ‘there is no human nature, since there is no God to conceive it.’29 What distinguishes writers such as Nietzsche, Sartre, and Foucault from traditional secularization theorists is their method of analysis. Secularization theorists in the Enlightenment rationalist tradition hold
that, to determine whether a person or a community is secular or religious, we need only to determine whether individuals or communities are making conscious declarations of belief. These writers base their theories, for the most part, on empirical indicators such as church attendance, prayer in schools, and polls about belief. By contrast, secularization theorists in a Nietzschean, Sartrean, or Foucauldian tradition hold that it is possible for a person to reject God and religion but to remain faithful, at the level of the psychological subconscious or the political unconscious, to a theological view of the world. These writers focus mainly on unexamined ideological assumptions, unconscious conceptual frameworks, and orientations toward knowledge. That Foucault belongs to this latter tradition is clear in the ‘Preface’ to The Order of Things, where he claims that his method of analysis ‘does not belong to the history of ideas or of science: it is rather an inquiry whose aim is to rediscover on what basis knowledge and theory became possible; within what space of order knowledge was constituted; on the basis of what historical a priori, and in the element of what positivity, ideas could appear, sciences be established, experience be reflected in philosophies, rationalities be formed’ (1994: xxi–xxii). Instead of examining what people say or believe, Foucault examines the systems of knowledge and power that have given birth to their particular systems of thinking. Nietzsche deploys this same method of analysis, which is why he concludes that science, despite its secular pretensions, ‘rests on a faith,’ ‘that Christian faith which was also the faith of Plato, that God is the truth, that truth is divine.’30 It is not what science thinks or says about itself, but the conditions of knowledge under which it came into being that determine whether it is theological or secular. Given this approach, Foucault, like Nietzsche and Sartre, rejects the simplistic view that the Enlightenment marks a decisive shift from the sacred to the secular or even the beginning of a shift from the sacred to the secular. As Bernauer insightfully claims, ‘early modernity,’ for Foucault, ‘was not a tale of growing religious disbelief but, rather, saw the emergence of an energy which drove both the global missionary activities of European Christianity as well as a vast religious colonization of interior life’ (2004: 78). Indeed, Foucault specifically claims that Christianity continues to institute in his day (‘still very numerous’) an authoritarian technology of the self: Christianity is not only a salvation religion, it is a confessional religion; it imposes very strict obligations of truth, dogma, and canon, more so than do the pagan religions. Truth obligations to believe this and that were and are still very numerous. The duty to accept a set of obligations, to
dogma. the fundamental and necessary principle that the adversary neglected. Indeed. an ‘intangible point of dogma. they must renounce the products of the secular self and submit to the metaphysical.’33 The theological or religious technology of the self. desire. and therefore. so if Christian subjects want to be right with God. knowledge is hierarchical. This relation of Christian subjects to themselves cannot be imposed from the outside. and it denounces this negligence as a moral failing. ‘a state of domination’ in which ‘an individual or social group succeeds in blocking a field of power relations. polemics sets itself the task of determining the intangible point of dogma.31 Foucault objects to Christianity’s ‘strict obligations of truth. a whole series of weaknesses and inadmissible attachments that establish it as culpable. and therefore absolute reality of God. is not dependent upon an overt or conscious declaration of belief. and therefore untrustworthy. ephemeral. not only to believe certain things but to show that one believes. at the root of the error. immutable. to accept authoritative decisions in matters of truth. ignored. but rather. but because it sets into motion an insidious power relation within self and with others. it must be something that they desire.32 By indoctrinating citizens with the idea that there exists a God-created Truth. therefore.’ Within the Christian model. something that . it finds passion. upon an instituted model of self-knowledge. and canon’ not simply because this Christian view significantly divests humans of individual autonomy.’35 What the self produces is secular. immobilizing them and preventing any reversibility of movement by economic. Foucault argues that religion’s destructive potential manifests itself in and through then-contemporary polemics. the Christian subject conceives of itself in relation to an imagined metaphysical reality: ‘In Christianity. asceticism always refers to a certain renunciation of the self and of reality because most of the time the self is a part of that reality that must be renounced in order to gain access to another level of reality.Secularization Theory and Theological Origins 131 hold certain books as permanent truth. political. or transgressed.34 one that presupposes the existence of a God-created ‘permanent truth’ and an ‘intangible point of dogma. or military means. interest. and to accept institutional authority are all characteristic of Christianity.’ religion has been able to institute within individuals a fascist technology of the self. which is based on the idea of annihilating one’s adversary: As in heresiology. according to Foucault.
metaphysical reality. for he articulates most clearly the nature of the fascist technology of the Western self. if we use Foucault’s approach to the formation of the political subject to understand Hitler’s distinctly Christian conception of the polis. he meant ‘caring for the . even the best are groping in the dark. It is. We have lost our true cohesion with God. Christian subjects. will enable us to challenge two standard assumptions about Hitler’s theologically inflected conception of the political. That Hitler regularly proclaimed himself a Christian and that he considered the Nazi Party to be based on Christian principles are simply matters of historical fact. half heathen. the view that there exists a God-created. Hitler announced that his political party regards ‘Christianity as the foundation of our national morality. Hitler was only a nominal Christian and not truly a Christian in practice. instead of actually believing in and/or accepting Christianity. Yes. Moreover. denounce. The first assumption is that Hitler could not have been a Christian because he persecuted Christians. at the level of desire. not knowing what to do.’ must demonize. February 15. Having internalized. Half Christian. specifically the fascism in us all. instead of engaging with others in the production of a mutually agreed upon and culturally negotiated system of ‘truth. But to give my reader a clear sense of this hierarchical model.132 Foucault’s Legacy animates their relation to themselves and others.’37 Just two weeks later. let me turn to Hitler’s writings.36 Using Foucault’s model of the Christian technology of self to understand fascism. these two assumptions would be exposed as false and misleading. Christian subjects must renounce thoughts and impulses that are incompatible with their faith-constructed Truths. We are neither warm nor cold. or dismiss those individuals whose ‘truths’ are at odds with the permanent Truth that God has authored.’38 and by positive Christianity. The second assumption is that Hitler. this hierarchical model of knowledge that created the conditions for fascism to flourish. In a 1934 speech. I contend. In his first wireless speech to the German people after he came to power in 1933. It is my contention that. The German quest for God is not to be separated from Christ. 1933). Hitler specified the nature of the Nazi Party’s Christian orientation by claiming that ‘[t]he National Socialist State professes its allegiance to positive Christianity. Therefore. exploited it for political reasons. he boldly declared in another speech his theological allegiance to Christianity: ‘it is Christians and not international atheists who now stand at the head of Germany’ (1941: 148.
’ which is subject to interpretation and error. 387. [. 1939). Hitler insisted that ‘God the Almighty has made our nation. .Secularization Theory and Theological Origins 133 sick. but rather in rigidly holding to dogmas once established. In short. which is objectively True and therefore always valid. Hitler boasted that under his leadership. Hitler believes that the Catholic Church provides us with an ideal model for accessing this immutable Truth. for it is only such dogmas which lend to the whole body the character of a faith. if the culture would . . Indeed. and. and England because it refuses to accept the ‘separation between Church and State. an idea he develops in Mein Kampf.] It has recognized quite correctly that its power of resistance does not lie in its lesser or greater adaptation to the scientific findings of the moment. therefore. His conception of the legitimate polis is based on a distinction between relative ‘knowledge. which in reality are always fluctuating. feeding the hungry and quenching the thirst of the parched’ (1941: 597. (1971: 459) To create the conditions for a moral culture and to establish an enduring political system. however. and dogmatic Knowledge.’ because it is based on ‘Christian principles’ (1942: 386.’39 Even as late as 1945. Germany has almost quadrupled State contributions to the Churches. the former would end in a worthless religious nihilism’ (1971: 267).’40 Given its commitment to positive Christianity. February 24. political ‘truth’ is relative and therefore not Knowledge. as the latter would end in a total anarchy of the state.’ which ‘is immutable. By defending its existence we are defending His work. Hitler insists that the community must give primacy to religion. 1939). the United States. Hitler casts a skeptical eye on a movement’s or a political system’s ‘outward formulation. in January of 1939. February 24. and that the National Socialist State differs considerably from France. without religious dogma. In other words. is what Hitler refers to as an ‘inner sense. Hitler claimed that the Nazi Party ‘stands on the ground of a real Christianity. Indeed. too. for ‘faith is often the sole foundation of a moral attitude’ (1971: 267). Absolutely crucial to Hitler’s Christian conception of the political is his distinction between ‘real Christianity’ and a perverted version of the faith.’ which is not really Knowledge because it is fluctuating and therefore unreliable. for the Church refuses to lose sight of the ‘inner sense’:42 Here. Indeed. Beyond critique. strongly resembles the struggle against the general legal foundations of a state. clothing the poor.’41 As a Catholic. the twin terrors of anarchy and nihilism loom large: ‘The attack against dogmas as such. we can learn by the example of the Catholic Church.
could justify persecuting ‘Christians. and that a clergy who place themselves beyond the pale of the law will be called to account before the law like any other German citizen. religion must be the basis and foundation of a political system.134 Foucault’s Legacy have a true politics. they would be implicitly setting themselves against God. . the National Socialist State will ruthlessly make clear to those clergy who instead of being God’s ministers regard it as their mission to speak insultingly of our present Reich. so if certain members of the clergy defy the State. as a Christian. those whose loyalty to Jesus competed with loyalty to the Third Reich’ (2001: 16). but he stops short of concluding that Hitler and/or the Nazis were Christian. that no one will tolerate a destruction of this State. because National Socialism is based on the one and only true Christian faith. (1942: 51. Carroll draws a clear line of connection between early Christian theology and the Nazi pogroms against Jews. ‘the Government of the Reich [. Hitler concludes that ‘[f]or the political leader the religious doctrines and institutions of his people must always remain inviolable’ (1971: 116). Carroll rehearses the standard argument. 1933). but it is likely that he has Hitler’s famous 1939 speech in mind. January 30. he would have targeted for elimination. Understanding the primacy of religion in the formation of the political explains how Hitler. Carroll does not cite the source for this claim about Hitler. . March 23. As Carroll says: ‘Hitler suggests that.’ To clarify my point. In his massive study.] regards Christianity as the unshakable foundation of the morals and moral code of the nation’ (1941: 157. its organizations. in the final analysis. once finished with the Jews. Therefore. Therefore. could not be considered a Christian and that he was even hostile to Christianity. . which seemingly justifies the claims that Hitler. Unfortunately. On this point. Rather. Hitler claims that National Socialism can never be considered incompatible with Christianity. For Hitler. and never the other way around. Hitler is as emphatic as he is direct: ‘Anyone who thinks he can arrive at a religious reformation by the detour of a political organization only shows that he has no glimmer of knowledge of the development of religious ideas or dogmas and their ecclesiastical consequences’ (1971: 114). Hitler unambiguously makes this point when he justifies taking action against false servants of the faith: But. In this speech. and legitimate. because only religion can give us what is reliable. 1939) For Hitler. let me take issue with James Carroll’s impressive work on Hitler and the Nazis. it must acknowledge the primacy and inviolability of religion. enduring. one way or another. or its leaders.
