Foucault’s Legacy

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

Foucault’s Legacy Edited by C. Prado . G.

I. recording. India Printed and bound in Great Britain by the MPG Books Group . Prado. without prior permission in writing from the publishers. II.F724F74 2009 194–dc22 2008034111 Typeset by Newgen Imaging Systems Pvt Ltd. Michel. G. C. 1926–1984. G. Prado and Contributors 2009 All rights © C. Prado. 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. Chennai. Title. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. G. Includes bibliographical references and index. B2430.Continuum International Publishing Group The Tower Building 80 Maiden Lane 11 York Road Suite 704 London SE1 7NX New York NY 10038 www.continuumbooks. or any information storage or retrieval system. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means. electronic or mechanical. Foucault. ISBN 978-1-8470-6595-7 1. p. including photocopying. cm.

Foucault. After knowledge and liberty: Foucault and the new pragmatism Barry Allen 5. Babich 3. 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 . Secularization theory. Hegel. and the theological origins of totalitarianism Michael Lackey 8. Weakening ontology through actuality: Foucault and Vattimo Santiago Zabala 7. The temporality of power David Couzens Hoy 2. Prado 1. Two uses of genealogy: Michel Foucault and Bernard Williams Colin Koopman 6. Foucault. and the death of man Tom Rockmore 4. reading Heidegger Babette E. A philosophical shock: Foucault reading Nietzsche. G.Contents Contributors Editor’s introduction C.

Nietzsche. co-editor of Michel Foucault and Theology: The Politics of Religious Experience (Ashgate 2004). and numerous articles on Foucault. Like Flowers: Philosophy and Poetry. The Critical Circle: Literature. Michael Lackey. Music and Eros in Hölderlin. Santa Cruz. and Philosophical Hermeneutics (University of California 1982). Searle and Foucault on Truth (Cambridge 2006). Habermas. University of Minnesota. Fordham University. Heidegger (SUNY 2006).Contributors Barry Allen. Truth in Philosophy (Harvard 1993). Knowledge and Civilization (Westview 2004). McMaster University. Babich. forthcoming). Prado (editor). author of Michel Foucault’s Force of Flight: Toward an Ethics for Thought (Humanities Press 1990). C. Blackwell 1994). David Couzens Hoy. Babette E. James Bernauer. and pragmatism. editor of A House Divided: Comparing Analytic and Continental Philosophy (Humanity 2003) and other collections. Press of Florida 2007). and other books. Santa Cruz. author of Choosing to Die: Elective Death and Multiculturalism (Cambridge 2008). Nietzsche. author of The Time of Our Lives: A Critical History of Temporality (MIT 2009). History. Critical Resistance: From Poststructuralism to Post-Critique (MIT 2004). Boston College. Colin Koopman. and many articles. Modernist God States: A Literary Study of the Theological Origins of Totalitarianism (forthcoming). Nietzsche. author of African American Atheists and Political Liberation: A Study of the Sociocultural Dynamics of Faith (Univ. Critical Theory (with Thomas McCarthy. executive editor of New Nietzsche Studies. author of Pragmatism as Transitionalism (forthcoming). G. and other articles. Humanities Research Fellow in Philosophy at University of California. and other books. and Critical Theory (Humanity 2004). ‘Foucault’s Methodological Expansion: Adding Genealogy to Archaeology’ (Journal of the Philosophy of History. Queen’s University (emeritus). co-editor of special issue of Philosophy and Social Criticism (September 2005) commemorating the twentieth anniversary of Michel Foucault’s death. ‘Revising Foucault’ (Philosophy and Social Criticism. Distinguished Professor at the University of California. forthcoming). author of Artifice and Design: Art and Technology in Human Experience (Cornell 2008). editor of Foucault: A Critical Reader (Blackwell 1986). author of Words in Blood. .

Contributors vii Tom Rockmore. 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). Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at Potsdam University Institute of Philosophy. Hegel. Duquesne University. author of The Hermeneutic Nature of Analytic Philosophy (Columbia 2008) and The Remains of Being (forthcoming). On Foundationalism (Rowman and Littlefield 2004). McAnulty College Distinguished Professor. . and Analytic Philosophy (Yale 2005). Santiago Zabala. other books and many articles. author of Kant and Idealism (Yale 2007). Idealism.

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3 David Macey makes the more modest claim that at his death Foucault ‘was without doubt France’s most prominent philosopher.’ but he adds that Foucault’s international reputation ‘almost eclipsed his reputation in France.’6 One may be forgiven for suspecting such claims to be exaggerated. 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. it is also necessary to consider the broader impact of his central ideas on philosophers outside his methodological and canondefined intellectual milieu. But in the case of this rather enigmatic figure. ‘At the time of his death. Contrary to this. ‘Michel Foucault was perhaps the single most famous intellectual in the world.5 Jonathan Arac is more assertive. the claims seem not to be .’4 Miller makes a further comment that is most relevant to the articles that follow in this collection. this latter is not an easy task. In the case of Foucault. it is commonplace for followers of theorists to express over-enthusiasm for the work of their favorites and to overstate its originality or importance. But assessment of his philosophical legacy inevitably focuses on his influence on thinkers in his own canonical tradition.’2 Alan Ryan is still more positive. one need look no further than statements by his biographers and commentators on his writings. .1 Despite this disinterest. saying that Foucault ‘was the most famous intellectual figure in the world’ when he died.Editor’s introduction C. Prado How does one assess a philosopher’s legacy? In the case of Michel Foucault. Foucault’s central ideas have had an impact. If evidence of Foucault’s far-reaching influence is required. contending that ‘Foucault’s work . There has been notable lack of engagement with Foucault on the part of philosophers in the analytic tradition. G. . though. changed the basis for the work of all scholars. one of the most influential thinkers of the latter twentieth century.’ as James Miller writes. 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.

‘who knew [Foucault] better than almost anyone else. the character of historical inquiry and the nature of personal identity.’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. considering him a champion in the struggle against what they regard as stultifying disciplinary traditions. High estimation of Foucault is evident in disciplines from political science through cultural geography. There also is an extensive feminist literature on Foucault. is that.’7 What Foucault likely found more difficult to deal with was dismissal or indifference. and literary criticism to film studies. a nihilist.’13 But this objective. however. insured that attempting to assess his legacy is a difficult task. though.’12 Speaking of his own work. much of it favorable to his views or building on his insights and contentions. the origins of moral responsibility and the foundations of modern government.’8 Foucault failed to engage even Richard Rorty. claiming he was ‘very proud’ that some thought him dangerous for being ‘an irrationalist. What is undeniable is that Foucault raised serious and demanding questions about ‘the reach of power and the limits of knowledge. Foucault is all things to all people. he did it ‘above all to change myself and not to think the same thing as before. was a profoundly oppositional thinker. As Didier Eribon remarks. He was a critic and a genealogist whose analyses aimed at alterity. Eribon remarks that ‘there are several Foucaults—a thousand Foucaults. Nor is this interest in Foucault limited to professional academics.2 Foucault’s Legacy exaggerated. like Nietzsche. But as noted. What is certain. 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. Foucault was aware of this hostility.’9 A complication with assessing this influence. if not most analytic philosophers see Foucault as a tradition-destroying postmodern and a threatening relativist. Foucault was a lover not only of masks but also of irony. but seemed to relish it. and that is what he got from the world of analytic philosophy.’ as saying that Foucault ‘wore masks. sociology. Foucault. students in various disciplines often are even more enthusiastic about Foucault than their professors.’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. he was a master . again like Nietzsche. which Foucault achieved with impressive success.’ Eribon also quotes Georges Dumézil. is that driven as he was to seek novelty of thought. Foucault was ‘completely ignored by most American philosophers. many. and he was always changing them. Foucault maintained that when he wrote.

Additionally. Foucault’s texts have been amply discussed and critiqued. His work resists holistic interpretation. and evolutionary totality of Foucault’s thought and its several shifts in direction. and the very fact that a discipline. This should come as no surprise because Foucault’s work does more than pose scholarly challenges and invitations. he invariably succeeded in establishing new parameters within which others might think those problems through. It requires that we exercise a degree of historical consciousness and often enough a fair amount of suspicion. And if Foucault himself was not often given to resolving the problems his analyses and suspicions unearthed. is more a matter of initiating and developing various conversations. This is what the articles that follow do. Babette Babich takes a broad perspective on . It is not for those who would theorize in an historical vacuum. true to Foucault’s enigmatic nature and diversity of approach to issues and questions. who brandish the banner of ‘clarity’ and strive to reduce to zero the ambiguity of all that lies before them. a history.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. or an issue was established made him question it at the most fundamental level. Some of his most important ideas—especially that of power-relations—have been integrated into our own thinking. 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. variegated. Turning to what follows. they examine his contributions to contemporary thought by entering into various different conversations with one of the most innovative. and we approach many questions with those ideas at the back of our minds. then.’ either specifically or even by implication. Thinking along with Foucault decidedly is not for everyone. but the huge literature that his work has inspired has not brought interpretation and assessment to completion. his books ‘hardly ever refer back to his previous works. reflecting on his legacy is complicated by how there is no single work or theme that adequately represents the complex. Thinking along with Foucault requires that we renounce the ahistorical naivety and self-certainty on which our thinking can all too easily run aground. a methodology.Introduction 3 of suspicion. Twenty-five years after his death. enigmatic. and that we undertake a deeper kind of inquiry into the conditions that fundamentally constitute knowledge and truth. and challenging thinkers of our time.15 Assessing Foucault’s legacy.

. like Nietzsche’s subversive genealogy. it merits mention that the scholarship displayed in the articles that follow is most impressive. Michael Lackey considers the significance and applicability of Foucault’s ideas for understanding a major contemporary political danger. one going beyond philosophy’s academic boundaries to social issues. reached across the canonical divide to consider Nietzsche’s thought in his own work. 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. 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. He examines the relevance of Foucault’s poststructuralist secularism to the role of theological beliefs and practices in the continuance and growth of totalitarianism. the next two articles explore connections between Foucault and particular philosophers. Richard Rorty. Koopman discusses the difference between Foucault’s use of genealogy as problematization and Williams’ vindicatory genealogy which. Readers should avail themselves of the rich resources provided in the many citations listed in the articles’ Endnotes. Barry Allen focuses a little more tightly. At the end of the volume I provide a select Bibliography. who knew Foucault and studied with him. a philosopher who. particularly on Gianni Vattimo. continues the emphasis on the social. Allen also treats the deeper issue of how Rorty and Foucault shared a surprisingly traditional discursive conception of knowledge. considering Foucault’s relation to the new pragmatism by tackling the intriguing lack of engagement between Foucault and pragmatism’s leading contemporary exponent. Colin Koopman focuses on the Anglo-American milieu and particularly on Bernard Williams. James Bernauer. Santiago Zabala focuses on the Continental European milieu. he looks at alternative interpretations of Foucault’s thesis about ‘the death of Man’ in light of Hegelian and anti-Hegelian readings of it. Again taking a broader perspective. an increasingly influential and widely-read contemporary. though in the analytic tradition. depending on whether he is read as having been more importantly influenced by Nietzsche or by Heidegger. with a view to showing the ambiguous consequences for philosophical thinking.4 Foucault’s Legacy differing construals of Foucault’s work. To close this brief Introduction. Tom Rockmore narrows the focus somewhat in considering one of Foucault’s most central ideas. Narrowing the perspective still more. 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. may be normatively confused.

They think he has ‘nothing to say’ about ‘philosophical theories of truth and knowledge. James (1993). 3–4. New York: Vintage. James Goldstein and James Cascaito. Armstrong] urged that “intellectual hygiene” requires one not to read . 313.. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. Ontario. Ryan.’ Nola.Introduction 5 Lastly. . Heidegger. 13. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press. H. 12. Gutting 1994. Betsy Wing. Gutting. eds. Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault. Eribon. Robert (1994) ‘Post-Modernism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Miller 1993. Martin et al. seeing him as a postmodern who essentially broke with his Continental postKantian canon emphasizing the work of Hegel. Alan (1993). Miller 1993. The Use of Pleasure. New York: Semiotext(e). (1991). The Cambridge Companion to Foucault. 13. After Foucault. Foucault. 3. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. 1988. 40(7): 12–17. Martin. Arac. 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. xi. xi. Kingston. London: Hutchinson. Didier (1991). . Michel Foucault.’ Rorty (1982). Richard Rorty notes ‘a distinguished analytic philosopher [D. Trans. Jonathan. 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. Robert Hurley. Russell. and Wittgenstein tend to not consider Foucault a philosopher. The Passion of Michel Foucault. Michel (1986). Moore. David (1993). 27. The Lives of Michel Foucault. Husserl. Michel (1991). I thank you. Trans.’ Inquiry. Gary. Macey. vii. and Merleau-Ponty. Remarks on Marx: Conversations with Duccio Trombadori. A French Cultural Chernobyl: Foucault on Power/Knowledge. and Patrick Hutton.’ The New York Review of Books. M. 10. 13. L. ‘Foucault’s Life and Hard Times. Miller. (1988). Huck Gutman. Foucault. for your time and for your interest in this collection. (1994). 3. Trans. 9. Foucault. New York: Simon and Schuster. 13. 37(1): 3–43. ed. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ed. Eribon 1991. 224. the reader. The Consequences of Pragmatism. .

Chapter 1

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


Foucault’s Legacy

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

right from the start Foucault recognizes that the carceral is fundamentally a matter of ‘doing time. wherein visibility is itself the trap. however. however.’ All these points of view taken together constitute that meta-discipline of the humanities. with self-consciousness. constituted identities through what he calls desubjectification or désassujettissement. the transcendental unity of apperception. I think that the assumption of many scholars is that Foucault is primarily a spatial thinker. The point is that our relations to our concrete. 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. practical selves change when we realize that we have become who we are as a result of relations of domination.The Temporality of Power 9 when he was developing the method he calls ‘archaeology’ comes from his apparent break with these Cartesian. 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. the ‘history of consciousness. Nevertheless. it is conceived in an entirely new way. conscience de soi—a term he says even as late as 1979 that he prefers to avoid.3 This move away from the priority of the cogito. Especially in Discipline and Punish Foucault is preoccupied with architecture. and Sartrean preoccupations with ideality. that is.’ The temporality of power Now I shall concentrate on the central topic of this essay. Now more than ever. the temporality of power. 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 task then becomes to desubjectify or even to desubjugate ourselves by critically resisting our bio-political self-stylings. infi nite prisons with no outside to Bentham’s Panopticon.4 Thus. or the freely constituting consciousness is only one side of Foucault’s thought. Kantian. These studies lead to his attempt to ‘think differently’ and to break with particular.’ . from Piranesi’s famous prints of dark. More influential outside academic philosophy are his genealogical studies of how the subject is constituted by both disciplinary power and biopower. When the question of the subject reemerges in Foucault’s later work on the genealogy of ethics in the 1980s.

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. Thinking about these methods helps to explain what otherwise might be taken as conflicting attitudes toward the temporal dimensions. Take the dimension of the present first. since it is something I have done myself. on the one hand. that— even without this solemnity—the time we live in is very interesting. insistently enough. and since. or of high point. or of completion or of a returning dawn. I shall unpack this definition through examples of Foucault’s statements about the temporality of power. in history. we find this incessantly—or at least. we are touching on one of those forms—perhaps we should call them ‘habits’—one of the most harmful habits in contemporary thought. in post-Hegelian thought: the analysis of the present as being precisely. a present of rupture. I think we should have the modesty to say to ourselves that. Foucault’s characterization of genealogy as ‘history of the present’ derives from an apparent paradox. shortly before his death in 1984: Here.’5 The use of the methods of archaeology and genealogy are not confined to different periods of his life. 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. and so on. Many of his writings combine both of these methods. 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. it needs to be analyzed and broken down. in someone like Nietzsche. the time we live in is not the unique or fundamental or irruptive point in history where everything is completed and begun again. I think. his thought is in fact concerned with temporality throughout. ‘What is today?’6 . We must also have the modesty to say. I can say so all the more firmly.10 Foucault’s Legacy My hypothesis is that despite Foucault’s tendency to think about power in spatial pictures. on the other hand. at any rate. in modern thought even. and that we would do well to ask ourselves. The solemnity with which everyone who engages in philosophical discourse reflects on his own time strikes me as a flaw. Although as an archaeological historian he concerns himself with making philosophical points by studying the past. as a genealogist or ‘critical historian’ he writes the ‘history of the present. Furthermore. 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 second thing he says is that the present is in fact where we are now.’9 The point of genealogical philosophy is to open up ‘a space of concrete freedom. of course. be in the present but not be at all attentive to it. then. each present is significantly different from every other present. Therefore. as a methodological archaeologist he cautions against attributing too much importance to any given present. which is that the present is not very important in the grand scheme of things.’10 Transformation is.’8 That is to say. Foucault therefore warns against thinking of the present as the crucial point of rupture. however. From an archaeological perspective. Foucault’s method of genealogy is the key to action that is specific and transformative. is not ‘the unique or fundamental or irruptive point in history where everything is completed and begun again. 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. a temporal notion. This point is not the truism that one can live only in the present. Each present has its distinctive possibilities. First. disciplinary power is more diffuse and permeates society . Foucault’s call is to live more fully in the present. why Foucault now. that is. The present changes. As a methodological genealogist. Our time. the present is no different from any other present.’7 If we ask the question. 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. 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. How does he argue for it? Let me point to an example of his temporalization of power before trying to answer this question. after all. One can. genealogy should try to grasp ‘why and how that which is might no longer be that which is. which is where the action is. or the high point. 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. depending on which methodological viewpoint he is occupying. or the moment of either completion or returning dawn. each present is the only one in which we can act. and any given set of interests will never dominate the philosophical field forever. But from the genealogical perspective.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. we should remember Foucault’s own advice. the above quotation insists. of possible transformation.

it seizes the body and not the product: ‘it is a seizure of time in its totality. in contrast. On either account. and body.’16 In contrast to discipline. Disciplinary power involves a temporal gradient aiming at the telos where discipline will function permanently without the application of unnecessary force. When he spells out this notion of power in the lecture of January 11. which draws on the work of the past to form present habits that will determine what people do in the future. consequently. and is thus essentially connected to the past. when discipline.’15 In other words. He starts off. ‘looks toward the future. The sovereignty model of power looks backward to the principle that founds its authority. and narratives that re-establish the tradition from time to time.12 Foucault’s Legacy in a capillary fashion. biopower is first discussed in terms of the mechanisms of security. his vision is clear: individuals in modern society are caught in the pincers of these different models of power.’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. discipline looks ahead and is thus more oriented to the present and the future than to the past. says Foucault. security is only ever a matter of probability. A more total hold.’12 Discipline. 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. This complication is necessary insofar as in the lecture from March 17. by distinguishing the three forms of power spatially: ‘sovereignty is exercised within the borders of a territory. as we might expect.’14 He then notes that the temporal dimension of security is also futural. and not of the time of service. but a perception that ‘will open onto a future that is not exactly controllable. towards the moment when it will keep going by itself and only a virtual supervision will be required. The experience of the temporality of modern society is the effect of these pincers. of an ‘indefinite series of mobile elements. ceremonies.’11 Whereas sovereignty depends on the idea of precedence. Disciplinary power. 1978. and it is repeated discontinuously in rituals. discipline is exercised on the bodies of individuals. contrasts to sovereignty power insofar as it is a total occupation of the individual’s ‘time. Modern temporality is produced through the conflict that results when the closure . and security is exercised over a whole population. life. will have become habit. This principle can be divine right or blood or birth. not precisely measured or measurable. 1976 he adds biopower as the third major formulation of power.

disciplinary. Foucault himself believes that although experiences are always singular. The temporality of universals Are the three dimensions of power ‘universals’? If so. Foucault offers a compelling analysis of the temporality of modern society—past. and future—with this three-dimensional analysis of power. there is a better correlation to the three dimensions of time (past. Thus. and future) when there are three modalities of power (sovereign. but instead that the putting into play of these universal forms is itself historical.’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. Foucault could reject Habermas’ criticism of him for being a crypto-normativist who smuggles in universal standards to which he is not entitled. (Think less in terms of an instrument of torture than of something more innocuous such as a drill chuck). three prongs gives a better grip and can apply more force than two. Insofar as anything that has a beginning also can have an endpoint.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.’19 On Foucault’s view. contrary to critics such as Jürgen Habermas. that is. present. does that imply that they are a priori. that Foucault cannot invoke universal principles. and biopower). eternal and necessary (as Kantians would have it)? Or do universals also have temporality? There is no reason to believe. Furthermore. present. he need not deny the applicability of all universal structures or values. then. Although Foucault may be suspicious of particular claims to universality. . Or at least the genealogy challenges us to imagine a state of affairs that lacked the universal in question. the inference is that any universal can have an end as well. The most effective reply is to point out that there can be a pincers effect generated by three prongs rather than two. ‘Singular forms of experience may perfectly well harbor universal structures. In fact. Genealogy is the method for showing that a universal begins at some point in historical time. I grant that the French word tenaille suggests a two-jawed instrument of torture. universals have temporality.The Temporality of Power 13 that the materiality of the past would impose on the present is opened up by the processes of desubjectification. In sum. sovereign and disciplinary.

In contrast to this insistence on universals. Foucault does in fact sometimes espouse a ‘methodological nominalism. intransigent as soon as. Foucault has a clear sense of when injustice is committed. in ‘Useless to Revolt?’ Foucault opposes universalist ‘strategists’ who. the critical pluralist can see that power unjustly violates the universal. They can have real effects and they are often insidious.’23 From a fictitious relation. It is “antistrategic”: to be respectful when a singularity revolts. So the critical pluralist can invoke the universal to counter injustice equally as effectively as the universalist. sovereigns. 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. A pluralist believes that universals are the results of interpretations. society. Some interpretations are better than others and it is not the case that ‘anything goes. which says that universals exist even if they are not a ‘thing.14 Foucault’s Legacy Foucault thus does not reject all universals. Paul Veyne. when faced with a particular injustice. Foucault presents the genealogist as someone who supposes that ‘universals do not exist. where the discovery of reason also led to the invention of disciplinary power. In contrast to phenomenology. and he will resist such acts of injustice in the name of the universal. but instead he has a nuanced attitude toward them. as in the dialectic of enlightenment. however. ‘my theoretical ethic is opposite to theirs. . a real subjection can be born. This methodology does not trivialize universals.’ Sometimes a universal can cover up injustice. Foucault’s ‘critical history of thought’ maintains a systematic skepticism toward ‘all anthropological universals. Foucault maintains. In contrast to these strategic universalists.’21 By universals here he does not mean moral principles so much as explanatory concepts such as state.’20 In other words. Foucault says. subjects.’ genealogy maintains as a methodological hypothesis that universals do not exist but with the caveat that they are not thereby ‘nothing. but of any time and place.’22 The critical historian views these anthropological universals as historical constructs. Foucault’s thought must be that the universal is not the sole provenance of the universalist. or madness. I therefore see Foucault as a critical pluralist. as objects that emerge historically when the subject tries to make itself into its own object. For instance. In sum. will argue that the injustice can be seen to be inconsequential when viewed from the perspective of the greater necessity of the whole.’ In dialogue with the French historian. Other times. Someone who is also a critical pluralist insists that not simply any interpretation will do.

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. if they did not think about the future? One might believe that without the future. which is. we have learned to prefer that . which Benjamin owned—Foucault writes. in a remark echoing Heidegger. and it is thus a way of not thinking about the future in the very act of seeming to think about it. however. How could the Greeks think about history. of not letting oneself be worried about the future. that is to say that we advance into the future with our back turned. ‘Let it all hang out!’ tells us to let our deep.27 Hand in hand with the development of historical consciousness goes the emergence of a deeper sense of self. Insofar as the Greeks placed a positive value on memory and such a negative value on the future. More recently. 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. Foucault’s reflections on the Greek sense of temporality are strongly influenced (without acknowledgment) by Walter Benjamin. 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. ‘for the Greeks what we have before our eyes is not our future but our past. inner self come to the surface and show itself for what it truly is. Foucault maintains. a ‘nullifying making present of the future. they did not develop the ‘historical consciousness’ that Foucault dates much later. however. Foucault remarks in his lecture of March 24. and Martin Heidegger. says Foucault. In fact.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. Either predetermined or senseless. 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.’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. 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. that Antiquity views the future as a nothingness that does not exist. there would be no historical sense of the past. Henri Bergson. The flip side of Christian ascesis is the ‘California’ cult of the self. this is the case. the future is sealed off by the meditation on death.

that is. Foucault himself treats the cult of the self with disdain and derision. Genealogy is thus not universal history.16 Foucault’s Legacy not everything needs to be flaunted.28 That is. because no such thing exists. now more than ever While the genealogical method is not the only current approach to critical theory. genealogy may unmask aspects of ourselves that we have acquired through domination. In reality . is not a single time span [durée]: it is a multiplicity of time spans that entangle and envelop one another. Either way—and here is the crucial difference from Hegelian dialectics—genealogy does not construct universal history. . The methodology of critical history does not posit that there is a single time in which all events stand. I believe that this overcoming is best achieved through genealogical temporalization itself. then. however else they are also constructed. their emplotment ought to be genealogical. 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. as I will now suggest by way of conclusion. The reason why genealogy can be dialectical is that it can serve either of two functions: it can be either vindicatory or unmasking. who in a famous disagreement with Einstein asserted the oneness of time29 —on the multiplicity of temporalities: History. In my estimation genealogy is Foucault’s most important legacy. and it must involve overcoming the duality of materiality and ideality. Foucault. The plural is important here. In point of fact. So the old notion of time should be replaced by the notion of multiple time spans . a single story about where humanity has been and where we are all going. This process of self-stylization has to occur genealogically. . for instance. however. The point is not to liberate our true self. genealogy is not necessarily opposed to dialectical emplotments. and therefore may want to reject. Perhaps I should even say ‘the histories of universals. but instead. and that some deep dark secrets are better kept hidden. Or genealogy may vindicate aspects of ourselves that we have overlooked because they are so close to us and so crucial to our identities. Whatever stories are told from now on. Contrary to Deleuze. even if it is the history of universals. However much he liked California. Foucault thus insists—presumably contra Bergson.’ with both words in the plural. we should style our self in a new way.

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.


2 3


5 6

7 8 9 10 11

12 13

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’s Legacy
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

19 20

21 22

23 24


26 27 28



Chapter 2

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

‘do not know what to do with themselves. Foucault and Heidegger Although there is no lack of efforts to read Foucault and Nietzsche together or indeed to align Foucault and Heidegger. when ‘even the poorest fisherman rows with golden oars. In the following. full of tears and laughter’ (Ibid. as Nietzsche puts it. recasting his first book. 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. This painted. 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. dappled happiness would be a ‘happiness humanity has not known thus far’ (GS §337). Nietzsche would compose his The Gay Science as a complex readerly appeal to philologists and scholars cum scientists of all stripes. Foucault scholarship overall tends to be split on these same terms.’ against the youthful enthusiasms of those who. GS §383). one has also to note how very tendentious this had. my friends.7 In this multifarious fashion. culturally different example of the gai sabre that was the song tradition of the Provencal knight-poets or troubadours.20 Foucault’s Legacy reader.’ a political convention that has yet to go out of style). Foucault’s Nietzsche only takes place by way of Heidegger albeit (and this point simply cannot be overemphasized) a very Francophone reading of Heidegger.8 . ‘I have ventured to paint my happiness on the wall. Against the ‘clamor’ of the ‘politicians.’ (The Gay Science (GS) §56). Like the sun at evening.6 Highlighting Nietzsche’s re-envisioning of his first elaboration of the relation between music and word. The Birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music in terms of the chronologically.. In this fashion. Foucault and Nietzsche. inevitably. one little adverted to by his advocates who often miss his extraordinarily melancholy but still and perfectly solar or divine joy: ‘—Pardon me.’ this would be ‘the happiness of a god full of power and love. to be for Nietzsche and if only because and very like Foucault in this regard. Nietzsche also and always sought to do more than just one thing in any of his writings.’ Nietzsche proposes yet another and still indeed very Foucauldian tactic.’ Nietzsche writes in a style captivating for Derrida and others on the seductive and forgotten art of friendship. cf.

reading Foucault qua Nietzschean (apart from Foucault’s Heidegger) is as misleading as reading Foucault qua Heideggerian (apart from Foucault’s Nietzsche). Gary Shapiro offers an . as part of this. to an archaeology. or so one pretends.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. On the level of rhetoric. is that reading both Nietzsche and Heidegger apart from one another is so common as to be automatic. Marx. a vague reflection on matters of philosophical style and rhetoric. The difficulty here. There is. like reading Nietzsche and Heidegger. vehemently anti-Heideggerian.A Philosophical Shock 21 For these and other reasons. 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. 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. Freud.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. But reading Foucault. In addition to such selective scholarly receptivity we may add the bean-counting politics of scholarly name-dropping. somewhat artificially given the pleonastic character of the term for Foucault. 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. like reading Deleuze. Foucault appropriates what he can take to be Nietzschean tactics for his own purposes—Michel de Certeau is superb on this. effecting a tactical chiasm between Foucault and Nietzsche as between Foucault and Heidegger. Indeed with respect to rhetoric and style. taking Foucault to be a master tactician in this regard and noting that Nietzsche too might be regarded in the same way. Nietzsche: in Ricoeur’s shadow Foucault is at times read together with 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. supposedly sanctioned readings of Foucault have been more or less winnowed from the rest.

such variations. the ‘three masters of suspicion.21 Nevertheless a range of critically epistemic tactics often associated with Nietzsche recur in Foucault. hence one may read Jean-Luc Marion’s Idol and Distance as offering another set of contenders for a new era. Freud. Nietzsche remains constant. Denys. . early and late.’16 It is in this critical spirit17 that Foucault responds to Ricoeur’s lectures on Freud. in a late-written preface to Human. Nietzsche’s philosophy. in a provocative instantiation of what most commentators call his perspectivism.’ invoking the three musketeers of hermeneutics Nietzsche. For his own part. . in the guise of Nietzsche.’19 I note that it is significant.20 Nor is it irrelevant that in. If Nietzsche goes further than Foucault it is because he does not merely claim.’ [HH §i]. Hölderlin. that ‘there is no truth’ but continues further to compound his own reflections. . insofar as those relations constitute a possible knowledge [savoir]. Ricoeur’s naming convention became standard even beyond Foucault. 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. the interpretive dynamic or contest between Ricoeur and Foucault (and I would add here: Deleuze) inevitably excludes Heidegger. very nearly post-political. Ricoeur reflects on ‘Interpretation as Exercise of Suspicion. and his project could be called a Critical History of Thought.18 setting Nietzsche alongside Marx and Freud.’ where Nietzsche. and amidst.22 Indeed. further reflecting on the perspectival significance of such perspectives on perspectives and as such. it is the critical tradition of Kant.’15 In just such a Kantian modality. 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). Writing as ‘Maurice Florence. and Marx. 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. that Ricoeur appropriates Nietzsche’s already conventional invocation not merely of the word but the phrasing of a ‘school of suspicion. For Douglas Smith. and in a serried array: our asceticism and our piety).’ Foucault contends that to ‘the extent that Foucault fits into the philosophical tradition. All too Human reminds his readers that his ‘writings have been called a school of suspicion [eine Schule des Verdachts] .22 Foucault’s Legacy important correction of this habitual reading of Foucault. 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. revelatory even.

24 Heidegger himself is yet another story and not only for Foucault scholars. As already noted.’ drawn from Ricoeur. So we take Foucault’s off-hand reflections as an ultimate confession: ‘. the very same and still very analytic lens often reveals rather more Heidegger in Foucault than Foucault himself liked to confess. thinks.’ somehow. etc. G. Hence and although one has now the benefit of several readings of Foucault and Heidegger. ceteris paribus. 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. Heidegger is as absent from Foucault as from Ricoeur.26 Foucault and Heidegger If one has had one’s Heidegger only by way of analytic readings such as Dreyfus’ (very) influential approach. 25 one continues even here and even for such recent perspectives.). Prado and others. .A Philosophical Shock 23 which did not mean (as Smith observes with some understatement) that Heidegger had no role to play.) in addition indeed to interdisciplinary readings that extend throughout the social sciences. and .’ Thus the triad ‘Marx. 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. a claim repeated in tension with Foucault’s last interview ‘My whole philosophical development has been determined by my reading of Heidegger. most French readers can be counted as exceptions. Freud and Nietzsche. I am simply a Nietzschean. functionally adumbrates not the relevance of Heidegger for Foucault but his irrelevance.27 As a corollary. Smith’s point is set contra Vincent Descombes’ interpretive troika for the explication of ‘French Philosophy. 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. But I acknowledge it was Nietzsche who got the upper hand. like Dominique Janicaud in addition to scholars like C.’23 But Foucault’s French readers are inherently strangers neither to Nietzsche nor to Heidegger and one can argue that. etc. to be faced with a neatly exclusive disjunction between either Heidegger and Foucault or Nietzsche and Foucault but rarely both together. .


Foucault’s Legacy

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.


Foucault’s Legacy

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

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. cf. test. his own very formalistic ecce homo. the patient remade as an ‘object of positive knowledge’ [BC 197. . Raynaud thus argues that if ‘Nietzsche can make of the Aufklärung an instrument for his critique of Reason. Michel Foucault’s philosophy continues the same critical tradition. and demonstration— and less and less a matter of healing: that issue remains the patient’s problem not the clinician’s. xviii]) as Foucault details this in The Birth of the Clinic. 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. as a post-Kantian project that was begun but ought not end with Nietzsche. 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. ‘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. 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.” ’46 If this is the panoptic example of Discipline and Punish.’ 43 Looking to the very same Kantian adumbration of the question of enlightenment as his own self-description.A Philosophical Shock 27 perspective on the enlightenment itself. in the philosophy of science. 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. emphasizes it. of show and tell. again. and this is significant. especially. 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. De Certeau. this is also the effective invention of modern medicine (all diagnosis.

to this sovereign power of the empirical gaze .’ Foucault writes of the relation between ‘ “things” and “words” where . .’47 Here Foucault alludes to Heidegger’s emphasis on physis as well as his unmistakable notion of truth as aletheia. Thus with respect to ‘living individuality’ and beyond the highly charged (because philosophically decisive) ‘old Aristotelian law.’48 In his preface to The Birth of the Clinic. the density of things closed upon themselves’ and the illuminating power of ‘the gaze that passes over them. hence Foucault’s coordination of Nietzsche. 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. 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). 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).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. and gradually into them. bringing them nothing more than its own light. Foucault recalls that ‘accession to the individual’ recalls ‘the most concentrated formulation of an old medical humanism’ (ibid. paradoxically.28 Foucault’s Legacy Speaking here of the change of clinical discourse and the changing perceptions of the ‘greyness of things. . . seeing and saying still are one. as he himself attests to this influence. beginning with the title The Birth of the Clinic but also in Foucault’s fourth section. . and Heidegger. Each move alludes neither to Heidegger nor to Nietzsche but to a Heidegger who reads Nietzsche. The residence of truth in the dark centre of things is linked. around them. . 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. Hölderlin. Sharing a Heideggerian lineage.).) 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. Foucault reads not only Heidegger but Nietzsche. where Foucault notes the Heraclitean ‘obscurity. 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.

