From: "Stuart Elden" <Stuart.Elden@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 25 Oct 1999 12:04:59 +0100
Some odd thoughts in response to your mail:-
>On Fri, 22 Oct 1999, Stuart Elden wrote:
>> To my mind, one of the most interesting things about this debate is the
>> difference between textual and contextual readings. Foucault's reading of
>> Descartes, whilst seeking to be accurate to the text, is also aware of
>> context, and the treatment of the 'mad' at the time. Indeed, i think this
>> part of his point - Descartes can help to illuminate the context, and the
>> context helps contextualise Descartes.
>I think this is right--but it's interesting how it clashes with what
>Foucault says about reading people like Heidegger and Thomas Szasz, about
>how he "intentionally pirates" ideas from their works, willfully stripping
>them of their context (which fits with Foucault's and Deleuze's notion of
>"theory as toolkit").
Yes, that's interesting. But Heidegger and Szasz are both thinkers Foucault
wants to appropriate, but Descartes is one he wants to criticise. For
example, Foucault does the same with Heidegger - he treats him in two ways.
In The Order of Things, Heidegger is represented accurately and then
criticised, but in plenty of other works Heideggerian ideas are
appropriated, twisted to new shapes and put to use. With hardly a single
mention of him, except in that famous last interview quote.
And that 'theory as toolkit' quote. Am i the only one who thinks that
Foucault has (unintentionally) provided legitimation for a whole lot of crap
>> what I think is most amusing about the Foucault/Derrida exchange is that
>> Foucault criticises - in his reply - Derrida's textual reading of the
>> Meditations. This was written first in Latin, _then_ translated into
>> Derrida reads it in the French, and Foucault, quite rightly suggests this
>> admits of a different interpretation. Derrida, the writer who forces us
>> look at the smallest of details, fails at the basic level, that of
>> the original text.
>Doesn't Derrida actually criticize the standard French translation and
>actually re-translate some passages?
Yes. I have to modify my position here. It was half remembered; I didn't
check the text before my mail. Derrida does indeed read both, and suggests
some modifications, like the insistence on 'sed forte'. But in his response,
Foucault points out some issues that Derrida can only get from the French