Re: Foucault and Truth

On Wed, 10 May 1995 WIDDER@xxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:

> Let's not say Rorty's critique of Foucault misses the complexity of his
> understanding of power -- it simply gets it all wrong. Foucault, among
> other things, apparently advocates total revolution, and thinks that humans
> have an essential freedom that can be released via emancipation. This is,
> to say the least, a ludicrous understanding of Foucault's work.
> Nathan
> widder@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
I have a third alternative to this issue of "right and wrong" or "miss
the point"--phrases which invoke the very sort of distinction that Rorty (as
many continental philosophers [to connect this to another thread]) are
particularly interested in refusing. When Rorty says what Nathan quotes, he
is performing
what he would call a "strong misreading" of Foucault, quite consciously
translating Foucault into a "pragmatist" paradigm. Its not that Rorty
doesn't understand Foucault's theory of power; rather he sees it as
sliding toward a certain view of freedom that Foucault also explicitly
repudiates, but may in fact enact in his texts. Rorty may seem to be
misunderstanding Foucault, but a closer reading suggests that he is in
fact, working to dissolve the distinctions upon which Foucault is tacitly

For a less "irritating" (acknowledging that Rorty raises many people's
hackles :)) defense of a similar view, see John McGowan's POSTMODERNISM
AND ITS CRITICS. Mc Gowan reveals the sort of "negative freedom" that
postmodern philosophy relies upon, despite its explicit appeal to
embodied, implicated, and "ideological" (in the broadest sense)
intellectual practices. McGowan is wrong, I think, to suggest that this
can be escaped (thus my acceptance of Foucault after McGowan is based on
a stance toward this paradox), but a deep paradox he does, I think, reveal.


p.s. for those interested in Rorty, look for a neo-pragmatism
list--coming soon, if all goes as planned.

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


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