Nietzsche concludes the first section of his ‘polemic’ (the polemical scholarly attack is. Foucault writes that ‘[m]edicine made its appearance as a clinical science in conditions which define. Foucault emphasizes not only origin and genesis [Ursprung. the rigorously ‘suspicious’ subtitle of Nietzsche’s Genealogie: Eine Streitschrift) with a reprisal of this same question: ‘What light does linguistics. as we recall. but awaiting in the darkness for us to attain awareness before emerging into the light of day and speaking. to the fact that there is such a thing as knowledge. We are doomed historically to history. where Nietzsche raises the question ‘what was the real etymological significance of the designations for ‘good’ coined in the various languages?’ (GM I: 4). Foucault is one of Nietzsche’s rare readers to suggest that we attend to Nietzsche’s questions. more often than not. leading us forward in our blindness. and especially the study of etymology. to the patient construction of discourses about discourses and to the task of hearing what has already been said. (BC xv–xvi) Nietzsche asks us to pay attention to the names and this we pretend to do. 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. Indeed. If Heidegger calls emphatic attention to what Nietzsche means by science [Wissenschaft] drawing a parallel to love and to passion [Leidenschaft]. where Nietzsche contends that ‘every table of values. every “thou shalt” known to .50 Foucault thus alludes to the first section of On the Genealogy of Morals.). Herkunft. 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. throw on the history of the evolution of moral concepts?’ (GM I: 17) The challenge as Nietzsche poses it is one Foucault embraces. contending as Nietzsche mused that ‘they all led back to the same conceptual transformation’ (ibid. In our time – and Nietzsche the philologist testifies to it – they are linked to the fact that language exists and that. together with its historical possibility. Entstehung. Like Heidegger. demonstrative or poetic – a meaning has taken shape that hangs over us. the domain of its experience and the structure of its rationality’ (BC xv). Genealogie] but also the good [agathon]. For Kant.A Philosophical Shock 29 In a voice including the language of Heidegger on science as much as Canguilhelm.

and every one of them needs a critique on the part of medical science. or to be present at everything. ‘The structure that commands clinical anatomy. singularly to be articulated in questioning. From such a moralizing. “Is it true that God is present everywhere?” a little girl asked her mother. one has to re-state what has never been said’ (BC xvi).30 Foucault’s Legacy history or ethnology. or to understand and “know” everything. all-knowing god.’ which means that ‘it has the dangerous privilege images have of showing while concealing’ (xvii). “I think that’s indecent. can penetrate the deepest abysses of being. and that thought is capable not only of knowing being but even of correcting it. using the thread of logic. Nietzsche reflects on the purely epistemological idea of an all-seeing. ultimate truth: ‘Today we consider it a matter of decency not to wish to see everything naked. Both the later Heidegger and the Heidegger of ‘What is Metaphysics?’ echo Foucault’s declaration that ‘this unspoken element slumbers within speech.’ (165).’’ (The Birth of Tragedy (BT) §15)). ocular discursive adaptability that continually changes with the technologies of its adumbration. must collaborate: the ear and touch are added to sight’ (163). Foucault seems post-Kantian as he notes almost in Heidegger’s voice that ‘in stating what has been said. to add nudity. the physician’s . driven outside its secret. rather than a psychological one.” (GS §iv) Emphasizing that ‘at the end of the eighteenth century .’ especially. the very idea of a transcendental. haptic.’ (Ibid.).) recalls Nietzsche’s emphasis on the ‘lateborn’ status of truth among human beings and indeed the discourse of corrective regulation. 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. .).’’ (Ibid. hitherto excluded from medical techniques. requiring ‘a sort of sensorial triangulation in which various atlases. timeless. Foucault goes on. Speech is thus for Foucault ‘an act of “translation”. 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. as Nietzsche goes on. moralistic perspective. requires first a physiological investigation and interpretation. education was given a positive value as enlightenment’ (BC 64). 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. and all medicine that derives from it. is that of invisible visibility. the language Foucault uses of the ‘birth of truth’ (ibid. 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. . This for Nietzsche is the scientific conviction of our age: namely ‘the unshakable faith that thought.

either under his influence or within a similar movement of thought. as Nietzsche does. (97) Speaking in terms of ‘events of the open domain’ (98). a life to which death gives a face that cannot be exchanged. analytically. And it is Canguilhelm who can be heard (along with Bataille) when Foucault compares ‘chest diseases’ with venereal diseases. the artist will always cling with rapt gaze to what still remains covering even after such uncovering.). as the sum of a certain number of isolatable degrees of certainty that were capable of rigorous calculation. BC 83–85). pace Levinas and Derrida. death is also the inherently singularizing end or limit of all mortal being in the world (and not only. .’ (Ibid. 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. Drawing. The point for Nietzsche as for Foucault is the point of perversion and the distractive. the birth of the clinic: In the period of Laplace. our own only-too-human mortality). was to be capable of transforming itself into a positive concept and offered to the penetration of a technique proper to calculation.A Philosophical Shock 31 ‘invisible visibility. a terminology echoing in Foucault in what is also indeed the Marxist sensibility of his discourse (cf.’ yet this ‘perverse’ emphasis does not follow for the reasons one might imagine. the intellectual bachelor’s investigative ‘laying bare. medicine discovered that uncertainty may be treated. . upon the inherently “ocular” (88) interest of science. the invention of positive diagnosis. sustaining focus on revelation. pace Heidegger. 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). 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. Hence Nietzsche contrasts the gaze of the scientist (or Foucault’s clinician) with the artist: ‘[w]henever the truth is uncovered. the clinic is read in Heideggerian terms that echo with Merleau-Ponty and Canguilhelm. as ‘diseases of love: they are the Passion. Thus this confused. negative concept .’ (172). . Foucault also traces the genesis of the pathological “fact” apart from the vagaries of individual illness.’ 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).

And. and. Thus the sciences ‘always carry within themselves the project. the idea of taxonomy has in the interim. Foucault emphasizes the overall project of science in terms of Heidegger’s hermeneutic phenomenology. In this Kantian spirit. the emphasis is a Heideggerian one inasmuch as it is a focus on death: ‘after Empedocles.32 Foucault’s Legacy Reading Heidegger on death.’ (The Order of Things (OT) 74). following Foucault but not less after Agamben as well as Borges and Eco. and that the irruption of finitude should dominate in the same way. in that irreconcilable. however remote it may be.’ (198). taxinomia (or taxonomy). this relation of man to death. only in the opening created by his own elimination: from the experience of Unreason was born psychology . of an exhaustive ordering of the world. authorizes a scientific discourse in a rational form. Foucault remarks that is perhaps understandable that ‘the figures of knowledge and those of language should obey the same profound law. his visible secret. in the second.51 If Foucault goes on to discuss Empedocles in a Hölderlinian mode. Western man could constitute himself in his own eyes as an object of science. 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.). 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. intermediate state in which reigns the law. Taxinomia. generally speaking. theory of science and the agonistics of a discipline The language of mathesis. alternately to be sure.’ (Ibid. become . from the integration of death into medical thought is born a medicine that is given as a science of the individual.). both Kant and Hegel). Keeping to the tenor of Nietzsche’s own reflections on genealogy. a discursive existence. 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. opens up the source of a language that unfolds endlessly in the void left by the absence of the gods?’ (Ibid. the harsh law of limit. which. . Theory of knowledge. he grasped within himself. the world is placed under the sign of finitude. in the first case.’ (197). 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. .

Indeed. there was a very simple reason for it: that life itself did not exist.’ taxinomia ‘treats of identities and differences’ as a ‘semiology confronted by history . (OT 127–128) For Foucault. Foucault was concerned with reading the history of science for the sake of a philosophical understanding of science. 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.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. Mathesis itself is to be understood. the general law of beings. it defines . in historical and social terms but that is also to say as carefully distinguished from the philosophy of science proper. if biology was unknown. and therefore of attributions and judgments: it is the science of truth. .).’ as ‘a science of equalities. by contrast.). And that. All that existed was living beings.). Although and like Nietzsche and Heidegger. along with Ricoeur rather than with Gadamer ‘from Schleiermacher to Nietzsche and Freud. . . and at the same time the conditions under which it is possible to know them’ (ibid. 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. .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. and this has been decisive for subsequent readings. the very idea of natural philosophy as is under siege: the idea of natural history is transformed taxonomically. apart from some early first attempts. finally to become biology .’ (Ibid. for it too is a science of order—a qualitative mathesis. but they do not realize that biology did not exist then. ‘in the strict sense.’ (Ibid. only Ian Hacking has taken Foucault as relevant for the philosophy of science and then only.’ (OT 74). his readers have been chary of this association. which were viewed through a grid of knowledge constituted by natural history. As the ‘knowledge of beings.

is combined with a rigorous reflection on the consequences of the Eternal Return (legions of Nietzsche commentators have yet to do the same). 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. it criticizes language. in its own name. our humanism.’ as Foucault describes ‘the notion that man would soon be no more—but would be replaced by the superman’ (OT 322). of course. in this respect. with a more extreme doubt than Descartes’ own and just as Nietzsche called for a more radical doubt than Descartes. on all possible knowledge. now defined as the ‘science of life. Foucault’s reflections are thoroughly epistemological in Nietzsche’s radical sense but also with respect to Heidegger’s brief on humanism.). which it takes over on its own account and brings to bear. our concern for him. and is answerable.’ (Ibid. it decomposes the language of everyday life. and that our modern thought about man.’ (OT 116). Biology.34 Foucault’s Legacy (cf. 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. but in order to recompose it and discover what has made it possible through the blind resemblances of the imagination. explaining that ‘this meant that man had long since disappeared and would continue to disappear. but in order to reveal its foundation. his ‘Promise-Threat. What is lacking is ‘radical questioning’ (ibid.’57 Writing ‘beyond’ good and evil.) 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. ‘On Truth and Lie in an ExtraMoral Sense.’ (OT 162). social conventionality and logic.’ turns out to be other than a philosophy of life and is hence and historically nothing ‘vital.).’ Thus ‘Natural history is situated both before and after language. OT 160–162). as on grammar. Life thus ‘becomes one object of knowledge among others. to all criticism’ if it also ‘resists this critical jurisdiction.58 . Nietzsche proposes to consider the parallel right and wrong of rationality and logic itself. The tiger’s back to which we are bound is. And so Nietzsche borrows from standard texts to do so. were all sleeping serenely over the threatening rumble of his non-existence. 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.’55 Foucault’s reflection on the implications of Nietzsche’s teaching of the Overman. This takes Foucault farther than Heidegger. 56 ‘Ought we not to remind ourselves—we who believe ourselves bound to a finitude which belongs only to us.

This modality frames Foucault’s revision of Kant. There is thus for Foucault a fourfold shift. 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. finding its fundamental necessity ‘in the existence—mute. and justification.). OT 333–335). inhabit as though by a mute occupation something that eludes him.) 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. and secretly impregnated with a potential discourse—of that not-known from which man is perpetually summoned towards self-knowledge. not of nature. Foucault accords with Kant. such as we find in ‘The “Cogito” and the Unthought’ in The Order of Things.A Philosophical Shock 35 Reading between Heidegger and Nietzsche. most of all when he invokes mathematics in his concluding chapter on ‘The Human Sciences’ pointing out that ‘the recourse to mathematics. a point coordinate with Nietzsche’s contention that ‘mathematics is merely the means for the general and ultimate knowledge of man. Foucault contends that ‘man is also the locus of a misunderstanding’ (OT 323). . in one form or another. already Heidegger’s. In this sense. but of man. not of the possibility of understanding. animate with a kind of frozen movement that figure of himself that takes the form of a stubborn exteriority?’ (Ibid. has always been the simplest way of providing positive knowledge about man with a scientific style. but of being. Nietzsche is the prophet of an end inaugurated not so much by ‘the absence or the death of God .’ (Ibid. Speaking in the same Kantian terms of the human being as ‘the locus of an empiricotranscendental doublet’ (OT 322). yet ready to speak. the question is no longer that ‘of truth. form.’ (325) Thus Foucault has all along been speaking of Heidegger if indeed by way of Nietzsche and Hölderlin (cf.’ (OT 351).) to the very Nietzschean and Heideggerian (cum Lacanian) question ‘How can man think what he does not think. 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. moving from the question ‘How can experience of nature give rise to necessary judgments?’ (ibid. The consequence is a tragically (in Nietzsche’s sense) rigorous (in Heidegger’s sense) musing upon the limits of cognition. but of the possibility of a primary misunderstanding.’ (ibid. . If Heidegger’s counter to Heisenberg is right—Heisenberg had thought.). as Heidegger reflects on the observation that ‘man everywhere encounters only himself’59 —Foucault’s vanishing subject is already Nietzsche’s.’ (GS §246). And Foucault has been speaking of Nietzsche all along. and .

’ Notes 1 2 3 4 Beyond Michel Foucault’s own ‘Nietzsche.. Hadot himself remains best on this but see McGushin. 183–192. Force. One tends not to read Nietzsche and Marx together. and those who do so tend not to get the Nietzsche bits straight (as Gillian Rose and Howard Caygill have noted). 2000) in addition to. as Beatrice Han highlights Foucault’s reading of Kant in Foucault’s Critical Project (Stanford: Stanford University Press. for an overview of some of the difficulties that bedevil any reading between Nietzsche and Marx. ‘Rationality. but as those scholars who once read Marx now abjure him (and his works) and newer scholars have never read him. ‘Foucault and Going Beyond (or the Fulfillment of ) Nihilism’ in Armstrong ed. ‘From Marx to Nietzsche: Neo-Conservatism. Edward McGushin’s Foucault’s Askesis: An Introduction to the Philosophical Life (Evanston: Northwestern University Press. and Power: Foucault and Habermas’ Criticisms’ in Armstrong. Michel Foucault: Philosopher (New York: Routledge.. like a face drawn in sand at the end of the sea. Cahiers de Royaumont (Paris: Gallimard. 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. See Pierre Hadot’s influential Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault (Oxford: Blackwell. include James Miller’s ‘Some Implications of Nietzsche’s Thought for Marxism.. ed. One has to add Marx along with Heidegger and Nietzsche. and Problems in Contemporary Political Theory. See Dominique Janicaud on this. Michel Foucault Philosopher. 2000). 1967).36 Foucault’s Legacy the return of masks. still more recently. 1992) 38–58. Foucault. see Clifford Geertz’s reflections on academic-cum-cultural power-exchanges in his ‘Anti-Anti-Relativism.’ Telos 37 (1978) or Anthony Giddens. not exceptions. Michel Foucault. to note that one has to add Marx is the equivalent of a sigh. Freud. ‘Foucault and Marx: The Question of Nominalism’ in Timothy J. McGushin emphasises Foucault’s reading of Descartes. Echoing Heidegger’s anti-humanist reflections and hence far from a world transfigured in our own image.’ American Anthropology 86 (1984): 263–178. This point goes beyond the differences between Ursprung and Herkunft as Foucault himself has emphasized in his discussion of ‘Nietzsche.).’ Profiles and Critiques in Social Theory (1982): 215–230. 2002). Marx’ in: Martial Guerolt. Foucault’s Askesis and Paul Veyne.. 283–300. Genealogy. Efforts. ed. see Etienne Balibar’s insightful discussion.’ (Ibid. 340–345. Nietzsche. Prado adverts to the important influence of both Nietzsche and Heidegger in Starting With Foucault: An Introduction to Genealogy (Boulder: Westview Press. More broadly. Note that C. The effort to find a voice for Marx in Habermas (and indeed Habermas’ criticism of Foucault) yields considerable challenges on more than one level. 2007). ed. History’ . and trans. Armstrong. 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. G.

the Subject. 97–114.. Michael Mahon. so to speak. Companion to Nietzsche (Cambridge: Blackwell. Power. Michel Foucault Philosopher. Foucault’s Nietzschean Genealogy: Truth.’ Corbin goes on to emphasize. ed. 1998) including Hadot and 1984). as well as Babich. 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. 45–60. 2008. See Michel de Certeau.) see Babich. Accessed May 18. Donzelot and the Eccentricity of Ethics (Basingstoke: Macmillan. of a Swedenborg etc. As Henry Corbin says in his June 1978 interview with Philippe Nemo: ‘A philosopher’s campaign must be led simultaneously on many fronts. 2006). ‘The Significance of Michel Foucault’s Reading of Nietzsche: Power. 1992). For an illustration. etc. G. See for a creative instantiation. . especially Pizer but see also C. 1995) and Todd May’s work in addition to Stuart Elden’s several studies (also to be considered in conjunction with Heidegger). ‘The Use and Abuse of “Ursprung”: On Foucault’s Reading of Nietzsche. Babich. and Political Theory’ in: Peter Sedgwick. of an Ibn ‘Arabi. 1994). ed. See for an introductory discussion. see Keith Ansell-Pearson. 1985) among many others. Foucault. ‘Gay Science: Science and Wissenschaft. and the Subject (Albany: State University of New York Press. ‘The Genealogy of Morals and Right Reading: On the Nietzschean Aphorism and the Art of the Polemic’ in Christa Davis Acampora. among others. Otherwise. On reading Nietzsche’s ‘genealo gies’ (of morals. See above notes.A Philosophical Shock 37 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 and as his readers in turn have analysed his emphases.’ Nietzsche-Studien 19 (1990): 462–478. Starting with Foucault: An Introduction to Genealogy (Boulder: Westview. her essay is a useful counter to the current. ‘Foucault and Bourdieu’ in The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley: University of California Press... 2006). science. See for example. Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. Nietzsche: A Critical Reader (Cambridge: Blackwell. Prado. largely analytic rage for reading Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals in preference to his other works.htm. Nietzsche’s Philosophy of Science: Ref lecting Science on the Ground of Art and Life (Albany: State University of New York Press. ed. Foucault and his Interlocutors (Chicago: Chicago University Press. 1995). can be set there together. The relevance of such an array is evident in Arnold Davidson’s nevertheless selective and consequently limited collection. The most insightful reader of/between Nietzsche and Foucault remains Gary Shapiro. ed. in short that scriptural and visionary (imaginal) works may be accommodated as so many sources offered up to philosophical contemplation. Although Jacqueline Stevens. religion. 1992) as well as Jeffrey Minson’s Genealogies of Morals: Nietzsche. his Archaeologies of Vision: Foucault and Nietzsche on Seeing and Saying (Chicago: University of Chicago Press.. 171–190.” Far from it! The philosopher’s investigations should encompass a wide enough field that the visionary philosophies of a Jacob Boehme. Chapter 5. 13–30. ‘philosophia no longer has anything to do with Sophia. See too Armstrong.amiscorbin.’ http://www. Leidenschaft and Music’ in: Keith Ansell-Pearson. ‘On the Morals of Genealogy’ Political Theory 31/4 (2003): 558–588 manages to overlook John Pizer’s.

Freud & Philosophy: An Essay on Interpretation. 2001). and rather than the several German varieties of Kant. Freud.’ New York Times Book Review. 1970) and The Archaeology of Knowledge (New York: Pantheon. Thomas A. Douglas Smith. 1996). 2. 1970). ‘Foucault. Paul Ricoeur. Bryan Reynolds and Joseph Fitzpatrick. In Paul Rabinow and Nikolas Rose. See Ricoeur. NB: this is a French rather than an Anglo-American Kant. Shapiro. Gilles Deleuze. 32–33. Genealogies of Morals but see too the alternative readings by Alan Megill and May. 1988) and Jean Baudrillard’s famous. .. 28. seems only to address scholars who follow Dreyfus’ Foucault/Heidegger. Denis Savage (New Haven: Yale University Press. cf. Carlson (New York: Fordham University Press. of course. ed.’ Smith. Ricoeur. Transvaluations. Originally published as: Oublier Foucault (Paris: Editions Galilée. Maurice Florence [Michel Foucault]. 1965). Cf. The discussant in question is. 183–192. trans. Cf. 40–44. 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 . foregrounding what amounts to a calculatedly elective affinity. trans. Archaeologies of Vision Foucault and Nietzsche on Seeing and Saying (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 33. 1977). ‘Nietzsche. ‘The Mandarin of the Hour – Michel Foucault. here 1. and very short: Forget Foucault (Cambridge: MIT Press.’ 1. The Essential Foucault: Selections from the Essential Works of Foucault 1954–1984 (New York: The New Press. 1–5. 2003). insightful. Transvaluations: Nietzsche in France 1872–1972 (Oxford: Clarendon Press. ‘The Transversality of Michel de Certeau: Foucault’s Panoptic Discourse and the Cartographic Impulse’ Diacritics 29/3 (Fall 1999): 63–80 in addition. Humanities in Society. 225. Nietzsche. 221. 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 . Ibid. That other scholars apart from Dreyfus find Heideggerian elements in Foucault’s writing is patent but Rayner. 1967). Idol and Distance. Dreyfus with a rather spare nod towards Rabinow. Cahiers de Royaumont (Paris: Gallimard. 2003). trans. 2007). See Jean-Luc Marion. Foucault (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Foucault. to Elden’s work on Foucault. perhaps unsurprisingly. Nietzsche’s Philosophy of Science. 1977). The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (London: Routledge. De l’interpretation: Essai sur Freud (Paris: Seuil. See Minson. 1971. 1980] and on de Certeau’s Foucault. see Timothy Rayner’s Foucault’s Heidegger: Philosophy and Transformative Experience (New York: Continuum.38 12 Foucault’s Legacy For an example of such restrictive engagement. Feb. 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. 1980). Foucault. 3 (Winter. Babich. Marx’ in: Martial Guerolt. 266–267. Freud & Philosophy. 46–56. But see especially Michel de Certeau’s L’Invention du quotidien: I Arts de faire [Paris: 10/18. 87–111. 1972) George Steiner. .

David Allison. ed. ‘Truth and Power. 2001). As Foucault goes on to say: ‘I’m not looking for anything else but I’m really searching for that .’ 127–128. Saying this does not mean that it is easy to incorporate Foucault in the increasingly quantified constellation or image of the social sciences. Culture. Searle and Foucault on Truth (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Prado can ruefully recall that as a student he opted not to hear Foucault speak. 2006). For yet another reading. 1927–1961 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press. 2004). . Dreyfus. Twentieth Century French Philosophy: Key Themes and Thinkers (New York: Wiley. Philosophy. a recollection which confirms quite apart from its personal significance for Prado.. ‘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. ‘On the Ordering of Things: Being and Power in Heidegger and Foucault. Nietzsche (Albany: State University of New York Press.’ (Ibid. Reading the New Nietzsche (Lanham : Rowman & Littlefield. See Dominique Janicaud. On these sensibilities. ‘Truth and Power. 128. Thus Hans Sluga argues that Paul Rabinow and Dreyfus overstate Foucault’s Heideggerian influences in Sluga ‘Foucault’s Encounter with Heidegger and Nietzsche. ed. 1989).. See my discussion of this theme throughout Babich.. The Cambridge Companion to Foucault (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. David Allison. Foucault. Ibid. that Foucault had been invited. 2003) in addition to Rayner.. 1977). 80–95. Heidegger. see Gavin Kendall and Gary Wickham. Schrift emphasizes the growing influence of analytic philosophy in France. as had MacIntyre and Rorty. The incompleteness of the sentence attests. Foucault. analytic and not. of course. accurate indeed inasmuch as professional philosophy seeks to follow an explicitly Anglo-American lead but although the ambition is . ed. undergirding the ambiguity that permits contrary interpretations.’ in Armstrong. Ibid. ‘Politics.’ in: Gary Gutting. Foucault.’ 250. 2005). C. 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. 1999) and note that while Kendall and Wickham mention Nietzsche (if only in passing).. ‘Foucault’s Encounter with Heidegger and Nietzsche. See note 27 above. Alan Milchman and Alan Rosenberg. Using Foucault’s Methods (London: Sage Publications. See Prado. Michel Foucault Philosopher. Music and Eros in Hölderlin.A Philosophical Shock 25 39 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 See for a recent collection. to its oral character. 131. . eds. G. For a how-to. they steer well clear of Heidegger. Like Flowers: Philosophy and Poetry. 2005). Words in Blood. 110–139. Ibid.’ 250. see Alan Schrift. Foucault and Heidegger: Critical Encounters (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.). 2006).. See Ian Hacking. to give a lecture in the first place. Foucault’s Heideger.’ 251. Generation Existential: Martin Heidegger’s Philosophy in France. Sluga. The New Nietzsche (New York: Dell. See further. Heidegger en France (Paris: Albin. 2001). in two volumes and Ethan Kleinberg.

Heidegger’s Speaking Language. 1963 [Fordham University Press.’ in Ferry and Renaut. Luc Ferry and Alain Renaut. ed. and Jacobi.. 157–162. De Certeau. on the one hand. 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. here 111. Preface. What does not waver. 1997).. we know. xi. Raynaud. 149–162. romantic idealism from Schiller to Hegel. ‘On the Analytic-Continental Divide in Philosophy: Nietzsche’s Lying Truth. 1951 [1938]). the very idea of the hunt itself has lost a bit of luster: given search engines. Why We Are Not Nietzscheans. The Practice of Everyday Life. See William J. See Tilliette. 46. See for a discussion and further references Allison. Jacques Bouveresse. eds. 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. all we need do is click and we on our way to an automatic table of answers. For a reading of Hölderlin’s Hyperion and death. William J. Robert de Loaiza. Freud. Heidegger und Hölderlin (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann. Reading the New Nietzsche. eds.’ in Ferry and Renaut. Like Flowers. students of literary criticism and.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. A House Divided: Comparing Analytic and Continental Philosophy (Amherst : Prometheus/Humanity Books. Words in Blood. In a book of the same era. such as Jules Vuillemin.. bien entendu. 46–47. is the enthusiasm for things analytic in Paris as in Oxford. trans. ‘Nietzsche as Educator. Originally published as Naissance de la Clinique (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. G. and so exceeds a comparable formation for their Anglo-American counterparts that the distinction wavers. and Philosophy’ in C. Marx. Prado. BC xiii. 2003]). here 145. In today’s electronic era. Why we are Not Nietzscheans. is concerned with death as with sex and Nietzsche has plans for Zarathustra or a substitute to die. This philological analysis is a focal point of Foucault’s ‘Nietzsche. see the conclusion of Babich. Schelling. 2003). 63–103. Richardson. Gaston Granger. ‘Voll Verdienst. 1963). 141–157. De Certeau. Such a historical background characterizes those Schrift identifies as the ‘leading’ French scholars. x–xii. Through Phenomenology to Thought (The Hague: Nijhoff. ‘Hölderlins Empedokles im Lichte Heideggers. The Birth of the Clinic. The Practice of Everyday Life.. ‘The Nietzschean Metaphysics of Life. 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 . 2000). Michel Foucault. eds. Why we are Not Nietzscheans. doch dichterisch wohnet / Der Mensch auf dieser Erde’. on the other hand. I discuss this and other issues in Babich. Richardson would draw attention to the same Heideggerian difference between the said/unsaid.’ Empedocles leaps into the volcano and the Freudian man. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ed. Robert Legros.. etc. Xavier Tilliette.’ in Peter Trawny. 110–140..

Kritische Studienausgabe ed. Walter Biemel.. 2004) is an exception. 1993 [1984]). 1995). Thought. Heidegger cites Werner Heisenberg. Heidegger. KSA 11.’ see the first two chapters of Babich. 27.’ 211–223. ‘Das Naturbild. From Phenomenology to Thought. see Linda Alcoff’s essay on Foucault ‘Foucault’s Philosophy of Science: Structures of Truth. cited above. Martin Heidegger. In addition to Gutting and Hacking. Blackwell Companion to Continental Philosophies of Science (New York: Blackwell.. Babich. 2006).877. William Lovitt. 1977). 1. . 640–641. Gary Gutting. trans. Barry Allen. (New York: Harper Torchbooks. Martin Heidegger. (Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann. 2005).A Philosophical Shock 52 41 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 See on Heidegger’s mathesis. 2006) and for a critique of this reading of mathesis. Like Flowers. ed. Dmitri Ginev. and Desire (Dordrecht: Kluwer. ‘Heidegger’s Philosophy of Science: Calculation. Language and the Politics of Calculation (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari (in fi fteen volumes) (Berlin : Walter de Gruyter. 589–599 as well as Stuart Elden on calculation in Speaking Against Number: Heidegger.’ . Context of Constitution: Beyond the Edge of Epistemological Justification (Dordrecht: Springer. 80 [98]. For further references and a discussion of such ‘borrowings. Nietzsche. The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. Words in Blood. 211–223 as well as Joseph Rouse and Yvonne Sherrat. ed.’ in Babich. The Question Concerning Technology. ed. Knowledge and Civilization (Boulder: Westview. §14b. 4. and Gelassenheit. Nietzsche. Hölderlins Hymne ‘Der Ister’ (Summer semester 1942). Errancy. 1980). Structures of Power.

which belongs to the general effort. and against which it reacts.’ at least ‘man’ as ordinarily understood. Hence. Everyone who does not die in another way in the meantime will eventually die a ‘natural’ death occurring at the end of life. difficult to grasp. within whose enormously broad position the French philosophical discussion unfolds. But many. as Descombes claims for French philosophy in general. and less than obviously correct. 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. Foucault’s thesis is puzzling. A second set of questions concerns the relation of Foucault’s thesis to Hegel. on the surface. Is he finally successful in breaking out of the Hegelian framework? Or out of the French Hegelian framework? Or is the result. Hegel. One set of questions concerns the interpretation of his thesis.Chapter 3 Foucault.1 is illustrated by Foucault’s thesis. 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. But it becomes easily legible and very interesting. one must conclude that despite his efforts he fi nally does not . The last century was one of the bloodiest in human history. but puzzling thesis of the death of man. typical among leading French thinkers of his generation. Descombes’ suggestion that Hegel is the master thinker. over some seven decades. filled with genocides of all kinds. to break out of Hegel’s French connection.2 And early in this century it is hard to be optimistic that it will be better. far too many also die in violent ways often linked to the particular historical moment in which they lived. and Foucault’s familiar. if read against the complex Hegelian background of twentieth-century French philosophy. perhaps not even interesting. has clearly not ‘died’ if the reference is merely to physical death. But ‘man. even if one might still dispute its central claim. not clearly intelligible. What is the meaning of Foucault’s famous thesis of the death of man? Death is unfortunately an everyday occurrence.

hence for whom it is crucial. even to be anti-Hegelian. In an important sense Foucault’s thesis is not anti-Hegelian but Hegelian. phenomenology. who. Yet this encounter. which at first glance appears not to be Hegelian. which is not often discussed. hence a grasp of the specific nature of French Hegelianism that. since it provides helpful insight for this discussion6: All the great philosophical ideas of the past century—the philosophies of Marx and Nietzsche. Merleau-Ponty called attention to Hegel. Hegel’s French connection The Hegelian background of twentieth-century French philosophy is not well understood. Who is an existentialist and when existentialism begins depends on the point of view. In that case. indeed disinterest of those interested in French philosophy in Hegel. his view of the subject. 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. German existentialism. but not identical. which appears to be a reaction against Hegel. which belongs to the antiHegelian effort to break out of Hegel’s enormous and continuing impact on French philosophy. whom he understood as the first existentialist. the nature of the subject.The Death of Man 43 go farther than Hegel. dominated and perhaps still dominates French philosophy. even for such authors as Levinas or Merleau-Ponty. an important French Hegel scholar. would turn out to be Hegelian. with at least one way of reading Hegel’s position.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. which must be cited at length. perhaps all of the important French philosophers since the 1930s are marked by their encounter with Hegel. one of the ways of grasping one of the deepest of his insights. 5 In a comment on the work of Jean Hyppolite. in a famous passage.3 which is fully matched by the lack of interest. is mainly ignored. can be understood as in fact broadly compatible. at least at first glance. Reasons include the lack of interest of Hegel scholars in the unusual French reading of Hegel. since Kojève. and . These two questions are related. whose positions depend on their reading of Hegel. smacks of German idealism in a way that has nothing at all to do with French philosophy. I will be arguing that Foucault’s thesis. hence contained within his overall position. Most.

is based on ignorance about or willful disregard of the prior philosophical tradition. broader than the understanding.44 Foucault’s Legacy psychoanalysis—had their beginnings in Hegel. which is by now well entrenched. Hegel’s successors have placed more emphasis on what they reject of his heritage than on what they owe to him. Merleau-Ponty points out the importance of reestablishing connections to Hegel. while maintaining the sharpest sense of subjectivity. since our historical moment . and historical contingency but which nevertheless does not give up the attempt to master them in order to guide them to their own truth. Hegel’s importance is acknowledged by Heidegger. on that other. if we remain dedicated to a new classicism. as he also suggests. whose version of the critical philosophy carries forward many of Kant’s insights in forging a link to history that cannot later be reversed. it was he who started the attempt to explore the irrational and integrate it into an expanded reason. Hegel is the most important Kantian. This myth. If Kant is certainly the single most important thinker of modern times. who points to the need to dialogue with and overcome Hegel if Western philosophy is to remain viable. as it turns out. a leading twentieth-century anti-Hegelian. which have been covered up in different ways. He is the inventor of that Reason. there is the suggestion that. it suggests that since Hegel all the important ideas emerge in reactions of different kinds to him. which remains the task of our century. There would be no paradox involved in saying that interpreting Hegel means taking a stand on all the philosophical. that origin itself. If we do not despair of a truth above and beyond divergent points of view. civilizations. and which is routinely repeated by Husserlians. Not that Hegel himself offers the truth we are seeking (there are several Hegels. First. But. the connection to phenomenology.8 Third. then no task in the cultural order is more urgent than re-establishing the connection between on the one hand. and even the most objective historian will be led to ask which of them went furthest). the thankless doctrines which try to forget their Hegelian origin and. political. and religious problems of our century. but all our antitheses can be found in that single life and work. an organic civilization. which later phenomenologists and historians of phenomenology consistently work to suppress. which can respect the variety and singularity of individual consciousnesses. A cardinal example is the view that Husserl invented phenomenology. ways of thinking.7 Second. Certainly one of the most obvious connections is. This passage is important for our purposes for four reasons. That is where their common language can be found and a decision confrontation can take place.

there are obviously different ways to interpret Hegel.17 After Wahl’s book. including Alexandre Kojève.9 Cousin met Hegel in Heidelberg in 1817 and 1818. Gwendoline Jarczyk. Since Wahl. Lucien Herr contributed a short.’14 In a lengthy work on scientific explanation. there is no way to go beyond Hegel in our time. different ways to understand his ideas.10 In Cousin’s wake.11 At the beginning of the twentieth century. in lectures at the Sorbonne that were eventually published in book form. Bernard Bourgeois. Victor Delbos. different ways to comprehend the dimensions of his enormous and continuing influence.The Death of Man 45 is circumscribed by Hegel or the reaction to him. who are both in Christian orders. but Descombes is thinking of his more charismatic ‘French’ counterpart Alexandre Kojève. rereads French philosophy through Hegel. an important but traditional French Hegel scholar.16 In an influential work. Labarrière and Jarczyk. there have been a number of important students of Hegel in France. as Merleau-Ponty points out. Merleau-Ponty has in mind Hyppolite. Merleau-Ponty’s suggestion that Hegel is the central philosopher of our time suggests that he is also the central ‘French’ philosopher. the Kant scholar. Emile Meyerson wrote an entire volume on Hegel’s philosophy of nature [Naturphilosophie]. Jean Wahl drew attention to the relation of Kierkegaard and Hegel.15 The neo-Kantian. the dominant philosophical presence in the French debate. have done . In the last decade of the nineteenth century. French Hegel studies quickly began to take off. Jean Hyppolite. neutral presentation of Hegel’s life and thought. In other words. and now Jean-François Kervegan. different ways to assess his accomplishment. This suggestion is developed by Descombes who. 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. the first such work in French devoted to Hegel’s thought. In his remark. Léon Brunschvicg. writing in Merleau-Ponty’s wake. Such discussions include several chapters in a work by Victor Basch on classical German views of political philosophy12 and a monograph by Paul Roques. Hegel’s thought was discussed by a number of French writers. efforts to surpass Hegel remain within the folds of the vast Hegelian position. became interested in his work. contributed a violently critical chapter on Hegel in his account of consciousness in Western philosophy. French Hegel studies continued in a desultory manner. French Hegel studies began in the nineteenth century. Pierre-Jean Labarrière.13 Slightly later. and remained in correspondence with him. Finally. 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.

