Re: Megill (was: A Preface to Transgression)

My apologies if I'm going over stuff that is long gone, but the material
realities (taking Foucault at his word here and absenting scare quotes) of
my life ensure that weekends exclude me from the flow of the list.

Just a few minor points.

m wrote:

>I have a counter-proposal. Tell me what it is in Foucault, exactly,
>that prompts you to pose this question as specifically arising with respect
>to Foucault. I assume that you don't normally stop people in the street
>and demand that they justify their borders and debate them with you.
>And since you're doing it here, I assume there is an implicit Foucauldian
>reference behind it.

I would have thought this was obvious, but to reiterate it's the
anti-humanist, relativist, nihilist reading of F that the FI sells.

>Colin, to whom do you propose I should suggest that Foucault meant otherwise?
>To the Guy in Charge of the Foucault Industry? Give me the address and
>I'll write a letter of protest.

Specifically not the Guy in caharge of the FI, but more a concern to get
things right, or at least, as right as we can. I presume that no one wants
to suggest that F wrote cookbooks or manuals on how to fix cars, so we are
all assuming that F attempted to say something and that we may come to
understand it. Question is what?

>Meanwhile, what do you think about the "What is an Author" piece? Which
>sections do you like? Dislike? Agree with? Disagree with? Find difficult?
>Can't stomach? Get off on?

Well see above. If there really is no author then we might well be justified
in using F to cook up a storm in the kitchen. Furthermore, if the author
really is dead why on earth do so many people continue to cite, say F on
madness? seems to me you may as well cite my granny.

Murray wrote:

>As far as I can see, the problem is that at the end of the day these
>matters are rarely resolved by argument and persuasion, which is why
>Foucault regarded 'politics as the continuation of war by other means'.

That is precisely the problem. We have Foucault presented to us as a
concerned left-wing thinker. The question is, is his theoretical apparatus a
friend or enemy of the left? If F really leaves us in this Clautzwitchian
(sp!) position then we are returned to a Hobbesian/Machiavellian morass.
Just more of the same game we have been playing for centuries. The point is
that only those that have had their Enlightenment (white Europeam males
generally) can give it up.

John ransom on truth:

I totally disagree with John's reading of F's appraoch to truth. It trades
on a neglect of the very clear way in which F distinguishes between truth
and the thought of truth. Also it neglects F's claim that nothing is more
dangerous that a political regime that proclaims truth. More important is
that it is basically self erasing. For what we are being told is that the
truth is that there is no such things as truth (with a capital T). Yes we
have to reject a priori ethical formalism, but I think Doug is right that
behind every moral choice made by the most concerned Foucaultian is an
unthematised humanism. My point being that at least lets be honest about our
humanism. Lets put it on the table and argue about it.

Sean Hill wrote:
>> >Once again I think you are trying to force a morality into Foucault when
>> >instead he's trying, for the sake of analysis, to suspend moral judgements
>> >in his examination of these practices.

I have posted on this list time and time again my concerns that Foucault may
be a committed positivist. Time and time again this claim has either being
ignored or refuted. But time and time again the charge seems well founded.
The above displays F's explicit commitment to the fact/value distinction.
Just how do you suspend values when doing research?

Finally, on the metaphor of the priest and the inquistion. I suppose that I,
and perhaps Doug, are being assigned the role of the priest here. But I
think that the boot is entirely on the other foot, for there is nothing
inquisitional about refusing to take arguments simply on faith. The high
priests of the FI (if I may be allowed to go into polemical mode) are the
ones at error here, not the inquisitors, who simply want some very simple,
basic, but important questions answered, rather than accept the words of the
Lord on faith. I won't hold my breath however waiting for an answer to the
question of what demarcates a good from a bad transgression. And if any
answers do come I'll expose the humanism which underpins them.



Colin Wight
Department of International Politics
University of Wales, Aberystwyth
SY23 3DA


  • Re: Megill (was: A Preface to Transgression)
    • From: Murray K. Simpson
  • Re: Megill (was: A Preface to Transgression)
    • From: John Ransom
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