Re: Foucault a postmodernist?

Ed Knudson wrote:

> Premodern world views understood the world as controlled by divine forces.
> The "modern" viewpoint rejects divinity in favor of human control over one's
> own life, and the whole enterprise of science and technology is aimed at
> controlling nature and biology, etc., etc.

I would agree that the "demystification" of the world is one of the
phenomenon that separates the modern from the pre-modern. However, my point
was that the theorists who are labelled as "moderninst" (e.g., Weber and
Marx) were critics of the end product of that demystification (unless of
course, Weber and Marx are now considered post-modern). In Marx, the rise
of the capitalist mode of production led to the worker's alienation from the
products of his labour. Weber expanded on this concept of alienation and
attempted show how alienation had spread beyond economic relationships to
all other spheres of life (e.g., religious, political, erotic, etc...).

I believe the reason I was confused by your initial commentary was that
you seemed to portray a radical break between modern and post-modern
thought. I honestly don't see a radical break. If we contrast Kant to
Foucault, we will obviously find a major paradigm shift. But it seems to me
that the theorists who most advanced our understanding of modernity were
also critical of it. If modernist thinkers, like their post-modern
counterparts, were critical of the ever increasing rational ordering of
life, then the difference between the modern and post-modern world views
must lie elsewhere.

>>What do you mean by "totalistic" philosophies?
> What I mean is all efforts of thought to grasp the "total" world in a way
> that is universal, including the entire Enlightenment effort. As I
> understand, this is one way in which Foucault is different from Marx; he
> questions universal systems of thought.

This statement seems to imply that you are rooting the modern/post-modern
distinction in methodology. That is, Marx searched for universal laws of
history while Foucault concentrated on espistemic histories. I would
agree that this is a valid distinction. But I would add that Foucault
does attempt to give us generalizations for how strategies of power have
changed from the episteme to episteme.

Maybe if you or others could answer the following questions, this issue
might become more transparent...

1. Who were the "modernist" thinkers?
(I would say Hegel, Marx, Weber, Sombart, Von Ranke)

2. What is the time frame we are talking about for modernity?
(I would say somewhere around 1800 to 1970)

3. Is modern thought and enlightenment thought synonymous?
(I don't think they are, but I am open to discussion.)


Vikash Yadav




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