18 who remains a controversial figure in France. Jacques Derrida. whose many translations and commentaries are justly regarded as important. 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. they are different. Kojève sharply discounts the familiar right-wing. Hyppolite was a product of the French elite system of schools. opposed in nearly every important way. after a lengthy period in Germany. Andre Breton. 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. but who are not known to have attended his lectures. Bourgeois is a classical Hegel scholar. emigrated from Russia. Kojève. to France. or so-called young Hegelian reading of Hegel. He famously taught himself German at the same time as he produced the first translation into French of Hegel’s Phenomenology (1939).46 Foucault’s Legacy much to call attention to Hegel from an orthodox Christian perspective. Their Hegel interpretations also differ markedly. whose original name was Alexandr Kojevnikov. whereas Hyppolite illustrates first-rate. In effect. 1968.20 who was only translated into French later. include Jean-Paul Sartre. which produced a sensation in French philosophy. but otherwise typical academic interpretation. including their views of Hegel. Speaking generally. with Lukàcs. was not constrained by fidelity to the text. the year of the student revolution in France. is anachronistically influenced by Marx and Heidegger. Raymond Queneau. Kojève has had an immense and continuing impact on later philosophy in France. and the Collège de France.19 The two dominant figures in French Hegel studies in the twentieth century are certainly Kojève and Hyppolite. the German Nazi legal theorist. anthropological view. Others influenced by Kojève’s reading of Hegel. and Michel Foucault. Besides the fact that they were interested in Hegel and died in the same year. Kojève represents the Marxist. Georges Bataille. later a professor at the Sorbonne. Kojève. Maurice Merleau-Ponty.g. His Hegel. who took his place at the Sorbonne. he rereads the Phenomenology through the lens of Hegel’s . Jacques Lacan and Raymond Aron) most of whose members later became well known in French culture. but French Hegel studies as they continue today are mainly due to Hyppolite’s influence. Kervegan. On the contrary. called attention to himself in his effort to rehabilitate Carl Schmitt. where he acquired a doctorate under Jaspers. the Ecole normale supérieure. theological approach to Hegel in working out a strongly left-wing.

Kleinberg reads Kojève as a reader of Heidegger who is also reading Hegel. Kojève was claiming that history had already come to an end. The fantastic influence of Kojève’s Hegel was made possible by the fascination with this avowedly brilliant. Yet his flamboyant approach left strong traces in the later French debate. He had no equal in French philosophy and no successor. the outsider who galvanized French thought. For whatever reason. his grasp of German. sober scholarly commentator. His impact was only heightened by his mastery of the text. and the paradoxical nature of his claims. There is a measure of truth in his suggestion that French thought continues to react less to Hegel. and Marx. and whose theories form the horizon of the debate at any given moment.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. Descombes’ reading of French philosophy since Kojève through his Hegelian glasses is further reinforced by Ethan Kleinberg. which Sartre expounded in ‘Existentialism is a Humanism. In comparison. who has always been less influential than such other phenomenologists as Husserl and Heidegger. 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. Kojève. but rather to Kojève’s Hegel. Russian-born Hegel commentator as well as by the specific structure of French philosophy.The Death of Man 47 famous analysis of the master-slave relation. which he describes as arising in reaction to Heidegger as read by Kojève. such masters of suspicion as Freud. As his lectures were coming to an end and the world was sliding toward the onset of the Second World War. was the very model of the well-informed.21 To the best of my knowledge. frequently in excruciating detail. In France. French philosophy has long favored foreign models. After Sartre published Being and Nothingness (1943). he nearly instantly became world famous and the main intellectual force in both . on selected central figures. Nietzsche. some of whom are French and others of whom are foreign. Kleinberg is the first to assert in detail that Kojève is the central influence in the French Heidegger debate. Early in the last century. or master thinkers.’ but that Heidegger was later at pains to refute.22 He appeals to the reaction to Kojève to understand the French Heidegger. as a basic opposition between sameness and otherness (le même et l’autre). was sui generis. who was less exciting. as Ricoeur remarks.24 but also Heidegger. the discussion often progresses through commentary. Hyppolite. in the twentieth century. Henri Bergson was the dominant figure.

Deleuze. His writings on Hegel and Husserl mainly apply Heideggerian insights.’32 Derrida. this is often a point of attack.31 Kojève.’27 The implicit and explicit criticisms of Hegel formulated by Lyotard. Guattari and Derrida all belong in different ways to the anti-Hegelian camp.48 Foucault’s Legacy French philosophy and literature. Lyotard’s refusal of general explanation (méta-récits) counts as a refusal of system. who descends from both Heidegger and Kojève. which is still such a large. develops a similar point. Guattari and others pale by comparison with Derrida’s critique.25 The reaction to Kojève’s Hegel took different forms. Though there is no agreement about postmodernism. Being and Time presents incompatible views of transcendental phenomenological truth [veritas transcendentalis]30 and a hermeneutical conception based on the circle of the understanding. Heidegger. 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. hence. Derrida paradoxically indicates the deep impact of Hegel on his own ideas. such supposedly postmodern thinkers as Lyotard. which sometimes seems to us to be revolting) in identifying the Concept and Time. In France. including through the slippery notion of deconstruction. 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.29 Derrida has written widely on the positions of Husserl. but also burns us. but silent presence in French philosophy. Deleuze. makes this point against Hegel in his critique of the supposedly Hegelian . and Hegel.28 Hegel is widely present in Derrida’s writings.26 This line is further pursued by Deleuze and Guattari who organize their work in a discontinuous manner into plateaus. which are connected together through subterranean passages they call ‘rhizomes. to their positions. where Hegel is often understood as presenting a closed system. history in general) to an end and to initiate the era of wisdom (whose light already shines on us. Though extremely critical. ‘Hegel was able to bring the history of philosophy (and. such as a rejection of perceived Hegelian principles. more than it warms us. 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. According to Kojève. 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. which he waged over many years. insights and arguments as well as the acceptance of other. alternative conceptual models or master thinkers within the French context. who was influenced by Heidegger. often very critically.

36 in France Foucault never reached the level of either Sartre. the last Marxist. centered on competing conceptions of subjectivity. Sartre is the last Hegelian and. Sartre’s journal. Foucault rebelled against usual sexual stereotypes and other social conventions as well as the intellectual trends of his time. eventually writing his Critique of Dialectical Reason [Critique de la raison dialectique. like others of his generation. It is perhaps not as well known as it ought to be that Foucault grew up intellectually in a conceptual environment dominated by Hegel.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. whose thought he studied and against which he. I would even say. Foucault rebelled against Hegel as well as Sartre. is condemned to meditate on previous forms of thought. even as directed against French philosophy itself. since French philosophy has always been broadly humanist.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 fact he explicitly disclaims this possibility in his insistence that philosophy. whom he embraced. Foucault also wrote on Hegel for the DES. whom he criticized. reacted. hence the French name ‘glas. In this sense. 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. represented a form of intellectual terrorism.’38 For the young Foucault. as directed against a number of contemporary French thinkers such as Sartre under the influence of such French philosophical models as Heidegger and Nietzsche. a masters degree in philosophy. and. Les Temps Modernes. 1960]. His striking thesis of the death of man arises in the context of the anti-Hegelian revolt in Kojève’s wake. Though important in the French context. Like Althusser.The Death of Man 49 theory of ‘absolute knowledge as closure or as the end of history. later turned against communism and Marxism as Sartre moved in that direction.’33 Yet Hegel never claims to bring philosophy to an end in his system. or Heidegger. Like many others of his generation. in imitation of the North American model.39 . what is at present called. which comes after the fact. In the process of coming to intellectual maturity.

Sartre’s journal. written while he was under severe pressure after the war. his alliance with Marxism and the French Communist Party was called into question.41 Sartre was also quickly attacked from another direction by Heidegger. different route to follow. was paradoxically combined with an emphasis on the deconstruction or better the later banishment of the subject.44 Heidegger’s attack was directed against the humanism Sartre featured. Sartre’s existentialism turns on the improbable view of subjectivity he works out in Being and Nothingness. 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. against Sartre’s view of subjectivity. sought to protect himself by cultivating friends in the French cultural world. Heidegger. Sartre’s colleague attacked the Sartrean conception of the subject as nondialectical and starkly dualist in ‘The Battle over Existentialism’ (1945).43 Pierre Bourdieu.46 The central role of Dasein in Being and Time. Heidegger. this attack signaled the end of Sartre’s intellectual hegemony on French intellectual life. supposedly deeper humanism. was closer to Hegel than the still very Cartesian Sartre. which was translated only later into French. nearly seamlessly replaced his French counterpart as the central intellectual reference. and phenomenology as existential phenomenology. Heidegger’s supposed humanism. now gave way in The Letter on Humanism to a theory that retreated back behind the modern concept of the subject. The attack on this concept arose from different directions nearly simultaneously. at the time the leading sociologist.50 Foucault’s Legacy A recurrent theme in the discussion at this time was the subject.’45 In the Letter on Metaphysics (1948). which helped him gain access to a dominant position in the French intellectual establishment. for instance in ‘Existentialism is a humanism. after the war. who. According to Didier Eribon. Merleau-Ponty. in effect a form of humanism without a subject. and against any view of the subject from the angle of vision of traditional humanism. understood this work as indicating a new. including his effort to recover metaphysics as well as his conception of the subject as Dasein. when the attack succeeded rapidly. which became extremely influential.42 The reactions to this latter attack diverged.40 In the pages of Les Temps modernes. who understood the subject not as transcendent to but as in the world. . in rejecting Sartre’s effort to ally existentialism with ontological phenomenology when. Heidegger here professes a new. In the meantime. his slightly younger colleague. Sartre’s view of the subject was again attacked slightly later by the structural anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss in La Pensée sauvage. His Letter was simultaneously directed against a selection of his own earlier views. who lived in the French occupation zone.

In his later Marxist period.50 In now giving up the subject and returning back behind Descartes. This point is strikingly made by Bergson: ‘All modern philosophy derives from Descartes .’ Merleau-Ponty suggests integrating existentialism into Marxism. especially in France. . . Heidegger suggests a turn to what he calls humanitas in the service of being. . Heidegger seemed to be making good on his claim to be a modern pre-Socratic.The Death of Man 51 simultaneously rejects Dasein. His earlier conception of Dasein as a subject always already in the world. . The turn from a ‘Cartesian’ view of the subject to a disembodied. initially in Search For A Method (1957) in which he offered existentialism to ‘prop up’ Marxism so to speak. In place of humanism. Descartes raises against his theory the possibility that he is quite simply mad. Others. which immediately parachuted him to the forefront in French intellectual circles. is certainly not Cartesian. unrevised. All the tendencies of modern philosophy coexist in Descartes . Heidegger now claims that the true humanism is to be found in thinking (Denken) lying beyond philosophy. This project was later carried out by Sartre from his deeply Cartesian perspective. metaphysical sense. even antiCartesian in reversing the traditional French approach to philosophy on the basis of the subject. whether under Heidegger’s influence or independently. Montaigne and even conceivably Augustine. epistemological placeholder view of . traditional humanism that in his opinion is inevitably based on metaphysics. His new view of thought beyond a subject was even less Cartesian. but without humanism in the old. later in the gigantic. was very influential. The Cartesian element in French philosophy is often regarded. sought to weaken or eliminate subjectivity as a factor in their theories.’47 This idea is independently reaffirmed by Derrida in a dispute with Foucault concerning a remark in Histoire de la folie about Descartes. All modern idealism comes from there. in particular German idealism . hence as not transcendent to it. nearly formless Critique of Dialectical Reason (1960). In the last paragraph of his critique of Sartre’s concept of the subject in the ‘Battle over Existentialism. Heidegger’s attack on humanism. as identical with philosophy itself. and any traditional form of subjectivity. . In an important passage in the first of the Meditations. Others rushed to criticize Sartre as well as to work out his post-Cartesian view of the subject. . Sartre sought in effect to reinforce his view of the subject in responding to Merleau-Ponty’s criticism.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.

62 The formulation of a humanist. advances a related thesis concerning the end of human being. originally formulated by Engels.52 Foucault’s Legacy subjectivity51 resulted in a series of variations on the ‘decentered’ conception of subjectivity featured in the later Heidegger. Kant makes the possibility of knowledge depend on an unconscious and unknowable activity through which a conceptual subject ‘constructs’ the knowable object of experience. The emphasis on alienation in Lukács’ book that was later confirmed by the publication of several unknown.57 In the Critique of Pure Reason.55 Barthes substitutes a concept of the author writing for the concept of the person. Piaget. that although there are myths there are no authors. Derrida. resolutely philosophical reading of Marx’s position threatened the Marxist view of Marx. who simply assumes without argument that philosophy has come to an end in Hegel’s theory. In French philosophy. According to Kojève. in which history is the beginning point but not the end point of a quest for intelligibility. Goldmann. The latter was influenced by Heidegger during his period in Germany before coming to France.59 This view has been understood as the claim. 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. revolutions and philosophy. here influenced by Marx. who is typical of structuralists in that regard. Although any number of French structuralist figures. notably in the views of Foucault and Derrida. Heidegger’s thesis was anticipated by Kojève. the end of the free. for instance. is concerned to avoid a conception of the subject that has anything to do with lived experience. Althusser and Foucault.60 Althusser’s so-called theoretical antihumanism is the basis of his structuralist Marxism61 that refuses any form of anthropology.53 Under the influence of Kojève and Heidegger. including Barthes. 56 The structural anthropologist Lévi-Strauss advances a conception of history independent of human being. a similar thesis was quickly worked out by others. His antihumanism is intelligible against the background of the Marxist debate roughly since Lukács’ brilliant History and Class Consciousness.52 This thesis echoes through recent French philosophy. as transcending philosophy in a science of history and society. anthropological. Piaget.63 Althusser’s intervention in the debate was meant to defend the orthodox Marxist view of Marxism as a science by admitting . historical human individual following from the end of wars. the end of history is also the end of human being. 54 and so on could be mentioned. Kojève. this point can be illustrated through the theories of Lévi-Strauss. Deleuze.

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. 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. Nietzsche and others. the result is an anonymous system without a subject that marks a return to the seventeenth century.’76 . Althusser’s intent.64 His antihumanist reading of Marx. If. hence against the Cartesian heritage. But man has not been put in the place of God since there is only ‘an anonymous thought. as has been claimed. Lévi-Strauss and Althusser put subjectivity into parentheses in order to constitute structuralist anthropology and Marxism as social sciences.70 Among the structuralists. is to abolish the subject as Marx understood it in order to ‘save’ the Marxist view of Marx.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.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. ‘structuralism’ is nothing other than a superficial effort to formulate a general methodology for the human sciences. theory without identity .66 Foucault’s thesis of the death of man arises in the context of a general French turn against subjectivity. or as antihumanism. knowledge without a subject.74 This conception came into being in the eighteenth century between two types of language. which cannot be understood apart from the political struggle to maintain Marxist orthodoxy. . Foucault maintains that the conception of human being is ‘finished’ [‘fini’]. that cannot be the object of a science. when human being gave itself a representation in the interstices of language temporarily in fragments.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. they are not even sciences at all since they rely on a conception of human being that cannot be known.71 then Foucault is not a structuralist.67 Foucault’s radical attack on a certain conception of human being is misconceived as an attack on human being as such. He objects to the very idea of social science as in principle mistaken.72 Influenced by Kojève.69 And his later work precisely centers on tracing various forms of human practice.75 Our task today is to think the disappearance of human being since it is now in the process of disappearing. . under the influence of Heidegger. Social sciences are not only false sciences. since it is limited to an analysis of the concept or the representation of human being. As Foucault later put it.73 Heidegger and others.

80 the emergence of the world as picture is the fundamental event of the modern age. the realm of philosophical discourse.81 and the interpretation of man as subjectum is the metaphysical presupposition for all future anthropology. suggests that the concept of the subject or even the subject comes into being and passes away.79 where subjectum is a translation of hypokeimenon. Foucault argues a similar point. who is also influenced by Nietzsche. In ‘The Age of the World Picture’ (1938) Heidegger claims that every age is grounded by metaphysics.89 He sees the alternatives as the idealist view of the subject as constitutive. even in historicized form.54 Foucault’s Legacy Foucault’s thesis can be understood as amplifying Heidegger’s later turn away from the subject. He does not so much dispense with as offer a novel analysis of the subject. not only to the analysis of truth. In an important passage linking his genealogical analysis to subjectivity. 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.87 and since there is nothing outside of power structures.78 In the modern period man has changed in becoming subject.88 For Foucault.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. and the phenomenological view of subjectivity. but also to subjectivity.’86 points to the need to go beyond the texts.77 It is decisive for the modern age that the world is transformed into a picture and man into a subjectum. 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. or abstract philosophical discussion. or prior to. that on Foucault’s reading of Descartes there could be something outside of. this leads to analysis of the mechanisms of power within which the ideas of truth and of subjectivity are meaningful. According to Heidegger. which in turn depends on a world picture. thereby adumbrating his own later view of textuality [textualité]. For Foucault. it is only in the modern age that the world has a picture. through historical analysis. Heidegger. In a typically lengthy discussion of Foucault’s remark in passing on Descartes’ thought. criticizing Derrida for reducing ‘discursive practices to textual traces.83 In his own way.85 Foucault’s response. who asks rhetorically whether every age has its own world picture. the mechanisms of power are prior. for instance in the Kantian or Marxian senses.84 Derrida objects. Since truth is relative to the domain of power.’90 The result is to make subjectivity genuinely . he insists on the need ‘to arrive at an analysis which can account for the constitution of the subject within a historical framework. in which the subject evolves over time.

transforms the highly abstract transcendental unity of apperception that Kant advances in the critical philosophy into finite human being. for instance. which. under the heading of ‘reification. which are sold in the market place.93 further underlies Marx’s ‘constructivist’ view. discourses. Hegel. which describes the effects of objectification on human beings in various complex ways.. works out a seminal conception of objectification to describe the relation of subject to object. Fichte. Foucault continues: ‘And this is what I would call genealogy. 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.94 Foucault downplays the active side of human being in emphasizing the way that for . This general point is developed in various ways by a collection of later thinkers. human being to society. domains of objects. into which it is born. human being is always already in a pre-existing social and historical context. such as his self-transformative. etc.92 This concept. which are basic to modern capitalism. for instance workers in modern industrial society. is the basis of Marx’s theory of alienation. with prominent exceptions. that in and through their activity human beings produce objects. In comparison. In Kant’s wake. For Foucault as well as many others.’ Lukács famously conflates with alienation. Foucault stresses the way that human beings are constrained by their surroundings. Nietzschean view of creating oneself as a work of art. their social relations.The Death of Man 55 historical by inverting the relation between subjectivity and objectivity or history. this is a form of history which can account for the constitution of knowledges. According to Hegel. which comes directly out of German idealism.’91 Foucault on the constitution of the subject Foucault’s thesis of the death of man presupposes an underlying contextualist theory of human being. and more generally the entire social world. Like Fichte. the externalized activity of finite human beings. who is thinking within the horizon of Adam Smith’s understanding of modern capitalism. who rethinks the conception of the subject. Objectification. hence by which it is shaped or constituted. and which. except in exceptional circumstances. individual to group. which describes the way in which human beings literally ‘concretize’ themselves in what they do. themselves. assumes concrete form as the property of another. or commodities. it does not itself either shape or constitute. in which it is socialized.

fabricating a subject that evolves through the course of history. claims in a late interview in distinguishing his view from others that the subject simply vanishes so to speak. Foucault later claimed his overriding aim was to write a history of different ways that human beings are made into or constituted as subjects. But this historical contextualization needed to be something more than the simple relativization of the phenomenological subject. hence less than free.56 Foucault’s Legacy the most part human beings are not active. One has to dispense with the constituent subject. his writings are generally phenomenological. In looking back at his work. as he says. in which he defined intellectual maturity as independence. Most people are hemmed in. Like Descartes. I don’t believe the problem can be solved by historicizing the subject as posited by the phenomenologists. Kant presupposes that the human subject is completely unlimited.96 Instead of following an economic approach to relations of production. or directed toward explanation. forced into certain predetermined molds by their surroundings in myriad ways he sought to document.95 Though he responds to Hume’s attack on causality. he is claiming that human beings are not producers but rather products. he chooses a purely descriptive approach toward phenomena of power. to get rid of the subject . but in a different way. But what then is left of the subject. and Heidegger. Kant shuns the latter’s view that reason is the slave of the passions. He is interested in describing ways in which human beings. in elaborating the foundations of such an analysis. In this specific sense. are rather constituted by their surroundings. hence shaped by their social surroundings. hence wholly free. who for the most part are not free to constitute themselves. or a linguistic and/or semiotic approach to relations of signification. Foucault sees his central theme as writing ‘a history of the different modes by which. or at least of the traditional conception of subjectivity? Foucault. reports he was not interested in analyzing the phenomena of power or. Very much like the post-Kantian idealists. obstructed in their actions. in our culture. Foucault reacts to Kant. not dynamic.’97 In effect. or whatever). Foucault was fascinated by Kant’s famous article on the Enlightenment. this question repeatedly. Here is the passage98: I wanted to see how these problems of constitution could be resolved within a historical framework. Foucault. criminality. or descriptive. who addresses. though he cannot deduce or otherwise justify freedom. but passive. instead of referring them back to a constituent object (madness. in short the result of their relation to their social surroundings. human beings are made subjects. who claims to shun questions of theory and methodology.

One of the consequences of the widespread attack on subjectivity is the proliferation of theories in which the subject plays no central role. passions and decisions. Foucault. but rather to such factors as what Heidegger calls the gigantic.. 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. in his case the deep structure common to all natural languages that is innate. since the biological being routinely referred to in this way continues through time and history. that’s to say. there is no central core of human being that persists outside time since literally everything is historical. and so on. that is. more recently. who takes a strongly historical approach. he disagrees with someone like Noam Chomsky. or native—hence the term ‘nativism’—in all human beings. who denies there is a single privileged manner of designating human being. as endowed with the capacity for speech. This historicist approach leads to two distinctive claims concerning the constitution of human being and knowledge of all kinds. which allegedly controls and constricts human being.99 This leads to the view that events are not due to a person or group of persons. is no longer acceptable. as a social being. Dasein. And this is what I would call genealogy. explains historical events. domains of objects. for instance. who thinks that. but rather in relation to being that has supposedly withdrawn. Heidegger. not in terms of human actions. such as the Second World War. a way that human beings are. discourses. According to Foucault. to arrive at an analysis which can account for the constitution of the subject within a historical framework. and. unless there is a fi xed human essence. At most. and within philosophy from Aristotle to Heidegger to understand the human subject as made in the image of God. Foucault cannot literally be claiming that human being simply disappears. who is perhaps influenced by . we simply cannot explain how infants learn to speak. a form of history which can account for the constitution of knowledges. His view seems to be that there is nothing like a permanent essence of human being.100 He apparently has in mind a formation that obtains at a given historical moment. as homo economicus. etc. which Foucault designates as the phenomenological subject. This passage demands careful attention. which both endures and constitutes.The Death of Man 57 itself. a certain conception. Foucault. takes issue with the repeated effort over several thousand years in the West in theology and philosophy. such as modern technology. He dramatically calls for renewed attention to the problem of being in a time of peril. Hence. including knowledge of human being.

Heidegger. Foucault does not shy away from. who proscribes the concept of the subject as the result of a metaphysical investment we need to transcend. Foucault’s historicism102 further results in a distinctive approach to knowledge. criminality and sexual practice. to the historical moment. 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. Once again he seems close to the later Heidegger’s rejection of his earlier view of subjectivity. The forms of inquiry include such sciences as linguistics. but there is no privileged representation and certainly no possibility of ascertaining the truth in any usual sense. for instance the view of human being. in different historical moments. Finally the ways one alters one’s own subjectivity are studied with respect to the ancient Greeks and Romans. 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. economics and biology. including the French anthropological reading of his thought. to relate claims to know to the historical moment.103 Different times give rise to different representations. Foucault is close to MerleauPonty’s own concern. The dividing practices comprise studies of sickness. health. then so-called dividing practices through which temporally dominant theories or institutional structures group people into categories. since different views emerge within different historical formations. In this respect. the very concept is initially formulated during the Enlightenment period. such as human being. His archeological survey of the human sciences consists in describing the different historical spaces that obtain in a specific time and place. to which they are indexed and in which they are true. as a consequence. and disciplines one selects to alter one’s own subjectivity. seems to forget earlier attention to a conceptual grasp of human being. He retrospectively groups his many writings into three forms of ‘subjectivisation’ (subjectivization).58 Foucault’s Legacy Heidegger. also changes.104 Like Merleau-Ponty. who. but rather clearly embraces this inference. practices. His thesis seems to be that there is no single truth about human being.101 These include studies of the genealogy of forms of inquiry or sciences. and finally methods. the discursive practice that obtains changes. he refuses any claim that goes beyond relating the views about cognitive objects. under Hegel’s influence. or ways in which the human subject is constituted. rejects the idea of human being he associates with Christianity as well as . then the view. like Hegel. According to Foucault. routines. in perhaps thinking of Kant. If the historical moment and.

‘one can certainly wager that man would be erased. Foucault calls attention to the recent vintage of the concern with human being in the human sciences. he fatefully compares human being to ‘[a] fleeting cloud shadow over a concealed land . His interest lies less in knowing the cognitive object than in delimiting possible knowledge of the cognitive subject.105 With this idea in mind.’ and in The Archeology of Knowledge (1969) it designates the discursive regularities in various cognitive disciplines in particular historical moments. 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.107 Foucault uses ‘episteme. In The Order of Things (1966) this term refers to historical worldviews. as he suggests. and which he later abandoned. maintain them for a period. If. The difference in the way he employs the term has been noted in the discussion. In talking about the history of science. before discarding one episteme for another. or psychology. based on what he calls epistemes. The conception of human being. which Heidegger ties to Descartes.’109 Conclusion: Foucault. within which ‘man’ is represented in the so-called modern episteme.’ which is also ambiguous. then. for human sciences based in philosophical anthropology one were to substitute a more positivistic approach grounded in the structures .’106 Foucault states a related view. which Heidegger rejects in ‘The Age of the World Picture. 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. . From the historical vantage point that considers dominant epistemological conceptions with respect to forces that bring them into being. Yet if one were at some point to abandon the link between an anthropological conception of the subject. that. Thomas Kuhn famously uses the ambiguous term ‘paradigm’ to refer to paradigm changes that obtain after a scientific revolution.108 The difference is between the view of the cognitive object one might favor and what in fact obtains. sociology as well as literature and mythology. as opposed to human individuals. when it concerns human being. . or conceptual schemes. like a face drawn in sand at the edge of the sea. as Foucault famously remarks. 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. is merely another discursive regularity linked to the rise of the human sciences. is couched in astonishingly similar language.The Death of Man 59 the possibility of representing what he calls the event (Ereignis).

subject-centered. then if not biological individuals at least the epistemological conception of man would disappear. for instance in the Letter on Humanism. brings Foucault’s position close to Hegel’s even if.60 Foucault’s Legacy that at any given time constitute subjects. and which was virtually everywhere when he began to write. French Heideggerianism. In a sense to say Foucault is closer to Heidegger. and Heidegger is also read from a humanist perspective as philosophical anthropology. The three readings of Foucault’s thesis are. which has always been concerned with humanism in a broad sense centering on the conception of the subject. who were also influenced by Hegel. The similarity lies in the broadly humanist. one of his intentions was to rebel against it. A second reading is generically antiHegelian. French anti-Hegelianism and French Hegelianism all emerge out of the stunning influence of Kojève’s reading of Hegel on the later debate. and depends on how one interprets Hegel and the French Hegel. hence is himself an anti-Hegelian who breaks out of the all-encompassing French Hegelian mold. for instance in Cassirer and Dewey. The answer to the second question is more complicated. For since the French Heidegger is read through Hegel. historicist analyses featured by Foucault and many others in France and elsewhere. only three different forms of the same underlying view. like many others in his generation. hence the turn away from Dasein toward the anti-Cartesian self-manifestation of being described after the so-called turning of his thought. a Hegelian interpretation of his thesis. In the French context. Hegel is often read from a humanist perspective as philosophical anthropology. given Hegel’s influence in the French debate. Despite Foucault’s intention. such as Derrida. which emerged under the influence of Kojève’s famous lectures on the Phenomenology. Foucault’s Heideggerian anti-Hegelianism. is to miss the point. . in virtue of Kojève. or three different kinds of French Hegelianism. writing in Hegel’s wake. or even diverse Hegelian angles of vision. Foucault ostensibly pursues this turning away from man in his thesis about the death of man. more specifically Hegelian way of reading Foucault’s thesis. Foucault’s thesis lends itself to divergent readings from Heideggerian (and Nietzschean). a large variety of anti-Hegelian. The Heideggerian reading points to the wide influence in the French debate of Heidegger’s later retreat behind the subject. There is a third. which stresses the historical nature of the subject. is really only a form of French Hegelianism. It seems plausible that. Foucault may well have intended the thrust of his position as a reaction against French Hegelianism. an anti-Hegelian. as seems likely. if it is that.

The Death of Man 61 Discussion of humanism often tends to equate the genus with one of its species. Modern French Philosophy. and though a charter member of the French revolt against Hegel. the stress on human being. Harding. change as the historical moment changes. British empiricist philosophy has always favored an anthropological approach to philosophy that. Foucault. M. including Foucault later develop. belong to the history of philosophy. in the final analysis. and a claim for the social relevance of philosophy.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. but that all knowledge necessarily presupposes a conception of the subject of knowledge. Although broadly humanist. in the post-Kantian reaction to critical philosophy. spread through the debate. . Foucault’s thesis of the death of man is another form of French Hegelianism. Hegel formulates the initial and still most influential version of this approach. I conclude that. including his own.111 is later developed in different ways by Montaigne. Hegel. 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. believes our cognitive views. who is aware that all philosophical theories. Foucault and Hegel approach it from different angles. like Hegel. L. three forms of ‘humanism’ can be distinguished: the revival of classical letters. centrally concerned with subjectivity. for instance in Augustine’s pioneer conception of a subject to account for human responsibility incumbent upon original sin. trans. 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. and despite his intentions. New York: Cambridge University Press. 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. Notes 1 See Vincent Descombes (1981).110 For present purposes. This emphasis. hence unaware of and uninterested in the intrinsic historicity of his own enterprise. Kant and many others. including our views of the subject. perpetuates and develops a philosophical insistence on the centrality of human being. which will later disappear. Scott-Fox and J. which arises early in Christian philosophy. which many others. Descartes.

Dermot Moran (1905). nos. 1925–1985. Paris: Larousse. Paris: Editions Rieder. 26 (1919).62 2 Foucault’s Legacy See. Sense and Non-Sense. 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 . Alcan. Paris: Gallimard. nos. 178. For a discussion of the relation of Cousin to Hegel. Choix d’écrits. see Jacques d’Hondt (1988). 136–137. Walter Kaufmann (1956). See Victor Basch ([1904] 1927). 28 (1921). and 35 (1928). prefaces. See. Christian Delacampagne (1998). Critique. London: Routledge. 27–47. Husserl: Founder of Phenomenology. Cours de philosophie. for a relatively recent instance. Gwendoline Jarczyk and PierreJean Labarrière (1986). For Queneau. 63–64. Hegel. e. See. For an account of Cousin’s rationalist reading of Hegel without the conception of dialectic. for an exception which reflects a strongly Christian perspective. Paris: F. Merleau-Ponty (1998). see S. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. De l’indifférence. John Burbidge with Nelson Roland and Judith Levasseur. The Basic Problems of Phenomenology. ‘Premières confrontations avec Hegel. g. 32 (1925). 271–281. Paris: Albin Michel. See Martin Heidegger (1982). Jacques Lacan and Co. There are few French studies of French Hegelianism. See Victor Delbos (1919).’ (1963). edited. Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre. 29 (1922). New York: Penguin. Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale. New York: Meridian Books.. for this thesis. See Emile Meyerson (1921). Etudes d’histoire de la pensée philosophique. Introduction à l’histoire de la philosophie (1825. in Lucien Herr (1932). For a study of Merleau-Ponty that considers his relation to Hegel. introduction. Paris: F. 215–220. Peterborough: Broadview. Delacampagne is influenced by Arendt’s view of the banality of evil. See Lucien Herr. See. and new translations. see Roudinesco. See Paul Roques (1912). sa vie et ses oeuvres. 195–196. with an introduction. Priest. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.: A History of Psychoanalysis in France. 157–176. trans. Paris: Odile Jacob. 569–593. 1841). 107–140. Merleau-Ponty thought it was not possible to escape from Hegel. ‘Les Facteurs kantiens de la philosohie allemande de la fin du XVIIIè siècle et du commencement du XIXè siècle.’ in Maurice Merleau-Ponty. and with a preface by Hubert Dreyfus and Patricia Allen Dreyfus (1964). Paris: Fayard. Philologie. Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. Hegel in His Time. De l’explication dans les sciences. The discussions in numbers 28 and 32 deal most closely with Hegel’s thought. Paris: Payot. rpt. Alcan. 27 (1920). 529–551. Histoire. Essai sur la banalisation du mal. ‘Hegel’s Existentialism. See Hannah Arendt (1980). 1–25. and lexicon by Albert Hofstadter. ‘Hegel. See Victor Cousin (1991). For a summary of Meyerson’s reading of Hegel. Herr’s discussion was the only decent one available at the time. De Kojève à Hegel: 150 ans de pensée hégélienne. translated. Les Doctrines politiques des philosophies classiques de l’Allemagne. I am unaware of any study of the relation of Levinas and Hegel. see Alexandre Koyré (1973). 132–161.’ in La Grande Encyclopédie Larousse. II: Philosophie. See Raymond Queneau. London: Polity Press. translation. 694. 1890–1893).

See Jean-François Lyotard (1979). According to Kleinberg. New Haven: Yale University Press. three readings emerge from a deep tension in Heidegger around the relation of the individual to the collective background (11). Being and Time.’ 188–194. Alexandre Kojève (1955). Paul Fairfield. Paris: Alcan. for a recent study. Freud and Philosophy: An Essay on Interpretation.’ in Working Through Postmodernity: Essays in Honor of Gary B. See Heidegger. for discussion. 2. La condition postmoderne: rapport sur le savoir. which is the focus of the second part of Being and Time. Summer 2004. in slighting the problem of being. 18. Hegel. 2 vols. § 32: ‘Understanding and interpretation. Carl Schmitt: Le politique entre spéculation et positivité. Levinas is crucial to this reading of the French grasp of Heidegger. Un Détail nazi dans la pensée de Carl Schmitt. ed. This leads to tensions in Being and Time and in the understanding of the book (17). Le Malheur de la conscience dans la philosophie de Hegel. 103. Paris: Editions Verdier. Generation Existential: Heidegger’s Philosophy in France. The initial set of French readers concentrated on specific aspects of human being. 1927–1961. . which was organized around Jean Beaufret. See vol. Paris: Presses universitaires de France. translation and foreword by Brian Massumi. See Heidegger. Positions. See Jean Wahl (1929). See.. chapter 2. See Jacques Derrida (1972). Kostas Axelos and Jacqueline Bois. Kleinberg implies that both readings are ‘correct’ since Heidegger is simultaneously following both Kierkegaard and Dilthey (12). Yves Charles Zarka (2005). See Victor Farías (1987). Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press. Madison. Heidegger et le national-socialisme. 32. Tom Rockmore (2004). Levinas is an early. Paris: Presses universitaires de France. ‘Le Concept et le temps. See. 1927–1961.’ Deucalion 5. The second reading. no. 62. Being and Time. See Kleinberg. Symposium. Paris: Editions de Minuit. See Ethan Kleinberg (2005). Paris: Editions de Minuit. Paris: Éditions de Minuit. See Georg Lukács (1967). Histoire et conscience de classe. 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. See Jean-François Kervegan (2005).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). trans. 339–362. See Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (1987). 8. 2. Paris: Rieder. Heidegger’s influence in France was seriously undermined by Farías and then by the enormous reaction to his work. that is the focus of its first part. 382–401. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Generation Existential: Heidegger’s Philosophy in France. ‘Derrida and Heidegger in France. See Paul Ricoeur (1970). inclined toward the collective. vol. Le Progrès de la conscience dans la philosophie occidentale. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia.

