Re: power

At 07:43 PM 3/22/96 -0500, you wrote:
>I'm replying to James Stranger's comments.
>I think Deluze's book on foucault, particularly the third section,
>is a particularly good analysis of the philosophic context of F's
>concept of power.
>Roy Roussel SUNY/Buffalo

Yes, Deleuze's treatment of Foucault and power is interesting, and it seems
to have become a standard reading. I'm glad you brought it up.
However, it is different than the critique that I suggested.
Deleuze treats Foucault's issue of power in terms of plenitude. In other
words, after reading Deleuze on Foucault, you still get the sense that
reading Foucault's ideas on power (or Deleuze's insights on power, as it
were--Deleuze is almost always the more direct and clear explicator of
Foucault than anyone I know) will in some way make you a better person, or
make one's relation to the world more clear. This is a very standard stance
in philosophy, and I can't help but think such a conclusion and stance would
make Foucault nervous.
I don't think that Foucault's philosophy is meant to be like a
post-modern (or post-structuralist) version of L. Ron Hubbard's -Dianetics-
in the sense that people can say, 'hey, read this Foucault book--it will
make everything seem better, especially when you understand the nature of
I think Foucault's concept of power is much more complex, and maybe
even more fuzzy, than this. I don't mean to say that Hubbard and Foucault
are related (egad!). I just mean that to me, Foucault didn't advance his
ideas on power in order to advance solutions and ways out of power, even
though many in American academia seem bent on reading him this way.
I know that Foucault was involved in many arenas, including prison
reform. However, I think that his use of the word 'power' tends to raise
far more questions about philosophy, subjectivity and general epistemic
questions than it can possibly answer. Even if Foucault had lived longer,
he never could have answered all of the questions that his use of the word
raised. Therefore, it is possible that Foucault's use of the word' is more
an enabling trope that helped him to begin his writing on history and
philosophy. The idea that a heretofore "philosophical" term might simply be
a self-consuming artefact has been advanced with regards to Nietzsche by
Bernd Magnus, Jean-Pierre Mileur and Stanley Stewart in -Neitzsche's Case-.
I think it is possible that in regards to power, the same thing is operative
in Foucault's writing.

Thanks for your suggestion, Roy--those earlier scholars who posted the
questions and discussions on power are certainly well-advised to read
Deleuze about Foucault.
--James Stanger, University of California at Riverside


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