From: "Stephen D'Arcy" <darcy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 12 Feb 1997 11:27:35 -0500 (EST)
Gabriel Ash wrote:
> Foucault and many other radical thinkers are not immune for reapropriation
> by conservative politics, and such reapropriation is bound to be taking place.
> In fact, reading Foucault as offering a radical doubt on objectivity, reading him
> in other words as a 'philosopher' a la Rorty seems to me precisely the work
> of such reapropriation.
On what reading of "philosophy" is Foucault not a philosopher?
Philosophy is generally acknowledged (by, say, Aristotle, Kant,
Heidegger, Habermas, Rawls, etc.) to be the elucidation and critical
evaluation of the unquestioned assumptions of our thought, speech and
action. That works quite well as a description of Foucault, I think.
But maybe you meant "philosopher-a-la-Rorty," interpreting that to
mean someone who expresses doubts about "objectivity." I think
Foucault shares the view of most other philosophers that it would be a
misunderstanding to "doubt" objectivity; what is needed is rather a
correct interpretation of objectivity. Surely, for example, to deny
that "the temperature is 5 degrees" is objective in a way that "the
air is cold" is not objective, is just to misunderstand how we use the
word "objective." Nevertheless, Foucault is interested in the role
institutions and other patterns of social interaction play in the
specification of what counts as "objective" in particular contexts.
He is interested, in short, in the way institutions authorize
information as objective or "veridical", and in the way information
authorizes ways of organizing and programming institutions and other
patterns of social interaction. But this is both a kind of
questioning of "objectivity" (not a "doubting," of course), and also a
manner of practicing philosophy (to repeat: elucidating and critically
evaluating the unquestioned assumptions of our thought, speech and
action). In that sense, I think Foucault IS a philosopher who
questions objectivity, which is what Rorty also does, although he does