See Jean-Paul Sartre (2007). Paul Veyne. See. Any list of structuralists is arbitrary. In his discussion. T. Notes and Preface by Arlette Elkaïm. trans. Paris: Editions de Minuit. After Foucault’s untimely death. Annette Michelson. 15 juin 1966. The Passion of Michel Foucault. 56–59. Marges de la philosophie.’ in Jean-Paul Sartre (1955). 58. Michel Foucault. See ‘Cartesian Freedom.g. New Haven: Yale University Press. M. 297. 115.’ Cited in Didier Eribon (1991). 120. See ‘Cogito and Histoire de la folie. Michel Foucault. Existentialism is a humanism.’ See Piaget.’ See Piaget (1968). Paris: Presses universitaires de France. cited in Eribon. 188. Introduction à la lecture de Hegel. See Claude Lévi-Strauss (1962). F. Literary and Philosophical Essays. 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 . See Eribon. Leipzig: Felix Meiner Verlag. Frankfurt a. 189. translated by Elizabeth S. 434–437.64 33 Foucault’s Legacy See Jacques Derrida (1967). 188. 352. R. Michel Foucault. ‘L’homme est-il mort?’ Arts et loisirs. Introduction by Annie Cohen-Solal. Le Structuralisme. 95. See James Miller (1992). Carol Macomber. Paris: Larousse. Paris: Editions du Seuil. Michel Foucault. I. 2 vols. Henri Bergson (1915). Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. L’Ecriture et la difference. 145. Glas. 71–82. 5–7.Sartre. Paris: Gallimard. See. 144. Die Zeit des Selbst und die Zeit danach. Deutsche Philosophie im Widerstand. 8. Le Sens pratique. cited in Franz Böhm (1938). G. wrote: ‘L’oeuvre de Foucault me semble être l’événement de pensée le plus important de notre siècle. See Eribon.’ in Maurice Merleau-Ponty. since there is no agreement about the nature of ‘structuralism. for this interpretation. Histoire de la folie. a respected intellectual and a close friend. New York: Collier Books. W.’ Goldmann can be counted as a structuralist since he calls his method ‘genetic structuralism. Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philosophie.: Suhrkamp.. Haldane and G. Miller’s tendency to see Foucault as assuming Sartre’s mantle and as dominating French thought overstates the case. Piaget distinguishes between the conception of the human individual that is not relevant and the idea of the ‘epistemic subject’ or ‘cognitive nucleus. See Jacques Derrida (1972). Paris: Gallimard. Paris: Minuit. La pensée sauvage. In my view. Le Structuralisme. 460. 1915. 25n5. Paris: Flammarion. XX. See Jacques Derrida (1981). Ross (1970). See Pierre Bourdieu (1980). e. New York: Simon and Schuster. trans. See ‘The Battle over Existentialism. London: Cambridge University Press. See Michel Foucault (1972).’ in Jacques Derrida (1967). See The Philosophical Works of Descartes. La Voix et le phénomène. cited in Eribon. Dieter Thomä (1999). Anti-Cartesianismus. in HegelWerke. See Kojève(1947). Hegel. 476. Paris: Denoël. La Philosophie. Sense and NonSense. Paris: Plon.

Brussels: Editions Complexe. 158–185. For critique of Althusser’s antihumanist structuralism. Paris: Plon. Foucault points out that in Les Mots et les choses. 347–348.’ not a ‘person.’ in Leszek Kolakowski (1978). Critique of Pure Reason. B 181. just as the I is nothing other than the instance saying I: language knows a ‘subject. Essays in the Rhetoric of Contemporary Criticism. Paris: Payot.’ Immanuel Kant (1998). Paris: Plon. L’Esprit révolutionnaire. Dutt. On the relation of structuralism and Marxism. 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. 33. See. La Pensée 68. to exhaust it. Bruxelles: Ousia.’ in Allen Stoekl (1992). . 28 juin–5 juillet 1984. no. For a French humanist reading of Marx. the author is never more than the instance writing. For Marx. For this reading. This view is formulated in many places in his corpus. edited and translated by Stephen Heath. Paris: Editions du Seuil. ed.The Death of Man 56 65 See Roland Barthes (1977). Marxisme et structuralisme. 228–229. for a critical discussion of his views.’ Critique. trans. La Pensée sauvage. La Pensée de Karl Marx. 183. Ben Brewster. 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 See Claude Lévi-Strauss (1964). cited in Luc Ferry and Alain Renaut (1988). 158–185. L’Esprit révolutionnaire. and that Foucault’s Nietzschean affirmation of the death of man depends on the indissociable link between Nietzsche and Hegel. C. For a study of Foucault’s concept of the subject. Agonies of the Intellectual: Commitment. for instance in Friedrich Engels (1941). See Claude Lévi-Strauss (1962). correctly emphasizes this point. Un entretien avec Michel Foucault. Michel Foucault (1984). Subjectivity. see Lucien Sebag (1964). Ludwig Feuerbach and the Outcome of Classical German Philosophy. 15. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. New York: Hill and Wang. Louis Althusser (1970). and the Performative in the Twentieth-Century French Tradition. see Chapter 7: ‘Foucault and the Intellectual Subject.’ suffices. See Gilles Deleuze (1966). 174–198. Paul Guyer and Allen Wood. that is to say. Paris: Gallimard. In an interview published shortly after this article. New York: Vintage. Music. Anthropologie structurale. Text. une existence douteuse. ‘Death of the Author. New York: International Publishers. suffices to make language ‘hold together. 242. Les Nouvelles littéraires.’ and this subject. 599–618. New York: Cambridge University Press. In a famous passage. 11. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.’ in Leszek Kolakowski (1978). no. 129. ‘L’homme. see Georges Canguilhem (1967). Deleuze. Stoekl argues that Foucault is doubly dependent on both Heidegger and Nietzsche. juillet 1967. 38. See Paul de Man (1983). 15–21 juin 1966. empty outside the very enunciation which defines it. trans. Kant described this activity as ‘an art concealed in the depths of the human soul. 145 Linguistically. ‘Le Marx d’Althusser. 28. ‘Mort de l’homme ou l’épuisement du cogito.’ in Le Nouvel Observateur.’ in Image. Foucault’s close associate. see Jean-Yves Calvez ([1956] 1970). Blindness and Insight. see ‘Le Marx d’Althusser. le premier juin 1966. See ‘L’Homme est-il mort?.’ Arts et loisirs. P.

Foucault. Les Mots et les choses. 117. 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.’ in Jacques Derrida. W. trans. Editiions Pleins Feux. For instance. 208–226. Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics. Gallimard. Histoire de la folie à l’âge classique. The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. See. 378. 222–243. Allen W. 1991. for an analysis of Foucault’s view of power. H. Foucault. Hegel (1991). The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays.’ in Michel Foucault (1994). The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. Cambridge: MIT Press. ‘The Age of the World Picture.’ in Georg Lukács (1971). See Foucault. See ‘Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat.’ in Martin Heidegger (1977). 5. Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings. The ‘romantic’ view of the end of human being disseminated independently by both Kojève and Heidegger echoed widely throughout French thought of the period. 56–59. See Heidegger. See Foucault. See Heidegger. Paris: Gallimard. Knowledge/Power. 134. 152. Michel Foucault (1926–1984). 602. 35. See Foucault. Colin Gordon. Entretien. Paris: Gallimard and Seuil. Nantes. The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. See Jean-Paul Sartre(1983).. See Michel Foucault (1972). Philippe Chevalier (2004). New York: Harper and Row. History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics. See Afterword: ‘The Subject and Power. New York: Cambridge University Press. Paris: Flammarion. New York: Pantheon.’ in Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow (1983). 133. cited in Didier Eribon. 51–97. Michel Foucault. 117. See Heidegger. La Quinzaine littéraire. Foucault. The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. Rodney Livingstone. Les Mots et les choses. Les Carnets de la drôle de guerre. Knowledge/Power. 140. See Michel Foucault (1980). Le pouvoir et la bataille. 32–50. See Heidegger. 129–130. Dits et Ecrits. 131. See Foucault. 83–222. and Afterword: ‘The Subject and Power. 208. e.. translated and with an introduction by William Lovitt. Blindness and Insight. See ‘Le Sujet et le pouvoir. Paris: Editions du Seuil. IV. 128. Les Mots et les choses. See § 67 in G. edited by Paul Rabinow (1984). Elements of the Philosophy of Right. Nisbet. The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. Histoire de la folie. 5. 133.’ in Foucault Reader. 15 mai 1966. See ‘Cogito et histoire de la folie. ‘On the Genealogy of Ethics. Wood. ed. ed.’ in Foucault Reader. Power/Knowledge. New York: Pantheon. g. 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 . 1972–1977. See ‘What is Enlightenment?. B. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 397.66 71 72 73 Foucault’s Legacy See de Man. See. L’Ecriture et la difference. no. 394. See Heidegger. F. 97–98. See Heidegger. trans. Michel Foucault: Beyond Structualism and Hermeneutics. Novembre 1939–Mars 1940.’ in Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow. Paris. 340–372. 129. 189.

An Introduction to Metaphysics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. trans.’ in Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1964). See Michel Foucault (1973). 58–59. g. See. The Question Concerning Technology. 208. ‘The Age of the World Picture. who usefully considers humanism as the revival of classical letters. 227–239. Indianapolis: Hackett. Evanston: Northwestern University Press. §§ 189–208. New Haven: Yale University Press. Elements of the Philosophy of Right. The Question Concerning Technology. See ‘The Primacy of Perception and Its Philosophical Consequences. the account of the ‘System of Needs’ in Hegel. History and Totality: Radical Historicism from Hegel to Foucault.’ in Heidegger. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. on this point. See ‘The Age of the World Picture. xi.’ in Michel Foucault: Beyond Structualism and Hermeneutics. Grumley (1989). Edie. The Question Concerning Technology.’ in The Edinburgh Dictionary of Continental Philosophy. . 135. See Martin Heidegger (1959). 50. See Augustine (1983).’ in Heidegger. 12–42.. See Peter Gay. trans. See ‘The Age of the World Picture. See.’ 257–322. ‘Episteme. Ladelle McWhorter.’ in John E. The Primacy of Perception. Foucault. Gay. James M. The Enlightenment: An Interpretation. 153. 176–177. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. On Free Choice of the Will. 183–205.’ in Heidegger. London: Routledge. I. trans. See. Chapter 5: ‘The Era of Pagan Christianity. 153. Thomas Williams. devotes insufficient attention to its other dimensions. Foucault. e.The Death of Man 98 99 67 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 Foucault Reader. Chapter 7: ‘Anti-totalising Skepticism or Totalising Prophecy. for discussion. See Thomas Kuhn (1970). Ralph Manheim. edited by John Protevi (2005). New York: Vintage. The Order of Things: An Archeology of the Human Sciences. The Order of Things. 387. ‘The Subject and Power.

they agree that Nietzsche and developments in postmodern European philosophy. especially Heidegger. For instance. not just a private poem. That’s surprising. especially Discipline and Punish and The History of Sexuality. 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.’ But when Foucault redescribes the relation between. make epistemology untenable. like the loyalty we may feel to political institutions and their representatives. As for Foucault. say. What’s more. There must be hundreds of references to Derrida and Davidson for every one to Foucault. medicine and welfare in terms of biopower and governmentality. or so Rorty believes. say. Rorty is happy and says. Foucault places a strain on Rorty’s distinction between public and private. and for the same reasons. the relation between Plato and Heidegger.1 He seems to have chosen for his private poetry the assumptions . It’s not just an imaginative construction. Rorty seems unsure what he is supposed to do with it. 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. Foucault is surely as ‘imaginative’ a philosopher as any other Rorty might name. he’s a good liberal. I think Rorty didn’t know what he was supposed to do with the conclusions of the major works. If Derrida redescribes. ‘That’s interesting! I never thought of looking at it that way. Both are historicist.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. It broaches ‘public’ matters. There is little if any disagreement between Rorty and Foucault on many philosophical questions. Both advance nominalistic ideas of knowledge and truth. ironical about the contingency of things. They both consider the idea of truth as adequacy or correspondence no less untenable.

Knowledge after Nietzsche The textbook questions of epistemology include the definition of knowledge. Despite different motivations. their discontent with epistemology. and the question of certainty—do we have it? Must knowledge be certain?2 That’s questions enough. The idea is to establish a meta-order in the field of knowledge. What may be mere discretion Rorty reads as evasion. because his loyalty toward them is not as it were extensional. and culture must be contained—structures set by the privileged representations which [epistemology] studies. The first. the nature of evidence. is that a theory of knowledge is a kind of logic or methodology of knowledge. and elucidating the criteria of evidence and truth. according to Rorty. He doesn’t tell ‘us’ what to do with the new language for describing institutions to which ‘we’ feel loyal. I want to develop some of the substantial agreement between Foucault and Rorty in their view of knowledge and truth. 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. If you say ‘modern institutions of social welfare. and Kant. What is the point of these questions. Their ideas are similar. Locke. or the value of theories that answer them? What good can be expected from inquiry in this direction? Two answers are traditional. rigorous.’ He diagnoses the desire for a theory of knowledge . His major criticism of Foucault is precisely that he doesn’t explain anything on this point. and unwarranted skepticism.’ But if the same history and rationality is redescribed in terms of biopower and a political anatomy of the body. the criterion of truth. and can be expected to make our knowing more disciplined. as is the motivation for developing them. ambivalence. I think Rorty is unsure what that should imply for the solidarity he feels with liberal institutions. The merits of this argument remain to be seen. life. identifying the forms of verifiable knowledge. ‘It’s the right thing to do.Foucault and the New Pragmatism 69 of the public institutions that Rorty most regards. procedures in epistemology remain similar.3 This rationale is now largely discredited.’ Rorty might say. and efficient. but we need one more. Foucault may not feel that loyalty. Before I get to that. He redescribes in imaginative new ways institutions that Rorty does not want to have redescribed. is a vision of ‘the immutable structures within which knowledge. not independent of how they are described. shared by Plato. or perhaps chooses to keep it private. The goal.

namely. and one with an important implication. That defines the proposition. ontos and logos—the onto-logical theory of truth. that knowing has at its core. Rorty wrote a whole book to explain to epistemologists what’s wrong with epistemology. It is a new superstition. artifactual) disappears from view. most important knowledge (episteme. the desire for confrontation and constraint. . objects which impose themselves. It also became traditional to understand truth as the identity of what is and what is said. that in us the will to truth becomes conscious of itself as a problem?’7 The . perhaps because he thought Nietzsche already had. representations which cannot be gainsaid . mechanical. .70 Foucault’s Legacy as ‘a desire for constraint—a desire to find “foundations” to which one might cling. on our problem. one whose superstitious quality is newly apparent.6 Philosophical discourse on knowledge in the West is stuck in the assumption that knowledge (or the best. or primary exemplification something that can be true. In a blow. Modern ideals of truth. frameworks beyond which one must not stray. In the Third Essay of the Genealogy of Morals he argues that the intellectual passion for truth is an unconscious religious passion. my unknown friends (for as yet I know of no friend): What meaning would our whole being possess if it were not this. The topics of knowledge and truth figure prominently in Nietzsche’s work from early to late. as its unit.5 It may seem innocuous to say that knowledge has to be true. for which Western philosophy is not prepared: ‘And here again I touch on my problem. knowledge that fails to fit the format of a logical proposition (and this includes everything material. How could knowledge be false? But it is an assumption. Foucault never did that. or rather. philosophically most important knowledge) has to be true. To turn away from religion because it is untrue is not the triumph of rationality over superstition. which degenerated into the so-called correspondence theory. In a wonderful way even radical postmodern nominalists like Foucault and Rorty confirm this presumption.’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. scientia) as knowing the truth. it became traditional in Western philosophy to think of the best. an unconscious aspect in which they participate in the very irrationality they profess to overcome. a way for atheists still to believe in God. science. following the path Plato started in philosophy of excluding techne and its works from philosophical ideas about knowledge. Nietzsche understood that the question he is raising is a new one. and enlightenment have a dark side. especially to those who may still feel attached to the idea that truth is divine.

It is not really a problem about knowledge. as if there were unsounded depths in them from which we might still profit. the American Pragmatists. all draw it. Nietzsche expects a violent Selbstaufhebung of Western reason. is how-to competence with tools. The unpublished essay of 1873. Continental postmoderns. Nietzsche initiated the now prevalent skepticism among philosophers about the ‘correspondence’ theory. most helpful meaning for the expression ‘postmodern’ refers to trends first in German and French thought and now international. Heidegger turns the other way. Truth is next. Yet it was always Nietzsche’s conviction that without this ontological idea of truth the value of knowledge becomes newly problematic. Heidegger’s strategy is to reject the problem as inadequately formulated. That was the argument of Being and Time (1927). stepping back to the origin of discredited (‘metaphysical’) ideas of knowledge and truth. Scientific knowledge of truth is a modification of technical competence. Let me briefly touch on a few others before taking up Foucault. trying to reconnect with their roots at the beginning of Western thought. . What comes first. The death of God is just the beginning. and pursue different strategies for dealing with it. and makes knowledge of truth possible. Knowledge of truth is not the primary meaning or value of knowledge. pushing modern culture over the edge of the nihilism that has haunted it since antiquity. even Analytic philosophers have mostly abandoned the correspondence theory. It is a problem about being especially about the relation between being and our being. especially William James. as they dutifully demystify demystification and discover that truth is a sort of lie. and they are a good part of all the arguments anybody has invented for questioning the correspondence theory. Then Science. and truth. The simplest.8 He moves in a direction opposite to that of Nietzsche.Foucault and the New Pragmatism 71 demystifying critics and lovers of truth must now contemplate their own irrational delusion. In later works Heidegger emphasizes the genealogy of modern science and technology. as in a laboratory. especially in what he says concerning knowledge. ‘On Truth and Lie in a Nonmoral Sense’ has practically all the arguments against correspondence that Nietzsche returns to throughout the later work. These days. science. The problem of knowledge in postmodern thought begins here. Beginning a bit later. independently came to similar conclusions. introducing special tools and specially contrived applications. however. of philosophers who take Nietzsche seriously. Analytic philosophers have so far refused to draw this conclusion. From the critique of truth Nietzsche steps forward to new problems of knowledge and science.

Habermas thinks we are owed a better explanation of truth’s point or value. When I advance a claim as the truth. It is a normative difference. He looks for it in the ethics of discourse. . cannot be all that philosophy has to say. The incredulity is not just that we’re wised up and no longer credulous. they are that much surer of their discipline. relative to context.10 But a critique of the past. As he sees it. It has taken a century for Europe to catch up to Nietzsche. A little false consciousness is desirable in the sciences. The justification for statements is always justification in someone’s eyes. ‘A proposition is true if it withstands all attempts to refute it under the demanding conditions of rational discourse. the postmodern condition. and a difference in how we relate to each other in the public space of reasons. which he memorably defined as incredulity toward metanarratives.’9 Habermas does nonetheless want a philosophical theory of knowledge and truth in the light of Nietzsche’s critique. This is no more than another way to say ‘God is dead. a norm.’11 Nietzsche pointed out how modern science has pushed knowledge and happiness further and further apart.’ A metanarrative is a philosophical whopper that legitimizes a culture’s values. of methodical progress within an unproblematic framework. that is. The sciences will happily ignore philosophy and keep doing what they do best. I commit myself to the universal validity of my statement. calm in their mystified false consciousness about truth. a difference in the responsibilities of a speech act. the polytheism rank. It is a social relation. in any context. ‘The glory of the sciences is their unswerving application of their methods without reflecting . You cannot tell a credible metanarrative in a time like ours. dismissing the old Greek metaphysical approach to truth. I undertake the distinctive obligation of ensuring that my statement holds up under any challenge. Knowledge is no longer a . contrary to the promise of Socrates and Plato. From knowing not what they do methodologically. He follows postmodern European philosophy in rejecting a metaphysical theory.72 Foucault’s Legacy Jürgen Habermas thinks Nietzsche over-dramatizes the nihilism a critique of correspondence must induce. Truth is not a relation to a corresponding thing in itself. . but Jean-François Lyotard thinks it is now an accomplished state. As Habermas puts it. from any interlocutor. Having the truth is not the same as having a good argument or interesting evidence. Habermas says it’s different for truth. The difference between justification and truth is not a difference of ontology or epistemology. The unity isn’t there. the critique of correspondence is one of the few good ideas Nietzsche had. the contingency unmissable. False consciousness has a protective function.

dollar is really money (‘I understand that it circulates. A statement’s truth-value is merely its currency. is access to ‘a complex conceptual and material machinery. I would like. What you get from knowledge. to resituate the production of true and false at the heart of historical analysis and political critique. S. or for that matter to Max Weber (writing on ‘science as a vocation’). We cannot trust knowledge to favor the Good.’ He explains that he means ‘the correlative formation of domains and objects. the good of it. or emancipation. Both questions assume that there is more to these values than currency. the styles of reasoning ‘which enable one to distinguish true and false statements. purely logical true-or-false.15 . . [and] the status of those who are charged with saying what counts as true. a form of Bildung. people make of it. the discursive apparatus ‘according to which the true and the false are separated and specific effects of power attached to the true. currency. the deep structure. and of the verifiable. To ask whether a statement is ‘really true’ is like asking whether a U. consumed to produce more. the discursive formation.12 Who knowledge helps and who it frustrates cannot be told in advance. The price of a commodity is what it sells for. or a patriotic duty. ultimately arbitrary artifacts of discursive economy. produced for sale. . It is a product. I’m not sure Lyotard’s ‘Report on Knowledge’ adds much to Foucault. The important thing is not being true but passing.’ He says: ‘It’s not just their formation that interests me but the effects in the real to which they are linked . conventional.’ helpful in the game of advantages. the means by which each is sanctioned. if anything. The historical and practical (if not onto-logical) truth-value of a statement is what it passes for. the techniques and procedures accorded value in the acquisition of truth.’13 As a historian of knowledge Foucault is not interested in how or when this or that truth was discovered. . falsifiable discourses that bear on them. in short. Like prices or money. Its value has nothing to do with wisdom. His concern is with the underlying rules. a matter of arbitrary syntax. but should it? Is it really money?’). . regardless of what. truth-values are purely relational. Its cause is in the language-game.’ These rules define the depth grammar of historical knowledges. A statement has no inherent. which Foucault rejects. enlightenment. not the being of a being. My problem is to see how men govern (themselves and others) by the production of truth .’14 The truth in question here is not the onto-logical adequation of intellect and being. to make a good move. a care of the self. Foucault once suggested that the ‘general theme’ of all his work is ‘the discourse of true and false. discoursetranscendent. nor can we believe that truth will make us free.Foucault and the New Pragmatism 73 training for minds.

It is the logic of epistemology that makes a historian of knowledge a historian of truth. or what is taken seriously. Foucault is no exception. for instance. Anything that passes. discursively articulated. or even between true and false. or said to be known (what passes for knowledge). Yet there is a price to pay for indifference to normative knowledge. It is no good citing Foucault to the experts and problematizing their governmentality. no significant difference between knowing and not knowing. conduct) the circulation of statements. Effective truth-value is credibility. logical. There is only one way to counter the power of disciplinary expertise. a statement’s capacity to penetrate people’s practical reasoning. 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 to say they are arbitrary differences in the deployment of . It is this currency. The most important knowledge is claimed. and that the most important knowledge is discursively articulated and if not onto-logically true. What you have to do is show that they are wrong. counts as knowledge.74 Foucault’s Legacy Power cannot make it true that black is white. pursued in earnest only by those equally compromised in self-knowledge. that there are unconsidered alternatives. All there is to ‘knowledge’ on Foucault’s account is serious truthcandidacy. that others know better. that they do not know. which is the politics of what passes. Foucault also seems to consider normative ideas of knowledge and truth obstacles to due appreciation of truth’s politics. a logos. Foucault may think the sole use for such a distinction is to carry on epistemology. Philosophers have always considered knowledge of truth to be most worth their attention. that knowledge comes in a statement or speech act. at least passing for true in discourse. anything that is taken seriously as a candidate for truth. after all. believed. prestigious discourse. For that purpose it is counterproductive to say that there is. He has no use for a normative concept of knowledge. But it can and does govern (that is. Without sharing the normative concerns of epistemology Foucault nevertheless confirms its assumptions about knowledge. 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. what passes for true. that the unit of knowledge is linguistic. modify. meaning one that distinguishes knowledge from what is claimed. that is decisive for both history and experience. this circulation in an economy of serious speech acts. passing (in discourse) for true. conducting or governing those who receive it as an important truth. which Nietzsche showed to be a deeply compromised project.

Our fate isn’t sealed. doubt about PlatonicChristian assumptions concerning ‘the Truth’ provoked not a crisis of nihilism but a feeling of relief. These Pragmatists can agree with everything Nietzsche implied in his statement ‘God is dead’ while not following him in his nihilism. action can make a real difference.’ William James said the same thing. yet they take pains to reconstruct the normative understanding of knowledge and truth. ‘a wide open universe. They can agree with Foucault that knowledge and truth are instruments of social power.16 In such a world. and that should make us hopeful. ‘without bounds in space or time. without his grim refusal to acknowledge that some ‘knowledge’ is more properly knowledge and some ‘truths’ not really true. and it was Richard Rorty who showed it. and Foucault applauded when Deleuze said it again. The future is open. No one in Europe challenged these assessments. Their hope was not the rationalistic optimism Nietzsche criticized in Socrates. the universe more like a frontier to explore than a fi nished system. Pragmatism is a vision of the world as an evolving.18 His argument in Philosophy and the Mirror of . hopeful. And inspired it was. If they are wrong it had to be shown. Heidegger was contemptuous of American philosophy and dismissed Pragmatism as a naive metaphysics of technology. without final limits of origin or destiny. 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. Pragmatism must seem tame and much too democratic. Pragmatic philosophers like William James and John Dewey work in terms as non-metaphysical as Nietzsche or Foucault.’ John Dewey said. unfinished place. as did Nietzsche.Foucault and the New Pragmatism 75 discursive power. inspiring a critique of rationalism in European philosophy parallel with Nietzsche’s. a universe with the lid off. providing an alternative to Nietzsche’s nihilism and Foucault’s scholarly antinomianism. Unless you take knowledge seriously enough to think there’s a difference between the mere claim to it and the quality itself. Rorty creates a postmodern Pragmatism. as if the triumph of the Good might be a foregone conclusion. the Pragmatists argued.17 Rorty rewrote American Pragmatism in terms that emphasize its similarity to postmodern European thought. Yet by Nietzsche’s standard.

There is for instance a logocentric. carries the right prestige. of Foucault). then we are well on the way to seeing conversation as the ultimate context within which knowledge is to be understood. the proposition must be well-justified. discursive. ‘If we see knowing not as having an essence. Doing so mystifies the relationship of knowledge and technical effectiveness (this is also a worry for Foucault’s account). especially Dewey. I think we have to wonder about that. Rorty nevertheless shares some of its assumptions about knowledge (the same is true. propositional bias in his work. Conversation is urbane and civilized. but because the evidence is well put together. Knowledge for Rorty is a statement that wins the right compliments.’19 You ‘know’ whatever others let you get away with claiming. not because it is so wonderfully true. Though a critic of epistemology. 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. as we have seen. What does consensus in a language game have to do with inventing a faster computer. Statements count as knowledge not by adequacy to being but by . a harder steel. to be described by scientists or philosophers. statement. Rorty looks for the norms of knowledge in those of conversation. The implication is that there’s no more to knowledge than the economy of such claims. What is more. Only a proposition. but rather as a right. and so on. but I doubt that it is the right place to look for the norms of knowledge. justified by reasons. meaning. To be acclaimed. and that too is a bias of epistemology. defensible with good reasons. or a new shape for an aircraft? If the norms of conversation have little or nothing to do with technology or technical achievement. Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature is a book written for epistemologists about epistemology. a discourse no one can refute. by current standards. dialogical. Quine and Donald Davidson.76 Foucault’s Legacy Nature is that European philosophers then studiously neglected in Analytic training. or claim solicits the agreement that defines knowledge. to believe. the conclusions carefully considered. were coming to the same conclusions about language. which tends to make the most important knowledge dialectical. and truth as preeminent Analytic practitioners like W. these were the conclusions reached earlier among the Pragmatists. V. including Heidegger and Derrida. offered to a dubious subdiscipline as therapy for the neurotic gnosisosis whose symptom is taking epistemology seriously.

It seems important to reduce as much as possible to something about language. but he still does it. Confession.22 Foucault does this differently. linguistic. alarm clocks. and ‘All our knowledge is under descriptions. without a foundation deeper than discourse.’ hence propositional. the most important knowledge is a statement with a discursively articulated truth-value.’ making them ‘scriptuary and documentary’ and therefore discursive. He discusses the use of architecture in creating ‘disciplinary space. Rorty acknowledges the normative difference Foucault abandons between knowledge and what passes. discursive. like alarm clocks and artificial nipples. Like Rorty. knowing how to talk. offering an account in terms of the ethnocentric consensus. it must be thoroughly uncontroversial. If only as an automatic compliment to conspicuously justified statements truth remains an a priori condition on knowledge. claims must pass through a critical public-reasoning process. To count as knowledge. less obviously discursive artifacts.21 Once again. that is. Like Rorty. ‘ “Thinking” [is] simply the use of sentences’. he finds no important difference between truth and justification. and what he calls ‘disciplinary knowledge’ is more than talk. The best or most important knowledge is discursive. Some of the techniques and technologies he discusses belong to discourse. as indeed it is. This may look like a radical nominalism. is belief-plus-ethnocentric consensus. Thus he says such things as. There is no concrete meaning for the abstract term ‘knowledge’ apart from valued instances and admirable examples—admirable to us. securing the consensus of the right authorities.’ and how inventions like timetables. and might as well be called true—certainly it is believed-true. Yet only a statement or claim could solicit such agreement. for instance. Knowledge. but the radical stance is also a seductive guise for some old assumptions about knowledge. is ‘a ritual of discourse. Rorty seems to drop the old condition that knowledge be true.23 Other. for him. of constituting files. and to win it. The economy of knowledge is one of statements and truth-values. especially by the authorities. Rorty’s ethnocentric we. what passes for true. seem to find their point in the new statements they make . by passing for true. A linguistic or discursive bias runs deep in Rorty’s thinking. of arranging facts in columns and tables’—are ‘procedures of writing that made it possible to integrate individual data into cumulative systems.Foucault and the New Pragmatism 77 currency. He admits there is more to knowledge than discourse. and the artificial nipple were enrolled in producing the docility of disciplinary subjectivity. the technical is silently written out of philosophy. of registration.’ The techniques of ‘examination’—‘small techniques of notation. ‘Language provides our only cognitive access to objects’.

’26 There’s no thing in itself to make truths true.” ’24 Foucault seems to acknowledge the nondiscursive only to subordinate it to discourse. ‘that we understand knowledge when we understand the social justification of belief. Durkheim. dangerous offender). Mannheim). and ‘the prediscursive is still discursive . truth and knowledge are social constructions. in short. It is the discursive accomplishment of a statement that dignifies nondiscursive artifacts as knowledge. the foundation of things. and possible to say something scientific about ‘collective facts. First we tried to explain truth in terms of Nature. Foucault falls into this pattern too. ergo. we wish to do. their distribution in a given “population. [and] to define these objects without reference to the ground. and intersubjectivity. on its way to language. One remains within the dimensions of discourse. their associated institutions knowledge-institutions. like language. and thus have no need to view it as accuracy of representation. to write it in a file. sophisticated version of the positivist-sociological ‘social determination of knowledge’ thesis (Marx.78 Foucault’s Legacy possible. to substitute for the enigmatic treasure of ‘things’ anterior to discourse the regular formation of objects that emerge only in discourse. Both thinkers find a new and imaginative way to reaffirm that knowledge is discursively articulated and subject to the condition of truth. making the practices that mobilize them knowledge-practices. The only nondiscursive that matters to knowledge is prediscursive. or take up Rorty’s pragmatic point of view—either way.’25 Rorty says it is the ‘crucial premise’ of his argument in Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. knowledge is sunk in the order of discourse. rather than as an attempt to mirror nature. 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. . . have no reality apart from the agreement of those who talk about them. the calculation of the gaps between individuals. consensus. is to dispense with ‘things’ . community. As Foucault explains: What.’ He says we should ‘see knowledge as a matter of conversation and of social practice. making it possible to say something scientific about an individual (delinquent. The ‘objects’ of knowledge. 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 . schizophrenic. His ‘archeology of knowledge’ is a late. for instance. Then we lost faith in transcendence and explained truth immanently in terms of social factors. .27 Look at knowledge as Foucault does. the ‘things’ true statements are true to. .

Even if we agree that truth is not an adequacy or correspondence.’29 But there always comes a but. with no ideological alloy. 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. he lauds Foucault for having shown how ‘today’s chains are often forged with the hammers that struck off yesterday’s. . . Something important has been left out. premodern societies had not dreamed. if not with hospitals or state-administered welfare? Foucault ‘certainly said a lot of useful things about contemporary institutions. For Rorty. . How would he prevent pain and suffering. knowing that we too can only try to do the right thing. ‘A large part of Foucault’s work—the most valuable part. . but says nothing of possible alternatives. Foucault describes new threats and dilemmas for liberty.’ He emphasizes Foucault’s understanding of ‘how we tricked ourselves in the past .Foucault and the New Pragmatism 79 knowledge. any communication .’31 In other words. 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. Irony.’28 Striking the same note ten years later. it does not follow that knowledge and truth are but the loquacious shadows of social representation. So we must not despise them. that is. What Rorty calls ‘the extraordinary dryness of Foucault’s work’ is ‘produced by a lack of identification with any social context. and Solidarity. must rather respect them. Rorty reads Foucault In Contingency. ancestors like Jeremy Bentham and James and Mill were trying to do the right thing. as Foucault himself paraphrases Rorty’s criticism. There is no “we” to be found in Foucault’s writings. Rorty makes a criticism of Foucault that he repeats and develops in later discussions.’ but he refrains from ‘tell[ing] us the right thing to do in the future.’30 This omission is chalked up to detachment taken too far.’ 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. Praise is always qualified. he does not situate his argumentation . the criticism always the same. He always begins with something to admire. exhibiting the unexpected and painful consequences of our ancestors’ attempts to do the right thing. something we might have done too. This enormous privilege for discourse puts both thinkers in the shadow of Platonism.

and social security. without pausing to admire how. 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.’34 Rorty seems to argue that Foucault doesn’t strike the right balance. The surveillance of populations through records of births. In an example of globalized Western discipline. a specialists on AIDS in Africa.’33 Skepticism about the value of disciplinary surveillance is an attitude held only by people unconsciously enjoying its security. she has no such obligations. but those of solidarity and citizenship. dangers. surveillance technologies—records of child deaths by location. and makes him evasive about his obligations to other people—not his ‘private’ obligations. for all the insidious counterproductivity. by elaborating the question.’ To which he replies. observes. whose values. but they are. He sees threats. His account is morally one-sided. Rorty seems to think Foucault’s work is too detached to be useful for deciding what ‘we’ should do. computerized and networked—allowed Tanzanian health care workers to reduce child mortality by twenty-five percent in two years. ‘But the problem is. Rorty says. compensate for those constraints. these innovations (some of them anyway) did a lot for the suffering of many people. tracking drugs and supplies. Because it seems to me that the “we” must not be previous to the question.’35 Foucault almost seems to confirm this improbable reading when he says that we should ‘get rid of . and so on can prevent a lot of suffering. whose traditions constitute the framework for a thought and define the conditions in which it can be validated. health. necessary to make the future formation of a “we” possible. and so on. deaths. Helen Epstein. deaths. ‘Reporting births. Private self-creating poetry gets the upper hand. managing salaries and contracts. ‘my disagreement with Foucault amounts to the claim that this decrease does. Doesn’t that compensate anything? Referring to the decreased suffering attributable to such things as state welfare. rather. he is not detached enough. or if it is not. On the other hand. 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. 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. disease. and cases of disease. 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. That’s a lot fewer dying children. precisely.’32 On the one hand. in fact. reason. infant mortality. emerging forms of discipline and control.

