power/knowledge in Foucault

Sam Vagenas <nologos@xxxxxxxxxxxx> asks:

You think Foucault came to regret the reduction of truth to power in the
1977 essay I noted. Please explain the switch and the reasons behind it.
On a quick glance, undermining the power/knowledge relationship in Foucault
would seem to undermine most of what he wrote.

To which I (ransom@xxxxxxxxxxxxx) respond:

First, there's what Foucault says about the relationship between knowledge
and power, and truth and power.

For instance, in _Politics, Philosophy, and Culture_ Foucault says, in an
off-hand kind of way, that "Of course, one can always find psychological or
sociological theories that are independent of power" (106). And then in
"The Ethic of the Care of the Self" in _Technologies of the Self_, p. 16,
Foucault says that it is wrong to reduce games of truth to games of power.
(There's another relevant comment in _PPC_ that I cannot find right now.
If anyone's dying for it, tell me.)

But of course who cares what Foucault says? But in fact there is a
*relation* between power and knowledge. Vagenas asks above why I say
that Foucault came to regret the reduction of truth to power, and he
goes on to comment that undermining the power/knowledge relationship in
Foucault would undermine most of what Foucault wrote. I agree--but note
the difference between *reducing* truth to power and thinking more
carefully about the *relation* between knowledge (or truth) and power.

There is a cycle and a relation linking knowledge and power. But they
are not the *same* thing. If they were the same thing, it would make
nonsense of the kinds of comments we get from F near the end of the
first volume of the History of Sexuality. There he explains that
the rules of discourse can be twisted to accommodate new tactics and
strategies. There is a relation between the being of power and the
being of knowledge or truth. Foucault overstated his case in "Truth and
Power" in 1977.

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