Re: Foucault, truth, and Rorty

I've been puzzling over a few recent, seemingly related threads.

I wonder if Messrs. Jackson & Kellogg (or anyone else) would be willing
to expand on their assertion/assent that Foucault "has no interest in
epistemology"? As I am not a credentialed philosopher, my reading of
'epistemology' may well be naive -- insufficiently grounded, as it were
-- but what was Foucault up to with his concern for limit experiences,
for the "truths inscribed upon the body", if not something
epistemological, something designed to map the "limits of knowledge"? And
what of the Archaeology of Knowledge & the Discourse on Language, which
talk of the minor bodies of knowledge excluded by the operations of the
Will to Truth? Is Foucault not treating the "methods" of knowledge and,
again, its limits?

Or would you say that Foucault suggests the existence of a multiplicity
of epistemic rhetorics, each with autonomous truth-values? If so, does
this skirt the issue? (Recall Kristin Switala's advice about immersing
oneself in a philosophical discourse, which of course also connects to
Erik Lindberg's points/queries about Rorty and language games.) I can't
take up Lindberg's challenge on the notion of language games, but it
seems to address the point that has popped up in a couple of posts about
how the very terms with which we work can betray us, can elide evidence,
efface presence.

Certainly Foucault concerned himself with more than mere 'statements',
but if, as the quotes posted by Mike O'Driscoll indicate, Foucault would
have us understand 'truth' as a procedural function of power and vice
versa, is not discourse the chief enforcer, both agent of truth and
grounds of knowledge? I'm thinking not of fundamental phonemes or some
other linguistic foundation but rather of a social sense in which
discourse aligns, affiliates, disseminates a perspective which is in some
sense both epistemic and ideological.

I may be conflating my concomitants, but it seems to me that to speak, to
discourse, is to simultaneously position and be positioned, to orient
oneself within a game of language, a field of play, maybe even an
ontological clearing, wherein rules of truth & proof are at once both
given and negotiable. Can these claims be connected to Foucault? Does he
provide a warrant, or is that slender gap of discourse into which he
imagined his work slipping too far removed?

Clearly Rorty contradicts this view of discourse in the distinction he
draws between 'political' and 'philosophical' difference, yet he too
seems to be gesturing in this direction when he talks about Davidson and
vocabulary and solidarity, however short of 'analytic' or 'continental'
rigor his actual claims may fall.

How say you (all)?

William Dolphin


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