Foucauldians do not even have that.’ Well. Engels at least had an eschatology. that one has no such obligations. You can’t imagine yourself out of debt. Foucault has been criticized for emphasizing discourse over subjectivity and agency. It is ‘private. He tries in this late work to strike a balance between what power and knowledge contribute to subjectivity. so what? Why is this lack. He excoriates what he calls the ‘Foucauldian academic Left in contemporary America. He explicitly understands his last work as compensating for something elided in his earlier work: In Madness and Civilization. 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. economic. including obligations of solidarity. in Foucault’s dramatically non-Kantian usage.’39 . and the problem of individual conduct.’36 I take him to say that the ‘ethical’ (Rorty would say ‘private’) work on the self has no ‘interesting’ (that is. That does not mean. It means those obligations do not derive ideologically or morally from how one chooses to care for oneself.Foucault and the New Pragmatism 81 [the] idea of an analytical or necessary link between ethics and other social or economic or political structures.’ But nothing you do in private nullifies public obligations. The Order of Things. if that is what it is. ‘analytical or necessary’) connection with economics or politics. I tried to locate three major types of problems: the problem of truth. What bothered me about the previous books is that I considered the first two experiences without taking the third one into account. ‘Foucauldian theoretical sophistication is even more useless to leftist politics than was Engels’ dialectical materialism. the problem of power.’ dismissing them as a ‘school of resentment’ peddling ‘rationalizations of hopelessness. or political structures.37 The criticism is suggestively answered by his late work on subjectivity. What he calls ethics refers to the particular relation to self (rapport à soi) that structures the way individuals make themselves moral subjects. as Rorty tries to make it. doesn’t have much to do with where you stand in relation to social. where he overcomes his erstwhile inclination to efface freedom and subjectivity from his work. Ethics. 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.’ He says. and what is due to the relation we take as subjects to ourselves.38 Rorty seems especially to dislike Foucault’s followers on the left.

We pragmatists are not arguing that modern Europe has any superior insight into eternal. We do not claim any superior rationality.’43 The practical success is so resounding that Rorty indulges in a not very pragmatic hyperbole.44 . which looks more promising than any other way which has been proposed so far.42 What modern Europe supposedly discovered is how to make the things that usually divide people (religion. by now unimaginative idea that has the pragmatic virtue of having not been made irrelevant by the history of the last century. increasing responsiveness to the needs of a larger and larger variety of people and things. sexuality) seem unimportant.’41 Rorty’s version of liberalism is a pragmatic default position. In a passage criticizing Foucault. 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. ethnicity. and to conceive of moral progress as ‘a matter of increasing sensitivity. he says. Rorty’s liberal ancestors were trying to do the right thing. S. despite some unexpected consequences. I think these readers must not appreciate how profoundly skeptical he is of Theory. 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. ‘I just can’t think of anything I learned from post-Mill writings that added much.’40 Complacent is a favorite word of Rorty’s critics on the Left. irresponsibly—are better seen as the skeptical outcome of a fruitless foray into the wilderness of contemporary theory. in terms of effect. J. We claim only an experimental success: we have come up with a way of bringing people into some degree of comity. and of increasing human happiness. uncritically. we are not left defenseless against the counterproductivity of our ancestor’s well-meaning innovations by the very institutions they bequeathed us. Views they criticize as ‘complacent’—meaning arrived at casually. and they were not without success. it is a well-aged. What is more. without having any better idea what to do instead. Instead of a bold new alternative. Western social and political thought may have had the last conceptual revolution it needs. and the fellow citizens who administer them. We can do no better. ‘Contemporary liberal society already contains the institutions for its own improvement—an improvement which can mitigate the dangers Foucault sees. ahistorical realities.82 Foucault’s Legacy Looked at pragmatically.

so that everyone can work on them? Alas. but simply to make it as easy as possible for people to achieve their wildly different private ends without hurting each other. to have it made explicit and let the problem stimulate whom it may. whereas their discontent may express information that can and should be more widely appreciated. He calls it ‘a fundamental fact of all history’ that ‘the ultimate product of all political activity frequently. fails utterly to do justice to its original purpose and may even be a travesty of it. even evil consequences. Then Rorty adds Mill’s coda. Irony.’ Locke said as much. it is done for the sake of private liberty. It would be wrong to silence critics until they have their own answers. imagination. creativity.’46 Yet when he spells it out. indeed. as a matter of course. Rorty restates the classical liberal idea that government is not an end in itself. I wonder about that. something ‘we’ can try instead. not just for theory but for practice. People’s ideas about alternatives are limited by their information. The good liberal Throughout Contingency. ‘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.’47 Foucault too is drawn to this liberalism. then we need to know that. If no alternatives are presently known.’45 Perhaps Rorty believes that merely pointing out more examples is not an interesting criticism.’ something Rorty explains as ‘willing to leave [people] alone to be as self-inventive or as . Instead. He seems to think that criticism is uninteresting unless there is a new idea. for Rorty it is always the problems that are the problem. which is that the rationale for private liberty is self-invention. 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. because they may not know what options are available. and Solidarity Rorty explains liberals as ‘the people who think cruelty is the worst thing we do. Criticism may even be part of the process of generating new alternatives.Foucault and the New Pragmatism 83 Max Weber may be right that whatever anybody does in politics will always have unexpected. which may explain why Rorty can describe Foucault’s politics as ‘the standard liberal’s attempt to alleviate unnecessary suffering. Why is it their job? Why isn’t their work to make the problems known. the rationale for government is not the prevention of cruelty.’ He was ‘a good liberal.

he was (‘much of the time’) on the side of the angels. . it was all governments could do to maintain their territory against external threat.’ of course. New instruments of disciplinary control were coming into use. the suspicion (or certainty) that government tends to excess and must be checked. and readily mobilized military forces supplied with uniform equipment and powerful weapons. signing petitions. The ‘liberal’ point of view emerges in modern politics with the early-modern rise in the resources available to governments. It was Locke’s principle. In Foucault’s words. holding Foucault back from pragmatism. It does not . since antiquity. settled and guarded frontiers. and we have seen that it is still Rorty’s.’48 Which is somehow a bad thing. and indexes. He defi nes this liberalism briefly as ‘a critique of the irrationality peculiar to “excessive government. he was trying ‘to be a faceless.” ’50 Liberals after this model. state-institutions) cannot be its own end. In the sixteenth century that began to change. stand on a principle. These. ‘trying to serve human liberty . For a long time. These governments also experimented with other instruments of control. better roads and communications. dossiers.84 Foucault’s Legacy banal as they liked. enabled early-modern governments to maintain convenient and constantly updated information about subjects and other resources. homeless stranger to humanity and to history. There was seldom much to spare for innovative ventures in policy or regulation. registers. Some were inherited from the Inquisitions. In ‘The Birth of Biopolitics. rootless.’ But in writing the historical and philosophical works for which he is famous. but the activity that consists in governing human behavior in the framework of. speaking on issues. including improved maps and more accurate means of measuring time.49 Some advocated extending the new instruments of government as far as possible (that’s the argument of the Polizeiwissenschaft Foucault studied). . historically the fi rst though not the only sort of liberal.’ In his work for causes. trying to achieve the same political consequences which a good humanitarian bourgeois liberal would wish to achieve. a limitation. and by means of. together with a probabilistic style of reasoning about evidence. new sources of finance and techniques of accounting. Liberals came into being as the opposite mentality. and so on. including the apparatus of records.’ Foucault hints at a not disinterested interest in what he sees as the key liberal innovation in political reasoning. the sign of something still cathected and repressed. Government (meaning not the institution ‘government. another Inquisitorial inheritance.

I would be tempted to see in liberalism a form of critical reflection on governmental practice.Foucault and the New Pragmatism 85 have its reason for being in itself. referring to ‘philosophy as a critical analysis of our world.” ’52 This remains political life today. Instead of calling this disciplinary surveillance we call it security. For Mill and then Rorty it is self-creativity. even under the best possible conditions. or refer to this or that juridical system without any necessary and one-to-one connection. ethical.’ he says. Events since Foucault’s death have confirmed the steep rise in resources. social.’ ‘The target nowadays. should not be its regulative principle. ‘That criticism can come from within or without. in what he elsewhere says of the aesthetics of existence and work on the self.51 Foucault’s remarks about this first liberalism seem to imply that its principle is no less cogent today. 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. Foucault seems implicitly to take that on too. ‘Rather than a relatively coherent doctrine. but to liberate us both from the state and from the type of individualization which is linked to the state. 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.’ Then or now. he says. 53 . which is to explain the point of the liberty liberalism defends. He continues in this vein. agents. Foucault said that from his perspective it was the ‘problems of governmentality and the techniques of government’ that are ‘the only political issue. He goes on to credit liberalism with all but inventing modern political life. rather than a politics pursuing a certain number of more or less clearly defined goals. philosophical problem of our days is not to try to liberate the individual from the state and from the state’s institutions. but the biopolitical one of refusing to be what knowledge knows that we are. There remains Mill’s coda to the classic liberal principle. the only real space for political struggle and contestation. occasions. it can rely on this or that economic theory.’ In other words. For instance. and its maximization. ingenuity. instruments.” its “too much or too little. Foucault continues: The political.’ is no longer the Socratic one of knowing ourselves. the liberal principle belongs to a style of political reasoning that can be detached from economic and juridical ideologies. 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. and effectiveness devoted to the government of action and choice.

Foucault. Perhaps Foucault sees the loyalties differently. Theory of Knowledge (2nd ed. see Chisholm. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Third Essay. but to ensure that. 1–4. not to put the power of sight into the soul’s eye. Rorty believes. who feel that this principle is principle enough for reasoned and passionate politics. .86 Foucault’s Legacy Rorty insisted on the irrelevance of Heidegger’s politics to the philosophical interest of his work. Liberals believe that political government is secondary to the ethical ends of the governed. Roderick (1977). New York: Vintage. but it may be enough to indicate how far we are from Rorty’s depiction of Foucault as ‘a faceless. where people make good the liberty liberal government assures them of. Contingency. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. What is liberalism. and Solidarity. see my (1993). politically very close. Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. 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. instead of looking in the wrong direction. Friedrich (1967). Foucault seems all but to say that there is today a ‘we’ which includes him. rootless. Knowledge and Civilization. Rorty. Walter Kaufmann. without the ‘private’ sphere. 163. Nietzsche. Princeton: Princeton University Press. is.’ Plato. On the Genealogy of Morals. even for Rorty. Richard (1989).’ Yet his work seems to undermine loyalties that Rorty won’t abandon. trans. Richard (1979). Republic 518c–d.’54 Notes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 See Rorty. and it worries him that the loyalty of others may not survive habituation to Foucault’s way of describing them. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall. Boulder: Westview. which already has it. especially in comparison with Rorty. ‘a good liberal. At the same time. This is discreetly said. They may not be much. On these epistemological themes. §27. On this history. Truth in Philosophy. ‘There may well be an art whose aim would be . Power does not operate on a pliant and indifferent body. but what individuals make of them is what they make of themselves. . the illiberal idea that security is more important than liberty is becoming newly legitimate. Irony. no change in how we understand Heidegger has any relevance to liberal politics. The body is alive and has resources. homeless stranger to humanity and to history. I develop this criticism of discursive bias in the theory of knowledge in my (2004). it is turned the way it ought to be. . by contrast.). Today.

Relativism. Michel (1977). Lyotard. On the German reception of American Pragmatism. Rorty addresses some of these doubts in his ‘Response to Barry Allen. Jürgen (1971). Ibid. Babette Babich. see Joas. 48. Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. and Critical Theory. On ‘passing for true’ see my Truth in Philosophy. Shapiro. Sheridan Smith. Dewey. Knowledge and Human Interests. J. trans. See also James. 171. ‘Theatrum Philosophicum. New York: Pantheon. D.’ Truth: Engagements Across Philosophical Traditions. New York: Blackwell. 389–390. eds. Off The Beaten Track. The Archaeology of Knowledge. Debra Morris and Ian Shapiro. Rorty. trans. 1. William (1978). and Nietzsche (1967). Hans (1993). ed. 85. Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. Richard (1999). 55. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. trans. Indianapolis: Hackett. See Habermas. Jean-François (1984). Theories of Knowledge. Bouchard. M. John (1993). The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Objectivity. Michel (1972). Medina and D. 10. Wood. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Michel (1979). Hollingdale. Alan Sheridan. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Michel (1991). 3. ed. 36. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Walter Kaufmann and R. Gordon Burchell. ‘Questions of Method. ed..’ Language. Julian Young and Kenneth Haynes. New York: Pantheon Books. Pragmatism and Social Theory. On ‘truth’ and ‘knowledge’ as ‘automatic and empty compliments.’ in Robert Brandom (2000). New York: Vintage Books. 74. 131. trans. 52. Vol. and Richard Rorty (1998). ed. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Political Writings. Gordon. 79. Foucault. Rorty. Ibid. 298. . Rorty. 76. 120. Jeremy J. Rorty and His Critics. Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972–1977. and trans. Habermas. Jürgen (2005). This point of view was already sketched out in Being and Time §69b. New York: Pantheon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. eds. see Foucault. Habermas. 315. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. §1065. 24. Foucault. F.’ in Heidegger. I respond in a chapter on Rorty in Knowledge and Civilization. and Michel Foucault (1980). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Truth and Progress Philosophical Papers. Pragmatism. Foucault. Oxford: Blackwell. and Richard Rorty (1991).’ see Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. eds. 123–124. J. Chapter 8 (on Foucault). On Deleuze. A. 170. Vol.’ Nietzsche. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massumi. On the Genealogy of Morals. 190–191. and Truth: Philosophical Papers. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.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.’ The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality. 371–372. C. Martin (2002). ‘Richard Rorty’s Pragmatic Turn. CounterMemory. Jürgen (1999). trans. ‘Nietzsche’s Theory of Knowledge. Boston: Beacon Press. and Peter Miller. I develop this argument in ‘Postmodern Pragmatism’ (2008). Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. Colin Gordon. Dordrecht: Kluwer. Philosophy and Social Hope. Philosophical Topics 36 (2). 20.

Disability and Culture. Rorty. and Solidarity. S. Irony. Rorty. Contingency. Max (2004). (1995). 236. 173–174. ed. see Halperin. 64. 38.’ Foucault and the Government of Disability.88 27 28 Foucault’s Legacy Foucault. xv. for instance Whyte. Foucault. 63. R. 194.’ The Vocation Lectures. There was a less successful effort earlier to dismiss Foucault.. see Rorty. Indianapolis: Hackett. L. 320. Essays on Heidegger and Others Philosophical Papers Vol. 385. 195. Richard (1998). Rodney Livingstone. Weber.. 242. and Problematizations. my emphasis. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Tremain. Charlottesville: Prickly Pear Pamphlets. ‘Foucault and Epistemology. Shirley Robin Letwin. 63. Rorty. Heidegger and Others. New Haven: Yale University Press. On the Inquisitions and probabilistic reasoning. Ibid. Against Bosses. Truth and Progress. Morality and Politics in Modern Europe. 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 . (1995). See also ‘Preface to The History of Sexuality. 63. Volume II. Helen (2007). Kritzman. ‘Foucault’s Nominalism. New York: Pantheon. Heidegger and Others. and Solidarity. Rorty. R.’ Ingstad. and Whyte. Michel (1994). Saint Foucault. Michel (1988). David M. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Foucault Reader. Contingency. Richard (1998). Politics. 139. Especially by critics in Disability Studies.’ Foucault: A Critical Reader.. Michael (1993). Rorty. 27–29. Irony. Rorty. Contingency. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 242. and Solidarity. Philosophy. S. ‘On the Genealogy of Ethics. Contingency. Foucault.. D. Irony.’ New York Review of Books 54:11 (June 28 2007). 310. Irony. Rorty always attributes this to Judith Shklar. Foucault. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ‘Polemics. eds. 243. James (1988). and Solidarity. On Foucault’s activism. Oxford: Blackwell. Derek Nystrom and Kent Puckett. ed. Rorty. Rorty.. 37. Epstein. Archaeology of Knowledge 47–48. Against Oligarchies: A Conversation With Richard Rorty. Culture: Interviews and Other Writings 1977–1984. ‘Governing Conduct. The Foucault Reader. Rorty. Edmund Leites. eds. ed. Rorty. ‘Disability Between Discourse and Experience. 22–24.’ Paul Rabinow. Contingency. Rorty.’ in Paul Rabinow. trans. 78. Heidegger and Others. 196. David Couzens Hoy. Richard (1986). ‘Death by the Numbers. Achieving Our Country.). Oxford: Blackwell. ed. David Owen and Tracy B.’ in Michel Foucault: Beyond Hermeneutics and Structuralism. ‘Politics as a Vocation.’ Common Knowledge 14 (2008): 193–200. Politics. Shelley (2005).’ Conscience and Casuistry in Early Modern Europe. Strong. 197. Social Hope. 86. Ibid. 43. Rorty. I discuss their criticism in (2005). Michel (1983). (1995). 2.. see Tully. 63. Irony. New York: Oxford University Press. Berkeley: University of California Press. Rorty. Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow (2nd ed. 30. B. See Oakeshott. (1991). I develop this reply to the ‘complacency’ charge in ‘A More Laudable Truthfulness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. and Solidarity. eds. Achieving Our Country. ed. ed. Richard.

Paul.’ Southern Journal of Philosophy 36: 329–351. ed. James D.’ Studies in Philosophy and Education 13. ‘Pragmatic Humanism in Foucault’s Later Work. ‘American Evasions of Foucault. 74. Maslan. Michel (1997). and ‘The Subject and Power. May.’ International Studies in Philosophy 36: 63–75. Timothy (2005). Ibid.’ Ethics. 1988): 94–114. Mark (1988). Vol. and to David Rondel for helpful comments. ‘Governmentality. Weaver.’ New Literary History 36 (2005): 543–557. Michel. (1997). (1994). 1. 195. 307–323.’ Raritan 7 (Winter. Reynolds. ‘Dewey or Foucault? Organization and Administration as Edification and as Violence.’ Foucault Effect. Foucault. my emphasis. ‘On What We May Hope: Rorty on Dewey and Foucault. (1998). Joan (2004). ‘The Birth of Biopolitics. Todd (2004). New York: New Press. London: Sage.Foucault and the New Pragmatism 89 50 51 52 53 54 Modern Political Philosophy. ‘Michel Foucault: Nietzschean Pragmatist. Dewey. O’Leary. ‘Foucault and Pragmatism. I am grateful to Colin Koopman for these bibliographical references. (1998). ‘Foucault. 216.’ Contemporary Pragmatism 2. 21. Michel Foucault. Rorty. Foucault. Heidegger and Others . The Essential Works of Michel Foucault. Vincent M. Kumar.. 77.. Ibid. William G. ed. ‘Foucault and Rorty on Truth and Ideology: A Pragmatist View from the Left.’ in Dreyfus and Rabinow. see Colapietro. . Jeremy Moss.’ Organization 4: 31–48. For further discussion of the relationship between Foucault and American pragmatism. 35–93.’ in The Later Foucault: Philosophy and Politics. Marshall.. 77. and the Experience of Literature. Rabinow.’ Canadian Journal of Political Science 37: 951–977. Chandra (2005).

difficult to comprehend. On the other hand we can discern the more normatively-ambitious uses of genealogy featured in the work of other prominent thinkers. Nietzsche and Williams used genealogy as a normatively determinative mode of inquiry which can supposedly settle the question of the value of . 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. most commentators have found. 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. 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.Chapter 5 Two uses of genealogy: Michel Foucault and Bernard Williams Colin Koopman The notion common to all the work that I have done . is that of problematization. . On the one hand we can discern Foucault’s use of genealogy as a project in critical problematization. 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. . 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. —Michel Foucault. 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.

it is not the case that genealogy as problematization by itself generates such normative conclusions as they are traditionally understood. Foucault. Nietzsche. what is nonetheless revealing is an exploration of the specific terms on which these varying conceptions of genealogy can be differentiated. and so much of modern ‘critical’ thought.Two Uses of Genealogy 91 the practices which we might use genealogy to inquire into. Although the minimal conclusion that Foucault’s genealogy differs from Nietzsche’s and Williams’ genealogy may not be all that surprising. 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. I defend and explore this contrast between these two different senses of genealogy—genealogy as critical problematization and . Such an exploration particularly helps us recognize the complex relationship between genealogy and critique. Of course. To the extent that Foucault’s genealogies either credit or discredit certain views about what we ought to do. In this essay. these views were not developed by Foucault in the straightforwardly normative fashion that Williams’ vindications and Nietzsche’s subversions seem to lend themselves to. 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. 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.1 This does not mean that we cannot find political and ethical commitments in Foucault nor that Foucault contradicts himself in holding such commitments. 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. 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. perhaps a Kantian after all as he himself insisted on more than one occasion. The point. rather. And to the extent that Foucault’s genealogies are compatible with straightforward normative commitments. The point is rather that Foucauldian genealogy by itself does not form the basis of normative commitments straightforwardly understood.

I shall show that normatively ambitious uses of genealogy too readily commit the genetic fallacy. the charge of the genetic fallacy. 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. although this is a claim which I shall not defend presently. 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. 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. somewhat less fallacious than is commonly presupposed by philosophers who are not inclined to take history very seriously. But despite any misgivings one may have regarding the genetic fallacy itself. First. 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. 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. in my opinion. 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.92 Foucault’s Legacy genealogy as normative evaluation. 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. leaving Nietzsche largely to the side on the present occasion. it is not difficult to discern some of the ways in which . I focus on Williams rather than Nietzsche for two reasons. 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.2 Genetic reasoning is. Second. taking Foucault as representative of the first and Williams as representative of the second.

Foucault. 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. Williams’ Truth and Truthfulness is best read as a book that is trying to change the questions we ask of truth.. Weaker claims for the mere relevance of genealogical histories to questions of normative assessment are more widely accepted. Williams boldly gives up the project of trying to say what truth is. and instead opts for a very different inquiry into the value of truth. had more modest uses in mind in writing his genealogies and so avoided committing the genetic fallacy. 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. it is important to first understand the general project of which this genealogy is a part. on the other hand. ‘I shall be concerned throughout with what . 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. 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.4 Whether or not one agrees with the very idea that genetic reasoning is fallacious. sexuality. Genealogy as normative vindication: Williams In order to grasp the specific force of genealogy in Williams’ work.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. Returning to Foucault and Williams.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.g. though at the same time managed to write books which are still broadly relevant to the important normative practices (e. truth among them. punishment. 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. or at least he urges that there is precious little we can say of such matters.

‘Nothing ties minimalism to an instrumentalist view of the value of truth.’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.’9 According to Maudemarie Clark. 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. 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.94 Foucault’s Legacy may summarily be called “the value of truth. In his deft combination of Nietzsche’s provocative questions with the rigorous skepticism of twentieth-century analytic epistemology.6 But. ‘what is truth?’ we should simply point to Tarski’s T-Sentences: ‘P’ is true if and only if P. 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.” ’5 That is Williams’ primary concern and we ought not lose sight of it. moreover. When asked the philosopher’s question. Williams fashioned an impressive combination of epistemological minimalism plus moral seriousness about 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. . insists Williams. 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. Williams personally conveyed to her that he had been planning a book on Nietzsche as early as the 1970s. by Nietzsche. 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.10 All of this provides a warrant for reading Williams’ work on truth as motivated by Nietzsche’s questions about truth. One way of understanding Williams’ project is in terms of the concerns of twentieth-century analytic epistemology. effectively.

but truth itself does not. Is this sloppy slippage or ingenious integration? .’ I am not sure how Williams saw himself around such suspicions. Williams admits that there are histories of theories of truth. Different forms of truthfulness have a history. To inquire into the moral value of truth Williams undertakes a series of genealogies of truthfulness. but always and everywhere the same. why it can be seen as such with a good conscience. 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. the correct theory of minimalist truth) is the sort of thing that ‘is not culturally various. about oneself. is something whose history is rich and varied. he offers rich and illustrative chapters on the history of telling the truth about the past. Their suspicions might run like this: ‘And so what if truthfulness has the history you tell us it does. Specifically. Truth remains a metaphysically and epistemologically minimal notion about which we can say very little while truthfulness reveals the moral richness of truth.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. and for him a moral philosophy of timeless truth is not exactly identical to a genealogical history of truthfulness. and of speaking truthfully. as instructive and engaging as they are. and about one’s society. But the concept itself? No history there. why a good conscience is a good thing with which to see it. that does not show that these practices of truthfulness actually emerge vindicated from your tale. will be a ‘vindicatory’ history in that they will enable us to see ‘why truthfulness has an intrinsic value. Once you get the concept right you will see that truth (that is. the connections between the more philosophical part and the more historical part are not perspicuous. Truth. for Williams. This concept has no history: truth is what truth is. There are all kinds of different odd ways of being truthful.’11 Truthfulness. Richard Rorty expresses puzzlement about such matters when he notes that. Yet just as clearly Williams took his genealogy of truthfulness to somehow vindicate the value of truth. then. by contrast. says Williams. of telling the truth. Williams still must squarely face a question that will motivate some critics to charge that he has committed the genetic fallacy.’14 Clearly Williams took truth to be more than just truthfulness. not what truth does. genealogy takes the form of an inquiry into various forms of truthfulness.’12 In Williams’ hands.13 At the end of these genealogies. remains a minimal semantic concept about which we can say precious little. These genealogies. ‘I had trouble seeing the continuity between the first half and the second half of Williams’ book.

goodness. the nineteenth-century culture wars were underway. and Nature. valuable all by itself. Darwin’s critics worried. is the greater intrinsic value of something that does not vary with history. then it is at least minimally plausible for Williams to claim that truth is intrinsically valuable. Williams thus reserves truth as something capable of possessing intrinsic value by insisting that the concept of truth has no history. and value. With this. 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. we did not have to have it. Rorty among them. Contemporary debates about Truth can be seen as an analogue of these old debates about Man. which raises the following problem. but such value could only be instrumental.15 This point helps us grasp one rather important implication of Williams’ insistence that the concept of truth itself has no history. but things just so happened to work out that way. or perhaps even earlier. When Williams sets out to vindicate the value of truth. truth must stand outside of history as an impermeable reality whose value speaks for itself. but Darwin. namely the concept of truth itself. find parts of the message problematic because they believe that in order to be really valuable. Reason. Take the debate between William James and Charles Peirce over . What these values might help us appreciate. then we are not pristine in the timeless image of the holy. Williams perhaps among them. 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. Williams wants to vindicate truth by showing it to be something worthy of ‘respect’ and this means showing it to be intrinsically valuable. not Nietzche. maybe Hume. find a Darwinian version of the message about truth an uplifting one because it suggests that our values are our achievements.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 homo sapiens is the contingent product of a long process of unplanned evolution. Some contemporary thinkers. But if truth has a history. If so. Historically variable moralities of truthfulness might have a value. he sets out specifically to vindicate truth as ‘intrinsically’ valuable.16 Other contemporary thinkers. then humanity is stripped of its intrinsic dignity. 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. If truth has no history. Whatever value we do have. then it would seem flatly incoherent to claim that truth itself is intrinsically valuable. and so we can do what we need to in order to improve upon them. Similar battles were brewing back in Hume’s day too. however.

‘[I]n many cases the content of our concepts is a contingent historical phenomenon . Peirce. The more Peircean Williams thought that taking care of freedom means taking care of truth first. but that ‘philosophy needs to make room for history’ when we turn toward ‘specific cultural determinations’ of truthfulness. The forms of these dispositions and of the motivations they embody are culturally and historically various. structural features’ of truth. This is because genealogical inquiries can help us understand the specific historical content which fills out an otherwise empty ahistorical concept of truth. The achievement that we call truth is a grand achievement.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. Peirce wrote to James in 1902: ‘No doubt truth has to have defenders to uphold it. Williams writes.’19 Williams’ view is thus that we can use philosophical reflection to discern ‘the necessary. and it is our achievement. thought of the value of truth as constructed by and amongst we humans. 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. thought that in order to be really valuable truth must stand on its own outside of the contingencies of human evolution. . 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. but no less worthy for it. But truth creates its defenders and gives them strength. like Rorty. James. We might object to the whole package.’17 The more Jamesian Rorty thought that if we take care of freedom then we will be free enough to take care of truth.20 These are the two halves of Williams’ enterprise between which Rorty can find no clear connection. but we should not deny Williams’ achievement in having shown us just how well all these things can be packaged together.Two Uses of Genealogy 97 truth. 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 . 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. . Williams’ version of this idea is that such historical investigations help us approach truth itself and whatever intrinsic value we can glimpse of it. like Williams. Williams was right to insist that truth can be intrinsically valuable only if it is ahistorical.

but ultimately unsuccessful. attempt to get a great deal of normative mileage out of a method or analytic of inquiry that is better reserved for elucidation. but rather the philosophical reflections on . This certainly helps along his vindicatory story about truth. impressive. we would still need some forms of truthfulness in our lives in order to get by at all. other than that the present need not be the way that it is. Williams’ genealogies of the moralities of truthfulness are rich. Leaving the controversies over truth to the side. . 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. But what particular range of values in a given cultural situation will perform this role is a matter of real history. I see Williams as having backed into a nongenealogical account of truth as an ahistorical concept. But his supposed vindication of truth is puzzling. and intensification. But no matter what one wants to prove about the situations in which one finds oneself. and learned. Williams vindicated— Nietzsche subverted. . my point is that what does the vindicating in Williams’ account may not be the genealogy after all.’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. Nietzsche thought that he could use genealogy to seal some fairly controversial conclusions about modern morality. always and everywhere. Even if we could get by without telling the truth about the past or telling the truth about ourselves. Like Williams. explication. I regard Williams’ work as an ingenious. 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. albeit not on genealogical grounds and definitely not on uncontroversial grounds. one should not use genealogy to try to prove anything about the present. While we could perhaps do without this or that particular form of truthfulness. 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. Aware of his proximity to the genetic fallacy. 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.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 .

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.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 would surely be a disadvantage to pretend that the vindicatory thought experiments are genealogical when. these show us at best why truth might have been taken to be valuable at some point in our history. 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. Insofar as Williams explicitly oriented his conception of genealogy toward normatively rather ambitious purposes. ‘It is better to play down the “intrinsic. Here are important episodes in the history of truthfulness. 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. almost by definition it seems. they are not. And surely it is the case that his genealogies are indeed useful for these purposes. . a history which Williams has shown us ought to be taken very seriously indeed.” ’23 Those aspects of Williams’ vindicatory story in which he plays up the ‘intrinsic’ and the ‘ahistorical’ are. 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. not genealogical. 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. 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. The best chapters of Williams’ book offer edifying intellectual histories of different practices of truth-telling. That may be to the advantage or disadvantage of genealogy. I agree with Ian Hacking who urges that. Perhaps now is the time to take up Foucault again. As for the real historical genealogies.Two Uses of Genealogy 99 truth. 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. truthfully.

genealogy was used as a global critique of the modern moral system. In Foucault’s hands. The point of problematization for Foucault was not. to use history to subvert some of our most central modern practices. genealogy was used as part of a local critique of some of our moral practices. 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 Nietzsche’s hands. most notably our own modernity. 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. 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. Modern punishment and sexuality do not demonstrate that repressive theories of power and emancipatory theories of freedom are wrong or bad. Rather. the effect of which was to simply clear the board of our existing moral conceptions. 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. In comparing Foucault and Williams.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). 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. In The Use of Pleasure and The Care of The Self.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).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. Despite his having been severely and widely misread in these regards. must face. Foucault uses problematization neither to undermine nor to vindicate ancient ethical practices. the effect of which was to problematize these practices in a way that showed their need for future revision. 24 genealogy as practiced in Foucault’s more cautious sense is indeed evident in many of his works. as per Nietzsche. 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. they show rather that for we moderns power and freedom have precisely become the .

This dual-aspect description of genealogical problematization can be discerned in many of Foucault’s own writings and conversations about problematization. But the first thing to note is Foucault’s own claims for the importance of problematization for all of his work. A second aspect concerns the way in which such inquiry functions to clarify and intensify the hybrid network of problems and solutions inquired into. By inquiring into the emergence of hybrid networks of problems and solutions. The point rather is that genealogical problematization by itself neither legitimates nor deligitimates. Problematization as Foucault practiced it can be seen as a form of inquiry with two aspects. but are rather shown to be the most critical problematic on which we moderns find ourselves obsessively working.Two Uses of Genealogy 101 problematic field on which we are most earnestly focused. In a manner somewhat . enmeshed. Genealogical problematization instead helps us recognize that constitutive practices such as these form fields in need of further work. it is outside of the scope of this paper to exhaustively engage these complex texts. Although it would be useful to revisit Foucault’s major genealogical treatises with this revised conception of the critical role of genealogy in mind. Power as discipline and freedom as liberation are not delegitimated by Foucault. By clarifying and intensifying these hybrid networks. genealogy enables us to recognize our problems as contingent products rather than as necessary givens. 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. 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. problematization functions to both open up problems in their emergence and to make them available for critical scrutiny. Inquiry in the form of problematization is preceded by the problems which are the objects of its study. genealogy also enables us to adopt a more reflective relation to the problems in which we already find ourselves. 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. In sum. For the sake of orientation.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. whether consciously or not. but by studying their emergence the problematizing form of inquiry is able to open these problems up to more rigorous forms of critical scrutiny.

’29 Foucault was always more interested in posing challenging questions than in definitively solving problems. . of problématiques. at a given moment. though it must be said that I never isolated this notion sufficiently . 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. genuine way.102 Foucault’s Legacy typical of his intellectual tendencies. 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. 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. madness was problematised through a certain institutional practice and a certain apparatus of knowledge.30 Foucault was clear about this in many of his reflections on his use of genealogy. with the maximum complexity and . Showing a practice to be good or bad is ultimately a way of solving problems rather than provoking them. This explains why Foucault vigilantly avoided the ‘blackmail’ of being ‘ “for” or “against” ’ modern regimes of truth. he was careful to establish this point in a more rigorous fashion. and to raise them with the greatest possible rigor. 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. In History of Madness the question was how and why. but that everything is dangerous. . In the lengthy interview with Trombadori: My role is to raise questions in an effective. 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. Similarly.’31 At other times. most often in interviews. My point is not that everything is bad. then we always have something to do. In an interview with Paul Rabinow and Hubert Dreyfus. 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. If everything is dangerous.28 Regardless of the accuracy of this self-description.

acting. Foucault is saying. and thoughts that seem to me to pose problems for politics. phase of thought. To say that practices are problematic is not to insist that they are wrong. practices. 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 sex are.’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 .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. the development of a domain of acts. Genealogy seeks out the limits that condition our possibilities for being. for example. that we must concern ourselves with the problematic relations between modern power and modern freedom. The problems I try to pose—those tangled things that crime.’34 These many methodological reflections on problematization suggest that the point of Foucault’s genealogies was to neither subvert nor vindicate existing practices. madness. and thinking in the present. what they do.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. and the world in which they live. 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. beliefs. beliefs. In this sense Foucault is. Rather. and conceptions have become problematic in the history of thought due to the contingent intersection of a complex set of enabling or disabling conditions. and that concern every life—cannot easily be resolved. It is more on the order of ‘problematization’— which is to say. Genealogy brings into critical focus the problems which further critical work must attempt to develop solutions for. ‘a remarkably able Kantian. it was to critically show the way in which certain practices. rather than a concluding.33 Lastly. It is to insist that they constitute a field on which we find that we must continue to work. and conceptions. Genealogy taken in this sense is an initiating. as Ian Hacking has noted.