Hitler claims that ‘my feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Saviour as a fighter’: In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the [biblical] passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before in the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. The major premise that Hitler takes as a given could be stated thus: in serving the National Socialist State. Today. in defying the National Socialist State.’ Conversely. Therefore. that Christianity is the basis of National Socialism rather than National Socialism being the foundation for Christianity. but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice. which Hitler considered to be the religious foundation of the National Socialist polis. we could say. Hitler feels not only justified but also obligated in taking action against godless opponents of the State: ‘We shall protect the German clergy in their capacity as God’s ministers. 1922) At issue here is a legitimate and enduring political system on which civilization could flourish. members of the clergy are implicitly ‘God’s ministers. April 12. (1942: 26. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. that Hitler intended to persecute. but only those ‘Christians’ who have failed to understand real Christianity. Put differently. 1939). This Christian conception of the political is based on the idea that religion precedes politics. More important than Hitler’s conflation of politics and religion is the technology of self that made this particular view of the religiously inflected polis so effective. members of the clergy are implicitly opponents of God. it is not necessarily what Hitler said but rather the fascist technology of self that he and the Nazis subscribed to and instituted that made his political agenda Christian. In a 1922 speech.Secularization Theory and Theological Origins 135 in the name of God. January 30. At this point. let me examine the technology of self on which Hitler’s view of the Christian polis depends. not Christians. Hitler goes on to claim that he considers it his ‘duty to see to it that human society does not suffer the same catastrophic collapse as did the civilization of the ancient world some two thousand years ago—a civilization which was driven to its ruin through this same Jewish . after two thousand years. Hitler articulates the only conditions under which a nation could flourish. but we shall destroy clergy who are the enemies of the German Reich’ (1942: 53. contra Carroll. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated.
’ their very natures are opposed to Godly virtues as well as religion. and his spirit is inwardly as alien to true Christianity as his nature two thousand years previous was to the great founder of the new doctrine. Hitler opposes Jews because they most thoroughly incarnate nonreligious principles.’ For Hitler. and to illustrate this point. Religion is based on other-worldly concerns. and as such.’ and since their lives are ‘only of this world. such as an immutable or spiritual truth. to assume that all Germans or that all Christians embody the virtues of ‘true Christianity’ and therefore true politics. while business is based on ‘this world’ concerns. for as Hitler argues. the only true foundation of personal identity and the body politic. which can only be legitimate or secure when it is based on ‘true Christianity. Therefore.] to true Christianity. their very existence opposes and threatens the foundations of true civilization. at this point. a ‘catastrophic collapse’ of civilization is destined to occur. Of course. immutable. who then as always saw in religion nothing but an instrument for his business existence. and contingent. and noncontingent. when a government allows nonreligious people to rule and govern. and when necessary he even took to the whip to drive from the temple of the Lord this adversary of all humanity. and the nonreligious. and specifically Jews. And since Jews root themselves in their ‘business existence.’ This passage is useful because it enables us to understand what Hitler means by religion. such as money and power. Hitler alludes to the Gospel passages in which Christ banishes the money changers from the temple: His [the Jew’s] life is only of this world. Of ultimate importance is a religious sensibility.136 Foucault’s Legacy people. Therefore. the latter made no secret of his attitude toward the Jewish people. to ensure that German civilization does not suffer the same fate as ancient Rome. there are many ‘Germans’ and ‘Christians’ who have perverted the faith and therefore vitiated the political.’ which is why their lives are ‘only of this world’ and why their ‘spirit is inwardly alien [. the opposition Hitler establishes is between the religious. that which is eternal. Hitler believes that he has not just a right but an obligation to rid the culture of nonChristians. . Hitler makes . that which is ephemeral. . (1971: 307) Jews base their lives on their ‘business existence’ rather than ‘religion. Starkly put.’ It would be a mistake. What leads Hitler to this conclusion is his conviction that the Jews are rooted in the ephemeral realities of the material world rather than the everlasting truths of the spiritual world. mutable.
For Hitler. to wit. As he claims. the political order would most certainly crumble. argues that he and the Nazi Party will institute a different kind of politics. no. When it comes to the formation of the polis.’ He concludes by condemning then-contemporary Christians for debasing the faith through their support of and appeal to Jewish parties: ‘Christ was nailed to the cross. never and at no time was greater internal damage done to Christianity than in these fourteen years when a party. I also profess that I will never ally myself with the parties which destroy Christianity’ (1941: 148. February 15. Hitler. they have vitiated the political order itself. Those ‘Christians’ who support ‘atheistic Jewish parties’ have allied themselves with anti-Christian beings. I would ask. by contrast. that they are a religious community’ (1971: 232). ‘their [the Jews’] whole existence is based on one single great lie. was Christianity for them in these fourteen years when they went arm in arm with atheism? No. It is important to keep in mind that Hitler does not consider Jews religious. while our present-day party Christians debase themselves to begging for Jewish votes at elections and later try to arrange political swindles with atheistic Jewish parties—and against their own nation’ (1971: 307). one based on the true faith: ‘I do not merely talk of Christianity. February 15. they have corrupted more than just religious faith. theoretically Christian. (1941: 148–149. and having debased Christianity and thereby themselves. Hitler offers the Jews as evidence. Note Hitler’s logic as he denounces the post-Great War political agenda: [W]here.’ have corrupted the faith. 1933). theoretical Christians have forfeited their right to call themselves true Christians or true Germans. and as a consequence.Secularization Theory and Theological Origins 137 this argument when he alludes to Christ taking ‘the whip to drive from the temple of the Lord this adversary of all humanity. Were they to play a role in the construction of the body politic. the Jews’ lack of religion has staggering consequences. they have implicitly set themselves ‘against their own nation. 1933) By aligning themselves with atheistic parties. which is why the political order ultimately failed. It is for this reason that the political powers of the Weimar Republic failed to invigorate the German nation. who are only ‘theoretically Christian.’ To illustrate the dangers of allowing non-Christian people to play a role in the construction of the polis. which is why they are false servants. Weimar Republic German leaders. Such is the reason why . sat with those who denied God in one and the same Government.
The reverse process never took place. I argue. as Foucault claims. to understand the conditions of knowledge that gave birth to the fascist relation within individuals and with others.’ For Foucault. If the objective is. because dogmatic Knowledge. and since the Jews. Consequently. mischaracterizes Hitler’s totalitarian agenda by focusing on ‘fascism’s discourse of political religiosity’ (2004: 81). Christianity has cultivated this idea that religious Knowledge precedes and supersedes political ‘knowledge’ and has thus set the stage . Understanding the primacy of religion in Hitler’s conception of the legitimate political order poses a substantive challenge to those scholars who claim that Hitler merely exploited religion for political reasons. Jews are necessarily a diasporic people because they do not possess the requisite religious sensibility to build a God-based (and therefore legitimate and enduring) body politic. then we must start by understanding his conception of a religious-based or faith-based politics rather than a ‘political religiosity. the foundations of his intellectual work were always provided by others. then to analyze and interpret Hitler’s political agenda in terms of a ‘political religiosity’ would be a misrepresentation of the order of knowledge in which the fascist sensibility and mentality came into being. which is religious by nature.43 In short. This is the case. they have never constructed an enduring and legitimate culture (‘The reverse process never took place’). For instance.138 Foucault’s Legacy Jews have never been able to construct a culture of their own: Since the Jew—for reasons which will at once become apparent—was never in possession of a culture of his own. In other words. the Jews can comprehend and assimilate the ideas of others. are not and cannot be religious. His intellect at all times developed through the cultural world surrounding him. (1971: 301) As an intellectually inferior race that cannot be the originators or discoverers of religious Knowledge. For Hitler. if we want to understand the fascist relation as Hitler conceives it. according to Hitler. Suggesting that fascism’s religiosity is primarily political (‘political religiosity’) fails to take into account the vital and primary role religion played in the formation of the political. but they have never been able to discover or produce a Knowledge of their own. they have never been able to produce an enduring and legitimate culture. which can only come into being were it based on true Knowledge. the very phrase ‘political religiosity’ would disqualify religiosity as religious and would render the political illegitimate. is the necessary foundation for constructing a legitimate and enduring culture and polis. a scholar such as Bernauer.
rational choice to reject God and to accept the devil. as a number of historians have shown.’ which is. possession is an internal affair that is beyond a person’s control.Secularization Theory and Theological Origins 139 for fascism. . but rather. with a model of knowledge that subordinates political ‘reality’ to religious Reality. Given the logic of Foucault’s work. rather than a pact sealed by an action. which means that the perpetrator could be legally punished. Christianity evolves a subtle and insidious ‘technique for the government of souls’ (2003: 177). there was a palpable shift of epistemic authority from the unified Church to the individual conscience. Foucault focuses on the shift from the fi fteenth and sixteenth century obsession with witchcraft to the seventeenth and eighteenth century obsession with possession. which means that the victim could not be held legally accountable: ‘In possession. truth obligations were imposed on Christian subjects by the culture’s religious institutions of power. the devil’s insidious and invincible penetration of the body’ (2003: 208). there is an invasion. We are now ready to clarify precisely how Hitler’s religious conception of the political entails the ‘fascism in us all. in-depth Christianization had been linked with the nation-state. it is Christianity’s insidious technique of penetrating bodies that makes way for the ‘fascism in us all’ of the twentieth century. It was at this point that everyday Christian subjects were starting to be interpolated (‘in-depth Christianization’). but during the Reformation and Enlightenment. however. This shift reflects a radical internalization of Christianity.] a phase of in-depth Christianization. Foucault specifically claims that ‘modern states begin to take shape while Christian structures tighten their grip on individual existence’ (2003: 177). not the secular . ‘the fascism that causes us to love power. as Foucault argues. thus giving birth to. By the nineteenth century. To illustrate Christianity’s newly developed approach to controlling everyday citizens. at the level of desire. [. What made Foucault reject the traditional secularization hypothesis and thus conclude that Christianity had become a more instead of a less dominant force of political control in the West was his conviction that Christianity evolved sophisticated methods for structuring and thereby taking possession of a person’s inner life. not ‘the beginning of de-Christianization. From this point on. which entails ‘a slow penetration of the body’ (2003: 209). for while witchcraft was defined in terms of a person’s conscious. resulting not in a body transported into the realm of the transcendent. .’ Prior to the Protestant Reformation. to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us’ (1983: xiii). The basis for this fascist technology of self first came into being ‘starting in the sixteenth century.’44 Indeed. but rather ‘a body penetrated in depth’ (2003: 211).
