Re: Re[4]: Reading Order of Things - prefaces

I have always found the explanation of methodology in the preface to
be more a matter of theoretical/methodological stance, rather than a
description of subjects and
discourse to be taken literally. I believe Foucualt is suggesting, that in
order to understand discourses, and how such discourses represent and define
certain conceptual boundaries, one must suspend the belief that every speaker
says something unique in his or her discourse. That is, we must imagine
that subjects speak in certain discursive formations (boundaries),
representative as such discursive conceptions as madness, illness, order, to
be found in certain historical periods. Not that every subject in such
discursive areas
speak of exactly the same things (differences of degree, rather than of kind),
but that such differences can be bracketed,
in order to analyze the conceptual similarities of a time and place.
Foucault's theory of the subject supports such an enterprise, by suggesting
that subjects are constructed within myriad discursive/power formations.
As such, as a matter of methodology, we can imagine that individuals speaking
in certain discursive formations are constructed within similar formations, and
thus, speak of the same things (share the same conceptions), by and large.
Foucualt's political project suggests that he really does not believe that
subjects are entirely constructed (he holds out hope for self-creation),
suggesting that he knew this was a methodological/theoretical device to ground his critiques of liberal society, rather
than a comleterly accurate depiction of subjects and discourse (necessary
abstraction to prove a larger philosophical point about liberal societies).
What do you all think?

Greg Coolidge
University of Calif., Riverside


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