Re: Foucault and Normativity

On Tue, 11 Apr 1995, Kristin Switala wrote:

> towards normative practices and institutions. He is trying to be as
> anti-Hegelian as possible -- meaning that he is trying not to offer a
> program for future behavior. Only the suggestion, as you point out, that
I think this that this thread is becoming increasingly thoughtful, and
therefore more interesting, but I would disagree about the relationship
of Foucault and Hegel. Foucualt is an heir to the Hegelian legacy
precisely in his unwillingness to offer a program for future behavior.
I like to locate
what I call an "archaeological turn" beginning with Hegel, for with Hegel
philosophy became increasingly intersted not in the question of "should,"
but in the question of what is possible given what "is." As Hegel put it
in the Preface to his PHILOSOPHY OF RIGHT, "To comprehend WHAT IS is the
task of philosophy, for WHAT IS is resson. As far as the individual is
concerned, each individual is in any case a CHILD OF HIS TIME, thus
philosophy, too, is ITS OWN TIME COMPREHENDED IN THOUGHT. It is just as
foolish to imagine that any philosophy can transcende its contemporary
world as that an individual can overleap his own time or leap over

I would argue that the most relevant difference between Hegel in Foucault
involves the issue of progress. While Hegel thought that intellectual
"strife" would lead to absolute consciousness (the "cunning of reason"),
Foucault thought that reason would not lead to "global" progress, but
would reveal the contingencies of the "natural" or "determined," and thus
open the possibility of various forms of "otherness," or "practices of
freedom." Niether had much
interest in positing any form of should, but were interested in the "is."

Any other thoughts about the difference between Foucault and Hegel? Is
the difference fairly constant throughout F's work?


Erik Lindberg

Erik D. Lindberg
Dept. of English and Comparative Lit.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Milwaukee, WI 53211
email: edl@xxxxxxxxxxx


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