Re: Question on Deleuze's reading of Foucault

You've done a really fine job of raising your issue and I think your
heading into some of the most difficult and important material in
Foucault/Deleuze. What is going on in "power to affect" and "power to be
affected" is not clear to me either. But I think that Deleuzes's equation
of the latter in its pure form with "pure unformed matter independent of the
formed substances" or "primary or bare matter" must evoke Aristotle's
discussion of prime matter in the Metaphysics; though I don't think that
Deleuze means to appropriate Foucault to Aristotle here, I do think there
may be some important parallels between what drove Aristotle to postutate
prime matter and why Deleuze focuses on this (and I might add that this is a
singular instance in Foucault's work -- se his HSI 95-6).
The key here seems to revolved around the notion of resistance. In
order to avoid power being conceived of as a Fichteanesque self-positing,
i.e., of unrestricted self-affectation, there must be some concept of limit,
some concept of finitude -- especially inasmuch as both Deleuze and (in my
reading) Foucault are by necessity "philosophers of exteriority" and insofar
as they reject the philosophy of identity, some sort of limit/finitude to
power is necessary.
The problem seems to be 'where' to situate this limit or resistance.
If it is something outside power, then a) it is not clear what or how it can
have anything to do with power and therefore wouldn't even be the 'other of
power' that would be the necessary limit power, and b) it would be to posit
a self-identical substance over against power, which is differential (at
which point we would be off an running with Hegel). Yet if resistance is
power, then we have question of two modalities of power and, further, the
question of what (power) these modalities -- affecting and being affected --
have in common. The latter option seems to be F & D's. Foucault says (HSI
95) " Where there is power, thre is resistance, and yet, or rather
consequently, this resistance is never in a position of exteriority in
relation to power." Or (96), Resistances ... are the *odd* [l'autre] term
in relations of power; they are inscribed in the latter as an irreducible
opposition." Resistance of some sort seems not only necessary in order to
avoid an idealism of power, but in order to conceive of power as productive.
In an article I characterize this as a "necessary" or
"transcedental" illusion of power (I'm not sure how far I would go with the
Kantian thematic, though I'd like to hear what you see in this connection --
haven't read Cutrofello's book yet). Presently, I'm inclined to see that
the problem you are hitting upon here (which is from the Foucault of the mid
1970's) leads Foucault in a direction that could be (sloppily) described as
a return to the subject, to a concept of substance (viz., for example, the
ethical substance of HSII) that serves the purpose that "prime matter"
serves in another context. Obviously this subject is not the same sort of
subject that Foucault rejected from the get-go. In other words, I think it
may be the case that the pure functionalism you describe and may well
characterize Foucault at this point in his life *doesn't* make sense when
you carry it out to its ontological implications, and this may in part be
what drove Foucault beyond the position at which Deleuze fixes him.
I think that in developing the metaphysical/ontological thematic in
Foucault Deleuze brings out some of the problems in his position of the
1970s (and maybe beyond). One of the problems of such a thematic is,
however, that Deleuze finds it so easy to dispense with the "concrete forms"
of powe. Foucault certainly doesn't find it so easy to operate at the level
of abstract power as does Deleuze (who is one of the greatest formalizers
since Hege -- who de despised).
I'll stop here. I'd like to hear what others have to say about this

>I have a question I would like to ask about Deleuze's treatment
>of Foucault's notion of power. I've been reviewing pages 70-73 of
>D's Foucault trans. Sean Hand (Minneapolis: University of
>Minnesota Press, 1988). My question will have to follow a brief
>overview of Deleuze's argument. Page numbers below will refer to
>the above-mentioned English translation.
>Deleuze characterizes Foucault as a kind of functionalist (26).
>In social theory "functionalism" refers biographically to figures
>like Herbert Spencer, Malinowski, Talcott Parsons, and Giddens.
>Ideationally, the term refers to the argument that social
>institutions should be understood somewhat along utilitarian
>lines in terms of the functions they fulfill. The actual natives
>of an African tribe may understand their totem religion (or
>whatever) in terms of some edict from a deity or deities, but
>enlightened functionalists know that the actual "function" the
>totem religion performs is to produce forms of social
>integration. You get the idea
>Deleuze (so I gather, anyway) thinks that Foucault is a
>functionalist who has improved on the founders of this school of
>thought by adding a perceptual level unknown to his predecessors.
>When they described (for instance) the ritual exchange of sea
>shells among island communities, they allowed their understanding
>of power (not that they used that word) to be exhausted by the
>particular operation of power they described. This is why
>functional-structuralist theories of society always seem so
>unrealistically closed, so dense: if power is collapsed into its
>particular application, equated with the particular institutional
>form it takes at any moment, we have an inertia problem. If power
>"is" this totem religion or that set of sea shell exchanges, or
>even a combination of both of these and a number of other
>cultural practices, then an escape from power seems impossible.
>But our notion of power should not be reduced to the particular
>cultural expressions it takes at this or that moment, and
>Foucault's advance over his predecessors can be understood in
>terms of his ability to identify a level of activity--or at leas
>existence--that transcends particular expressions of power.
>Power, Deleuze comments on 71, is productive rather than
>repressive. In a power relationship, we have something that
>incites, while something else in turn is induced to produce. One
>is active, while the other is reactive. But to say "reactive" is
>not to say "passive," and to avoid this conclusion Deleuze
>introduces two kinds of power:
> 1. the "power to affect"
> 2. the "power to be affected"
>The "power to affect," Deleuze says (71-72) is the "function" of
>force, while the "power to be affected" is the "matter" of force.
>I may as well admit it: I am not quite sure what Deleuze means
>here. When he says that the "power to be affected" is the
>"matter" of force, does he mean that the "power to be affected"
>is that which is specifically shaped by "force"? But then how is
>the "power to be affected" a "power" if its only concrete
>expression is in allowing itself to be formed?
>And in what sense is Deleuze speaking when he says the "power to
>affect" acts as the "function" of force? What does the word
>"function" mean here? Does Deleuze mean that "force" is the
>primary category and that the "power to affect" is the
>"expression," the "function" of it?
>On 72, Deleuze insists that this "power-to-affect-function-of-
>force" (not a direct quote) should be thought of as a "pure"
>function. "Pure" here means "non-formalized," and "non-
>formalized" means "independent of the concrete forms it assumes,
>the aims it serves, or the means it employs." Foucault, then, is
>a "pure" functionalist: he does not let his understanding of
>power become contaminated by its specific expressions.
>Is this perhaps a Kantian reading of Foucault? At 71, Deleuze
>refers to "categories" of power. He lists three:
> 1. distribution in space
> 2. ordering in time
> 3. composition in space-time
>Hospital patients and prisoners are distributed in space. The
>movements of the soldier firing the rifle are ordered in time.
>The specific nature of the interaction between the first two
>categories gives "force" its particular character. But standing
>behind all particularities are the "categories" of power--and
>this does seem to have a Kantian ring to it.
>I have more I would like to discuss concerning this section in
>Deleuze (pp. 70-73 of his _Foucault_), but perhaps that's enough
>for tonight. I hope someone else has some thoughts on what
>Deleuze is up to here.
>There's another author who gives a Kantian reading of Foucault.
>The name of the book is _Discipline and Critique_. It's very


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