From: William Dolphin <dolphin@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 18 May 1995 13:29:50 -0700 (PDT)
What a nice job Erik Lindberg & David Kellog do of putting the question
of epistemology through the proverbial wringer. Please don't think me an
ingrate if I pursue it a tiny bit further.
Erik's Foucault as "transgressor of the truth" has an heroic ring to it.
But one with an undercurrent I think, a sense in which MF could be
transgressing on behalf of truth. Reader response perhaps, but what
purpose is served by the demonstration of historicity and contingency if
not the revelation of a traditional epistemology's limitations?
Doesn't an acknowledgment of "traps" or historicity & contingency imply
some sort of 'better' and 'worse' value judgments about specific
truth-claims? Seems to imply consequences for how we understand and
employ epistemology, or, as I've hesitantly suggested, the epistemologies
that obtain within various discourses, whether the tongue of Truth or
That language games differ--Foucault's included--seems exactly the point
to make. In this case I am most concerned with what MF does in The
Discourse on Language. Since MF talks about fitting himself into the
College de France philosophical tradition (that slender gap again),
should his positioning be taken as *intended* to be "metaphilosophical"?
Or has he been consigned to this hinterland by the very exclusionary
processes he describes? (I'm thinking particularly of Eribon's account of
MF's experience before his exam board, when his examiners noted that he
was, pejoratively speaking, a writer. Also the struggle over his chair at
Perhaps my stumbling block here is the relation of rationality to
epistemology. No doubt Foucault wants to step beyond the rule of reason,
but is that necessarily "escaping," a stepping *out* of philosophy? Or
could we say that he is clearing a little space *within* philosophy for
truths heretofore excluded?