Re: Poststructuralism and Ethics

>My puzzlement is prodding me to re-iterate, so here goes.
>It seems to me that underlying this discussion is some kind of belief
>in the importance of being able to do "moral reasoning". Now it could be
>that what is being asked in this thread is simply how to write philosophy
>articles that use poststructuralist ideas and methods, while at the
>same time fulfilling the profession's standards for academic philosophic
>discourse. Otherwise, I want to ask: why this need to be able to _reason_
>about ethics and morality? If someone asks me: "Why should you have a right
>to freedom and dignity?", how can there be an answer to this? How would it
>help to present this person with a "definition" of self, humanness,
>dignity, or anything at all, from which the person would be supposedly
>compelled by the laws of logic to arrive at my "right" to freedom and
>dignity? Why would one want to be able to do this?
I've been monitoring this forum since this topic began, and I find
myself agreeing with Malgosia. Foucault never denied that his books were
positions of value, and acts of violence: he attacks what infuriates him in
the present, and exposes his opponent's position as being unfounded -- not a
rational position, but a position founded upon a value, a "will to power."
Paul Veyne discusses this quite clearly in his article, "The Final Foucault
and his Ethics."
I don't want to simplify matters: but an ethics assumes an
objective basis for the irrational. It seeks to rationalize, and render
transcendent, a position of value. The argument, so far, is less about
post-structuralism, then about nihilism: by associating a loss of truth
(which is supposedly the outcome of post-structuralism) with a loss of
value, value, it is concluded, no longer has a measure. It is exactly
parallel to Nietzsche's declaration of the death of God: now, how is the
right to know it is right?
Philosophy, according to Canguilhem, is called into being by a
difference in values -- that is, if we all shared the same values, we would
not be aware of the need for philosophy. In this sense, philosophy is an
extension and rationalization of the contingent. We should not forget that
Foucault never developped an axiology, or a systematic philosophy, and he
should not be faulted for what he did not intend. Foucault, after all, was
the philosopher of local struggles.
Values are by nature inequivalent, and it is disturbing to see
attempts to make them equivalent through a rationality: a schema to exorcise
power of its guilt. Power is pleasurable, and to be given an ethics, is the
pleasurable reception of a power.
The level of argument conducted so far really concerns Max Weber
more than Foucault.


Partial thread listing: