RE: Epistemology

The caution that Miles expresses in his previous post is a caution that I
share. Time and time again, the philosophies of continental thinkers are
obscured and misunderstood by analytic thinkers. Paul Bove, in his foreword
to Deleuze's book _Foucault_, clearly articulates this difficulty in
his criticisms of Charles Taylor. Using Taylor as an example, Bove shows
the difficulties that analytic philosophers, even those analytic
philosophers that, like Taylor, are sympathetic to continental
philosophy, encounter when they attempt to understand a continental
thinker. Bove's strongest criticism concerns the reductive nature of
analytic interpretation.

"We must be satisfied, however, with the simpler perception that
Taylor has been trained (and come to accept) the premium placed
by his discipline upon a certain kind of thought...that can only
proceed along certain expected lines of argumentation...We can
see, then, that one tactic is fundamental to Taylor's practice
throughout the essay; and we might speculate that perhaps it is
a disciplinary characteristic: the reduction of Foucault's text,
of his style and writing to `position.'" - p. xiii

It seems, more generally, that Bove is ambivalent toward the analytic
attitude because it desperately seeks to categorize and, more
specifically, to "position" everything it encounters. In the Taylor
case, according to Bove, the attempt was to make a category or position from

Following the above, I'd like to take another look at Alcoff's paper.
Alcoff indicates in the beginning of her paper that the category of
coherentist, as applied to Foucault, is going to appear very problematic
to most analytic philosophers. She commences to argue that Foucault does
fit the category of coherentism, as long as one stretches the concept a

In the light of Bove's statements, it is quite apparent that Alcoff is
very _analytical_ in the sense that Bove describes. Alcoff does provide
an excellent springboard for discussing Foucault as an epistemologist.
She also presents Foucault's view in a fair and clear way, clear in the
sense that it is apparent that Alcoff understands Foucault's work - i.e. she
is not confused by it in the manner that Taylor was. However, the
intent of the paper poses itself not as an intention to further explore
Foucault's philosophy, but rather to show that Foucault is analytically
understandable. Another way of saying this is that Foucault is a
coherentist and externalist, with these characteristics legitimizing him
as an epistemologist. The thrust of Alcoff's argument is that Foucault
fits analytic categories. Is this so?

Miles doesn't think so. His reason is that Foucault does not meet some
of the criteria that Alcoff proposed is characteristic of epistemology -
in this case Foucault does not seek a "general understanding of
knowledge, truth and belief." Is this so?

Yours in discourse,

Steven Meinking


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