Power (fwd)

The Power thread certainly points to a focal point in Foucault's work as well as in our
interest in it. I would like to add some comments that keep coming to my mid in
relation to it.
The question of what is power seems to be problematic not because F is not clear
about it, but because something in the "nature" of the subject. It is in fact that F doesn't
refer to power as a thing, as something that is. Foremost, it is the question of ontology,
the mode of being of what is that is refered to power as an inseparable modality of
power/knowledge. Beings, that *is*, objects ans subjects, are formed, form themselves,
become eluctuble, through the practice of power. Power is a condition of existance.
Which makes the knowledge of power, which we are at at present, a bit of a problem.
For the question should be really stated as the problem of the Knowledge(Power) of
the Power(Knowledge). A description of a domination is not simply a question of
knowledge. one cannot just say X is exploiting, coercing, oppressing Y, as such. There
are stakes in there. A concept of power that involves domination as a relation between
existing constituents, subjects, 'bearers' of history, perhaps, is as unimplicated in the
power relation as a throw of dices in a bet. Not because the observer cannot be
objective, but because objectivity is the stake, the objective constitution and
determination of power relations, as well as of subjects and objects to be in that
relation, is the "essence" of power.
Deleuze refered, I think rightly, to F's power as the unformed, or better, the not yet
formed, the not yet sedimented. Power seems to exist on the one hand at the level of
the genealogy of practice, that is, not as what is dead, for geneology has no room for
the truly dead, but as the ghost of the present, that which haunts is. But then it is
because, as is time and again remarked and again forgotten, (because it is after all
such a shameless idea, that one does its best to look the other way, there are after all
so many *decent* conceptions of power), F's power is not a proprety nor an ability qua
possesion: The French 'Pouvoir' refers to ability in the way of possibility, 'Pot-estas',
which is also what can or may be, 'pot-est', 'peut-etre', but doesn't have to (see
Derrida's 2nd chapter of ''Politiques de l'amitie"). This, one should note, is the very
structure of ability qua hexis, ability is 'possession' only metaphorically, unless one can
be possessed by an ability. F's power is 'an action upon an action', 'that which
seduces, induces, makes more easy or more difficult', Which is not so far, in its point
of application, from Weber's idea. It differs from it in its Modality, for it is not, it *is* a
possibility, and it has no other *real* effects than possibilities. That is way, what haunts
the present, indeed the presence, is the possibility qua not-(exactly)-being, as the
possibilty of an-other future. That is way the geneological analysis of power has
perhaps an affinity with black magic, an evocation of the (living) deads, the 'undone'
(is it really nature that undid so many, as poets would sometimes prefer), in order to
undo the misdone, to open
. The modality of power destabilises the question of freedom, for freedom too *is* only
as a possibility, as a perhaps traversing the web of actions, perhaps I'll go now,
perhaps I'll abide, but then...
Then what to do of necessity, of coercion. But there is nothing to do. There *is*
nothing to do, but infinity that *can* be done. As long as one is ready to be undone,
that is, to accept the possibility of a

Harison Brace wrote:

>Insofar as Foucault traces the process of materialization as an investiture
>of discourse and power, he focuses on that dimension of power that is
>productive and formative. But we need to ask what constrains the domain of
>what is materializable, and whether there are _modalites_ of
>materialization -- as Aristotle suggests, and Althusser is quite to cite.
>To what extent is materialization governed by principles of intelligibility
>that requires and institute a domain of radical _unintellibibility_ that
>resists materialization altogether or that remains radically
>dematerialized? Does Foucault's effort to work the nations of discourse
>and materiality though one another fail to account for not only what is
>_excluded_ from the economies of discursive intelligibility that he
>describes, but what _has to be excluded_ for those economies to function as
>self-sustaining systems? (30)

The question of radical unintelligibility seems to me highly problematic. on first glance,
as I have not read the book you mentioned, it reminds me of what
Foucault refered to as 'the hypothesis
of a great unsaid". As F has marvelously shown, objective discourse operates through
problematizations, that is, through positing its domain as unsolvable or hardly sovable
riddle, mistery, depht, etc. Sexuality is a good example, but a 'historical' fact is as just
a good one. Inteligibility and uninteligibility are co-authors and co-products of
epistemologization. It seems to me that the institution and exclusion of the unintelligible
is just what Foucault studied, especially in 'Madness and civilization'.
However, I agree about the plea for something else. I find Deleuze's notion of the
'outside' compelling: (Deleuze - "Foucault") there is an outside to knowledge ( though
one cannot say that it is, of course), power plays a part in it.

Hagen Finley wrote:

> It seems to me that social interaction demands a coordination of
>behavior and that coordination is both enabling and disabling. It is
>disabling because biologically possible modes of acting and being are
>either overlooked or ruled inapproriate. It is enabling because (echoing
>Kant) the kind of existence we share in communities is creates a miriad of
>possible ways of acting out our lives which are not options to the isolated
> My thesis is that the more people want to reap out the productive
>potential in social interaction, the more they must assent to and conform
>to the patterns of action which make this interaction possible, the more
>they must disciplen themselves and/or be disciplened, and/or disciplen
>others in the direction of that social goal.

The thesis you expounded is to the point, and in fact has been argued very
convincingly by Norbert Elias in his 'Process of civilization', Vol. II especially. However,
I propose caution about saying unproblematicaly, that 'people want to reap out the
productive potential in social interaction'. What peolpe want is precisely the goal of
moral discipline, and cannot be taken out as an invariant.

Joana Crosby wrote:

>of power. They can be negative, i.e., repressive, oppresive, or
>limiting in unacceptable ways, and they can be positive, i.e., creative
>productive, etc. In fact, they can be both. In D&P, Foucault talks
>about how forms of dicipline made institutions like the hopital able to
>rovide better care at less risk of infection, and yet also produced
>a problematic kind of knowing that has lead to increasingly narrow
>possibilities for subjectification. The results of negotiating power
>relations can be both positive and negative, and there is no safe way
>no secure or ga

>Joanna Crosby

I agree with what you said about the relation of F's subject to power, domination, and
freedom, but there is one confusion which seems rather important though it may seem
minor. power is indeed productive and creative, this does not make it 'good' (or bad),
indeed this is a major point in F: power is not that which says no, that which kills (not
only), it is 'what induces etc.' it organises life. And these 'good' adjectives do not
necessary call for approval. Some relations of power may be experienced as
oppressive, indeed, should be experience as such, allthough it is a benign, 'morally
praisable', productive strategy that is involved.




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