and a compulsion seems to spring from something total in us. but to its mass proliferation. intellect. Blimin: since religion is dead. but the sacred imagined nation-state. Like many prominent twentieth-century intellectuals. As Cross says to the Marxist intellectual.’ Ironically. and personal desires to the Eternal Law of the Divine. but he would qualify this claim by arguing that everyday citizens have become even more compulsively and fanatically religious. But what is distinctive about the role of religion in the twentieth century is that citizens do not have to be told what to do or how to believe. This Ideal was. Mr. it is now in the streets in each man’s heart. citizens naturally and willingly subordinate their secular selves to the religious dictates of the nation-state. even when doing so ultimately destroys them. Indeed. which has led to a more religious body politic. This is what Foucault means when he claims that Christianity presupposes ‘a certain renunciation of the self’ so that a person can ‘gain access to another . Once there were priests. the basis and foundation for the political. modern Godlessness has not led to the death of religion. will. Religion was once an affair of the church. religion is everywhere . subscribes to the view that ‘Modern consciousness is Godlessness. secular. Richard Wright. Religion’s a compulsion. physical strength. so a writer such as Rudyard Kipling could justify the colonization of inferior nations because they were composed of ‘lesser breeds without the Law. it was used to determine which nation-states were legitimate. as Benedict Anderson would have us believe in his book Imagined Communities. First. The development of in-depth Christianization in relation to the nationstate was two-fold.45 Wright would certainly acknowledge that Western intellectuals have become secularized. What distinguishes the sacred imagined nation-state from the sacral monarchy is the locus of authority. .’ Second. catching up in its mighty grip all the other forces of life—sex. through an in-depth Christianization that has been linked with the nation-state. published in 1953 a novel (The Outsider) that brilliantly pictures the way in-depth Christianization functions within the mind of everyday citizens within the twentieth-century body politic. citizens of the nation-state would be right with God and the State only insofar as they had subordinated their ephemeral. Cross Damon. in the best of all possible worlds. the main character. there was a positing of a Divine Ideal. now every man’s a priest. .140 Foucault’s Legacy imagined nation-state. whether that would be a transcendent Law or a Godly mandate. and carrying them forward. The African American writer.
’ When citizens of Hitler’s Germany renounce their own desires and submit to the Nazi Party. Put more concretely. which is the basis and foundation for Hitler’s Christian nation. . and doing so would be a marker of their faith in first God and then Nation.’ The citizens. dangerous. ultimately given their lives to God and His Eternal Truths. so when everyday citizens submit to the dictates of fascists. They are human-constructed concepts calculated to secure and consolidate the ruling Party’s power. and even death an Ultimate Gain. or dehumanize non-Christian or anti-Christian subjects. since citizens’ secular desires are configured as untrustworthy. Therefore. unpatriotic. they may know that they are losing themselves. but for Foucault. having undergone the experience of ‘in-depth Christianization. may not be aware that power is the governing principle of their behavior. Christianity has set into motion a political system that makes citizens ‘desire the very thing that dominates and exploits’ them. what concerns him most is the Christian technology of self that has enabled the fascist political regime to come into existence and to flourish. and destructive. his subjects would engage in such marginalizing practices as a matter of logical course. the citizens. the religious nation-state can then do with its citizens what it will. their ignorance is precisely what makes the oppressive political systems so effective. there is no need to coerce individuals into behaving as subjects of the Nazis’ Christian nation. Hitler’s Christian mandates are not neutral and objective representations of a neutral and objective God. like Hitler. they must renounce them in the name of a higher divine Reality.Secularization Theory and Theological Origins 141 level of reality. By positing an hierarchical model of knowledge and by subordinating the ephemeral to the Eternal. According to Foucault. Once this order of knowledge has been established. in giving their lives for their nation. and. losses. rather. at times. who reject God and His Truths out of willful ignorance or a moral failing. While Foucault considers the specific religious Truths that lay the foundation for the fascist nation-state to be dangerous and destructive. denounce.’ would intuitively know how to identify anti-Christian adversaries. As soon as citizens internalize this model. and the citizens will consider their sufferings. Hitler’s Christian subjects would not have to be commanded to demonize. they do so because they ‘love power. both the Christian Truths and the religious technology of self that Hitler and the Nazis deploy are arbitrarily constructed systems that enable fascism to come into being as well as to flourish. which the sacred imagined nation incarnates. because they have. but they also believe that they are gaining the Divine. irrelevant.
I cannot say.46 This nineteenth-century religious anti-Semitism set the stage for Hitler’s political project in Nazi Germany. 24. Rather. and if we use Foucault’s method of examining the conditions that gave birth to a particular form of knowledge/power that inhabited the minds and bodies of everyday citizens of Nazi Germany. ‘Beyond Theology and Sexuality: Foucault. . Calgary: University of Calgary Press. ‘The Fascist Longings in Our Minds. Carrette. Foucault specifically claims in his ‘Society Must be Defended’ Lectures that the ‘old religious-type anti-Semitism’ played a crucial role in the formation of ‘the nineteenth century’ nation-state. I am not trying to say that Hitler was a Christian.’ Michel Foucault and Theology: The Politics of Religious Experience.’ Michel Foucault and Theology: The Politics of Religious Experience. we would have to conclude that Christianity produced the technology of self that made Hitler. Wendy Faith and Pamela McCallum. Aldershot: Ashgate. the Nazis.142 Foucault’s Legacy Conclusion Let me be absolutely clear about my objectives in this essay. Aldershot: Ashgate. eds. Notes 1 2 3 4 I would like to thank the University of Minnesota for the financial support that made some of the research for this project possible. James (2004). But it is indisputable that he consistently referred to himself and the Nazi Party as Christian. Therefore. Jeremy (2004). Hitler’s speeches and writings are important documents not so much for understanding Hitler’s inner life or his Christian faith. and fascism a living nightmare from which we are still trying to awake. 227. for as Carroll notes in his massive study of Christian anti-Semitism. What Hitler personally and privately believed. we would have to conclude not that Hitler exploited religion.’ Linked Histories: Postcolonial Studies in a Global World. the Self and the Que(e)rying of Monotheistic Truth. 81. to achieve his political objectives. polls indicate that 95 percent of German citizens considered themselves church-affiliated Christians in 1940 (2001: 28). Indeed. I would also like to thank James Bernauer for helping me to clarify some of my ideas. we would have to conclude that a distinctly Christian technology of self was central. and specifically Christianity. but for comprehending the technology of self that enabled fascism to flourish in the hearts and minds of many everyday citizens of Nazi Germany. ‘Michel Foucault’s Philosophy of Religion: An Introduction to the Non-Fascist Life. Moreover. Chow. if we use Foucault’s model of in-depth Christianization. Bernauer. Rey (2005).
trans.’ Journal of the History of Ideas 60(4) October 1999. San Diego. J. Nietzsche. God is Dead: Secularization in the West. Nietzsche. 111–119. Friedrich (1989). The Anti-Christ. God. White Man. See N. Lane. ed. 295. J.’ The Essential Works of Foucault 1954–1984: Ethics. and the Jews. 737–754. ‘To the Person Sitting in Darkness. Mark Seem. and Thedore Ziolkowski (2007). Oxford: Blackwell. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. New York: De Capo Press.Secularization Theory and Theological Origins 5 143 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 See ‘Polemics. E. London and New York: Verso. Pecora. trans. . M. (1987). New York: Random House. Friedrich (1989).’ The Complete Essays of Mark Twain. Forster: A Life.’ Hudson Review 3: 338. Charles Neider. xiii. New York. Nietzsche. Weaver Santaniello argues that Nietzsche shifted his focus to politics in 1887 (128). Friedrich (1989). New York: Random House. A History of Atheism in Britain: From Hobbes to Russell. and London: Harcourt Brace and Company. Walter Kaufmann and R. Mark (1963). Vincent (2006). J. 49–80. Walter Kaufmann. see my essay. New York and Toronto: Farrar and Rhinehart. The Anti-Christ. Friedrich (1966). Arendt. Friedrich (1980). ‘Concerning the Jews. ‘Preface. trans. 243. Nietzsche. Hollingdale. Amherst: Prometheus Books.’ in The Complete Essays of Mark Twain. 35. which is when Nietzsche published Beyond Good and Evil. but I focus on 1886. At The Origins of Modern Atheism. New York: Random House. and Truth. and London: Harcourt Brace and Company. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.’ in Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (1983). Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Foucault. Buckley. S. Escape from Freedom. Hannah (1976). 130. In her excellent book. ‘Reflections on Religion. New York: The New Press. 168. R. See James Thrower (2000). Twilight of the Idols. Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future. R. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. Hollingdale. Twain. Secularization and Cultural Criticism: Religion. see Tracy B. and Modernity. Michael J. The Origins of Totalitarianism. Twain. See Erich Fromm (1941). London and New York: Routledge. Mark (2000). Hollingdale. David Berman (1990). 131. Paul Rabinow. Modes of Faith: Secular Surrogates for Lost Religious Belief. On the Genealogy of Morals. Michel (1983). trans. See Benedict Anderson (1991). New York. Robert Hurley. Twain. San Diego. (1994) Albany: SUNY Press. J. and Helen R. R. Western Atheism: A Short History. Conway’s Nietzsche and the Political (1997) London and New York: Routledge. Listen! San Francisco: HarperPerennial. Strong’s Friedrich Nietzsche and the Politics of Transfiguration (1975) Berkeley: University of California Press and Daniel W. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. Liberating the “Subject”: Nietzsche and post-God Freedom. For an extensive analysis of this sentence. Mark (2000). Nietzsche. xi. Subjectivity. For other studies of Nietzsche’s politics. Politics. and Problematizations: An Interview with Michel Foucault. ed. Richard Wright (1995). trans. 28. New York: Vintage Books. trans. 48. Nation. Furbank. New York: Random House. and Steve Bruce (2002). ‘Killing God. J. Nietzsche. Hollingdale.
166. ‘The Father’s “No. 283. New York and London: W. Adolf (1941). New York. E. 281. Michel (1997). Politics.” ’ Language. trans. Irony. February 1. 120. M. Foucault specifically claims that he is interested not so much in what the human is (this is an incoherent idea according to Foucault) but in ‘the instituted models of self-knowledge and their history. See Michel Foucault (1994). Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Forster.’ The Essential Works of Foucault 1954–1984: Ethics. 242. 36. A Passage to India. Foucault. Goebbels. ed. and Solidarity. 13–15.’ In other words. Subjectivity and Truth. ed. Maurice. New York: Reynal and Hitchcock. Forster.’ Jean-Paul Sartre: Essays in Existentialism. I would like to thank The Society of Authors as agent for the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge for giving me permission to publish this material. trans. Michel (1997). Forster. Bouchard and Sherry Simon. (1977). ‘E. Michael: A Novel. Subjectivity and Truth. 112. Foucault. Foucault. at different moments and in different institutional contexts. Joseph (1987). and London: Harcourt Brace and Company. ‘What I Believe. Subjectivity and Truth. Forster’s Quarrel with the God-State. Contingency. Jean-Paul (1999). 60(4): 523–537. ed. The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. 228. ‘Technologies of the Self. New York: The New Press. Nietzsche. 144. ‘The Humanism of Existentialism. Norton. Hitler. New York: Vintage Books. ‘The Ethics of the Concern for Self as a Practice of Freedom. Paul Rainbow. see Donald Watt’s essay. 87. (1993). For an excellent analysis of Enlightenment rationalists’ reliance upon a theological conception of knowledge and their inability to ‘de-divinize’ language and the world. Secaucus: Carol Publishing Group. Foucault. desirable. Friedrich (1990).144 21 22 23 Foucault’s Legacy 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 Forster. ‘Subjectivity and Truth. ‘Polemics. My New Order. San Diego. 183. 1918. 237. (2000). E. 67. New York: The New Press. Fall 1981.’ 238. 283. and Problematizations: An Interview. and London: Harcourt Brace and Company. ‘Technologies of the Self. 344–387. Donald F. M.W. see Richard Rorty (1989). Sartre.’ The Essential Works of Foucault 1954–1984: Ethics. trans. New York. Gay Science. E.M. For a superb analysis of Forster’s critique of religion and the God-concept. (1984). 86. San Diego. Subjectivity and Truth. The letter is unpublished and housed at the King’s College Library at Cambridge. Joachim Neugroschel. M. New York: Penguin Books. Foucault. or even indispensable object of knowledge?’ Foucault. as a possible. E. Michel. Michel (1977).’ Philological Quarterly. . Counter-Memory. A Room with a View. Paul Rabinow.’ in The Essential Works of Foucault 1954–1984: Ethics. 3–69. M. Raoul de Roussy de Sales. New York: Penguin.’ in The Essential Works of Foucault 1954–1984: Ethics. Foucault’s project is predicated on this question: ‘how was the subject established. New York: Amok Press.’ Two Cheers for Democracy. 1933. Forster refers to the ‘God State’ in a letter dated April 13. Walter Kaufmann. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Hitler never left the Catholic Church and the Catholic Church never excommunicated him (2001. 1945. As James Carroll observes. see Michael Lackey. Hitler. The Speeches of Adolf Hitler: April 1922–August 1939.: Gift of German Consulate General.C. 274. ‘Text of Hitler’s Twelfth Annual Speech to Reich. August 17. Speech Delivered by Adolf Hitler Before the German Reichstag on January 30. ‘Poetry as Overt Critique of Theology: A Reading of Paul Celan’s “Es war Erde in ihnen. 28). Hitler. 459. 1934. Hitler. San Francisco: HarperCollins. Mein Kampf. and ed.” ’ Monatshefte: für deutschsprachige Literatur und Kultur. Abnormal: Lectures at the College de France: 1974–1975. London. Foucault. Foucault. Washington. Norman H. D. trans. 385. Michel (2003). 94(4) Winter 2002. New York: Picador. 4. Adolf (1939).’ New York Times. Wright. David Macey. New York. Richard (1993). New York: Picador. and Toronto: Oxford University Press. 177. trans. Adolf (1971). The Outsider. 427–440. . Ralph Manheim. For a more extensive analysis of Hitler’s Christian justification of violence against the Jews. 1939.. 51. Adolf (1942). January 31. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 1939. Baynes. Adolf (1945). trans. Society Must be Defended: Lectures at the College de France.Secularization Theory and Theological Origins 38 145 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 Hitler. 1975–1976. Michel (2003). 88–89.
taking up its cadence. and to lodge myself. to beckon to me. long preceding me.Chapter 8 Secular self-sacrifice: on Michel Foucault’s courses at the Collège de France James Bernauer The richest development in Michel Foucault’s career as a teacher at the Collège de France is on display in the difference between his first lecture there on December 2. leaving me merely to enmesh myself in it.’ on speaking openly. as into all the others I shall be delivering. it is a voluntary obliteration of the self. I personally also heard Foucault lecture in New Hampshire and took an . he spoke of his desire for anonymity: ‘I would really like to have slipped imperceptibly into this lecture. 1970 and his last course in the winter of 1984. in suspense.’1 Is the distance between this self-obliteration and his later care of the self to be accounted for in the transformation of an isolated writer that was effected by his years of public teaching? Or had Foucault come to discoveries that solicited an intense new relationship to himself and urged a personal communication? Had he come to realize what Alexander Nehamas claimed for him years later.’ His last lectures are on ‘parrhesia. In addition to attending his 1979 and 1980 courses in Paris. I would like to have perceived a nameless voice.’ In 1964 he compared the writer to the martyr: ‘Writing is now linked to sacrifice and to the sacrifice of life itself. perhaps over the years ahead. many of the same lectures were delivered in other countries including Canada and the United States. While the courses were presented at the Collège de France. In his inaugural lecture. Most of us are probably more familiar with his earlier search of anonymity for it found such striking expressions: ‘I am no doubt not the only one who writes in order to have no face. on disclosing one’s personal relationship to truth.’?2 How might that public significance be expressed? That question I prefer to respond to at the end of this essay. and these lectures are delivered in the context of his own interest in a care of the self. namely: ‘His private project was of public significance. in its interstices as if it had paused an instant. when no one was looking. At the moment of speaking.
and On the Government of the Living (1980). Population (1978). ‘Society Must Be Defended’ (1976). Security. My own approach to his courses carries an American accent. especially those of us who called New York City our home. lived from day to day with regular air raid drills that warned of possible nuclear annihilation. we must also recognize that he harbored doubts about what he had been doing. Abnormal (1975). And here I shall draw on the courses most relevant to that earlier project: Psychiatric Power (1974). he announces a ‘guerilla method’ to escape the ‘circus’ that his large audiences at the Collège had created: he moved the time of his classes from late afternoon to early morning in order to cut the numbers of those attending. one that is indebted to my growing up during the Cold War when we. For him they were but the other side of a power that is ‘situated and exercised at the level of life. his auditors undoubtedly took away different emphases and felt drawn to different insights. he also taught in Vermont and Berkeley. from what I have heard. and life versus death struggles run through Foucault’s courses and the reader often detects fragments of one or other of the six volumes that had already been announced for the never completed history of sexuality series. There are superficial signs of that impatience in his lectures. the species. the race. I have regularly found myself drawn more strongly to the original project of his history of sexuality series rather than what his work developed into with The Use of Pleasure and The Care of the Self. and the large-scale phenomena of population.’ This bio-political project of administering and optimizing life closes its circle with the production of the Bomb: ‘The atomic situation is now at the end point of this process: the power to expose a whole population to death is the underside of a power to guarantee an individual’s continued existence. But more significantly. Of course. in reading his published lectures and in recalling some of the yet to be published ones. While the lectures were fundamentally the same. Without any effect. He decided to change the style of . In returning to that original project of the history of sexuality.’3 Certainly these themes of war. Foucault wrote of a bio-politics that had created a landscape dominated by history’s bloodiest wars.Foucault’s Courses at the Collège de France 147 intense month-long course and seminar with him in the summer of 1982 at the University of Toronto. For example. ‘The Birth of Biopolitics (1979). Territory. And these wars did not represent an abandonment of modern humanism in favor of some primitive right to kill. to avoid being colonized and becoming a less effective critic. populations. I must avoid doing an injustice to Foucault by failing to acknowledge his own restlessness to move onto something new. In the introductory volume of that series. racism. A consequence of that biographical fact is that.
when Foucault introduced the writings of the fourth century monk John Cassian and the lecture hall soon fi lled with bewilderment and the murmur of a common question. Fragments of research. ‘Cassian. would you like to tell me? (Patient) The person of myself does not have a name .148 Foucault’s Legacy his teaching and the chronology of its concerns by doing readings of specific texts from the Greek and Hellenistic periods. . Among the many lectures are also those jewels of discovery in which Foucault so clearly took particular satisfaction. and this from his 1974 course ‘Psychiatric Power.’ That course also provided the most humorous moment for me. (Doctor) I would however really like to know what to call you. In 1976 he wondered whether his work had become merely a ‘freemasonry of useless erudition. . He could be harsh on himself. none of which was completed. always falling into the same rut.’ At the same time. A brief excerpt: (Doctor) I do not know your name. or rather what your name was formerly . and at the same time it was getting very repetitive. as a Jesuit seminarian. qui est?’ It was particularly amusing to me because. . I had to suffer reading Cassian’s conferences and I found it astonishing that the avant-garde Foucault was echoing the interest of my pious novice master. . and none of which was followed through. My personal favorite moment in Foucault’s lectures came with his sparkling 1980 meditation on the power-knowledge forces in Oedipus the King during his yet unpublished course ‘On the Government of the Living. To cite but one example. . for example. bits and pieces of research. the same concepts. his rather dull treatments of American neoliberalism and German ‘Polizeiwissenschaft’ in his 1979 still untranslated course ‘The Birth of Biopolitics.’ He says that in a sense this nineteenth century interview with a female patient is the ‘most marvelous description of asylum existence to be found’ and shows her renunciation of the self that the doctor’s biographical questions are trying to create for her.’ This is how he put it: Lines of research that were very closely interrelated but that never added up to a coherent body of work. no set of lectures was totally deprived of those gems of provocative tales or analyses that so characterized his writing. the same themes. that had no continuity.4 We must also admit that not a few of his auditors had their own doubts about where he was going and they were disappointed with elements of his teaching.
