RE: Performative contradiction.

> Yes, but the final valedictory in Truth and Power seems to put F (at
> that moment, at least) in a more direct relation to the question of
> truth, and what it is--or how one may think the question, and with
> whom: "The political question, to sum up, is not error, illusion,
> alienated consciousness or ideology; it is truth itself. Hence the
> importance of Nietzsche."
> Surely, then, F is not avoiding the question, unless "political"
> qualifies the matter significantly. Which would mean that
> "politically" F sees the importance of Nietzsche, but refuses to
> consider the question in domains of which the "political" is a
> component. Is this a confusion on my part?

Sorry to reply to a very old posting, but I have been "off-NET" for
over a month.

I think the point can be made even more directly, in Foucault's defence,
that he doesn't want to get into abstract philosophical debates
about the meaning of truth, power etc. In the interview entitled
QUESTIONS OF GEOGRAPHY, he specifically says that for him the reason
for "doing historical work" is precisely that it "has political meaning, utility
and effectiveness" and that this is "possible only if one has some kind
ofinvolvement in the struggles taking place in the area in question".

He goes on to say "My historical work was undertaken only as a function of
those conflicts. The problem and the stake there was the possibility of a
discourse which would be both true and strategically effective, the
possibility of a historical truth which could have a political effect." (p64)

Having just spent a long time wading through Habermas's critique of Foucault
on the very question of "truth" and "power", I can well sympathize with
Foucault's reluctance to get bogged down in sterile philosophical debates
that are based on the very premises Foucault wanted to get beyond.

Dominique Janicaud makesa an excellent point with regard to Habermas on
this question, but which could be applied more widely:

"The edification of a complex, non-functionalist theory of communication is
a worthy enterprise; but does it not run the risk of remaining abstract and
even edifying in a purely useless sort of way, so long as its recourse to a
NORMATIVITY interior to rationality sees this rationality in terms of a
comfortable and artificial autonomy, turning away from the most
disturbing power effects of scientific rationality itself?"


After all, Foucault was concerned with history, or genealogy and not
philosophy as such. He even dropped the word "philosophy" from
the title of his chair at the College de France. At least not the
sort of philosophy that wants to define terms ahistorically without
reference to
their emergence and use in specific social relations (ie power relations)


Paul Rutherford.

Partial thread listing: