From: henry sholar <hwsholar@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 1999 08:02:38 -0500
Stuart, thanks! =20
On another level of description, I find Foucault=20
mastering a method (structuralism) that proved inadequate to his style=20
and approach to important philosophical issues: F was drawn to=20
problems of history; wary of human 'science'; robustily progressive=20
politically & seemed more than a little disgusted with academia most of=20
the time. I'm inclined to believe that he utilized a structuralist=20
method and then made it his own. Perhaps the method melted into=20
rhetorical device as he found his voice, his originality, in=20
For example, in _Arch of Knowl_ I have noticed his voice of=20
negative description ("my point is NOT this or this or this or this=C9"=20
and on and on). I think this is a practice that could come from=20
structualist approaches to investigations. Ceaselessly diagnosing=20
I would be interested in hearing your impressions of his style, voice=20
and method, particularly since you read him in the original (nez pah?).
I haven't seriously studied the texts in sometime but I have a feeling=20
that i am about to get back in.
On Thu, 14 Jan 1999 09:26:30 -0000 Stuart Elden=20
> >Stuart, what do you think of the great influence of structuralism on F?
> >How do you see it transforming, mutating, disappearing-if so?
> That's a good question. I think that structuralism was an influence on
> Foucault, and that F's critique of the 'certain half-witted "commentators=
> [who] persist in labelling me a structuralist' in Order of Things is
> protesting too much. However he does quite early on suggest that archaeol=
> owed more to Nietzschean genealogy than structuralism properly called.
> The points of common interest: interest in Bachelard and Canguilhem (like
> Althusser); de Saussure (like many); critique of Sartre, critique of agen=
> anti-humanism; praise of Levi-Strauss and Lacan in OT
> Points of difference: Foucault historical from day one, whilst structural=
> tended to neglect this (though F did once say that structuralism was
> properly a different way of dealing with history); whilst structuralists
> regularly used spatial language, F alone made spatial analyses in tandem.
> The Birth of the Clinic is a good place to look. The original is full of
> 'structuralist' language, the 1972 revision is purged of this. Foucault
> covering his tracks I think. James Miller suggests the use of the jargon =
> largely cosmetic, as the buzzwords could be jettisoned without touching t=
> argument. My take is that if the argument was untouched then it was only =
> words that were jettisoned, i.e. the structuralist argument remained. Jam=
> Bernauer, MF's Force of Flight has an appendix on these changes.
> A really useful 1967 interview 'La philosophie structuraliste permet de
> diagnistiquer ce qu'est <<aujourd'hui>>' (Dits et ecrits, Vol I, pp.
> 580-4)discusses some of these points. I don't think this is available in
> English, but happy to stand corrected.
> A rough translation of a key quotation:
> "What I have tried to do, is to introduce the analyses of a structuralist
> style into those areas where they haven't penetrated until now, that is t=
> say into the domain of the history of ideas, the history of connaissances=
> the history of theory. In this way, I have been brought to analyse in ter=
> of structure the birth of structuralism itself" (DE I, 583)
> I think the original subtitle of Les mots et les choses was an archaeolog=
> of structuralism rather than of the human sciences.
> Hope this opens discussion