(Doctor) How old are you? (Patient) The person of myself has no age . To my mind. as with many others I was looking forward to the appearance of the fi nal volume of Saul Friedländer’s magisterial history of the Holocaust which was published last year. (Doctor) What do you think of the ladies with you here in this ward? (Patient) The person of myself thinks they have lost their reason.Foucault’s Courses at the Collège de France 149 (Patient) The person of myself has lost her name. For example. in particular. ‘secular’ and its relationship to the religious is again a hot topic in contemporary discussion and in recent months we have seen the publication of Mark Lilla’s The Stillborn God and Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age among other works. and confidently post-spiritual. Even later. following some of Foucault’s insights. move beyond humanism.5 It is not difficult to appreciate why he was so pleased with this ‘person of myself. . Later he was to erase the human identity of the being who lives. articulate in self-knowledge. the difficulty intellectuals have had in comprehending such modern crimes as the Holocaust which. we may surmise that this secular figure is itself a theological artifact despite its effort to hide the religious and spiritual forces that have brought it into being. independent in historical development. His decades long investigation of Nazi Germany’s destruction of the Jews concludes with this: ‘There remains but one plausible interpretation: Modern society does remain open to—possibly in need of—the ongoing presence of religious or pseudoreligious incentives within a system otherwise dominated by thoroughly different dynamics.’ His earliest work had repudiated the ‘homo psychologicus’ crafted by modern psychiatry. some of the courses indicate yet another dimension to the modern figure from which Foucault sought distance and this identity was its so-called secular face. post-religious. especially in South America and in many Islamic societies. Of course. His conclusion did not surprise but his abandonment of the typical academic qualifications and hesitations to his principal claim did startle me. in doing so. enlightened person. This is the modern living being. speaks and labors and. she gave it on entering Salpêtrière. seems to transcend customary historical categories.’6 Foucault’s own interpretation of the Nazi era is along the same lines. In fact. . the religious-political movements in the developing world. In the 1976 course he asserted that Nazi . secondly. The sources of that renewed discussion are multiple but two certainly stand out (and both were influential on Foucault): first. he was to walk away from the self-satisfactions of the modern.
However. of which Foucault became a strong public advocate. To give one example: in 1975 a prominent Jewish journalist. on to the square and so on.’ And there was all around the square armed police and there were plain clothes policemen in the church. shalom. Nazism was thus able to reuse a whole popular. I have to say. He would have been very alert to the theologies of liberation that had come to prominence in South America at that time even if suspicious of any Marxist dimensions to them. The police pulled back. possibly even more important for understanding Foucault’s sense of the religious dynamic were his visits to Brazil in the early and mid nineteen-seventies while the military dictatorship was in control.8 Certainly. Pope John Paul II.9 . mythology that allowed State racism to function within an ideologico-mythical landscape’. Vladimir Herzog. there was a gigantic historical weight there. and which arguably was one of the events that announced the coming collapse of Communism. brought that resistance to an extraordinary efficacy as was shown in the massive outpouring of popular support for him during his trip to Poland in the Spring of 1979. He would have witnessed the Catholic Church’s militant advocacy of human rights and the type of power it was capable of exercising. That visit was the catalyst for the Solidarity movement. and he came forward at the end of the ceremony. Of course. was killed while in police custody. there was nothing the police could do against that. The Archbishop of São Paulo decided to organize an inter-denominational memorial service for the murdered journalist and this is Foucault’s impression of the event: (The service) drew thousands and thousands of people into the church. that had a grandeur of strength. Let us recall that Foucault spent a year (1958–1959) in Poland where he would have seen the Catholic Church’s strong opposition to the Communist government. in front of the faithful.150 Foucault’s Legacy racism functions in the religious ‘prophetic discourse from which the theme of race struggle once emerged. and he greeted them shouting: ‘Shalom. another event in a series that had intimidated the Jewish community there.7 Some would claim that Foucault’s interest in spirituality and religion was a consequence of his journalistic involvement in the Iranian Revolution of 1978 but that would be to ignore numerous earlier signs of such interest in his writings. almost medieval. Foucault’s openness to the religious dynamics of the Islamic world was not only due to his scholarship but also to his personal experiences. and the cardinal in red robes presided over the ceremony. who became Pope a month before Foucault’s first trip to Iran.
that is to say. power and subjectivity which he saw as animating our culture were often constructed. he claimed. whose book on the topic Foucault cites in the published version of his 1975 lectures at the Collège de France.Foucault’s Courses at the Collège de France 151 It was the spiritual-political power of that historical weight that prepared him for Iran and generated some of his hope for its revolution. saw the emergence of an energy which drove both the global missionary activities of European Christianity as well as a vast religious colonization of interior life. as a number of historians have shown. This conviction mandated Foucault’s scrutiny of religious writers and customs.’ that either-or acceptance of it as some new rationality. This is the position of Jean Delumeau.16 He studied these practices in a variety of contexts but my concern is with how they operated in the political domain because it was there that Foucault saw the demonic force of certain seemingly benign .’ and this necessarily engaged him in a religious-spiritual analysis because the forms of knowledge. by a phase of in-depth Christianization. but rather. the ‘topography of the parting of the waters is hard to pin down. liberated from the superstitions of a religious past. This colonization is what Michel Foucault refers to in 1975 as an ‘in-depth Christianization’ or a ‘new Christianization’.’11 Foucault had rejected what he later called the ‘blackmail of the Enlightenment. in a period that is not characterized by the beginning of de-Christianization. this rejection could involve the claim that the so-called religious culture of the Middle Ages was more legend than reality and this might carry great import for modern human self-understanding because it would raise this question: Do we ‘define ourselves as essentially secular because we define our forebears as essentially religious?’14 One might argue that. in fact. it was the struggle between Catholicism and Protestantism which made the modern European era a specifically religious age. namely. rather. his project was a ‘history of the present.10 Apart from those important experiences.’13 In the case of the early modern period. the effect of this missionary effort was the ‘vast interiorization’ of a Christian experience which possessed a double center: the practice of confession and the struggle of the flesh with the spirit and the body. his history of the present came to ignore the customary epochal divisions and concluded that. In a 1975 lecture he mentioned the insight which would greatly shape his studies of the next decade: What ‘took place starting in the sixteenth century. in decisive ways in argument or alliance with religious practices and concerns. early modernity was not a tale of growing religious disbelief but. On the one hand. he refused the topography of a religious era yielding to a secular age.12 As a result.15 Foucault’s view contains an even more interesting thesis. between different historical eras.
This intensified Foucault’s exploration of the crisis of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation.152 Foucault’s Legacy religious practices. which had its roots in the Hebraic image of God and his deputed King as shepherds. Most significant were practices of confession and penance. which provoked in that period an anxiety over the matter of governance by putting in question ‘how one wishes to be spiritually directed here on earth for one’s salvation. individuals. Foucault says: ‘Our societies proved to be really demonic since they happened to combine these two games—the city-citizen game and the shepherd-flock game—in what we call the modern states. He focused on the problematic of governance that appeared in the sixteenth century and that showed itself in the dissemination of discourses on personal conduct. Exercising authority over a . This power is productive. most importantly. Jean Delumeau has claimed: ‘The history of modern western reason passes by way of the confession. on the art of directing souls. and the expansion of confession to ever-larger numbers of relationships in the period after the Reformation. His desire to analyze the conditions accounting for the appearance of this obligatory avowal of sexuality prompted him to study the Christian practice of confession. on the necessity of each individual to avow a sexual identity. It is the continuing vitality of variations on each of these that justifies Foucault’s claim of a ‘christianisation-in-depth’ throughout the modern period. self-identity’ that seem to have nothing to do with the Greek notion of the city.18 A special concern took shape that oriented Foucault’s approach to the study of Christianity. He analyzed a Christian practice that embraced forms of power. Foucault attributed responsibility for this development to the articulation of sexuality as a dimension within all abnormality and. obedience.’17 His 1975 course at the Collège investigated how the general domain of abnormality was opened up for a psychiatric understanding. and thus to a confrontation with the ethical formation critical to its way of obtaining knowledge and exercising power. not repressive.’ which he presented in 1980. truth. it was an instrument in the development of a new form of individualizing power. His initial examination concentrated on its practice after the Council of Trent (1545–1563). The first major statement of the results of his research in premodern Christian experience came with his course ‘On the Governance of the Living.’20 For Foucault. death. He claims that the Christian pastorate introduced a ‘strange game whose elements are life. and relation to self very different from pre-Christian practices. however. and on the manner of educating children.’19 The exploration of the knowledge-power relations engaged in governance directed him to a treatment of the Christian pastorate. that of the pastorate. knowledge.
the faults he may have committed.Foucault’s Courses at the Collège de France 153 flock of dispersed individuals rather than a land. In addition to accepting moral and dogmatic truths. This situation was graphically illustrated in the lawlessness of sexual yearnings. Through its examination of conscience and confession.23 Less dramatic but more enduring was the search for truth served by those practices of examination of conscience and confession that Christianity first developed in monastic life. namely. and then take on the status of public penitents. and permanent obedience is essential to this struggle. In order to fulfill the responsibility of directing souls to their salvation. a virtue which all too often developed into an end in itself. the temptations to which he is exposed. but rather for the sake of a deepened awareness of one’s interior life. not just the general truths of faith but the specific truths of each person’s soul. Seditious sexuality signals the need for a struggle with one’s self. the original subordination which human nature accorded to soul and will was lost. what is happening within himself. With the Fall. for verbalization of thoughts is another level of sorting out the good thoughts from those that are evil. the pastor must understand the truth. The endless task of self-scrutiny is accompanied by regular confessions to another. Such obedience is put forward as the antidote to the human condition after Adam’s Fall. Christianity intensifies this concern by having pastors assume a responsibility for all the good and evil done by those to whom they are accountable and whose actions reflect upon their quality as shepherds. The principal product of this technology was a unique form of subjectivity. For Foucault.24 . The Christian campaign for self-knowledge was not developed directly in the interest of controlling sexual conduct. Christianity is unique in the major truth obligations that it imposes upon its followers. and the human being became a figure of revolt not only against God but also against him or herself.21 Paramount in the exercise of this pastoral power was the virtue of obedience in the subject.’22 Perhaps the most dramatic illustration of this obligation to discover and manifest one’s truth took place in those liturgical ceremonies in which the early Christians would avow their state as sinners. Christianity fashions a technology of the self that enabled people to transform themselves. the shepherd has the duty to guide his charges to salvation by continuously watching over them and by a permanent concern with their well-being as individuals. The obedience that is intrinsic to the exercise and responsibilities of pastoral power involves specific forms of knowledge and subjectivity. those that seek to hide from the light of public expression. they must also become excavators of their own personal truth: ‘Everyone in Christianity has the duty to explore who he is.
