Re: New To List

On Thu, 13 Jul 1995, Karen Kolodenko wrote:

> Hi, all. I'm new to this list, and not by any means an expert on
> Foucault.

Hi Karen,
I am an undergraduate English student at the University of Melbourne (in
Australia) with an interest in postmodernisms (the plural is not a typo).

I can't (and am unqualified to) give you a reductive and thus 'violent'
summary of Foucault and his postmodernism (or otherwise!). Perhaps you
should get a feeling for postmodernism by subscribing to the newsgroup
(and electronic publication) of _Postmodern Culture_ - just send a message
to pmc@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or visit their net homepage).

You said:
> In the class a student made a comment that Foucault was post-modernist.
> I'm sorry to say I'm uninformed about post-modernism, but from what I
> could gather that was very bad.

I have found that definitions of 'postmodernism' are infinitely permeable
and thus can be seen as good or bad, depending on the perspective (i must
confess to a partiality to postmodern criticisms of certain aspects of
the modern). Perhaps a postmodernist (well, 'I') would say that 'good'
and 'bad' are terms infinitely permeable in themselves.

A lot of postmodernism is concerned with questioning axiomatic
assumptions that we take for granted and have built worlds of meaning
upon. These foundational assumptions then are never questioned or
clearly defined.

Certainly one instance of what I would thus call a 'postmodern' attitude
appears in Foucault's essay _What is Enlightenment_ when he calls for the
constant reassessing of modern foundational principles to determine their
continuing relevance. (this essay is in _The Foucault Reader_).

> Here's my question. Why is Foucault considered post-modernist, and why
> are post-modernists so heavily criticized?

I certainly don't bag postmodernists, but, like everything else, their
arguments must be weighed for their relevance to yourself. Don't dismiss
things on a shallow read. See it as new and not as something you already
suspect to be 'bad'.

Best regards....


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