Re: MacKinnon and Foucault

Power is not intrinsically anything. To say it is would be to make power into
a substantival thing and to make Foucault an essentialist, which he was not.
I am even reluctant to say that power is intrinsically "dangerous" for
Foucault, as Foucault understood the power to redescribe and define one's
self as being one of the interesting features of postenlightenment thinking
about the subject, and this power is only "dangerous" on a Hiedeggerian
reading in which all descriptions of self and all accounts of selfhood are
destined to fall into inauthenticity. Foucault, it seems to me, did not have
this Heideggerian preoccupation with the inauthentic, simply because for him
there is no ground of authenticity to begin with. The subject is made,
constructed -- this is the tremendous import of that Lecture in
_Power/Knowledge_ -- and if there is guilt, shame, or fear, it is because we
have in some sense understood that this is the way in which we have
constructed our life. The self is an artifact, and there is nothing deep,
intrinsic, and essential about that: check out the interview "On the
Genealogy of Ethics" in Dreyfus and Rabinow, _Michel Foucault_.

Rob Leventhal


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