If the other is dead. and the Catholic priest who performed the baptism says: There is no difficulty. and from the skepticism with respect to one’s knowledge of oneself that was created by hermeneutical self-analysis. and exhaustive confession migrated into the cultures of the two great totalitarian systems of the past century.26 And well he should have for this ensemble of unconditional obedience.’ which exhibited Christianity’s investment at the ‘level of desire and decency. In particular. He could not disentangle the ‘political anatomy of the body. All truth about the self is tied to the sacrifice of that same self. uninterrupted.’28 Our modern cultures are lethal in part as a consequence of the intermingling of the religious and the political and the camouflage of that . or rather who were brought to the baptismal font. there is the case of two Siamese twin sisters who were baptized. This is what he has to say of them: It is the image of the kingdom and also of Christianity divided into two religious communities.154 Foucault’s Legacy The purpose of the Christian hermeneutic of the self is to foster renunciation of the self who has been objectified. There are some very interesting discussions in which there is a close connection between the religious and medical problematics. For example. in his 1975 course. he speaks of several human monsters that became significant in modern culture such as hermaphrodites and people who had one head and two bodies or one body and two heads. and the Christian experience of subjectivity declares itself most clearly in the sounds of a rupture with oneself. it is because she would have become Protestant. A big discussion takes place. Foucault later came to warn of the dangers of that obedience and its ubiquity did orient Foucault to a frequent focus on the ‘pathology’ of Christian practices.’25 This capacity for self-renunciation was built from the ascetic power with regard to oneself that was generated by a practice of obedience. Foucault betrays the difficulty of writing the text he imagined as the next in the sexuality series after the introductory volume (Body and Flesh). Abnormal. One was baptized and then the second died before she could be baptized. of an admission that ‘I am not who I am.There are numerous examples of Foucault’s tracing of those elements operating within Christianisation in depth. The continual mortification entailed by a permanent hermeneutic and renunciation of the self makes of that symbolic death an everyday event.27 In that same set of lectures. from the ‘moral physiology of the flesh.’ with its investment in the useful body of aptitudes.
In addition to growing up when he did. Political life was sacralized as sacral language was politicized. helped persuade its audiences through a utilization of categories from traditional Christian discourses.Foucault’s Courses at the Collège de France 155 reality by the definition of ourselves as secular beings. at the same time. of course. it has been one of the civilizations that has deployed the greatest violence. and doubtless the most bloody. The religious power Christianity bequeathed to modern institutions carried with it the ‘moral and religious paradox of the shepherd.31 This is. At any rate. In his 1978 course. the most arrogant. the most creative. doesn’t its nonanalysis hide from us the political religions into which we have been baptized and through which we may sacrifice our lives? Foucault made a major contribution to understanding the dynamics of fascism in suggesting how they cultivated a religious sensibility. in both its German and Italian forms.’30 Why should he have felt that to be the case? It may be the theme which actually ties together the two foci of his courses: the interest in the social-political on the one hand. the most conquering. to steal a phrase from Adorno and Horkheimer. something that assuredly no Greek would have been prepared to accept. and the art of the individual on the other.’ Foucault indicted our culture: Of all civilizations. We have been measured. 32 Even with this religion of nature. Population. the Christian West has undoubtedly been. in the ‘gaze of a coffin maker. Far more significantly though. and the sacrifice of all for one. ‘Security. and this is the paradox I would like to stress. over millennia Western man has learned to see himself as a sheep in a flock.’29 Foucault observed in 1977: ‘The nonanalysis of fascism is one of the most important political facts of the last thirty years. But. I have wondered whether he appreciated the place of the French Action Francaise movement in the development of fascism. Frequently it was described as a type of ‘religion of nature.’ There was a worship of life itself that claimed to overcome the old dualism of body and spirit. This sanctification of biological life was united to an adoration of national life.33 Foucault’s keen sensitivity to fascism is certainly overdetermined. Fascism. or what could be called the paradox of the shepherd: the sacrifice of one for all. at the same time. closely related to Foucault’s treatment of bio-politics as well as Hannah Arendt’s analysis of the eclipse of the political space by society. Territory. which will be at the absolute heart of the Christian .
’34 From out of this tangled set of practices would come sexuality as the seismograph of human identity and masturbation the critical focus of self-relation. There are many more examples. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering . Foucault emphasizes how alternative religious themes and practices are deployed as counter-conducts in internal opposition to pastoral power. Foucault claims that the body of evil spirits becomes a ‘fortress body’ or a ‘citadel body. it may seem as though Foucault’s courses have sketched an iron cage for life but that impression would be a disservice to his work. In responding.156 Foucault’s Legacy problematic of the pastorate.’38 At the beginning of this essay. and that is suicide.’36 Clearly. By this point. In contrast to pastoral power’s confessional practice. In the course Abnormal. with it we ‘have an absolutely racist State.35 National Socialism’s pseudo-religious culture was a more dangerous eruption from that organization of life. certain types of asceticism as well as religious communities challenge the regular operation of the pastorate. And then there is mysticism which Foucault saw as one of the very sources for the development of a critical attitude. We have probably all read the opening lines of Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus but bear with me as I repeat them here: There is but one truly serious philosophical problem.’ a resisting ‘convulsive flesh. It sees itself in God and it sees God in itself. the body that counters the rule of obedient direction with intense shocks of involuntary revolt or little betrayals of secret connivance. it was not a secular state. an absolutely murderous State and an absolutely suicidal State.’ It is the body that opposes silence or the scream to the rule of complete discourse. As Foucault wrote. through a system of confessions. The convulsive flesh is the resistance effect of Christianization at the level of individual bodies. mysticism has a ‘completely different game of visibility. I asked how Foucault’s private project might be considered of public significance. let me draw a contrast. The soul is not offered to the other for examination.37 In the 1978 course. Running through several of the courses is the theme of resistance to which the earlier mention of the psychiatric patient’s ‘person of myself’ testified. In mysticism the soul sees itself. In Foucault’s reading. The convulsive flesh is at once the ultimate effect and the point of reversal of Christianization organized in the sixteenth century.
?40 Was it that realization which led Foucault to formulate an ‘aesthetics of existence’ that ratified the beauty we could create from out of our lives? Was it that insight which left him eager for a renewed culture of ‘caring for the self’? Didn’t he come to his appreciation of the spiritual knowledge in Hellenistic culture as a direct consequence of working through the religious thematic that has been our concern here? And finally: perhaps the major reason why his personal project has become politically significant is that he came to see that the source of his desire for anonymity. totalitarian theories or a vaunted secular enlightenment. but rather by totalized meaningfulness. this danger is the robbing of the contingencies from our lives and how we are led to understand them. heroic self-destruction. not by existential meaninglessness. Has our so-called secular age fabricated us as ghostly. and that is whether we should sacrifice our lives.Foucault’s Courses at the Collège de France 157 the fundamental question of philosophy. whether that invitation be spoken in the accents of nuclear strategy.’ to use Charles Taylor’s term? Foucault had a particularly keen insight into how our lives were endangered. All the rest—whether or not the world has three dimensions. Judging how a culture of totalized meaning and normalization has defined the worth of our living and dying and how we might critically resist that definition is the fundamental question of philosophy. the need to escape from an existence defined in terms of a programmed struggle between life and death. religious martyrdom or humanistic selfsacrifice. religious martyrdom. These are games. was not his personal resolve but rather the same cultural matrix that had imposed facelessness—if not worse—on those millions of human beings who had been reduced in our age to anonymous masses. this danger is the summons directed to us to political and personal suicide. on the other hand. namely. . Wasn’t his distinctive desire to ‘get free of oneself’ (The Use of Pleasure. which had so attracted him in his inaugural lecture at the Collège. whether that be articulated in the forms of religious dogmatism.39 I wish to put forward an hypothesis. 8). whether the mind has nine or twelve categories—comes afterwards. an existence that can be persuaded to find ultimate significance in mutual nuclear annihilation. given us an ‘excarnation. that Foucault left us with a contrasting interrogation and it could be phrased this way: There is but one truly philosophical problem. On the one hand.
