From: Erik D Lindberg <edl@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 1 Aug 1995 09:06:14 -0500 (CDT)
I would like to add a few comments on the discussion of power that is
directed toward Karen's questions. I think
that power, as the corner-stone of Foucault's "philosophy" tends to
operate the way philosophical corner-stones usually operate--as what F.
refers to in another context as "magical terms." Thus I don't think that
the concept holds up particularly well if really pressed; just as terms
like Truth or Will, eidos, arche, telos, energeia, ousia, alethia,
consciousness, God, man and so forth (Derrida's list) fall apart when
Power is also a master term that is at times stretched pretty thin and
connotations, while at other times it can be employed quite narrowly, or
pejoratively connected with oppression (in the old-fashioned liberal sense).
One of the lessons of Foucault's use of the concept of Power, it seems to
me, is that it demonstrates that such master-tropes are probably
inescapable. Given this ineluctable condition, power is an interesting
trope to use, given the philosophical tradition. For it takes the
primacy away from the traditional master-terms of philosophy, and makes
them a function of the power, strategy, and interest that these other
terms (such as Truth or Consciousness) sought to control, inhibit, or
suppress. Thus we have with Foucault (and others) a philosophical scheme
organized around conflict, impermanence, strategy, difference, exclusion,
confinement, and so forth. This is to see Foucault's project not as
arriving at a basic understanding of "the way things work," but as
subverting traditional understandings. Not only is strategy theorized
by Foucault, one of the best ways to see his work is as a strategy. It
is an unfortunate (perhaps) necessity that the only way to do this
is to errect a new "metaphysics"
Erik D. Lindberg
Dept. of English and Comparative Lit.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Milwaukee, WI 53211