104 Foucault’s Legacy and morality. Foucault is supposed to commit the genetic fallacy insofar as he uses empirical insights to establish normative conclusions. after all. But. says Fraser. I am not conceding Fraser’s claim that Foucault’s work is objectionable due to its being normatively . Perhaps one of the most cogent arguments to the effect that Foucault commits the genetic fallacy was offered by Nancy Fraser. we should not move too quickly in generalizing this point to Foucault. This point is important not in the least because Foucault has been amply. 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. Many devotees of Foucauldian genealogy are likely to find my defense here to cede too much ground to Fraser. While the normative ambitions characteristic of Williams’ and Nietzsche’s deployments of genealogy risk committing the genetic fallacy. 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. He rather used genealogy in order to clarify and intensify the dangers of the present whose histories he studied. 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’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. severely. and repeatedly criticized precisely along these lines by a number of prominent commentators. did not use genealogy in order to definitively establish normative conclusions about the practices he was investigating.’38 Is this not the sort of view I am retreating to? Not quite.37 Foucault. Foucault’s work yields normative confusions rather than normative conclusions. in other words. for that matter. Foucault’s thought tracks a quite different orbit than that described by Williams’ genealogy and Nietzsche’s too. was that Foucault is full of ‘empirical insights’ but also rife with ‘normative confusions’ or what Habermas would later call ‘crypto-normativism.

thinking. as I see it. It also helps us recognize the sense in which Foucault’s critics too often attack his genealogies on a level where they never operated. are what a genealogy seeks to recover in locating the precise practices and procedures which have contributed to our current forms of constituting ourselves. according to Foucault. 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. First. Two observations are relevant at this point. While genealogy is not itself normative. Genealogy as problematization does not seek to establish normative conclusions to the effect that certain practices are either good or bad. Foucault’s work. Second. These materials for self-transformation. either valid or corrupt. either just or unjust. The ultimate goal of genealogy as such is an explication and conceptualization of a complex set of practices that have contingently coalesced. 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 Uses of Genealogy 105 confused. it can nonetheless be critically engaged in and broadly relevant to forms of inquiry involved in the normative evaluation of practices. and that is why Foucault does not commit the genetic fallacy. and being in the present. Foucauldian genealogy is an exercise in clarifying and intensifying the problematizations which condition the ways in which we constitute ourselves in the present. was just not straightforwardly normative in the sense that Fraser’s argument requires. 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. It is these problematizations that crucially condition our possibilities for acting. 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. By rereading genealogy (and perhaps also archaeology though I have not . The contrast to Williams helps us recognize that Foucault’s genealogy properly understood as problematization is not an exercise in legitimation and delegitimation. The genealogist analyzes and diagnoses practices in a way that reveals the problematizations enabling them. It is on the basis of these problematizations—the constraints and limits which they establish—that we continually fashion and refashion ourselves. This can be described as an analytical and diagnostic project. my defense of Foucault against Fraser does not require us to regard his work as incompatible with normative evaluation.

An Introduction to Logic and Scientific Method . Ibid. Princeton: Princeton University. ed. ‘Nietzsche’s Centaur.40 Notes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 For self-descriptions as a Kantian see Michel Foucault. and Kevin Klement (2002). ed. once again. trans. Carol Diethe. Clark (2001). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1993. ‘On the Rejection of Morality: Bernard Williams’ Debt to Nietzsche. Friedrich (1994). (1997). For more recent probing see Margaret Crouch (1993). Williams. See Richard Rorty (1998). ed. Genealogy. ‘Is There a Genetic Fallacy in Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals?’ International Studies in Philosophy 27.. Volume 1: Ethics. Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry: Encyclopedia. 3. and Tradition. ‘What is Enlightenment?’ Paul Rabinow. note 3.’ History and Theory 42. Cambridge: Cambridge University. no. Bernard (1981). possibly the first statement of the genetic fallacy. ‘A “Limited” Defense of the Genetic Fallacy.. no. . 17.106 Foucault’s Legacy dealt with this here)39 in light of this conception of problematization. 4. 12. ‘When Is Genetic Reasoning Not Fallacious?’ Argumentation 16.’ Metaphilosophy 24. ‘Nietzsche. 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. Williams. Essential Works. ‘Is Truth a Goal of Inquiry? Donald Davidson versus Crispin Wright. Oct. 263. 3. see Morris Cohen and Ernest Nagel (1934). and the Genealogical Method. New York: The New Press.’ Richard Schacht (2001). in want of such a practice of critique. Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff.. 20–38. 66. For a defense of Nietzsche see Paul Loeb (1995). Bernard (2002).. Hume. and David Hoy (1986). For a classic.. Dec. Nietzsche: Life as Literature. We are today. New York: Harcourt.’ Gary Gutting (1984). Truth. ‘Another New Nietzsche. Maudemarie.. Ibid. see also Barry Allen (2003).’ Yovel. Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy. Williams.. Jul. 1981.’ Richard Rorty (1998). 61. 36. 373. Truth and Progress: Philosophical Papers Volume 3. no. Cambridge: Cambridge University. Nietzsche as Affirmative Thinker. 2003. as Foucault himself suggested we should. Cambridge: Cambridge University. 2002. On the genetic fallacy in Nietzsche see Alexander Nehamas (1985). 107ff. For one of the best criticisms of Nietzsche along these general lines see Alasdair MacIntyre (1990). June 17.. 1926—. ed. Notre Dame: Notre Dame University. Subjectivity. and Truth. Nietzsche. Truth. and ‘Foucault. 6. Michel. Williams.’ London Review of Books. Cambridge: Harvard University. 120. Ibid. The Cambridge Companion to Foucault. Nietzsche’s Postmoralism. On the Genealogy of Morals.

The Care of the Self: The History of Sexuality. 1902.’ Lawrence Kritzman (1990). Unlike the later historical genealogies. On Williams and Rorty see Hilary Putnam (2004). Truth and Progress: Philosophical Papers Volume 3. Culture. Richard (2002). Mar. Frederick Lawrence. Oct. and Michel Foucault (1990). Available online at http://www.Two Uses of Genealogy 13 107 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 See chapters Cambridge: MIT Press. ‘Critical Notice of Truth and Truthfulness. Ian (2004). trans. Harvard: Harvard University. ed. New York: Vintage.. as quoted in Ralph Barton Perry (1996). trans. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Foucault. Volume 1: An Introduction. ‘On the Genealogy of Ethics: Overview of Work in Progress. Williams. 257. Michel (1990). 8. Nashville: Vanderbilt University.. Princeton: Princeton University. ‘Dewey Between Hegel and Darwin’ in Rorty. Ibid. See Edward Craig (2007).. New York: Vintage. Volume 2. Foucault.. ‘Another Nietzsche’ agreeing with Hacking and contrast Craig.’ London Review of Books. New York: Vintage. The genealogy of liberal social critique (Chapter 9) is the least developed. Princeton: Princeton University. In the Beginning Was the Deed: Realism and Moralism in Political Argument. 375. ‘Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline. Philosophy. Peirce to James.lrb. ed. See Jürgen Habermas (1987). ‘The Concern for Truth. See Richard Rorty. ‘To the Sunlit Uplands. see also Allen. 93 Ibid. Subjectivity. 192. no.’ Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline. Williams’ book is actually more complex. trans. Williams. forthcoming in Philosophy & Social Criticism. Cambridge: Cambridge University. Williams. Bernard Williams. in Paul Rabinow (1997). but Edward Craig considers at length the complex relationship between historical genealogies and fictional state of nature stories in Williams. The Use of Pleasure: The History of Sexuality. 11.’ Alan Thomas (2007). New York: Vintage. ‘Revising Foucault’. Robert Hurley.’ Canadian Journal of Philosophy 34. Foucault. The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity. Essential Works. Robert Hurley. Politics. Truth. and Michel Foucault (1988). The Thought and Character of William James. Bernard (2006).’ interview by Rabinow and Dreyfus. I leave imaginary genealogies to the side. Michel (1997). Williams offers this early account as an explicitly ‘fictional’ genealogy. ‘Genealogies and the State of Nature. trans. Chapter 3. The History of Sexuality. Cambridge: Cambridge University. 2004. 92. Rorty. See also Allen. 1. Richard (1998). ‘Another Nietzsche’. Truth. Alan Sheridan. Michel (1990). and 9 of Williams. 31. It is not clear that armchairthought experiments are really genealogies at all.. June 12. 38. Hacking. Volume 3. Ethics without Ontology. New York: Routledge. 58. Michel (1995). Volume 1: Ethics. Robert Hurley. 256. 147. Foucault. New York: The New Press. 2002. In chapter 3 he offers an entirely different genealogy of the origins of truthfulness itself. but for a fuller account see Bernard Williams (2005). and Truth. . ed. Truth. ‘Genealogies’ arguing that the specific advantage of Williams’ genealogy is that it enables us to explicate the elusive connection between instrumental and intrinsic value. I describe Discipline and Punish and History of Madness in these terms in Colin Koopman. 286.

and Christoph Durt. New York: Blackwell. The Politics of Our Selves: Power. ‘Self-Improvement’ in David Hoy. 114. ed. Michel (2000). Philosophical Discourse. and Truth. Essential Works. ‘What is Enlightenment?’. which provided me with the resources to research and write this paper. For important questions in response to a presentation of this material at the Eighth Annual Meeting of the Foucault Circle. Unruly Practices: Power. ‘Polemics. and the Genetic Fallacy. ‘ “Omnes et Singulatim”: Toward a Critique of Political Reason. interview by Rabinow. Ian (1984). Volume 3: Power.’ Journal of the Philosophy of History 2. in Paul Rabinow (1997). Fraser. Hans Sluga. see Amy Allen (2008). in James Faubion (2000) ed. Trombadori. ‘Foucault on Modern Power’ and Habermas.. Foucault. For their comments on earlier versions of this paper I thank Ryan Acton. Essential Works. Foucault: A Critical Reader. and especially David Hoy.’ James Faubion (2000). 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. Autonomy. Michel (1997). Politics and Problematizations’. See Nancy Fraser (1989). 311. 238. New York: The New Press. most notably in Béatrice Han (2002).. Discourse and Gender in Contemporary Social Theory. New York: Columbia. ed. Lastly. ‘Adding Genealogy to Archaeology. Allen’s book corrects the defects of the reading of Foucault as a Kantian offered in early literature. Michel (2000). Subjectivity. Barry Allen. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. and Gender in Contemporary Critical Theory..108 30 31 Foucault’s Legacy 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 Foucault. ‘Foucault on Modern Power: Empirical Insights and Normative Confusions’ and ‘Michel Foucault: A Young Conservative?’ in Nancy Fraser (1989).. Ian Hacking. see Allen’s forthcoming paper. Autonomy. Foucault. Stanford: Stanford University. 288. 312–313. Essential Works. I acknowledge a Postdoctoral Research Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. New York: The New Press. trans. For helpful discussions of Williams and Foucault I would like to thank Amy Allen. Foucault’s Critical Project: Between the Transcendental and the Historical. I thank Dianna Taylor. Foucault. no. ‘Interview with Michel Foucault’ by D. Edward Pile. 3. For recent revisionist work on the importance of Kant for Foucault. Volume 3: Power. ed. Care of the Self. ‘Foucault. Volume 1: Ethics. Foucault. . 10 Hacking. I describe the compatibility of archaeology and genealogy in Foucault’s general analytic-diagnostic orientation of problematization in Colin Koopman (2008).

1984 When authors become classic figures it is not simply because of their originality but rather because of the influence. postmodernity.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. 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. indispensable for understanding his fundamental philosophical task: weakening ontology through actuality. It can be found in Vattimo’s recent and forthcoming works more so than his older ones. Jacques Derrida. instead of legitimating what one already knows? —Michel Foucault. L’Usage des plaisirs. but most important. Hannah Arendt. and effects of their work. 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. consequences. Hans-Georg Gadamer. and Ernst Tugendhat. One can see Martin Heidegger’s influence over Paul Ricoeur. While Heidegger’s disciples pursued their master’s works one way or another. and Richard Rorty much more clearly than his sway over his own students. Foucault’s influence on the Italian philosopher Gianni Vattimo is much more significant than one might expect. Contrary to what most think. While Vattimo’s books on Nietzsche. 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. A collection of essays on the influences. consequences. Heidegger. and religion are not straightforwardly .

Marx’—analyzed the system of interpretation founded in the nineteenth century.110 Foucault’s Legacy concerned with Foucault’s writings. 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). Foucault indirectly indicated the ontology for the ‘event of Being’ that Vattimo was searching for.’2 induces me to think that Vattimo has brought forward what perhaps was Foucault’s ontological or Heideggerian silent project. demystified. Ramnoux.4 It is no surprise that Foucault chose those same philosophers whom Paul Ricoeur would later consider the ‘masters of suspicion.1 In order to outline Foucault’s influence on Vattimo. and Kellel. Demonbynes. the second will show how Vattimo fused together this ontology and his philosophy of ‘weak thought. but rather it is one embraced at the end. sketched.’ In his own ontology. the ones that unmasked. and exposed our most established beliefs. as an outcome of hermeneutics. Freud. Vattimo recalls meeting Foucault for the first time in July 1964 at a colloquium on Nietzsche in Royaumont. 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. 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.’ The first part will analyze Foucault’s article where he planned the ‘ontology of actuality’. under the title ‘Nietzsche. The goal of this paper is to outline Vattimo’s ontology.’5 that is. Taubes. It is curious to note that in his recent autobiography. which consists in weakening the strong structures of reality through interpretation. Wahl. has only been announced. which. as I’ve said. since 1988 the Italian philosopher has been outlining and planning an ontology that refers specifically to Foucault’s ‘ontology of actuality. that is. Although Foucault did not conceive hermeneutics as a philosophical discipline as Vattimo did. 1954–1975. Vattimo foresees the essence and outcome of his philosophical program. Baroni. this is one of the few places in which he analyzes it. I will divide this paper in two parts: ‘Ontology of Actuality’ and ‘Being as Event. Vattimo not only attended Foucault’s lecture but also took part in the discussion afterward with other participants who included Boehm.’ My hope is that both parts will show how Vattimo has brought forward what I propose to call ‘Foucault’s attempt’ at an ontology.3 At this colloquium. philosophical hermeneutics. 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.6 .

For this reason. that is. incomplete.’8 that is. discovered the infinity of interpretation.’11 Having said this. and Freud is the primacy of interpretation with respect to signs. and Freud it is only possible when things reflect back on each other. I fully agree with you as far as Nietzsche is concerned. after Marx.’10 In this play of mirrors everything becomes ‘interpretation. like Nietzsche. which is a time of definite terms. if in the sixteenth century something could be said and deciphered only when things resembled each other.’9 in the twentieth century it is a ‘perpetual play of mirrors. Marx did not consider interpretation a consequence of antifoundationalism. I’m even afraid of not being able to show it. I hardly developed my idea.13 . 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. Nietzsche. He knows well. Marx should be classified with those thinkers who. ‘the minimal unity that interpretation had to maintain.Weakening Ontology through Actuality 111 The French master began his lecture by explaining how ‘each cultural form in the Western civilization . But take The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon for example: Marx never presents his interpretation as the final interpretation. when they involve us in an interpretation that always reflects back on itself: ‘there is never . but the interpretative nature of reality is an integral part of Nietzsche’s and Freud’s demystifications. While ‘resemblance. . Nietzsche. and that there is no short-gap explanation in the ground. he was surprised that Foucault presented Marx as an antifoundational theorist together with Nietzsche and Freud.’12 Although Vattimo agreed with most of Foucault’s thesis. and in opposition to the time of dialectic. each sign is in itself not the thing that offers itself to interpretation but an interpretation of other signs. and says so. that we could interpret at a more profound level or more general level. has had its system of interpretation. . there is a time of interpretation [explains Foucault]. ‘In opposition to the time of signs. which is linear in spite of everything. its particular interpretation of Being that characterized its relation to reality. What he finds most significant after Marx.’7 that is. provided the ‘place’ of interpretation. in other words. an interpretandum that is not already interpretans.’ in the sixteenth century. Vattimo posed the following question in the discussion: If I understood correctly. . . which is circular.

’ Foucault never used the term ‘ontology of actuality’ again. 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 . in a course at the Collège de France. and circular nature that it had for Nietzsche and Freud.’ 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.’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.17 In sum. 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. facts. Although an extract of the course was published under the title ‘Qu’est-ce que les Lumières?’ in Le Magazine Littéraire. to philosophy. for that matter. Foucault (just as Ricoeur would a few years later) only wanted to champion these three masters’ demystifications of our most foundational beliefs. If radical demystification is nothing more than the recognition of the primacy of interpretation over signs. 1983.’ In the first edition. ‘ontology of actuality’ was opposed to an ‘analytics of truth.’ it should be pointed out that this expression was first used by Foucault on January 5. ‘historical ontology of ourselves’ was opposed to the ‘critical ontology of ourselves.’ and in the second edition. Nietzsche. and Freud’s demystification of power. he preferred ‘historical ontology’ to ‘ontology of actuality’ because he felt closer to historicism than to ontology or. only after Marx. then the infinite nature of interpretation must be the vital part of any philosophy. This might also be why he immediately dropped the word ‘actuality’ in favor of ‘historical’ in the second edition. 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. and objects.14 Foucault the following year published a longer version of the same text in English. infinite. nature. It is no surprise that hermeneutics received full philosophical significance with Heidegger. Ontology of actuality Before venturing into the philosophical meaning of Foucault’s ‘ontologie de l’actualité. and consciousness had been abundantly absorbed into Western culture.

19 In sum. or thinking what we are. 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. 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.’21 But by being the handbook of reason. an ontology of actuality (or a historical ontology of ourselves). and do as so many historical events. do.’18 In other words. Foucault goes on to specify that ontology of actuality is not transcendental. Ontology of actuality does not try to ‘make possible a metaphysics that has finally become a science. according to Foucault. Foucault considers Kant’s three Critiques as the Enlightenment’s guide. from the contingency that has made us what we are.’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?’]. that is. without subjecting itself to any external authorities (such as God or Nature) in order to determine by itself what can be known. and its goal is not that of making a metaphysics possible: it is genealogical in its design and archaeological in its method. would not turn to projects that claim to be global as an analysis of truth (or a critical ontology of ourselves) would. say. published in November 1784 and his three Critiques. published in 1781. or think. but will seek to treat the instances of discourse that articulate what we think. For this reason. 1788. respectively. the possibility of no longer being. say. thinking. 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. and 1790. and hoped for. and do as so many historical events. done. to the undefined work of freedom. doing.Weakening Ontology through Actuality 113 philosophy of truth in general and a critical thought which will take the form of an ontology of ourselves. but it will separate out. Kant described the Enlightenment as the moment when humanity put its own reason to use. it is seeking to give new impetus. that is. as far and wide as possible. the same Enlightenment also becomes the age . 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. if this new historical ontology is archeological. and saying. the ‘handbook of reason that has grown up in the Enlightenment. an ontology of actuality.

Kant.’ or better. 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 . and unhistorical subject. he went on to call a ‘historical ontology of ourselves.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. Foucault sees in Kant’s text a fundamental distinction between a ‘formal ontology of truth’ and an ‘ontology of actuality. Max Weber. Heidegger. In sum. by asking ‘what are we.’ the latter which.’ This historicalontology question. the Frankfurt School have tried to answer this question.’ ‘contemporary. 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. universal. or God?’ While these questions belong to the field of the ‘ontology of truth. the age that made possible Kant’s masterpieces. as I said.114 Foucault’s Legacy of these Critiques. according to Foucault. By questioning the ‘historical. For Kant this question. nature. 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. Hegel. Husserl. revolutionized philosophy. This is where Kant’s article ‘Was heist Aufklärung?’ comes in. as part of the Enlightenment?’24 belongs to the ontology of actuality. and at any moment. anywhere. as Foucault says.’25 One way or another. that is.’ which does not acknowledge their actuality. like the Critiques. Nietzsche. ‘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. And this is precisely what Kant avoids because his question allows an analysis of both us and our actual present. But if this ‘I’ is also everyone. for Foucault it is the first time that a philosopher has connected in this way. a reflection on history and a particular analysis of the specific moment at which he is writing and because of which he is writing. closely and from the inside. While many believe this small text represents only a significant fusion between critical and historical reflection. it loses its relation with the present. ‘Kant. that is. which consists in metaphysical questions such as ‘what is truth. Kant avoids the universal philosophical trap. the significance of his work with respect to knowledge. Fichte. ‘What are we today?’ has characterized philosophy ever since because. with actuality. as Aufklärer.

‘philosophy is in fact the most general cultural form in which we might be able to reflect on the reality of the west.Weakening Ontology through Actuality 115 themselves as subjects of what they were doing. ‘actuality’ was replaced by ‘historical.’ explicitly preferring the second.’ which could be interpreted just as another version of historicism. and saying in their actuality. as Foucault notes.’ It is no surprise. Vattimo has brought forward Foucault’s attempt at an ontology that was promised but not pursued.27 Being as event As I said at the beginning of this paper. Although the distinction between ‘ontology of actuality’ and ‘historical ontology of ourselves’ is not terribly signifi cant. and freely applied by the late Foucault. as we will see. But before analyzing how Vattimo managed to place the history of Being into Foucault’s ontology of actuality. In fact. thinking. a philosophy that does not include the philosopher in its own sphere does not faithfully reflect ‘reality. it is actuality that captured Vattimo’s attention because. ‘analytics of truth. then. 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.’ such dichotomy. if the first edition (which was a transcription of a course) of Foucault’s essay on Kant had not been published. Although Foucault did not elaborate the meaning of the term ‘ontology. such as analytical versus Continental philosophy. Foucault’s influence over Vattimo is circumscribed by his ‘ontology of actuality. After all. Vattimo might not have focused on this ontology of actuality because in the second edition. who set against philosophy as ‘analysis of truth’ a philosophy understood as ‘ontology of actuality. that ‘ontology of actuality’ questions were raised by philosophers because.’ that is. as both editions demonstrate.’ 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. philosophy in itself must reflect on its own contemporary debates. As we will see. to metaphysics. Another way to formulate this antithesis might be that adopted. Vattimo formulated the term ‘weak thought’ in order to abandon philosophy’s traditional claim to global descriptions of the world because after . as I said. also beyond its own explicit intentions. Instead. it is the cornerstone of his weakening of ontology. Vattimo preferred the first formulation because it is easier to oppose to its counter. delineates new possible distinctions and articulations in the antithesis.’26 In other words.

This means that Being can be distinguished from beings only when it is understood as an event instead . Heidegger’s ontological difference.’ has a very negative connotation just as in English. In this condition Being is not set apart. in other words. Being is not what endures. of appropriating to themselves the notion of Being. what is and cannot not be—as Parmenides would have it—but only what becomes because it ‘becomes’ from the ontological difference. objectivity is a result of our interpretation and not the cause. or occurs. positions. While the Italian term ‘debole. on the other hand.’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. and boundaries. but rather as a possibility of emancipation. we must only adjust to this ‘condition’ of thought.116 Foucault’s Legacy those masters’ demystifications we mentioned above. that is of freeing thought from objectivity. also indicates the (forgotten) difference between Being and beings. But the act of modeling beings on Being. On the contrary.’29 Although it is just ‘on the forgetfulness of this difference that metaphysical thought was able to evolve into a strong thought. that is. the difference between Being and beings. since we still haven’t found the correct description of reality. befalls. indicates most of all ‘that Being is not. and placements that constitute them. Heidegger individuated in it what metaphysics has always ascribed to Being: stability in presence. According to Vattimo. thought is much more aware of its own restrictions. All the objects in front of us are already the result of a series of descriptions. 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). it should not be interpreted as a failure. such as an ‘event’ following Heidegger’s indication after his destruction of metaphysics in Being and Time. Entities are what can be said to be. he also showed that we can no longer conceive the notion of an entity as a self-evident present object. but just interpreted as something weaker. While past philosophers interpreted this forestructure of objectivity as a transcendental or dialectical totality. truth. but of an awareness of a condition.’ ‘weak. Being. In sum. limits.28 When Heidegger declared in Being and Time that ontic knowledge presupposes a knowledge or foreunderstanding of Being as such. and reality which have conditioned it until now.

how can we acknowledge or compare it? Vattimo explained that although Being is not identifiable with beings. transmission. and .’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. In sum. it redirects itself toward history. Being never really is but sends itself. destiny-forwarding. it is ‘comparable to the light by which entities become visible.Weakening Ontology through Actuality 117 of as a present objectivity.34 was meant to mark. . the new ontological approach that excludes all essentialist views of Being. as the instituting and transforming of those horizons in which entities time and again become accessible to man. the ‘difference’ of the ontological difference indicates that we can only truly distinguish Being from beings when we conceive ‘it as historical-cultural happenings. it transmits itself . linguistic resonances. But this is only possible if Being and event are fused together. . that is. 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.’33 The term ‘Ereignis’ (event). or Ueber-lieferung. is a labor of stitching things back together.’36 But if Being for Vattimo consists in a transmission. But if Being is not in the presence of things. in the forwarding and destiny (‘Ueberlieferung’ and ‘Ge-schick’) of a series of echoes. used by Heidegger to indicate (not define) Being in Contributions to Philosophy. Being now ends up stripped of the strong traits attributed to it by metaphysics. and deconstructions that ‘are “givens” of destiny understood as a process of transmission. Such a Being would derive not from Being ‘as it is’ but from Being viewed as the product of a history of formulations. 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. Being that can occur does not have the same traits as metaphysical Being with the simple addition of ‘eventuality. is on the way.’35 In this condition. They are points of reference we keep encountering each time we engage in thinking here and now. interpretations. according to Vattimo. with the particular entities given to us in our experience.’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. of reassembly. after deconstructionism.

and therefore it presents itself as the most appropriate method for the ‘thinking that corresponds to Being as event. while on the contrary. Being presupposes this disclosure. in other words. 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. . or theorem (such as the idea of truth as the conformity of the proposition to the thing) is an event. This implies the weakness of Being since ‘if Being had a strong reason to be. Interpretation. of reassembling the events that constitute Being after deconstruction. 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. is historical and casual. would have strength. Being . essence. But as things are.’37 Having said this. 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. interpretation can correspond to different events of Being since each interpretation itself is different. but of the fact . unlike description. one might think that language is something bigger than or prior to Being. it is an event of Being itself. Vattimo has taken literally Heidegger’s indication that the new epoch of Being. a historical aperture or disclosure of Being that must be interpreted. while description corresponds to stable presences. happened and happening.’ explains Vattimo. it must be because ‘Being lacks a reason’: there is no reason sufficient to explain why Being is. . ‘then metaphysics would have significance.118 Foucault’s Legacy messages coming from the past and from others in the form of events. after the destruction of metaphysics. Hermeneutics becomes in this way the most appropriate philosophical position for grasping Being’s vocation of giving itself as the truth of human language. and why is there something rather than nothing? If this question has not yet been answered. to ‘a philosophy of “decline.’38 For these reasons Vattimo believes that philosophy is weak thought. would not depend on our decisions but rather on recognizing how we belong to this same destruction. For Vattimo.” a philosophy which sees what is constitutive of Being not as the fact of its prevailing. this ‘eventuality’ indicates that everything we see as a structure. 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. 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. which is not an object of philosophical research but rather that into which Being is always-already thrown. that is.

’ But Vattimo’s ontology of actuality is not only an appropriate way to pursue Heidegger’s post-metaphysical indications. such as Beyond Interpretation and Nihilism and Emancipation. This is why among the most committed philosophers in favor of ‘weak thought’ was Richard Rorty who was among the first to overcome . most of all. if Being after Heidegger’s destruction can no longer be the metaphysical knowledge of Being qua beings.Weakening Ontology through Actuality 119 of its disappearing. . Because there is no other way to grasp Being as something stable apart from its event (that is. ‘to grasp what is meant by “Being”—the word itself and virtually nothing else—in our experience now. ‘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.41 Vattimo has explained why Foucault’s ‘ontology of actuality’ represents the most persuasive way to collect the event of Being. In other words. the ‘eventual’ status of Being.’43 But as I said. but only the event of those appeals that come down to us through its history.’40 Although Vattimo individuated the ‘weak’ condition of thought. 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. as in Aristotle. but because of its weakness. the specific historical aperture in which it arises by allowing Being to appear). in the subjective sense of the genitive. a theory of present existence is a theory that has no other source of information or legitimation apart from the present condition itself.42 Any source of legitimation other than its ‘present condition. in an ‘analytics of truth’ where Being would represent what endures and cannot not be. that could articulate the historical events that constituted it in our present. but also to battle against those metaphysical positions that still today reign over contemporary philosophy. and the ‘hermeneutic’ nature of philosophy after Heidegger’s destruction of metaphysics. that is. it is not ‘because of its force . that is. if Being has been able to endure so long.’39 After all. Since the publication of ‘Ontology of Actuality’ in 1988 and then in many of his other writings. an ontology that not only recognized its historical transmission but. he still needed to locate Being in an ontology. then the new philosophical task after metaphysics is to ‘weaken ontology through actuality.’ such as objectivism or transcendentalism would automatically throw Being into metaphysics again. . Ontology of actuality is the most persuasive ‘answer to Heidegger’s call to recollect Being’ says Vattimo.

Foucault’s influence over Vattimo is essential to the point that the Italian philosopher recently declared. Foucault. demonstrated he was also looking for a culture in which the realms of faith and scientific knowledge were compatible.’ Dits et écrits I. as I said at the beginning of this paper. Foucault. Reggio Emilia: Aliberti. this concern is not significant. to historical investigations into the events that constitute our actuality. Note the transcription of the discussion with Foucault is not included . ‘Le retour de la morale. 603–607. Gianni. but he has recently changed the title to Of Reality. Michel (1994). But in order for such a philosophical culture to persists it is necessary to set apart ‘truth’ as a value. Although I have seen the manuscript of this work. 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. Paterlini (2006).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’s recognition of Heidegger’s influence is also indicated in Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow (1982). fragile. in favor of truth as a consequence of interpretation. And as we saw. Columbia University Press. only the effects Foucault’s work had on others is important. 1522.120 Foucault’s Legacy those realist and anti-realist disputes such as atheist versus theist or more recently analytical versus Continental philosophy.’ Dits et écrits II. Paris: Gallimard. but on the contrary. that ‘the idea of ontology of actuality could also be interpreted as a retrospective vision of my philosophical path. 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. Non Essere Dio.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. as the only matrix capable to increase or decrease knowledge. But as a consequence of interpretation truth can only be contingent. 1954–1975. Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics. Paris: Gallimard. ‘Discussion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. and P. Michel (2001). 122. 1976 –1988. Una autobiografia a Quattro mani. and time should not be wasted in such historical investigations because. also forthcoming in English. and most of all weak.’47 Notes 1 2 3 4 Gianni Vattimo announced a book to be titled Ontology of Actuality in his 1994 work Beyond Interpretation. I will only use his published work for my theme in order to facilitate anyone working today. in a biographical interview for his seventieth birthday. Vattimo.

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. R. and Truth. ‘Discussion.’ 603–604. New York: The New Press. Freud. James D. Foucault. Freud. Freud. consider the title ‘misleading’ and thought The Care of the Self ‘would have been a more apt title’ (Mark G. Foucault. E. Marx. ‘Nietzsche. ‘Nietzsche. Foucault. Kelly. New York: The New Press. ‘Review: Michel. Paul (1970)..’ 270.. such as Mark G. One of the first philosophers to comment on Foucault’s ‘ontologie de l’actualité ’ (sometimes translated as ‘ontology of the present. Which amounts to saying . New York: Oxford University Press. Foucault.’ Foucault Studies 3: 107–12. he can only conceive of studying a concept in the historical mode. 403–417. ‘On the Genealogy of Ethics: An Overview of Work in Progress. Method.’ 278. The Hermeneutics of the Subject. The Hermeneutics of the Subject. ed. This course was partially published first in Le Magazine Littéraire 207 (May 1984): 35–39. Freud. which is an investigation of how philosophy should deal with world events. ed. Foucault. Faubion. Foucault. ‘Nietzsche. Stephen Adam Schwartz. and Epistemology. are neither concerned with hermeneutics as a philosophical discipline nor with the ‘subject’ as ‘self-knowledge. ‘Qu’est-ce que les Lumières?’ Dits et écrits II. ‘What Is Enlightenment?’ Ethics. Marx. Hurley and others. R. ‘Nietzsche.’ Power. Marx. trans.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). 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. Some commentators. E. Marx. Freud and Philosophy: An Essay on Interpretation. Paul Rabinow (1984) ed. New York: The New Press. James D. ‘Nietzsche. Michel.’ ‘ontology of ourselves. 1498–1507. Marx. Freud. about time as time. Foucault’s recently published 1981–1982 lectures at the Collège de France. 253–280. In keeping with the positivist program. Kelly (2005). Marx. Hurley and others. 32–50. 269–278. Foucault. and then in Michel Foucault (1997). New Haven: Yale University 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. Ricoeur. about the past as past. Subjectivity. and Truth.’ 275. Freud. and recently as Michel Foucault. ‘The Political Technology of Individuals. was translated first in The Foucault Reader. ed.’ in Ethics.’ 270.’ or ‘ontology of current events’) was Vincent Descombes (1993) in The Barometer of Modern Reason: On the Philosophies of Current Events. ‘Nietzsche. 1976 –1988. Paul Rabinow. trans. 304–319.’ Aesthetic. from 1984.’ 272. Yet conceptual discussions of this order are notoriously absent from Foucault’s writings. Foucault. Foucault. Foucault.’ 275. Michel (2000). Only the second edition. about the unaccomplished as unaccomplished. trans. Subjectivity. ‘Nietzsche. Freud.

‘The Political Technology of Individuals. 3–34. Schroeder. or an obviousness that imposes itself uniformly on all. Faubion (2000). Vattimo. foreword to F. Vattimo. 5. Blamires and T.’ 151. Foucault.’ Aesthetic. trans. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Cambridge: Polity Press. ‘Dialectics. Gianni (1984). New York: Columbia University Press. and Epistemology. Res 4: 87. Foucault. New York: The New Press. Michel (1997). S. Vattimo. trans. Foucault. xv. Vattimo. Gianni (2002). James D. an immediately anthropological trait. Contributions to Philosophy (From Enowning). . (Descombes.’ in Faubion (2000). Foucault. Difference. The End of Modernity. Vattimo. Method. ‘The Subject and Power. Vattimo. A detailed history of Vattimo’s weak thought can be found in my ‘Introduction’ to Weakening Philosophy. Mascetti. D’Agostini (1997). Foucault. C. Analitici e continentali. ‘What Is Enlightenment?’ 315. R. Vattimo. Gianni(2007). and Weak Thought. T. ‘Dialectics. prima facie. Vattimo.’ 156. Faubion (1997). The Adventure of Difference.122 Foucault’s Legacy that an entirely historicist philosophy may well be political but.’ 403. eds. Harrison. Difference. Santiago Zabala (in press). Vattimo.’ 157. and Weak Thought. Vattimo. D’Isanto. 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. Vattimo. Art’s Claim to Truth. Martin (1989). James D.. Guida alla filosofia degli ultimi trent’anni. New York: State University of New York Press. Heidegger. ed. Hurley and others. ‘Weak Thought and the Reduction of Violence: A Dialogue with Gianni Vattimo by Santiago Zabala. Snyder. ‘Questions of Method. J. in Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 10 (1984): 151. trans. The Barometer of Modern Reason. Harrison. Foucault. ‘Qu’est-ce que les Lumières?’ 1506–1507. 86. it has nothing to do with any sort of ontology. ‘What Is Enlightenment?’ 309. The Adventure of Difference: Philosophy After Nietzsche and Heidegger. T. and Weak Thought. xv. 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. ‘Dialectics. 250. Gianni (1993). ‘Philosophy and Psychology. Gianni. trans.’ Power. Michel (2000). Gianni (1982). Milan: Cortina. ‘Dialectics. Difference. ‘Ontology of Actuality’ Contemporary Italian Philosophy. Difference. Gianni (1988).’ Michel Foucault (2000). Analitici e continentali. 335. 149.’ trans. Gianni. trans. Vattimo. Santiago Zabala (2007) ed. Parvis Emad and Kenneth Maly. ‘Difference and Interference: On the Reduction of Hermeneutics to Anthropology. New York: The New Press. R. L. Foucault. Foucault.’ trans.’ trans. and Weak Thought. ‘What Is Enlightenment?’ 308. Vattimo. Benso and B. foreword to F. Harrison. D’Agostini. 226. P. Y. Common Knowledge 3: 463. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press. ‘What Is Enlightenment?’ 305. ed. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press. ‘What Is Enlightenment?’ 315.

trans. A House Divided: Comparing Analytical and Continental Philosophy. ed. Nihilism and Emancipation. Iride 49: 492. W. E. Beyond Interpretation. Rome: Meltemi Publishers. (2008). Richard (2006). Gianni. Mendieta. Stanford: Stanford University Press. ed. 6. Nihilism and Emancipation. A very clear example of this division among contemporary philosophy can be found in C. Rorty. Vattimo. Webb. McCuaig. trans. Gianni (2006). 8. New York: Columbia University Press. Vattimo. A detailed analysis and development of Vattimo’s event of Being can be found in Santiago Zabala. Vattimo. 1997.. G. The Remains of Being: Philosophy After its Deconstruction (Forthcoming 2009). eds.. Santiago Zabala (2004). ed.’ L.Weakening Ontology through Actuality 123 42 43 44 45 46 47 89–107. Prado (2003). New York: Columbia University Press. Amherst: Humanity Books. Addio alla verità. D. 86. Vercellone. Cambridge: Polity Press. Savarino and F. .. Take care of Freedom and Truth Will Take Care of Itself: Interviews with Richard Rorty. Vattimo. Nihilism and Emancipation. ‘Philosophy as Ontology of Actuality: BiographicalTheoretical Interview.

for Foucault.Chapter 7 Foucault. the lack. 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. which functions to unveil ‘the fascist regimes of Christian theology and sexuality in the bondage of a fixed self.’ Jeremy Carrette cites some memorable passages from the ‘Preface’ to clarify his ‘queer theory’ approach to Foucault.’ to demonstrate ‘that Foucault’s style of analysis should make him the “patron saint” for the study of Nazism.’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. Secularization theory. one that would establish a civil relation between interlocutors. in ‘Beyond Theology and Sexuality. one of his life-long objectives was to construct a nonauthoritarian discursive model. I argue that. whether those interlocutors were citizens.’2 In ‘The Fascist Longings in our Minds. there has been some confusion about Foucault’s take on the role of religion in the formation of a fascist technology of the self. academicians.’3 James Bernauer makes extensive use of the ‘Preface’ in his essay.5 While many contemporary scholars agree that there is a strong antifascist impulse running throughout Foucault’s writings. onto which we project all the unpleasant realities from which we want to distance ourselves. ‘Michel Foucault’s Philosophy of Religion: An Introduction to the Non-Fascist Life. For instance. for as Foucault makes abundantly clear in a 1984 interview.’ 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. or countries. 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 . politicians. In this essay.