’ Michel Foucault: Religion and Culture. Michel (1984). Abnormal: Lectures at the Collège de France 1974–1975. I: An Introduction. Foucault. Michel (2003). Saul (2007). 137. New York: Picador. October 19. ed. I take this formulation of the question from a recent Boston lecture by Pierre Manent. The History of Sexuality Vol.” Toward a Critique of Political Reason. Foucault. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. New York: Pantheon. New York: Pantheon. . 178–179. Foucault. Berkeley: University of California Press. 89. Territory. ‘Society Must Be Defended’: Lectures at the Collége de France 1975–1976. 2. Foucault. 311. Michel (1976).’ The Essential Works of Foucault 1954–1984. Counter-Memory. New York: HarperCollins. Foucault. negative theology was one of the few styles with which he compared his thought. 17. 107. ed. 177. 657. 40–43. Paul Rabinow. Abnormal: Lectures at the Collège de France 1974–1975. New York: Pantheon.158 Foucault’s Legacy Notes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 Foucault. Subjectivity and Truth. Psychiatric Power: Lectures at the Collège de France 1973–1974. Nehamas. 160. The Archaeology of Knowledge. Foucault. 188–189. London: Burns and Oates.’ The Essential Works of Foucault 1954–1984 I: Ethics.’ Fortin Lecture. 3: Power. Foucault. note 18. Amherst: Humanity Books. ‘ “Omnes et Singulatim. See my discussion of this point in my (1990) Michel Foucault’s Force of Flight: Toward an Ethics for Thought. 196. ‘Society Must Be Defended’: Lectures at the Collège de France. 1975–1976 . The History of Sexuality Vol. Michel (1997). Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Foucault. ed. Abnormal: Lectures at the Collège de France 1974–1975. Donald Bouchard. Foucault. Foucault. ed. ‘On Religion. Alexander (1998). ‘What is an Author?’ Language. Michel (2006). The English translation of Delumeau’s work was published as (1977) Catholicism between Luther and Voltaire: A New View of the Counter-Reformation. 117. 82. Michel (2000). This account of his personal experience is taken from an earlier essay by me: (2006) ‘An Uncritical Foucault? Foucault and the Iranian Revolution’ Philosophy and Social Criticism 32. Michel (1978). 3. 193. New York: New Press. Foucault. New York: Routledge. 61. 196. Michel (2003). Michel Foucault (1977). 6: 784–785. 4. Michel (2003). Although he never elaborated the analogy. 2007. Population: Lectures at the Collège de France 1977–1978. Foucault. Paul Rabinow. Jeremy Carrette. Foucault. Michel (2003). ‘The Charms and Limits of Secularization. Friedländer. Security. Nazi Germany and the Jews 1939–1945: The Years of Extermination. New York: Picador. ‘What Is Enlightenment?’ The Foucault Reader. New York: Harper. 180. The Art of Living: Socratic Reflections from Plato to Foucault. Michel (1978). Michel (2007). 177. Michel (2003). I. ‘The Battle for Chastity. Michel (1999). Practice. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
’ History and Memory 9. Der Glaube des Adolf Hitler: Anatomie einer politischen Religiosität. 178. Michel (1980). amidst the death and carnage. Security. Foucault.’ The Essential Works of Foucault 1954–1984: Ethics. L’aveu et le pardon: Les difficultés de la confession XIII–XVIII siècle. New York: Holmes and Meier. Paris: Fayard. Colin Gordon. Abnormal: Lectures at the Collège de France 1974–1975. Michel Foucault (1985). 91. ‘The Rhetoric of Hitler’s “Battle. Michel Foucault in der Tradition kritischer Theorie. 1–2: 321–349. The Sacralization of Politics in Fascist Italy. Abnormal: Lectures at the Collège de France 1974–1975. Michael (2003). 193. The Holocaust as Historical Experience. Friedrich Heer (1998). 307–312. 9. 420. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 87. Hölzl. 1980 course at the Collège de France. he masturbated. 1982 from Foucault’s Course at the University of Toronto ‘The Discourse of Self-Disclosure. ‘On Structures of Political Theology and Myth in Germany Prior to the Holocaust.Foucault’s Courses at the Collège de France 20 159 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 Delumeau. 139. New York: Pantheon. ‘Sexuality and Solitude.’ Gottes und des Menchen Tod? Die Theologie vor der Herausforderung Michel Foucaults. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.’ Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation.’ an interview with the editorial collective of Les révoltes logiques. 66. The Use of Pleasure. 231–262. Subjectivity and Truth. Cited in Power/Knowledge. London: Croom Helm. See ‘Omnes et Singulatim. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. and Philippe Burrin (1997). Foucault. Dialectic of Enlightenment. ed. Foucault. See Abnormal. Lectures of March 5 and 12. Kenneth Burke (1964). New York: Pantheon. 43–74. 235. 63. ‘The Discourse of SelfDisclosure. Foucault. Thomas Laqueur (2004) concludes his study of masturbation with his astonishment at the importance it has played in culture: ‘It remains strange and disturbing that in our century the young Wittgenstein on the eastern front of the Great War was in moral agony because. Pois. Bauer (1981).’ June 15. Foucault. National Socialism and the Religion of Nature. the Toronto course. New York: Zone Books. Cited in Mark Neocleous (1997). Fascism. 130. 95–119. ‘Powers and Strategies. ed. The Modern Self in the Labyrinth: Politics and the Entrapment Imagination. 178. Territory. 311. Michel. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Robert (1986). ‘Political Religion: The Relevance of a Concept. 1982. 129. 146. ‘ “Omnes et Singulatim”: Towards a Criticism of Political Reason’ The Essential Works of Foucault 1954–1984. 3: Power.’ Y. Lecture of June 15. Vienna: Amalthea. Population: Lectures at the Collège de France 1977–1978.’ p. 184–185. Mainx: Matthias-GrünewaldVerlag. ‘Kritik und Gegenentwurf der Theologie. 70. See Eyal Chowers (2004). Subjectivity and Truth. See Emilio Gentile (1996).’ The Essential Works of Foucault 1954–1984: Ethics. Uriel Tal (1981). ‘Sexuality and Solitude. 1980 at the Collège de France.’ Foucault. 196. . Lectures from the March 19 and 26. Foucault. Jean (1990).” ’ Terms for Order. Foucault.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Texas. Here is one example of the second. ‘Pantex’ is the name of a Department of Energy plant which is located outside of Amarillo. 3. he or she could receive the very same impression as did de Tocqueville and be made anxious by it. What makes our present situation particularly dangerous is that this religious atmosphere combines with two other forces. That astute observer of the American experience. A.160 36 Foucault’s Legacy 37 38 39 40 Foucault. Population. Territory. New York: Vintage Books. religious believers will be rescued from becoming victims of that ruination. is that violence is not only an instrument of destruction but also a vehicle for rebirth. Some years ago a writer explored the sentiments of those who lived and worked in that area and she found that in the preaching at the local churches there was a particularly strong emphasis on religious apocalyptic and on the Biblical notion of the Rapture. This religious counter-conduct foreshadows later opposition to the State. The Myth of Sisyphus. the more conscious I became of the important political consequences resulting from this moral situation. Foucault. Security. wrote this in the nineteenth century: ‘The religious atmosphere of the country was the first thing that struck me on arrival in the United States. 212. Camus. especially its American-Indian war. Texas. This is the conviction that. It may be a particularly American genius to unify all of these forms of ultimate significance. the era of nuclear weapons adds an alarming new element to this myth. In addition. the confession of an apocalyptic creed in which good does definitively triumph over evil. Abnormal: Lectures at the Collège de France 1974–1975. Michel (2003). 212. at the final divine destruction of evil. ‘Society Must Be Defended’ Lectures at the Collège de France 1975–1976. . Blessed Assurance: At Home with the Bomb in Amarillo. A legacy of the United States’ history of the frontier. There are indications that this fundamentalist vision has entered into American military planning as well as its popular culture.’ Depending upon where a contemporary visitor might arrive. Alexis de Tocqueville. Albert (1955). 260. 355–358. 213. G. The longer I stayed in the country. New York: Picador. It is the site where all of America’s nuclear weapons are assembled or disassembled. Mojtabai (1986).
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Davidson. Santiago (2007).’ Foucault and His Interlocutors. Benso and B. White Man. New York: State University of New York Press. eds. Modes of Faith: Secular Surrogates for Lost Religious Belief. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.’ Contemporary Italian Philosophy. Wright. Veyne. ‘The Final Foucault and his Ethics. . Williams. S. Thedore (2007). Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy. ed. Y. Richard (1993). Mascetti. —(2007). ‘Weak Thought and the Reduction of Violence: A Dialogue with Gianni Vattimo by Santiago Zabala. The Outsider. Schroeder. ‘Ontology of Actuality.’ trans. 8(3): 452–463. (1997). San Francisco: HarperCollins Publishers. Paul. ed.Bibliography 165 —(2002). —(1995). Princeton: Princeton University Press. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Arnold I. Ziolkowski. Common Knowledge. Zabala. Weakening Philosophy. Bernard (2002).. Listen! San Francisco: HarperPerennial. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.
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129 conscientia 54 constructivism 55 Contingency. 124–5. 156. Pierre 50 Brunschvicg. Jeremy 124 Carroll. 83 Contributions to Philosophy (Heidegger) 117 . Louis Pierre 49. 56 Basch. 152. Léon 45 Camus. Babette 3–4 Barthes. 35 Adorno. John 148 Cavailles. 147 Carrette. 155 “Age of the World Picture. Georges 27. 52–3 analytic philosophers 5n. 61 Babich. Benedict 140 Angelus Novus (Klee) 15 anthropological universals 14 Anti-Christ. Noam 57 Chow. Roland 52. 111. 51 Bernauer. 127–42. 50. 59 AIDS 8 alienation 55 Allen.Index “Abnormal” (Foucault) 154. The (Foucault) 100. The (Nietzsche) 126 Anti-Oedipus (Deleuze/Gauttari) 124 anti-Semitism 126 antifoundationalism 111 Arac. 1 Anderson. Henri 15. Jean 27 Chomsky. Albert 156 Canguilhem. 32. and Solidarity (Rorty) 79. The (Foucault) 59 Arendt. Maudemarie 94 Collège de France 146. 155 atomic energy 7 Augustine. 47. 31 Care of The Self. 116 Benjamin. The” (Heidegger) 54. 16. 151–6. 50 Being and Time (Heidegger) 27. 47. Walter 15 Bentham. 124. Jonathan 1 archaeology 113 Archaeology of Knowledge. see also God Clark. the 126 biology 33–4 biopower 7–8. 142 Cassian. 48. The (Foucault) 27–8. Victor 45 “Battle over Existentialism” (Merleau-Ponty) 50. 51 Being 71. 31 black holes 8 Body and Flesh (Foucault) 154 Bourdieu. Irony. 130 “Beyond Theology and Sexuality” (Carrette) 124 Bible. Barry 4 Allison. The (Foucault) 148 Birth of the Clinic. James 4. 31. Rey 124 Christianity 15. 65n. Hannah 126. 115–20 Being and Nothingness (Sartre) 47. 71. 32 Birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music (Nietzsche) 20. St. Theodor 24. 159n. James 134. 12–13 Birth of Biopolitics. David 25 Althusser. Jeremy 79 Bergson. 157 “Concerning the Jews” (Twain) 126–7.
