The dialectic must be broken

On Tue, 23 Jan 1996, Erik D Lindberg wrote:

> I guess what I am trying to move toward
> is some sort of dialectical understanding. Any dialectic does not leave
> the initial sides intact. But you know what, THAT'S OKAY. My
> Foucauldianism can use some growth (Foucault would approve); social
> policy can use some redirection, even if preceeded by the disorienation
> that an encounter with a Foucauldian might bring.
> dialectically yours,
> Erik

I find this nostalgia for the return of the dialectic kiind of
interesting, and jsut a bit disturbing. I first came across this
attitude a couple of years ago when Fredrick Jameson was in town to give
a lecture. In the lecture he characterized the 70's as a time when the
dialectic had been broken and he specifically attributed this effect to
Foucault. He then went on to say that today the dialectic had been
reconfigured and re-invigorated, but he gave no indication of how this
miraculous renewal might have occured. So afterwards I went up and
asked him just how this happened and he blew me off with some fascile
non-sense that now we have the historical perspective to be dialectical
again and he still wanted to hold to his account that Foucault had indeed
disrupted the dialectic in some fundamental fashion. More recently
there's been quit a bit of talk, both on this list and on the marxism
list as well as in the popular academic press, about the death of
post-modernism and the return of the dialectic. In general I'm puzzled
by all of this and I find it particularly odd here. After all, there is
a consistent attempt in Foucault to assault dialectical positions and the
closer they imply. As but one example here's a bit from "What is
Enlightenment", " [does not have] to be "for" or against the
Enlightenment. It even means that one has to refuse everything that
might present itself in the form of a simplistic and authoritarian
alternative: you either accept the Enlightenmetn and remainwithin the
tradition of its rationalism (this is considered a positive term by some
and used by other, on the contrary, as a reproach); or else you criticize
the Enlightenment and then try to escape from its principles of
rationality (which may be seen once again as good or bad). And we do not
break free of this blackmail by introducing "dialectical nuances while
seeking to determine what good and bad elements there may be in the

So I guess my question is -- is the nostalgia for the dialectic the
symptom of an inability to deal with Nietzsche, or maybe not an
inability but a desire not to want to have to deal with Nietzsche as he
occures in Foucault; or, on a broader plain, a desire to maintain a
certainty and an easy clarity within the history of philosophy which just
doesn't stand in the face of Nietzschean implications?



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