In the first. that secularization has never even begun to take hold much less to occur in the West. There are two stages to my argument. As I will demonstrate. continues to perplex. that it is impossible to understand the origins of totalitarianism and fascism without taking into account a distinctly religious conception of the political subject. Here are three separate models: (1) given the way science and reason supplanted religion and faith. For instance. Foucault refused to give credence to the secularization hypothesis. First. and fascism. I contend. Examining Hitler’s speeches and writings. Foucault would argue. will shed considerable light on the distinctive theological technology of the self that made fascism flourish. Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism. Foucault’s work will force us to reconsider those canonical studies. I briefly examine secularization theory. Horkheimer. I analyze Hitler’s religious conception of the political. and Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities. which holds that science and reason have been slowly but surely supplanting religion and faith. contra Pecora. In the second part of this essay. and consequently. and Anderson. 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. Adorno. What exactly secularization is. Recent studies have been posing a substantive challenge to the traditional secularization hypothesis. he would argue. however. Arendt. Pecora praises Foucault for teaching us ‘how to rethink the Enlightenment’s idea of progress. peculiarly subterranean form of falsity that exists on earth. I have dug out the theologian instinct everywhere: it is the most widespread. Vincent P. Max Horkheimer’s and Theodor W. Adorno’s Dialectic of Enlightenment. totalitarianism. The consequences of using Foucault’s work to understand the origins of totalitarianism and fascism are staggering.Secularization Theory and Theological Origins 125 role Christianity played in the formation of the Western political subject and the modern nation-state.’ but he faults him for failing to understand ‘the story of secularization that accompanied it.8 Scholars have consistently claimed that secularization has been underway in the West from the Enlightenment to the present. which hold that secularization was a precondition for the emergence of the nation-state. an intellectual move that has baffled some prominent scholars.’7 But if my interpretation of Foucault is convincing.9 (2) given the way the Protestant Reformation shifted epistemic authority . contra Fromm. such as Erich Fromm’s Escape from Freedom.

.’14 Gone is the cocksure atheist of 1882. In fact. 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.11 the credibility of the church and its truths has been significantly undermined. 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. who boldly claimed that the God-idea is on the wane. Twain offers a tentative .’13 The second shift relates to Nietzsche’s critique of God and religion.’ an essay published in the September 1899 issue of Harper’s Monthly. that with the passage of time. First. Indeed. it is only a minor one. Twain tries to explain the origins of Western anti-Semitism. if religion plays a role in justifying the culture’s anti-Semitism. we could say that Twain would have agreed with Arendt. thus leading to the rise of a nonreligious mentality in the West. Twain says that he is ‘convinced that the persecution of the Jew is not due in any large degree to religious prejudice. But in 1886. While Nietzsche continued to argue in the years 1886 through January of 1889 that God is both an incoherent and dangerous idea.10 or (3) given the way translations of the Bible into vernacular languages led to the proliferation of irreconcilable religious schisms. . Such are the standard versions of the secularization hypothesis that have dominated. For instance. Throughout this essay.’16 For instance. Friedrich Nietzsche’s madman from The Gay Science boldly proclaimed God’s death. 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. for Nietzsche. there was a palpable shift in the Uebermensch philologist’s writings. But a casual glance at the writings of some prominent writers tells a much different tale. in 1882. but it is also assuming a more prominent role in the political sphere. In the year 1899. for he does claim that.126 Foucault’s Legacy from the unified Church to the individual conscience. 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 . not only is the God-concept not disappearing.’17 Twain does not totally exonerate religion. in ‘Concerning the Jews.’15 We see a similar pattern in Mark Twain’s writings. science would eventually supplant religion. they became more intensely political. 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.

The Head of every State and Sovereignty in Christendom and 90 per cent of every legislative body in Christendom. Great Britain. it is a business passion’ (2000: 249).’ Twain claims that a Christian conception of the political has been central for the justification of the invasive and intrusive politics of Russia. ‘To the Person Sitting in Darkness. and the United States. Discussing the many pogroms against Jews in Russia during the years 1903 through 1906. For two years now the ultra-Christian Government of Russia has been officially ordering and conducting massacres of its Jewish subjects. but also of the Blessings-of-Civilization Trust. has been premised on a Christian conception of the political: We know this.Secularization Theory and Theological Origins 127 quantification of religion’s role: ‘Religious prejudices may account for one part of it. Therefore. Twain argues.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. What really accounts for rampant anti-Semitism is the Jewish superiority in making money: ‘I am persuaded that in Russia. Twain revised his view about the role religion was playing within the culture. Indeed. But this whole political agenda. Twain concludes that ‘Jewish persecution is not a religious passion. 1906. Now let us consider a passage Twain penned on June 22.’ 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. Western leaders have been able to vindicate their invasive politics and to mobilize the masses to support their agenda. but not for the other nine’ (2000: 242). 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). Austria. 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. are members not only of the church. which holds that imperialist powers dominate lesser nations for their own good.19 .’ Between the years 1899 and 1906. Utilizing a benevolent discourse about the Blessings of Civilization. in his 1901 essay.


Foucault’s Legacy

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


Foucault’s Legacy

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

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. immobilizing them and preventing any reversibility of movement by economic. something that . which is based on the idea of annihilating one’s adversary: As in heresiology. ‘a state of domination’ in which ‘an individual or social group succeeds in blocking a field of power relations. and to accept institutional authority are all characteristic of Christianity. it must be something that they desire. is not dependent upon an overt or conscious declaration of belief. an ‘intangible point of dogma. ignored. or transgressed.’ religion has been able to institute within individuals a fascist technology of the self.’33 The theological or religious technology of the self. dogma.31 Foucault objects to Christianity’s ‘strict obligations of truth. Foucault argues that religion’s destructive potential manifests itself in and through then-contemporary polemics. but rather. desire.32 By indoctrinating citizens with the idea that there exists a God-created Truth. to accept authoritative decisions in matters of truth. and therefore. Indeed. and therefore untrustworthy. a whole series of weaknesses and inadmissible attachments that establish it as culpable. and therefore absolute reality of God. knowledge is hierarchical. or military means. ephemeral. it finds passion. upon an instituted model of self-knowledge. they must renounce the products of the secular self and submit to the metaphysical. the Christian subject conceives of itself in relation to an imagined metaphysical reality: ‘In Christianity. the fundamental and necessary principle that the adversary neglected. political.’ Within the Christian model.34 one that presupposes the existence of a God-created ‘permanent truth’ and an ‘intangible point of dogma.’35 What the self produces is secular. therefore. not only to believe certain things but to show that one believes. This relation of Christian subjects to themselves cannot be imposed from the outside. interest. and it denounces this negligence as a moral failing. at the root of the error. according to Foucault. so if Christian subjects want to be right with God.Secularization Theory and Theological Origins 131 hold certain books as permanent truth. polemics sets itself the task of determining the intangible point of dogma. immutable. but because it sets into motion an insidious power relation within self and with others. and canon’ not simply because this Christian view significantly divests humans of individual autonomy.

specifically the fascism in us all. In a 1934 speech. half heathen. Therefore. let me turn to Hitler’s writings. Christian subjects must renounce thoughts and impulses that are incompatible with their faith-constructed Truths. the view that there exists a God-created. 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. exploited it for political reasons. will enable us to challenge two standard assumptions about Hitler’s theologically inflected conception of the political. 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. instead of actually believing in and/or accepting Christianity. 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.’37 Just two weeks later. The second assumption is that Hitler. 1933). Having internalized.132 Foucault’s Legacy animates their relation to themselves and others. The German quest for God is not to be separated from Christ. Christian subjects. It is. The first assumption is that Hitler could not have been a Christian because he persecuted Christians.’38 and by positive Christianity. In his first wireless speech to the German people after he came to power in 1933. this hierarchical model of knowledge that created the conditions for fascism to flourish. Half Christian. even the best are groping in the dark. We are neither warm nor cold. denounce. if we use Foucault’s approach to the formation of the political subject to understand Hitler’s distinctly Christian conception of the polis. metaphysical reality.36 Using Foucault’s model of the Christian technology of self to understand fascism. he meant ‘caring for the . Yes. Hitler was only a nominal Christian and not truly a Christian in practice. instead of engaging with others in the production of a mutually agreed upon and culturally negotiated system of ‘truth. February 15. Moreover. at the level of desire. But to give my reader a clear sense of this hierarchical model.’ must demonize. I contend. Hitler announced that his political party regards ‘Christianity as the foundation of our national morality. or dismiss those individuals whose ‘truths’ are at odds with the permanent Truth that God has authored. these two assumptions would be exposed as false and misleading. not knowing what to do. for he articulates most clearly the nature of the fascist technology of the Western self. We have lost our true cohesion with God. It is my contention that.

Secularization Theory and Theological Origins 133 sick. therefore. political ‘truth’ is relative and therefore not Knowledge. Indeed. Hitler claimed that the Nazi Party ‘stands on the ground of a real Christianity. feeding the hungry and quenching the thirst of the parched’ (1941: 597. . is what Hitler refers to as an ‘inner sense. which is objectively True and therefore always valid. His conception of the legitimate polis is based on a distinction between relative ‘knowledge. the United States. too. without religious dogma. which in reality are always fluctuating. By defending its existence we are defending His work. if the culture would .] 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. an idea he develops in Mein Kampf. . however. Absolutely crucial to Hitler’s Christian conception of the political is his distinction between ‘real Christianity’ and a perverted version of the faith. Hitler boasted that under his leadership. 1939). In other words.’ because it is based on ‘Christian principles’ (1942: 386. as the latter would end in a total anarchy of the state. Beyond critique. we can learn by the example of the Catholic Church.’ which is subject to interpretation and error. and.’ which ‘is immutable. and dogmatic Knowledge. for the Church refuses to lose sight of the ‘inner sense’:42 Here. Indeed. Hitler casts a skeptical eye on a movement’s or a political system’s ‘outward formulation. Germany has almost quadrupled State contributions to the Churches. clothing the poor. Hitler insisted that ‘God the Almighty has made our nation.’41 As a Catholic. but rather in rigidly holding to dogmas once established. 387. for ‘faith is often the sole foundation of a moral attitude’ (1971: 267). (1971: 459) To create the conditions for a moral culture and to establish an enduring political system. strongly resembles the struggle against the general legal foundations of a state. 1939). February 24.’39 Even as late as 1945. In short. and that the National Socialist State differs considerably from France. the former would end in a worthless religious nihilism’ (1971: 267). February 24. Hitler believes that the Catholic Church provides us with an ideal model for accessing this immutable Truth. Indeed. Hitler insists that the community must give primacy to religion. the twin terrors of anarchy and nihilism loom large: ‘The attack against dogmas as such. and England because it refuses to accept the ‘separation between Church and State. for it is only such dogmas which lend to the whole body the character of a faith.’40 Given its commitment to positive Christianity.’ which is not really Knowledge because it is fluctuating and therefore unreliable. [. in January of 1939.

and legitimate. once finished with the Jews. 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. because National Socialism is based on the one and only true Christian faith. . January 30. 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). Therefore. In his massive study. Carroll rehearses the standard argument. or its leaders. but he stops short of concluding that Hitler and/or the Nazis were Christian. 1933). Rather. religion must be the basis and foundation of a political system. . could not be considered a Christian and that he was even hostile to Christianity. in the final analysis. On this point. Hitler concludes that ‘[f]or the political leader the religious doctrines and institutions of his people must always remain inviolable’ (1971: 116). .134 Foucault’s Legacy have a true politics. let me take issue with James Carroll’s impressive work on Hitler and the Nazis. and never the other way around. that no one will tolerate a destruction of this State. but it is likely that he has Hitler’s famous 1939 speech in mind. as a Christian. its organizations. so if certain members of the clergy defy the State. In this speech. which seemingly justifies the claims that Hitler.] regards Christianity as the unshakable foundation of the morals and moral code of the nation’ (1941: 157.’ To clarify my point. Hitler claims that National Socialism can never be considered incompatible with Christianity. enduring. one way or another. those whose loyalty to Jesus competed with loyalty to the Third Reich’ (2001: 16). Therefore. it must acknowledge the primacy and inviolability of religion. Hitler unambiguously makes this point when he justifies taking action against false servants of the faith: But. 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. For Hitler. March 23. (1942: 51. they would be implicitly setting themselves against God. because only religion can give us what is reliable. could justify persecuting ‘Christians. ‘the Government of the Reich [. Unfortunately. he would have targeted for elimination. As Carroll says: ‘Hitler suggests that. Carroll draws a clear line of connection between early Christian theology and the Nazi pogroms against Jews. Understanding the primacy of religion in the formation of the political explains how Hitler. 1939) For Hitler. Carroll does not cite the source for this claim about Hitler.

we could say.’ Conversely. after two thousand years.Secularization Theory and Theological Origins 135 in the name of God. The major premise that Hitler takes as a given could be stated thus: in serving the National Socialist State. not Christians. but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice. In a 1922 speech. 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. but we shall destroy clergy who are the enemies of the German Reich’ (1942: 53. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated. 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 . At this point. (1942: 26. Therefore. 1939). 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. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. 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. 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. in defying the National Socialist State. 1922) At issue here is a legitimate and enduring political system on which civilization could flourish. Put differently. members of the clergy are implicitly ‘God’s ministers. members of the clergy are implicitly opponents of God. contra Carroll. Hitler articulates the only conditions under which a nation could flourish. but only those ‘Christians’ who have failed to understand real Christianity. This Christian conception of the political is based on the idea that religion precedes politics. Today. which Hitler considered to be the religious foundation of the National Socialist polis. that Christianity is the basis of National Socialism rather than National Socialism being the foundation for Christianity. let me examine the technology of self on which Hitler’s view of the Christian polis depends. April 12. January 30. that Hitler intended to persecute. 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.

such as an immutable or spiritual truth. their very existence opposes and threatens the foundations of true civilization. who then as always saw in religion nothing but an instrument for his business existence. the opposition Hitler establishes is between the religious. which can only be legitimate or secure when it is based on ‘true Christianity. that which is ephemeral. there are many ‘Germans’ and ‘Christians’ who have perverted the faith and therefore vitiated the political. And since Jews root themselves in their ‘business existence. the only true foundation of personal identity and the body politic. and noncontingent. Therefore. . such as money and power. Hitler opposes Jews because they most thoroughly incarnate nonreligious principles.’ It would be a mistake. and the nonreligious. the latter made no secret of his attitude toward the Jewish people. a ‘catastrophic collapse’ of civilization is destined to occur. and to illustrate this point. Of course. immutable. 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. Of ultimate importance is a religious sensibility. for as Hitler argues. Religion is based on other-worldly concerns. . to ensure that German civilization does not suffer the same fate as ancient Rome.’ For Hitler. to assume that all Germans or that all Christians embody the virtues of ‘true Christianity’ and therefore true politics. and as such.136 Foucault’s Legacy people.’ their very natures are opposed to Godly virtues as well as religion. (1971: 307) Jews base their lives on their ‘business existence’ rather than ‘religion. 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.] to true Christianity. mutable. Therefore. while business is based on ‘this world’ concerns. Starkly put. at this point. and specifically Jews.’ and since their lives are ‘only of this world. and when necessary he even took to the whip to drive from the temple of the Lord this adversary of all humanity. Hitler makes . that which is eternal. 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.’ This passage is useful because it enables us to understand what Hitler means by religion. and contingent. Hitler believes that he has not just a right but an obligation to rid the culture of nonChristians. when a government allows nonreligious people to rule and govern.’ which is why their lives are ‘only of this world’ and why their ‘spirit is inwardly alien [.

I would ask. one based on the true faith: ‘I do not merely talk of Christianity. argues that he and the Nazi Party will institute a different kind of politics. Those ‘Christians’ who support ‘atheistic Jewish parties’ have allied themselves with anti-Christian beings. Note Hitler’s logic as he denounces the post-Great War political agenda: [W]here. As he claims. (1941: 148–149. When it comes to the formation of the polis. which is why they are false servants. the political order would most certainly crumble. Hitler offers the Jews as evidence. Such is the reason why .’ To illustrate the dangers of allowing non-Christian people to play a role in the construction of the polis. who are only ‘theoretically Christian. was Christianity for them in these fourteen years when they went arm in arm with atheism? No. 1933). never and at no time was greater internal damage done to Christianity than in these fourteen years when a party. theoretically Christian. Were they to play a role in the construction of the body politic. that they are a religious community’ (1971: 232). the Jews’ lack of religion has staggering consequences. It is important to keep in mind that Hitler does not consider Jews religious. It is for this reason that the political powers of the Weimar Republic failed to invigorate the German nation. theoretical Christians have forfeited their right to call themselves true Christians or true Germans. I also profess that I will never ally myself with the parties which destroy Christianity’ (1941: 148. they have corrupted more than just religious faith. to wit.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. sat with those who denied God in one and the same Government. 1933) By aligning themselves with atheistic parties. Hitler.’ 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. For Hitler. 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). and having debased Christianity and thereby themselves. they have vitiated the political order itself. by contrast.’ have corrupted the faith. which is why the political order ultimately failed. ‘their [the Jews’] whole existence is based on one single great lie. and as a consequence. February 15. Weimar Republic German leaders. February 15. no. they have implicitly set themselves ‘against their own nation.

and since the Jews. For instance. The reverse process never took place. they have never been able to produce an enduring and legitimate culture. I argue. This is the case. are not and cannot be religious. If the objective is. Consequently. which is religious by nature. they have never constructed an enduring and legitimate culture (‘The reverse process never took place’).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. the Jews can comprehend and assimilate the ideas of others. then we must start by understanding his conception of a religious-based or faith-based politics rather than a ‘political religiosity. but they have never been able to discover or produce a Knowledge of their own. In other words. Christianity has cultivated this idea that religious Knowledge precedes and supersedes political ‘knowledge’ and has thus set the stage . if we want to understand the fascist relation as Hitler conceives it. a scholar such as Bernauer. the very phrase ‘political religiosity’ would disqualify religiosity as religious and would render the political illegitimate. For Hitler.’ For Foucault.43 In short. the foundations of his intellectual work were always provided by others. because dogmatic Knowledge. His intellect at all times developed through the cultural world surrounding him. 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. mischaracterizes Hitler’s totalitarian agenda by focusing on ‘fascism’s discourse of political religiosity’ (2004: 81). according to Hitler. (1971: 301) As an intellectually inferior race that cannot be the originators or discoverers of religious Knowledge. to understand the conditions of knowledge that gave birth to the fascist relation within individuals and with others. which can only come into being were it based on true Knowledge. 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. is the necessary foundation for constructing a legitimate and enduring culture and polis. 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. as Foucault claims. 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.

] a phase of in-depth Christianization. rational choice to reject God and to accept the devil. resulting not in a body transported into the realm of the transcendent. [. there is an invasion. which entails ‘a slow penetration of the body’ (2003: 209). but during the Reformation and Enlightenment. truth obligations were imposed on Christian subjects by the culture’s religious institutions of power. there was a palpable shift of epistemic authority from the unified Church to the individual conscience. thus giving birth to.’ Prior to the Protestant Reformation. rather than a pact sealed by an action.’44 Indeed. for while witchcraft was defined in terms of a person’s conscious. . at the level of desire. however. We are now ready to clarify precisely how Hitler’s religious conception of the political entails the ‘fascism in us all. To illustrate Christianity’s newly developed approach to controlling everyday citizens. not the secular . which means that the victim could not be held legally accountable: ‘In possession. Foucault focuses on the shift from the fi fteenth and sixteenth century obsession with witchcraft to the seventeenth and eighteenth century obsession with possession. but rather ‘a body penetrated in depth’ (2003: 211). as Foucault argues. but rather. The basis for this fascist technology of self first came into being ‘starting in the sixteenth century. to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us’ (1983: xiii). Foucault specifically claims that ‘modern states begin to take shape while Christian structures tighten their grip on individual existence’ (2003: 177). This shift reflects a radical internalization of Christianity. not ‘the beginning of de-Christianization.’ which is. in-depth Christianization had been linked with the nation-state. By the nineteenth century. It was at this point that everyday Christian subjects were starting to be interpolated (‘in-depth Christianization’). possession is an internal affair that is beyond a person’s control. Given the logic of Foucault’s work. with a model of knowledge that subordinates political ‘reality’ to religious Reality. From this point on. which means that the perpetrator could be legally punished. ‘the fascism that causes us to love power. Christianity evolves a subtle and insidious ‘technique for the government of souls’ (2003: 177).Secularization Theory and Theological Origins 139 for fascism. the devil’s insidious and invincible penetration of the body’ (2003: 208). as a number of historians have shown. . it is Christianity’s insidious technique of penetrating bodies that makes way for the ‘fascism in us all’ of the twentieth century. 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.

and a compulsion seems to spring from something total in us. First. Once there were priests. citizens naturally and willingly subordinate their secular selves to the religious dictates of the nation-state. it is now in the streets in each man’s heart. citizens of the nation-state would be right with God and the State only insofar as they had subordinated their ephemeral. modern Godlessness has not led to the death of religion. catching up in its mighty grip all the other forces of life—sex. 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 . religion is everywhere . there was a positing of a Divine Ideal. the basis and foundation for the political. and personal desires to the Eternal Law of the Divine. in the best of all possible worlds. . so a writer such as Rudyard Kipling could justify the colonization of inferior nations because they were composed of ‘lesser breeds without the Law. Cross Damon. whether that would be a transcendent Law or a Godly mandate. secular.45 Wright would certainly acknowledge that Western intellectuals have become secularized. but to its mass proliferation. and carrying them forward. through an in-depth Christianization that has been linked with the nation-state.140 Foucault’s Legacy imagined nation-state. Mr. but he would qualify this claim by arguing that everyday citizens have become even more compulsively and fanatically religious. it was used to determine which nation-states were legitimate. 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.’ Second. This Ideal was. As Cross says to the Marxist intellectual. The African American writer. Richard Wright. even when doing so ultimately destroys them. the main character. 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. intellect. Religion was once an affair of the church. . but the sacred imagined nation-state. Like many prominent twentieth-century intellectuals. which has led to a more religious body politic. now every man’s a priest. What distinguishes the sacred imagined nation-state from the sacral monarchy is the locus of authority. as Benedict Anderson would have us believe in his book Imagined Communities. physical strength. will. Religion’s a compulsion. Indeed. The development of in-depth Christianization in relation to the nationstate was two-fold.’ Ironically. subscribes to the view that ‘Modern consciousness is Godlessness. Blimin: since religion is dead.

Secularization Theory and Theological Origins 141 level of reality. and doing so would be a marker of their faith in first God and then Nation. unpatriotic.’ would intuitively know how to identify anti-Christian adversaries. since citizens’ secular desires are configured as untrustworthy. Therefore. what concerns him most is the Christian technology of self that has enabled the fascist political regime to come into existence and to flourish. denounce.’ The citizens. which the sacred imagined nation incarnates. They are human-constructed concepts calculated to secure and consolidate the ruling Party’s power. By positing an hierarchical model of knowledge and by subordinating the ephemeral to the Eternal. at times.’ When citizens of Hitler’s Germany renounce their own desires and submit to the Nazi Party. Hitler’s Christian subjects would not have to be commanded to demonize. . Once this order of knowledge has been established. Christianity has set into motion a political system that makes citizens ‘desire the very thing that dominates and exploits’ them. losses. According to Foucault. irrelevant. may not be aware that power is the governing principle of their behavior. there is no need to coerce individuals into behaving as subjects of the Nazis’ Christian nation. or dehumanize non-Christian or anti-Christian subjects. dangerous. 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. Hitler’s Christian mandates are not neutral and objective representations of a neutral and objective God. Put more concretely. their ignorance is precisely what makes the oppressive political systems so effective. but for Foucault. his subjects would engage in such marginalizing practices as a matter of logical course. As soon as citizens internalize this model. While Foucault considers the specific religious Truths that lay the foundation for the fascist nation-state to be dangerous and destructive. so when everyday citizens submit to the dictates of fascists. and the citizens will consider their sufferings. which is the basis and foundation for Hitler’s Christian nation. and even death an Ultimate Gain. they do so because they ‘love power. they must renounce them in the name of a higher divine Reality. the citizens. like Hitler. but they also believe that they are gaining the Divine. they may know that they are losing themselves. in giving their lives for their nation. the religious nation-state can then do with its citizens what it will. because they have. rather. ultimately given their lives to God and His Eternal Truths. and. and destructive. having undergone the experience of ‘in-depth Christianization. who reject God and His Truths out of willful ignorance or a moral failing.

for as Carroll notes in his massive study of Christian anti-Semitism. Moreover. Aldershot: Ashgate. Chow. I cannot say. I am not trying to say that Hitler was a Christian. Wendy Faith and Pamela McCallum. polls indicate that 95 percent of German citizens considered themselves church-affiliated Christians in 1940 (2001: 28). we would have to conclude not that Hitler exploited religion.’ Michel Foucault and Theology: The Politics of Religious Experience. if we use Foucault’s model of in-depth Christianization. Jeremy (2004). ‘Michel Foucault’s Philosophy of Religion: An Introduction to the Non-Fascist Life. Rey (2005). Bernauer.’ Michel Foucault and Theology: The Politics of Religious Experience. 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. the Self and the Que(e)rying of Monotheistic Truth. 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. Aldershot: Ashgate. and specifically Christianity. we would have to conclude that a distinctly Christian technology of self was central. Rather. Indeed. the Nazis. ‘The Fascist Longings in Our Minds. 81. eds. Carrette. . But it is indisputable that he consistently referred to himself and the Nazi Party as Christian. I would also like to thank James Bernauer for helping me to clarify some of my ideas. James (2004). Therefore. but for comprehending the technology of self that enabled fascism to flourish in the hearts and minds of many everyday citizens of Nazi Germany. 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. Calgary: University of Calgary Press. Hitler’s speeches and writings are important documents not so much for understanding Hitler’s inner life or his Christian faith. 227. What Hitler personally and privately believed. we would have to conclude that Christianity produced the technology of self that made Hitler.’ Linked Histories: Postcolonial Studies in a Global World. to achieve his political objectives. ‘Beyond Theology and Sexuality: Foucault. 24. and fascism a living nightmare from which we are still trying to awake.46 This nineteenth-century religious anti-Semitism set the stage for Hitler’s political project in Nazi Germany.142 Foucault’s Legacy Conclusion Let me be absolutely clear about my objectives in this essay.

Friedrich (1989). At The Origins of Modern Atheism. Twilight of the Idols.’ in The Complete Essays of Mark Twain. Modes of Faith: Secular Surrogates for Lost Religious Belief. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. Hannah (1976). 243. Robert Hurley. White Man.’ in Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (1983). ‘Reflections on Religion. See James Thrower (2000). ‘Preface. 295. New York: Vintage Books. San Diego. 131. and London: Harcourt Brace and Company. trans. see my essay. ‘To the Person Sitting in Darkness. and the Jews. R. Nietzsche. 28. Escape from Freedom. Walter Kaufmann and R. New York.’ Hudson Review 3: 338. Friedrich (1989). New York: De Capo Press. Twain. trans. Mark (1963). Nietzsche. London and New York: Routledge. New York: Random House. Vincent (2006). xiii. ‘Killing God. Richard Wright (1995). Charles Neider. Subjectivity. For other studies of Nietzsche’s politics. J. Western Atheism: A Short History. David Berman (1990). Liberating the “Subject”: Nietzsche and post-God Freedom. M. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. Nietzsche. Friedrich (1966). New York and Toronto: Farrar and Rhinehart. New York: Random House.’ Journal of the History of Ideas 60(4) October 1999. Hollingdale. Pecora.’ The Essential Works of Foucault 1954–1984: Ethics. Politics. Mark (2000). Michel (1983). Conway’s Nietzsche and the Political (1997) London and New York: Routledge. and Thedore Ziolkowski (2007). Foucault. J. and Steve Bruce (2002). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. J. Furbank. See Erich Fromm (1941). Nietzsche. ed. Nation. God is Dead: Secularization in the West.’ The Complete Essays of Mark Twain. On the Genealogy of Morals. . In her excellent book. Hollingdale. E. Nietzsche. Hollingdale. London and New York: Verso. (1987). See Benedict Anderson (1991). ‘Concerning the Jews. Mark (2000). trans. and Truth. Oxford: Blackwell. Forster: A Life. New York. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. but I focus on 1886. Friedrich (1989). Twain. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. 49–80. The Origins of Totalitarianism. Lane. Arendt. trans. Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future. Strong’s Friedrich Nietzsche and the Politics of Transfiguration (1975) Berkeley: University of California Press and Daniel W. A History of Atheism in Britain: From Hobbes to Russell. see Tracy B. Mark Seem. Amherst: Prometheus Books. San Diego. xi. Michael J. Twain. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. ed. New York: Random House. and London: Harcourt Brace and Company. 130. New York: The New Press. 48. 168. See N. and Helen R. Secularization and Cultural Criticism: Religion. J. 111–119. The Anti-Christ. and Problematizations: An Interview with Michel Foucault. J.Secularization Theory and Theological Origins 5 143 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 See ‘Polemics. 737–754. Paul Rabinow. (1994) Albany: SUNY Press. Walter Kaufmann. S. Hollingdale. The Anti-Christ. and Modernity. trans. For an extensive analysis of this sentence. New York: Random House. R. which is when Nietzsche published Beyond Good and Evil. trans. R. Nietzsche. Buckley. Listen! San Francisco: HarperPerennial. Friedrich (1980). God. 35. Weaver Santaniello argues that Nietzsche shifted his focus to politics in 1887 (128).

Foucault’s project is predicated on this question: ‘how was the subject established. 67. 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. Irony. 13–15. 86. ‘The Father’s “No.W. 112. Contingency. Fall 1981. Joseph (1987). ‘The Humanism of Existentialism. ed. 36. ‘Technologies of the Self. and Problematizations: An Interview. New York: The New Press. See Michel Foucault (1994).” ’ Language. San Diego. as a possible. ‘E. Norton. (2000). February 1. ed. M. A Passage to India. trans. Subjectivity and Truth. Michel. ‘What I Believe. ‘Polemics. E. 283. Adolf (1941). New York: The New Press. My New Order. New York. Foucault. Forster’s Quarrel with the God-State. The letter is unpublished and housed at the King’s College Library at Cambridge. Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews. Raoul de Roussy de Sales. Foucault. 283.’ Jean-Paul Sartre: Essays in Existentialism. Subjectivity and Truth. see Richard Rorty (1989). 120. Michel (1997). and London: Harcourt Brace and Company. 1933. Michel (1977). ‘The Ethics of the Concern for Self as a Practice of Freedom. Michael: A Novel. Subjectivity and Truth. 228. Foucault. Gay Science. (1977). and London: Harcourt Brace and Company. see Donald Watt’s essay. 87. at different moments and in different institutional contexts. Forster. or even indispensable object of knowledge?’ Foucault. The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences.144 21 22 23 Foucault’s Legacy 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 Forster. 183. 281.’ The Essential Works of Foucault 1954–1984: Ethics. Nietzsche.’ Two Cheers for Democracy. Bouchard and Sherry Simon.’ in The Essential Works of Foucault 1954–1984: Ethics. ‘Subjectivity and Truth. Politics. 144. 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. 344–387. San Diego. Walter Kaufmann. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. A Room with a View. 60(4): 523–537. (1993). Foucault. Sartre. New York: Penguin Books. New York: Amok Press. 237. Foucault. Forster. Friedrich (1990). ‘Technologies of the Self. Forster refers to the ‘God State’ in a letter dated April 13. E. desirable. Counter-Memory. For an excellent analysis of Enlightenment rationalists’ reliance upon a theological conception of knowledge and their inability to ‘de-divinize’ language and the world. 1918. For a superb analysis of Forster’s critique of religion and the God-concept. Hitler. . ed. New York: Vintage Books. (1984). New York and London: W. and Solidarity. Forster. Goebbels. M. E. Donald F. M. 242. 3–69. Paul Rainbow. New York: Reynal and Hitchcock. Paul Rabinow.’ 238. 166.’ The Essential Works of Foucault 1954–1984: Ethics. Secaucus: Carol Publishing Group. E. trans. Jean-Paul (1999). Maurice. Joachim Neugroschel.M. New York: Penguin. Michel (1997). New York.’ In other words.’ Philological Quarterly.’ in The Essential Works of Foucault 1954–1984: Ethics. trans. Subjectivity and Truth. M. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

’ New York Times. August 17. Wright. 274. San Francisco: HarperCollins. 427–440. Hitler. 28). Hitler. trans. Foucault. 1939. Adolf (1971). 177. Mein Kampf. Hitler never left the Catholic Church and the Catholic Church never excommunicated him (2001.: Gift of German Consulate General. Michel (2003). 51. Norman H.Secularization Theory and Theological Origins 38 145 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 Hitler. 1939. As James Carroll observes. Ralph Manheim. Washington. Adolf (1945). Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Speech Delivered by Adolf Hitler Before the German Reichstag on January 30. 4. New York: Picador. 88–89. ‘Poetry as Overt Critique of Theology: A Reading of Paul Celan’s “Es war Erde in ihnen. Michel (2003). New York. Foucault. New York: Picador. Adolf (1942). Richard (1993). London. Hitler.C. trans. ‘Text of Hitler’s Twelfth Annual Speech to Reich. and ed. The Outsider. For a more extensive analysis of Hitler’s Christian justification of violence against the Jews. The Speeches of Adolf Hitler: April 1922–August 1939. . 1934. trans. 1975–1976. 385. David Macey. and Toronto: Oxford University Press. Baynes. January 31. Society Must be Defended: Lectures at the College de France.. 459. Abnormal: Lectures at the College de France: 1974–1975. see Michael Lackey.” ’ Monatshefte: für deutschsprachige Literatur und Kultur. D. 1945. 94(4) Winter 2002. Adolf (1939).

At the moment of speaking.’ In 1964 he compared the writer to the martyr: ‘Writing is now linked to sacrifice and to the sacrifice of life itself. In his inaugural lecture. in its interstices as if it had paused an instant. when no one was looking.’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. I personally also heard Foucault lecture in New Hampshire and took an . 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.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. many of the same lectures were delivered in other countries including Canada and the United States. in suspense. to beckon to me. In addition to attending his 1979 and 1980 courses in Paris. leaving me merely to enmesh myself in it. and these lectures are delivered in the context of his own interest in a care of the self. he spoke of his desire for anonymity: ‘I would really like to have slipped imperceptibly into this lecture. namely: ‘His private project was of public significance. it is a voluntary obliteration of the self. taking up its cadence. long preceding me.’ His last lectures are on ‘parrhesia. 1970 and his last course in the winter of 1984. on disclosing one’s personal relationship to truth. and to lodge myself. as into all the others I shall be delivering. perhaps over the years ahead. I would like to have perceived a nameless voice.’?2 How might that public significance be expressed? That question I prefer to respond to at the end of this essay.’ on speaking openly. While the courses were presented at the Collège de France.

and On the Government of the Living (1980). especially those of us who called New York City our home. and the large-scale phenomena of population. to avoid being colonized and becoming a less effective critic. Security. lived from day to day with regular air raid drills that warned of possible nuclear annihilation.’ 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. ‘Society Must Be Defended’ (1976). There are superficial signs of that impatience in his lectures. Of course. 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. Without any effect. Population (1978). And these wars did not represent an abandonment of modern humanism in favor of some primitive right to kill. ‘The Birth of Biopolitics (1979). My own approach to his courses carries an American accent. he also taught in Vermont and Berkeley. the race. Foucault wrote of a bio-politics that had created a landscape dominated by history’s bloodiest wars. He decided to change the style of . In the introductory volume of that series. For him they were but the other side of a power that is ‘situated and exercised at the level of life. In returning to that original project of the history of sexuality. And here I shall draw on the courses most relevant to that earlier project: Psychiatric Power (1974). For example. 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. from what I have heard. While the lectures were fundamentally the same. racism. in reading his published lectures and in recalling some of the yet to be published ones. 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. But more significantly. we must also recognize that he harbored doubts about what he had been doing.’3 Certainly these themes of war. A consequence of that biographical fact is that. one that is indebted to my growing up during the Cold War when we. Abnormal (1975). Territory. the species. his auditors undoubtedly took away different emphases and felt drawn to different insights. populations. I must avoid doing an injustice to Foucault by failing to acknowledge his own restlessness to move onto something new.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.

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. To cite but one example. 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. (Doctor) I would however really like to know what to call you.’ 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. that had no continuity. In 1976 he wondered whether his work had become merely a ‘freemasonry of useless erudition. always falling into the same rut. and this from his 1974 course ‘Psychiatric Power. would you like to tell me? (Patient) The person of myself does not have a name . qui est?’ It was particularly amusing to me because.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. He could be harsh on himself. no set of lectures was totally deprived of those gems of provocative tales or analyses that so characterized his writing. or rather what your name was formerly . . and none of which was followed through.’ 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. and at the same time it was getting very repetitive.’ At the same time. his rather dull treatments of American neoliberalism and German ‘Polizeiwissenschaft’ in his 1979 still untranslated course ‘The Birth of Biopolitics.148 Foucault’s Legacy his teaching and the chronology of its concerns by doing readings of specific texts from the Greek and Hellenistic periods.’ That course also provided the most humorous moment for me. the same themes. . 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. bits and pieces of research. for example. none of which was completed. Among the many lectures are also those jewels of discovery in which Foucault so clearly took particular satisfaction. . . A brief excerpt: (Doctor) I do not know your name. . the same concepts. ‘Cassian. as a Jesuit seminarian. Fragments of research.

Foucault’s Courses at the Collège de France 149 (Patient) The person of myself has lost her name.5 It is not difficult to appreciate why he was so pleased with this ‘person of myself. he was to walk away from the self-satisfactions of the modern.’6 Foucault’s own interpretation of the Nazi era is along the same lines. . enlightened person. 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. in doing so. secondly. (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. . Later he was to erase the human identity of the being who lives. 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. in particular. especially in South America and in many Islamic societies. ‘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. articulate in self-knowledge. 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. move beyond humanism. Of course. following some of Foucault’s insights. Even later. the difficulty intellectuals have had in comprehending such modern crimes as the Holocaust which. In the 1976 course he asserted that Nazi . This is the modern living being. For example. and confidently post-spiritual. speaks and labors and. To my mind. seems to transcend customary historical categories. independent in historical development. (Doctor) How old are you? (Patient) The person of myself has no age . she gave it on entering Salpêtrière. In fact. 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. the religious-political movements in the developing world. His conclusion did not surprise but his abandonment of the typical academic qualifications and hesitations to his principal claim did startle me. The sources of that renewed discussion are multiple but two certainly stand out (and both were influential on Foucault): first.’ His earliest work had repudiated the ‘homo psychologicus’ crafted by modern psychiatry. post-religious.

To give one example: in 1975 a prominent Jewish journalist. and the cardinal in red robes presided over the ceremony. another event in a series that had intimidated the Jewish community there. 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. Pope John Paul II.9 . there was a gigantic historical weight 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. and which arguably was one of the events that announced the coming collapse of Communism. 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. Vladimir Herzog. He would have witnessed the Catholic Church’s militant advocacy of human rights and the type of power it was capable of exercising. 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. mythology that allowed State racism to function within an ideologico-mythical landscape’. in front of the faithful. Nazism was thus able to reuse a whole popular. shalom. and he came forward at the end of the ceremony. Of course. and he greeted them shouting: ‘Shalom.8 Certainly.150 Foucault’s Legacy racism functions in the religious ‘prophetic discourse from which the theme of race struggle once emerged. on to the square and so on. of which Foucault became a strong public advocate. 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. 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. However. The police pulled back. 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. there was nothing the police could do against that. That visit was the catalyst for the Solidarity movement.’ And there was all around the square armed police and there were plain clothes policemen in the church. that had a grandeur of strength. was killed while in police custody. who became Pope a month before Foucault’s first trip to Iran. I have to say.

whose book on the topic Foucault cites in the published version of his 1975 lectures at the Collège de France. but rather. namely.’11 Foucault had rejected what he later called the ‘blackmail of the Enlightenment. power and subjectivity which he saw as animating our culture were often constructed. 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. his project was a ‘history of the present. the ‘topography of the parting of the waters is hard to pin down. This colonization is what Michel Foucault refers to in 1975 as an ‘in-depth Christianization’ or a ‘new Christianization’. between different historical eras. liberated from the superstitions of a religious past. On the one hand. he refused the topography of a religious era yielding to a secular age. 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. 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.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.’ that either-or acceptance of it as some new rationality. as a number of historians have shown.’13 In the case of the early modern period. 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. rather. it was the struggle between Catholicism and Protestantism which made the modern European era a specifically religious age. This is the position of Jean Delumeau. in a period that is not characterized by the beginning of de-Christianization. by a phase of in-depth Christianization. in decisive ways in argument or alliance with religious practices and concerns. that is to say. his history of the present came to ignore the customary epochal divisions and concluded that.15 Foucault’s view contains an even more interesting thesis.12 As a result. he claimed.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. This conviction mandated Foucault’s scrutiny of religious writers and customs. in fact. early modernity was not a tale of growing religious disbelief but.10 Apart from those important experiences.

’20 For Foucault. He claims that the Christian pastorate introduced a ‘strange game whose elements are life. not repressive. individuals. The first major statement of the results of his research in premodern Christian experience came with his course ‘On the Governance of the Living. obedience. it was an instrument in the development of a new form of individualizing power. on the necessity of each individual to avow a sexual identity.’19 The exploration of the knowledge-power relations engaged in governance directed him to a treatment of the Christian pastorate. and thus to a confrontation with the ethical formation critical to its way of obtaining knowledge and exercising power. and relation to self very different from pre-Christian practices. 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.’17 His 1975 course at the Collège investigated how the general domain of abnormality was opened up for a psychiatric understanding. This intensified Foucault’s exploration of the crisis of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. that of the pastorate. most importantly.’ which he presented in 1980. however. on the art of directing souls. and on the manner of educating children. death.18 A special concern took shape that oriented Foucault’s approach to the study of Christianity. 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. self-identity’ that seem to have nothing to do with the Greek notion of the city. His initial examination concentrated on its practice after the Council of Trent (1545–1563). 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. 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.152 Foucault’s Legacy religious practices. and the expansion of confession to ever-larger numbers of relationships in the period after the Reformation. Foucault attributed responsibility for this development to the articulation of sexuality as a dimension within all abnormality and. Jean Delumeau has claimed: ‘The history of modern western reason passes by way of the confession. Exercising authority over a . 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. which had its roots in the Hebraic image of God and his deputed King as shepherds. He analyzed a Christian practice that embraced forms of power. Most significant were practices of confession and penance. This power is productive. truth. knowledge.

Such obedience is put forward as the antidote to the human condition after Adam’s Fall. the pastor must understand the truth. for verbalization of thoughts is another level of sorting out the good thoughts from those that are evil. For Foucault. but rather for the sake of a deepened awareness of one’s interior life. the temptations to which he is exposed.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. they must also become excavators of their own personal truth: ‘Everyone in Christianity has the duty to explore who he is. This situation was graphically illustrated in the lawlessness of sexual yearnings. Christianity fashions a technology of the self that enabled people to transform themselves. a virtue which all too often developed into an end in itself. and permanent obedience is essential to this struggle. The obedience that is intrinsic to the exercise and responsibilities of pastoral power involves specific forms of knowledge and subjectivity. With the Fall. The Christian campaign for self-knowledge was not developed directly in the interest of controlling sexual conduct. The principal product of this technology was a unique form of subjectivity.’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. and the human being became a figure of revolt not only against God but also against him or herself. the original subordination which human nature accorded to soul and will was lost. 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.21 Paramount in the exercise of this pastoral power was the virtue of obedience in the subject. namely.Foucault’s Courses at the Collège de France 153 flock of dispersed individuals rather than a land. the faults he may have committed. The endless task of self-scrutiny is accompanied by regular confessions to another. Christianity is unique in the major truth obligations that it imposes upon its followers. and then take on the status of public penitents. what is happening within himself. those that seek to hide from the light of public expression. 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. 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. Through its examination of conscience and confession. In order to fulfill the responsibility of directing souls to their salvation.24 . In addition to accepting moral and dogmatic truths.

’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 . and the Christian experience of subjectivity declares itself most clearly in the sounds of a rupture with oneself.’ which exhibited Christianity’s investment at the ‘level of desire and decency. He could not disentangle the ‘political anatomy of the body. and the Catholic priest who performed the baptism says: There is no difficulty.26 And well he should have for this ensemble of unconditional obedience. For example.27 In that same set of lectures. and from the skepticism with respect to one’s knowledge of oneself that was created by hermeneutical self-analysis.There are numerous examples of Foucault’s tracing of those elements operating within Christianisation in depth. there is the case of two Siamese twin sisters who were baptized. of an admission that ‘I am not who I am. One was baptized and then the second died before she could be baptized. Abnormal. 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.’25 This capacity for self-renunciation was built from the ascetic power with regard to oneself that was generated by a practice of obedience. 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. and exhaustive confession migrated into the cultures of the two great totalitarian systems of the past century. or rather who were brought to the baptismal font. in his 1975 course. There are some very interesting discussions in which there is a close connection between the religious and medical problematics. uninterrupted. In particular. from the ‘moral physiology of the flesh. All truth about the self is tied to the sacrifice of that same self. If the other is dead. 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. The continual mortification entailed by a permanent hermeneutic and renunciation of the self makes of that symbolic death an everyday event.’ with its investment in the useful body of aptitudes. Foucault betrays the difficulty of writing the text he imagined as the next in the sexuality series after the introductory volume (Body and Flesh). it is because she would have become Protestant.154 Foucault’s Legacy The purpose of the Christian hermeneutic of the self is to foster renunciation of the self who has been objectified.

’ Foucault indicted our culture: Of all civilizations. This sanctification of biological life was united to an adoration of national life. in the ‘gaze of a coffin maker. at the same time. and this is the paradox I would like to stress.31 This is. the most arrogant. I have wondered whether he appreciated the place of the French Action Francaise movement in the development of fascism. the most conquering. and the sacrifice of all for one. to steal a phrase from Adorno and Horkheimer.’ There was a worship of life itself that claimed to overcome the old dualism of body and spirit. We have been measured. Population. In addition to growing up when he did. which will be at the absolute heart of the Christian . But.Foucault’s Courses at the Collège de France 155 reality by the definition of ourselves as secular beings. and the art of the individual on the other. or what could be called the paradox of the shepherd: the sacrifice of one for all.33 Foucault’s keen sensitivity to fascism is certainly overdetermined. helped persuade its audiences through a utilization of categories from traditional Christian discourses. Territory. the most creative. At any rate. Far more significantly though. In his 1978 course. 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.’29 Foucault observed in 1977: ‘The nonanalysis of fascism is one of the most important political facts of the last thirty years. Fascism. 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. ‘Security. in both its German and Italian forms. of course. it has been one of the civilizations that has deployed the greatest violence. the Christian West has undoubtedly been. and doubtless the most bloody. at the same time. 32 Even with this religion of nature. Frequently it was described as a type of ‘religion of nature. Political life was sacralized as sacral language was politicized.’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. something that assuredly no Greek would have been prepared to accept. over millennia Western man has learned to see himself as a sheep in a flock. The religious power Christianity bequeathed to modern institutions carried with it the ‘moral and religious paradox of the shepherd.

35 National Socialism’s pseudo-religious culture was a more dangerous eruption from that organization of life.’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. the body that counters the rule of obedient direction with intense shocks of involuntary revolt or little betrayals of secret connivance. And then there is mysticism which Foucault saw as one of the very sources for the development of a critical attitude. It sees itself in God and it sees God in itself. In mysticism the soul sees itself. an absolutely murderous State and an absolutely suicidal State. 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. The convulsive flesh is the resistance effect of Christianization at the level of individual bodies. certain types of asceticism as well as religious communities challenge the regular operation of the pastorate. The convulsive flesh is at once the ultimate effect and the point of reversal of Christianization organized in the sixteenth century. and that is suicide. In responding. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering . 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 Foucault’s reading.’36 Clearly. I asked how Foucault’s private project might be considered of public significance.’ It is the body that opposes silence or the scream to the rule of complete discourse. through a system of confessions. The soul is not offered to the other for examination.37 In the 1978 course. mysticism has a ‘completely different game of visibility. 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. it was not a secular state. In the course Abnormal. with it we ‘have an absolutely racist State.156 Foucault’s Legacy problematic of the pastorate. In contrast to pastoral power’s confessional practice.’ a resisting ‘convulsive flesh.’38 At the beginning of this essay. let me draw a contrast. There are many more examples. By this point. 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. As Foucault wrote.

Foucault’s Courses at the Collège de France 157 the fundamental question of philosophy. religious martyrdom. namely. religious martyrdom or humanistic selfsacrifice. which had so attracted him in his inaugural lecture at the Collège. Has our so-called secular age fabricated us as ghostly.’ to use Charles Taylor’s term? Foucault had a particularly keen insight into how our lives were endangered. 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. On the one hand. These are games. this danger is the robbing of the contingencies from our lives and how we are led to understand them. 8). this danger is the summons directed to us to political and personal suicide. whether that invitation be spoken in the accents of nuclear strategy. that Foucault left us with a contrasting interrogation and it could be phrased this way: There is but one truly philosophical problem. . an existence that can be persuaded to find ultimate significance in mutual nuclear annihilation. but rather by totalized meaningfulness. whether that be articulated in the forms of religious dogmatism. totalitarian theories or a vaunted secular enlightenment. whether the mind has nine or twelve categories—comes afterwards. given us an ‘excarnation. heroic self-destruction.39 I wish to put forward an hypothesis.?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. not by existential meaninglessness. and that is whether we should sacrifice our lives. on the other hand. 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. Wasn’t his distinctive desire to ‘get free of oneself’ (The Use of Pleasure. All the rest—whether or not the world has three dimensions. the need to escape from an existence defined in terms of a programmed struggle between life and death.

Foucault. 89. note 18. Security. 40–43. Subjectivity and Truth. 4. Counter-Memory. Paul Rabinow. New York: Picador. . ed. Foucault. 196. ed.’ Michel Foucault: Religion and Culture.’ The Essential Works of Foucault 1954–1984 I: Ethics. Michel (2003). 3: Power.’ Fortin Lecture. I: An Introduction. Foucault. Michel (2007). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. New York: Picador. 107. New York: New Press. I take this formulation of the question from a recent Boston lecture by Pierre Manent. The Archaeology of Knowledge. 188–189. Michel (2006). Michel (1997). 137. Saul (2007). 180. Foucault. 196. Foucault. I. 3. 177. October 19. Michel (1976). Abnormal: Lectures at the Collège de France 1974–1975. ‘The Battle for Chastity. The Art of Living: Socratic Reflections from Plato to Foucault. ‘ “Omnes et Singulatim. 1975–1976 . Psychiatric Power: Lectures at the Collège de France 1973–1974. Foucault. 160. Although he never elaborated the analogy. Foucault.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. New York: HarperCollins. 311. 657. Friedländer. New York: Pantheon. The History of Sexuality Vol. 193. Foucault. Paul Rabinow. Abnormal: Lectures at the Collège de France 1974–1975. Michel (2003). Michel (1999). Amherst: Humanity Books. 61. ed. 177. New York: Harper. Jeremy Carrette. 178–179. Michel (2003). ed. Population: Lectures at the Collège de France 1977–1978. Foucault. 117. Michel (2003). The English translation of Delumeau’s work was published as (1977) Catholicism between Luther and Voltaire: A New View of the Counter-Reformation. ‘On Religion. Foucault. ‘What is an Author?’ Language. London: Burns and Oates.’ The Essential Works of Foucault 1954–1984. Practice. ‘The Charms and Limits of Secularization. Michel (1978). New York: Routledge. Foucault. Michel (2000). Michel (2003). 2007. 2. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.” Toward a Critique of Political Reason. Donald Bouchard. Territory. negative theology was one of the few styles with which he compared his thought. Berkeley: University of California Press. Foucault. 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. ‘What Is Enlightenment?’ The Foucault Reader. Nazi Germany and the Jews 1939–1945: The Years of Extermination. Nehamas. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ‘Society Must Be Defended’: Lectures at the Collége de France 1975–1976. New York: Pantheon. 6: 784–785. New York: Pantheon. Michel Foucault (1977). 17. The History of Sexuality Vol. ‘Society Must Be Defended’: Lectures at the Collège de France. See my discussion of this point in my (1990) Michel Foucault’s Force of Flight: Toward an Ethics for Thought. Alexander (1998). 82. Foucault. Abnormal: Lectures at the Collège de France 1974–1975. Michel (1984). Michel (1978).

184–185. 70. 91. London: Croom Helm. 9. ‘Political Religion: The Relevance of a Concept.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. Foucault. ‘On Structures of Political Theology and Myth in Germany Prior to the Holocaust. Foucault. New York: Zone Books. Foucault.’ Foucault. Kenneth Burke (1964). 129. Subjectivity and Truth. Abnormal: Lectures at the Collège de France 1974–1975. Paris: Fayard. Michael (2003). 87. 63.’ June 15. Territory. Cited in Power/Knowledge. Jean (1990). Friedrich Heer (1998). Foucault. ‘Powers and Strategies. See Emilio Gentile (1996). 1982. ed. Michel. Lectures of March 5 and 12. Michel Foucault (1985). 231–262. 196. Dialectic of Enlightenment. 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. See Eyal Chowers (2004). Subjectivity and Truth. Foucault. Security. 178. Population: Lectures at the Collège de France 1977–1978. National Socialism and the Religion of Nature. New York: Holmes and Meier.” ’ Terms for Order.’ p. ‘Sexuality and Solitude. Cited in Mark Neocleous (1997). The Holocaust as Historical Experience.’ History and Memory 9.’ Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation. . 307–312. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.’ Y. 193.’ The Essential Works of Foucault 1954–1984: Ethics. the Toronto course. amidst the death and carnage. Robert (1986). Lectures from the March 19 and 26. The Sacralization of Politics in Fascist Italy. ‘Sexuality and Solitude.’ Gottes und des Menchen Tod? Die Theologie vor der Herausforderung Michel Foucaults. Uriel Tal (1981).’ The Essential Works of Foucault 1954–1984: Ethics. 3: Power. Mainx: Matthias-GrünewaldVerlag. Vienna: Amalthea. 1980 at the Collège de France. 420. 139. ‘The Discourse of SelfDisclosure. Abnormal: Lectures at the Collège de France 1974–1975. and Philippe Burrin (1997). 43–74. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ‘ “Omnes et Singulatim”: Towards a Criticism of Political Reason’ The Essential Works of Foucault 1954–1984. Michel Foucault in der Tradition kritischer Theorie. Colin Gordon. ‘The Rhetoric of Hitler’s “Battle. Bauer (1981). Hölzl. Lecture of June 15. 95–119. 1–2: 321–349. 311. 130. Pois. ‘Kritik und Gegenentwurf der Theologie. Michel (1980). 1980 course at the Collège de France. 146. New York: Pantheon. See Abnormal. he masturbated. See ‘Omnes et Singulatim. The Modern Self in the Labyrinth: Politics and the Entrapment Imagination. 178. New York: Pantheon. Foucault. L’aveu et le pardon: Les difficultés de la confession XIII–XVIII siècle. Fascism.’ an interview with the editorial collective of Les révoltes logiques. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 1982 from Foucault’s Course at the University of Toronto ‘The Discourse of Self-Disclosure. Der Glaube des Adolf Hitler: Anatomie einer politischen Religiosität. Foucault. The Use of Pleasure. 235. 66. ed.

213. Foucault. 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. This is the conviction that. at the final divine destruction of evil. That astute observer of the American experience. The Myth of Sisyphus.160 36 Foucault’s Legacy 37 38 39 40 Foucault. A legacy of the United States’ history of the frontier. Abnormal: Lectures at the Collège de France 1974–1975. New York: Picador. .’ Depending upon where a contemporary visitor might arrive. 355–358. ‘Society Must Be Defended’ Lectures at the Collège de France 1975–1976. Camus. Territory. Mojtabai (1986). Alexis de Tocqueville. Albert (1955). Texas. A. New York: Vintage Books. Blessed Assurance: At Home with the Bomb in Amarillo. The longer I stayed in the country. religious believers will be rescued from becoming victims of that ruination. This religious counter-conduct foreshadows later opposition to the State. Texas. 212. 212. especially its American-Indian war. It is the site where all of America’s nuclear weapons are assembled or disassembled. Population. ‘Pantex’ is the name of a Department of Energy plant which is located outside of Amarillo. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. G. Michel (2003). is that violence is not only an instrument of destruction but also a vehicle for rebirth. he or she could receive the very same impression as did de Tocqueville and be made anxious by it. the era of nuclear weapons adds an alarming new element to this myth. 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. What makes our present situation particularly dangerous is that this religious atmosphere combines with two other forces. the confession of an apocalyptic creed in which good does definitively triumph over evil. Here is one example of the second. 260. 3. Security. There are indications that this fundamentalist vision has entered into American military planning as well as its popular culture. It may be a particularly American genius to unify all of these forms of ultimate significance. the more conscious I became of the important political consequences resulting from this moral situation. In addition.

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47. 31 black holes 8 Body and Flesh (Foucault) 154 Bourdieu. 48. 116 Benjamin. 31 Care of The Self. Albert 156 Canguilhem. 147 Carrette. Jean 27 Chomsky. 111. 156. 16. The (Foucault) 59 Arendt. 152. 65n. 31. Irony. see also God Clark. Benedict 140 Angelus Novus (Klee) 15 anthropological universals 14 Anti-Christ. 159n. Pierre 50 Brunschvicg. 61 Babich. The (Nietzsche) 126 Anti-Oedipus (Deleuze/Gauttari) 124 anti-Semitism 126 antifoundationalism 111 Arac. 83 Contributions to Philosophy (Heidegger) 117 .Index “Abnormal” (Foucault) 154. 32. 129 conscientia 54 constructivism 55 Contingency. the 126 biology 33–4 biopower 7–8. 59 AIDS 8 alienation 55 Allen. Victor 45 “Battle over Existentialism” (Merleau-Ponty) 50. Georges 27. 56 Basch. The (Foucault) 27–8. The (Foucault) 100. 12–13 Birth of Biopolitics. 52–3 analytic philosophers 5n. Rey 124 Christianity 15. 151–6. 50. 127–42. 115–20 Being and Nothingness (Sartre) 47. 51 Being 71. 1 Anderson. 51 Bernauer. Louis Pierre 49. 124. Walter 15 Bentham. John 148 Cavailles. Barry 4 Allison. 47. Babette 3–4 Barthes. 142 Cassian. 32 Birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music (Nietzsche) 20. Theodor 24. Jeremy 79 Bergson. The” (Heidegger) 54. Maudemarie 94 Collège de France 146. 130 “Beyond Theology and Sexuality” (Carrette) 124 Bible. James 4. St. Jonathan 1 archaeology 113 Archaeology of Knowledge. 124–5. Jeremy 124 Carroll. Noam 57 Chow. Henri 15. The (Foucault) 148 Birth of the Clinic. and Solidarity (Rorty) 79. 157 “Concerning the Jews” (Twain) 126–7. David 25 Althusser. Léon 45 Camus. James 134. Hannah 126. Roland 52. 71. 155 atomic energy 7 Augustine. 155 “Age of the World Picture. 50 Being and Time (Heidegger) 27. 35 Adorno.

33 “excarnation” 157 “Existentialism is a humanism” (Sartre) 50 fascism 4. 42–3. 16–17. Ian 33. 102 Divine Ideal 140–1 Dreyfus. 51 Engels. 47. 53–4. 47. see also Christianity Greeks 15 “gridding” 27 Guattari. Gilles 23. 52. 53–4. 139. 19. 57. 124–5. 110. Norwood Russell 27 Hegel. 72. 103 Hadot. 60. 75–6. 57. 90–3. 100. 124 Delumeau.168 Corbin. 39n. 23. 30. 60 Davidson. Helen 80 Eribon. 126. Pierre 19. 109. 52 crypto-normativism 104 Index ethics 81 event 117. 54. E. 44. 55. Michel 21. 63n. 121–2n. 75. 68. 68. 46–52. 53. 156. Didier 2. 34. 3 Hanson. 59 deconstruction 117–18 Delbos. 110. 45. Saul 149 Gay Science. 132. Sigmund 22–3. 71. 40n. Vincent 23. 26. 55. 25–36. 32. Johann Gottlieb 55 Forster. 21. 7 Council of Trent 152 Cousin. 7. 129–30. 96–9. 151 epistemes 59 epistemology 68–9. 59–60. 128–32. John 75–6 disciplinary power 11–13 Discipline and Punish (Foucault) 9. 10–11. 86. 20–4. 51. Donald 76 de Certeau. 118. 32 death of God 71–2. 115–19 hermeneutics 32. 99. Victor 45 Deleuze. 155–6 “Fascist Longings in our Minds. 100–6 Genealogy of Morals (Nietzsche) 70 Generation Existential (Kleinberg) 25 genetic fallacy 92–3 God 30. 75. see also God death of Man 4. 126. René 9. 56–9. 50 . 70. 152–3. The (Nietzsche) 20. 135. 58–61 Heidegger en France ( Janicaud) 25 Heidegger. Jacques 48–9. Henry 37n. M. 48. 42–50. 109. 55. Georges 2 Empedocles 32. Hubert 25 Dumézil. Pierre-Félix 48. 94–5 Epstein. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich 4. 154 Herr. 17 destiny-forwarding 117 desubjectification 9 Dewey. 129. Martin 15. 126 genealogy 4. 27. Nancy 104–5 Freud. 140–1. 116 Descartes. 114 Descombes. 56. 36n. 104 Hacking. 122n. 111–12 Friedländer. Jean 151–2 Derrida. Charles 96 Dasein 50–1. 74. 42–3. 49. 76. Jürgen 13. 141–2. Friedrich 81 Enlightenment. 13–14. Vladimir 150 Histoire de la folie (Foucault) 51 historical consciousness 15 historical genealogy see genealogy “historical ontology of ourselves” (Foucault) 112 Darwin. 124 Habermas. 30 death 15. 128 Fraser. The” (Chow) 124 Ferry. the 113–14. 125. 76. 112. Victor 45 “critical history of thought” (Foucault) 14 critical pluralism 14 Critique of Dialectical Reason (Foucault) 49. Luc 26 Fichte. Lucien 45 Herzog. 129. 51–2. 51 Critique of Pure Reason (Kant) 29.

51–5. 113–15 Kervegan. 52. Marx” (Foucault) 110 Nietzsche. Jean-Luc 22. 38 Jarczyk. 49 Holocaust. 72–3 169 Macey. 129–30 “non-thought” 28 Not Being God (Vattimo) 120 . 56–8. 60 Letter on Metaphysics (Heidegger) 50 Lévi-Strauss. 54. The (Forster) 128 Lukács. 56. The (Allison) 25 “Nietzsche. 45–9. Jefferey 22 Myth of Sisyphus (Camus) 156–7 natural history 34 Nehamas. 96–7 Janicaud. 47. Paul 15 Kleinberg. 100. 115–20 methodological nominalism 14 Meyerson. the 149 Hoy. 104–5. Robert 26 Les Temps Modernes (Sartre) 49 Letter on Humanism. 96–7. 52–3 Levinas. Alexandre 43. 48. 4. 31. J. Jean-François 45–6 Kierkegaard. 29–32. Emmanuel 43 liberals 83–6 Longest Journey. 70–2. S. 100. 38. 53–4. Adolf 124–5. Karl 22–3. Maurice 27. The” 35 humanism 51. 147 Hitler. 132–8. 35. 103. 60–1 humanitas 51 Hume. 52. Johann 32. Jean 43. 90–4. Friedrich Wilhelm 2. 44–5. Gwendoline 45–6 Jews 134–8 John Paul II. Freud.Index history 16–17. 35. 79. Jean-François 48. 49. 25–35. 71–9. 58. György 46. 103–5. David 56. 115–16 History and Class Consciousness (Lukács) 52 History of Madness (Foucault) 102 History of Sexuality. 50–1. 111–12. 39–40n. Michael 4 Large Hadron Collider 8 Latour. 47. 60. 126. Dominique 25. 40n. 10. James 1 Minson. Søren 45 Kipling. 58 Hyppolite. Emile 45 “Michel Foucault’s Philosophy of Religion” (Bernauer) 124 Mill. 1. The 68. William 71. James 79 Miller. Immanuel 22. 63n. David 1 Marion. 138 Kojève. 68. Claude 50. 52–3. Pierre-Jean 45–6 Lackey. Alexander 146 New Nietzsche. 46. Thomas 59 La Pensée sauvage (Lévi-Strauss) 50 Labarrière. 140–2 Hölderlin. 45–7 ideality 8–9 Idol and Distance (Marion) 22 imaginary genealogy see genealogy Imagined Communities (Anderson) 140 Islam 150 James. 47. 75. 74–5. 120. 19–24. 82–5 Mill. Rudyard 140 Klee. 119 Marx. Colin 4 Kuhn. 23 knowledge 32–5. Ethan 25. 69. 60 Koopman. 36n. Edmund 44. 96 Husserl. The (Heidegger) 50. 55 Lyotard. 130. 111–12 materiality 7–8 mathematics 35 mathesis 33 Maurice (Forster) 128 Meditations (Descartes) 54 Merleau-Ponty. 47. Bruno 28 Legros. 24. 43–5. 39–40n. 58 metanarratives 72 metaphysics 50. David Couzens 3 “Human Sciences. 69. Pope 150 Kant.

112 Rockmore. 125 Peirce. Paul 22–3. V. 71–2. 4. Population (Foucault) 155 Shapiro. 100–6 “Promise-Threat” 36 Protestant Reformation 125–6 Psychiatric Power (Foucault) 11. Gary 21–2 signs 111–12 Sluga. Charles 157 temporality of existence 15–16 temporality of power 9–17 theory of alienation (Marx) 55 Tilliette. Alan 1 Sartre. 79–80. 76 racism 8. Xavier 40n. Jean-Paul 47–51. 35. 134–42. 27 Smith. 47. Territory. 109–10. 58 subjectum 54 surveillance 80 T-Sentences (Tarski) 94 Take Care of Freedom and Truth will take Care of Itself (Rorty) 120 Tarski. Vincent P. 12 reading 26–7 religion 125–30. Carl 46 science 27–35. 49 Oedipus the King (Sophocles) 148 “On the Government of the Living” (Foucault) 148. A (Forster) 128 Patterns of Discovery (Hanson) 27 Pecora. The (Arendt) 126 Outsider. 152 “On Truth and Lie in a Nonmoral Sense” (Nietzsche) 71 “Ontology of Actuality” (Vattimo) 119 Oppenheimer. 58. Charles 96–7 perspectivism 22. 59. Alain 26 “Report on Knowledge” (Lyotard) 73 rhizomes 48 Ricoeur. 75–86. 151–2. Robert 24 Order of Things. Barry 119 Smith. 130 political religiosity 138 “Political Technology of Individuals” (Foucault) 112 postmodernism 48. 78 “philosophy of decline” 118–19 Plato 68–71. 157 . 95–7. 109. 23 “Society Must be Defended” (Foucault) 142 Socrates 72. A (Forster) 128 Roques. 129–30 Schmitt. 38n. Timothy 38n. J. The (Wright) 140 Parmenides 116 Passage to India. 82. 150 Room with a View. Adam 55 Smith. 119–20 Ryan. 149–50 Raynaud. 84 problematization 90–2. Alain 26–7 Rayner. 68–70. The (Foucault) 32. 50 Phenomenology (Hegel) 46–8 Phenomenology of Spirit (Hegel) 45 Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (Rorty) 75–6. Alfred 94 taxinomia 32–3 Taylor. 24 phenomenology 44. Hans 25. 75 sovereignty 11–13 structuralism 53 subjectivity 53–5. 56 pragmatism 75–6.170 Index Renaut. 71–2 poststructuralist secularism 4 power 54. 130 Origins of Totalitarianism. Douglas 22–3. 148 Qu’est ce que la Métaphysique? (Heidegger) 27 Quine. Paul 45 Rorty. 130 “Science and World-Picture” (Heidegger) 27 Search For A Method (Sartre) 51 secularization 125–30 Security. Richard 2. W. 33. 39n. Tom 4 Roman Catholic Church 133.

120. 78–9. 17 Use of Pleasure. The (Foucault) 100 Williams. 147 “Useless to Revolt?” (Foucault) 14 Vattimo. 28. 83 “What Is Enlightenment?” (Kant) 113–14 Why We Are Not Nietzscheans (Ferry/ Renaut) 26 Will to Know. 120n. Max 73. Santiago 4 171 . 70–5. 114. 104–5. 15 Wahl. 1 Veyne. 107n. 13 Wright. 40 totalitarianism see fascism transcendental phenomenology 48 transmission 117 truth 24. Alexis de 160n. Paul 14. 33. Bernard 4. 115–20. 100. 118. 130–2. Richard 140 X studies 6 Zabala. 90–9. 109–12. Mark 126–9 universality 13–14. 141 Truth and Truthfulness (Williams) 93–4 Twain.Index “To the Person Sitting in Darkness” (Twain) 127 Tocqueville. Jean 45 “weak thought” 115–20 Weber. 93–9. The (Foucault) 100. Gianni 4.

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