Re: Foucault on power

I would like to add a few comments on the discussion of power that is
directed toward Karen's questions. I think
that power, as the corner-stone of Foucault's "philosophy" tends to
operate the way philosophical corner-stones usually operate--as what F.
refers to in another context as "magical terms." Thus I don't think that
the concept holds up particularly well if really pressed; just as terms
like Truth or Will, eidos, arche, telos, energeia, ousia, alethia,
consciousness, God, man and so forth (Derrida's list) fall apart when

Power is also a master term that is at times stretched pretty thin and
given neutral
connotations, while at other times it can be employed quite narrowly, or
pejoratively connected with oppression (in the old-fashioned liberal sense).

One of the lessons of Foucault's use of the concept of Power, it seems to
me, is that it demonstrates that such master-tropes are probably
inescapable. Given this ineluctable condition, power is an interesting
trope to use, given the philosophical tradition. For it takes the
primacy away from the traditional master-terms of philosophy, and makes
them a function of the power, strategy, and interest that these other
terms (such as Truth or Consciousness) sought to control, inhibit, or
suppress. Thus we have with Foucault (and others) a philosophical scheme
organized around conflict, impermanence, strategy, difference, exclusion,
confinement, and so forth. This is to see Foucault's project not as
arriving at a basic understanding of "the way things work," but as
subverting traditional understandings. Not only is strategy theorized
by Foucault, one of the best ways to see his work is as a strategy. It
is an unfortunate (perhaps) necessity that the only way to do this
is to errect a new "metaphysics"

Erik D. Lindberg
Dept. of English and Comparative Lit.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Milwaukee, WI 53211
email: edl@xxxxxxxxxxx


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