Re: Megill (was: A Preface to Transgression)

Colin Wight wrote:
> 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?
I would agree with Sean that, at least in his earlier works, Foucault
was trying to something like this, albeit unsuccessfully and possibly
only ironically. However, I think his later accounts are more realistic
in terms of what he was doing and what could be done. Foucault
describes his genealogical and archaeological works as 'fictions' and
'experience books' (Remarks on Marx). In them he attempts to strip
social and discursive practices of their self-evidence, so they are
'normative' right? Well no not really. Okay Foucault has a perspective
on these things (madness, medicine, criminology, sexuality) which comes
>from somewhere, may have enough stability to be called a position, but I
am going to conveniently bracket this. In these experience books,
Foucault does not say, 'stop doing/believing A and start doing/believing
B', which would be a normative statement. All Foucault tries to do is
to alter our perceptions of A in the hope that this will disrupt it and
create alternative unstated and unthought possibilities. So in the
sense that Foucault is not attempting to replace one set of normative
standards with another, his critique is not 'normative'.

In addition, Foucault's conception of his critical practice as an
ongoing struggle with power with a constant redefinition of tactics,
positions, and strategies, or an 'agonism', ought to be brought in
here. In it I think Foucault does manage to resist the charge of
maintaining the fact-value distinction. Whether he manages to rescue
his earliest works from their self-proclaimed detachment is another
question, although I think it was never real in any case - and so much
the better for that.

Best wishes



Murray K. Simpson,
Department of Social Work,
Frankland Building,
The University of Dundee,
Dundee DD1 4HN,
United Kingdom.

tel. 01382 344948
fax. 01382 221512
e.mail m.k.simpson@xxxxxxxxxxxx

Re: Megill (was: A Preface to Transgression), Colin Wight
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