52 crypto-normativism 104 Index ethics 81 event 117. 75. Vincent 23. 42–3. 121–2n. 30 death 15. Victor 45 Deleuze. 60. 129. 103 Hadot. Hubert 25 Dumézil. 3 Hanson. 51 Critique of Pure Reason (Kant) 29. 141–2. 109. 59–60. 74. 125. 132. Victor 45 “critical history of thought” (Foucault) 14 critical pluralism 14 Critique of Dialectical Reason (Foucault) 49. 51. 51–2. 112. 45. 60 Davidson. Jacques 48–9. 26. Sigmund 22–3. Norwood Russell 27 Hegel. 49. 70. 129. 71. 34. Didier 2. 46–52. 17 destiny-forwarding 117 desubjectification 9 Dewey. 40n. 48. Pierre-Félix 48. 56. 36n. René 9. Vladimir 150 Histoire de la folie (Foucault) 51 historical consciousness 15 historical genealogy see genealogy “historical ontology of ourselves” (Foucault) 112 Darwin. Lucien 45 Herzog. see also God death of Man 4. Friedrich 81 Enlightenment. 54. 126. Johann Gottlieb 55 Forster. 124 Habermas. 32. 20–4. 59 deconstruction 117–18 Delbos. 10–11. 13–14. 75–6. 128–32. 116 Descartes. see also Christianity Greeks 15 “gridding” 27 Guattari. 100–6 Genealogy of Morals (Nietzsche) 70 Generation Existential (Kleinberg) 25 genetic fallacy 92–3 God 30. 63n. Martin 15. Henry 37n. 47. 32 death of God 71–2. 128 Fraser. the 113–14. 154 Herr. 47. Jürgen 13. 7. 53–4. 115–19 hermeneutics 32. Pierre 19. 25–36. 52. 110. 151 epistemes 59 epistemology 68–9. 90–3. 44. 57. Michel 21. 57. 114 Descombes. 124–5. 42–50. Saul 149 Gay Science. 86. 96–9. 110. 68. 75. 135. 56–9. 55. 21. 156. Jean 151–2 Derrida. Gilles 23. Helen 80 Eribon. 102 Divine Ideal 140–1 Dreyfus. John 75–6 disciplinary power 11–13 Discipline and Punish (Foucault) 9. The” (Chow) 124 Ferry. Luc 26 Fichte. 53. 42–3. 72. 68. Georges 2 Empedocles 32. 122n. 111–12 Friedländer. 94–5 Epstein. 152–3.168 Corbin. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich 4. Charles 96 Dasein 50–1. 76. 55. 39n. 16–17. 53–4. 27. 55. 58–61 Heidegger en France ( Janicaud) 25 Heidegger. Ian 33. 118. 140–1. M. 50 . 104 Hacking. 126. 109. 126 genealogy 4. 129–30. 76. 19. 99. 30. The (Nietzsche) 20. E. 51 Engels. Donald 76 de Certeau. 7 Council of Trent 152 Cousin. 139. 33 “excarnation” 157 “Existentialism is a humanism” (Sartre) 50 fascism 4. 124 Delumeau. 100. 23. 155–6 “Fascist Longings in our Minds. Nancy 104–5 Freud.
Jean 43. 56–8. The” 35 humanism 51. 47. 50–1. 44–5. 75. 119 Marx. 40n. Alexander 146 New Nietzsche. Alexandre 43. Adolf 124–5. Pierre-Jean 45–6 Lackey. 49. 115–20 methodological nominalism 14 Meyerson. 45–9. 129–30 “non-thought” 28 Not Being God (Vattimo) 120 . 96–7 Janicaud. 58 Hyppolite. Rudyard 140 Klee. 132–8. 52. 103. Jean-François 45–6 Kierkegaard. The 68. Ethan 25. 138 Kojève. 39–40n. Friedrich Wilhelm 2. Paul 15 Kleinberg. 46. Robert 26 Les Temps Modernes (Sartre) 49 Letter on Humanism. 38 Jarczyk. J. 53–4. 79. 47. 58. 10. Bruno 28 Legros. Colin 4 Kuhn. 140–2 Hölderlin. 72–3 169 Macey. 55 Lyotard. Emile 45 “Michel Foucault’s Philosophy of Religion” (Bernauer) 124 Mill. 31. 49 Holocaust. 48. Pope 150 Kant. 54. 19–24. Michael 4 Large Hadron Collider 8 Latour. 47. 74–5. 51–5. David 1 Marion. 115–16 History and Class Consciousness (Lukács) 52 History of Madness (Foucault) 102 History of Sexuality. 35. 96 Husserl. 82–5 Mill. 52–3 Levinas. William 71. 103–5. 60 Koopman. The (Forster) 128 Lukács. 47. The (Heidegger) 50. 126. 56. 43–5. 35. 52. 63n. 24. 36n. Karl 22–3. Edmund 44. 4. Maurice 27. S. 58 metanarratives 72 metaphysics 50. 60 Letter on Metaphysics (Heidegger) 50 Lévi-Strauss. David Couzens 3 “Human Sciences. 111–12. David 56. 60–1 humanitas 51 Hume. 120. 23 knowledge 32–5. 96–7. James 1 Minson. 39–40n. 100. 130. 29–32. 70–2. Gwendoline 45–6 Jews 134–8 John Paul II. 60. 113–15 Kervegan. Claude 50. Jean-François 48. 147 Hitler. Immanuel 22. 104–5. Johann 32. 25–35. 52–3. 68. 45–7 ideality 8–9 Idol and Distance (Marion) 22 imaginary genealogy see genealogy Imagined Communities (Anderson) 140 Islam 150 James. Søren 45 Kipling. 71–9. György 46. 90–4. 38. 111–12 materiality 7–8 mathematics 35 mathesis 33 Maurice (Forster) 128 Meditations (Descartes) 54 Merleau-Ponty. the 149 Hoy. 69. The (Allison) 25 “Nietzsche. 100. Emmanuel 43 liberals 83–6 Longest Journey. Dominique 25. Jean-Luc 22. 1. Freud. Marx” (Foucault) 110 Nietzsche.Index history 16–17. 69. Jefferey 22 Myth of Sisyphus (Camus) 156–7 natural history 34 Nehamas. James 79 Miller. Thomas 59 La Pensée sauvage (Lévi-Strauss) 50 Labarrière.
The (Arendt) 126 Outsider. 129–30 Schmitt. 78 “philosophy of decline” 118–19 Plato 68–71. 33. 134–42. 157 . 58. Paul 22–3. 27 Smith. A (Forster) 128 Patterns of Discovery (Hanson) 27 Pecora. Territory. 24 phenomenology 44. Charles 96–7 perspectivism 22. Alfred 94 taxinomia 32–3 Taylor. 56 pragmatism 75–6. Richard 2. Alain 26 “Report on Knowledge” (Lyotard) 73 rhizomes 48 Ricoeur. 4. J. 75 sovereignty 11–13 structuralism 53 subjectivity 53–5. A (Forster) 128 Roques. 75–86. Population (Foucault) 155 Shapiro. 148 Qu’est ce que la Métaphysique? (Heidegger) 27 Quine. The (Foucault) 32. Jean-Paul 47–51. 47. 119–20 Ryan. Alan 1 Sartre. 35. Carl 46 science 27–35. 50 Phenomenology (Hegel) 46–8 Phenomenology of Spirit (Hegel) 45 Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (Rorty) 75–6.170 Index Renaut. 109. Barry 119 Smith. 79–80. Vincent P. Xavier 40n. 100–6 “Promise-Threat” 36 Protestant Reformation 125–6 Psychiatric Power (Foucault) 11. Charles 157 temporality of existence 15–16 temporality of power 9–17 theory of alienation (Marx) 55 Tilliette. 112 Rockmore. 130 political religiosity 138 “Political Technology of Individuals” (Foucault) 112 postmodernism 48. Robert 24 Order of Things. W. 150 Room with a View. 58 subjectum 54 surveillance 80 T-Sentences (Tarski) 94 Take Care of Freedom and Truth will take Care of Itself (Rorty) 120 Tarski. Gary 21–2 signs 111–12 Sluga. V. Paul 45 Rorty. 49 Oedipus the King (Sophocles) 148 “On the Government of the Living” (Foucault) 148. 59. 76 racism 8. 130 “Science and World-Picture” (Heidegger) 27 Search For A Method (Sartre) 51 secularization 125–30 Security. 39n. Tom 4 Roman Catholic Church 133. 71–2 poststructuralist secularism 4 power 54. Timothy 38n. 125 Peirce. Hans 25. 23 “Society Must be Defended” (Foucault) 142 Socrates 72. 84 problematization 90–2. Douglas 22–3. The (Wright) 140 Parmenides 116 Passage to India. 12 reading 26–7 religion 125–30. 149–50 Raynaud. 95–7. 38n. 151–2. 130 Origins of Totalitarianism. 71–2. 82. Adam 55 Smith. 68–70. 152 “On Truth and Lie in a Nonmoral Sense” (Nietzsche) 71 “Ontology of Actuality” (Vattimo) 119 Oppenheimer. Alain 26–7 Rayner. 109–10.
Paul 14. 147 “Useless to Revolt?” (Foucault) 14 Vattimo. Mark 126–9 universality 13–14. 118. 130–2. 78–9. 1 Veyne. Alexis de 160n. 141 Truth and Truthfulness (Williams) 93–4 Twain. Gianni 4. Santiago 4 171 . 114. 93–9. 107n. 40 totalitarianism see fascism transcendental phenomenology 48 transmission 117 truth 24. 120n. 115–20. 17 Use of Pleasure. 109–12. Jean 45 “weak thought” 115–20 Weber. 100. The (Foucault) 100. 15 Wahl. Max 73. 104–5. Richard 140 X studies 6 Zabala.Index “To the Person Sitting in Darkness” (Twain) 127 Tocqueville. 28. 13 Wright. 83 “What Is Enlightenment?” (Kant) 113–14 Why We Are Not Nietzscheans (Ferry/ Renaut) 26 Will to Know. 33. Bernard 4. 70–5. 90–9. 120. The (Foucault) 100 Williams.