Re: What's wrong with Hegel? (Foucault's _Archaeology..._)

GMCMILLAN@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:
> By the end of "discourse on Language_, Foucault seems to be going
> mad himself over the impossibilty of ever having a philosophy that
> isn't Hegelian...(_Archaeology of Knowledge_, p. 236).

> Why is he so upset with Hegel?

> Is the point of the whole study of madness in _Archaeology..._ to
> refute Hegel's methods and philosophy?

> I'm curious as to why Foucault feels this strong antipathy,
> frustration, and helplessness regarding Hegel.

Foucault's frustration with what he saw in the text you
mention as the inevitability _a_ Hegelianism is in part explained by
the strength of Alexandre Kojeve in twentieth century France.

I was happy to find the passage from David Macey's _The
Lives of Michel Foucault_ which your message brought to mind

(begin quote)

The Hegel who was so dominant in the years Foucault spent at
ENS was largely a French creation, and his first creator was
Alexandre Kojeve, whose lectures on the _Phenomenology of Mind_ at
the Ecole Practique des Hautes Etudes between 1933 and 1939 had a
formative influence on everyone from Georges Bataille and Andre
Breton to Klossowski and Lacan. A summary of the lectures based
upon notes taken by Raymond Queneau (and approved by Kojeve)
appeared in 1947 and brought the previously legendary reading of
Hegel into the public domain. Kojeve's reading produces a violent
Hegel, the author of what Vincent Descombes terms a "terrorist"
conception of history. This Hegel is the theorist of the unhappy
consciousness, of the master-slave dialectic and of the struggle
unto death for recognition and the anthropoligist of desire.

(end quote)

While this passage may immediately suggest that there is
little reason for Foucault to want to "get beyond" Kojevean
Hegelianism (after all, Foucault himself used some of the ideas
outlined above), another passage by Kojeve quoted in Fukuyama's _The
End of History and the Last Man_ (67), which is based on a Kojevean
reading of Hegel, may make Foucault's reasons more clear.

(begin quote)

Observing what was taking place around me and reflecting on
what had taken place in the world since the Battle of Jena, I
understood that Hegel was right to see in this battle the end of
History properly so-called. In and by this battle the vanguard of
humanity virtually attained the limit and the aim, that is, the end,
of Man's historical evolution. What has happened since then was but
and extension in space of the universal revolutionary force
actualized in France by Robspierre-Napoleon. From the authentically
historical point of view, the two world wars with their retinue of
large and small revolutions had only the effect of bringing the
backward civilizations of the peripheral provinces into line with
the most advanced (real or virtual) European historical positions.

(end quote)

To be frank, I must backpedal a bit and say that I cannot be
sure exactly what makes Kojevean Hegelianism so awful that Foucault
would lament not being able to avoid it. At the very least,
however, this passage from Kojeve--in conjunction with Kojeve's
reputation in twentieth century France and Foucault's desire to
avoid "Hegelianism"--strongly suggests that Foucault's work was very
much an attempt to demonstrate that History did in fact not end at
the Battle of Jena. The persistent focus of much of his work on the
subtle and obscure dynamics of social relations in France since
Revolution (or thereabouts) implies that Foucault was trying to
show, by means of focusing on the micro-dialectic of power (the
concrete and specific) rather than the macro (the grand historical),
that domination has not vanished and human social evolution is not


What's wrong with Hegel? (Foucault's _Archaeology..._), GMCMILLAN
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