> It would be interesting to do a quantitative analysis of the term
> expérience in Foucault's works, identifying where and how often the
> term appears and analyzing how it is used. Such an analysis may help
> us better understand whether Foucault thought "being" was always
> already constituted as "experience" or "being" had historically come
> to be constituted as "experience." To my knowledge, though, Foucault
> never did any archeology of "experience" as such nor did he elevate
> the level of his critical elaboration of the term to that of, say,
> truth, power, knowledge, etc.
That is precisely what I am working on...
The term abounds in History of Madness, and it present throughout Birth of the Clinic and The Order of Things. Foucault seems to have stopped using the term following the publication of The Archaeology of Knowledge, and then started to use it again in 1978, and eventually framed his entire project in relation to this term in numerous texts, interviews, lecture, in the early 80's.
and whilst it may be true that Foucault did not "elevate the level of his critical elaboration of the term to that of, say, truth, power, knowledge, etc.," he did come to think of truth, power relations, and ethics as being three axes whose correlation constituted what he alternatively called "historically singular forms of experience" or a "matrix of experience:" i.e. madness; illness; life, labour, language; crime; sexuality, and so on.
Foucault states that "being is historically constituted as experience; that is, as something that can and must be thought."
as you rightly noted in a previous message, what Foucault is effectively stating here is that "being is historically constituted as that which can and must be thought," that is, as experience.
Now, what Foucault means by thought is 'the act that posits as subject and an object along with their various possible relations' and he goes on to note that 'a critical history of thought would be an analysis of the conditions under which certain relations of subject to object are formed or modified, insofar as those relations constitute a possible knowledge [savoir]' (EW2: 459; cf. EW1: 199ff).
Thus I don't think Foucault meant either that "being" was always already constituted as "experience" or that "being" had historically come to be constituted as "experience." Rather, from a certain nominalist perspective, being is understood as constantly and continuously being constituted, and reconstituted, as experience; that is, as something that can and must be thought.
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