Re: Materialism/Idealism...

Matt wrote:
>Not that there is no 'ideology', but that once something gains the status
>of reality, truth, natural, 'taken for granted'... , it cannot be within
>the realm of ideology because it is precisely these notions which inscribe
>reality in the first place (?). So, you see, I have a question. Is there
>still a place for ideology here? What about those notions within the
>'games of truth' that are questionable or on shaky ground or are thought by
>some to be wrong but nevertheless have force? What about statements that
>are given the status of fiction? Or, perhaps there is no room here for
>ideology. Or, perhaps there is room for ideology, but it is realtively

The above suggests a rather narrow and particular reading of the term
ideology, that is, a reading that equates ideology with a mere "lie." But
Marx or for that matter Althusser (to whom Foucault is deeply indebted)
does not use ideology in this sense. How is the Foucauldian concept of
discourse different from the Althusserian one of ideology? In many ways
they look and work very much alike. Both focus on material practices as
opposed to "false notions implanted in consciousness." Both basically imply
that discourse/ideology constitutes what people take to be reality, truth,
a natural state of affairs to be taken for granted. (It must be said,
however, Foucault often ends up conflating the epistemological--what people
take to be reality--with the ontological--reality, as it has been pointed
out by Terry Eagleton, Christopher Norris, etc.)

The major differences between them are the following.

1) Foucault doesn't counterpose science to discourse/ideology. He probably
thought that doing so would merely get us 'deeper' in a game of truth and
ruse of power (though the depth metaphor here is rather infelicitous, given
the subject in question: the rhetoric of 'depth' in bourgeois

2) Foucault doesn't seem to think it important to ask a question about
interests: who benefits from a discourse/ideology in question? In fact, the
very paradigm of Foucauldian analysis tends to generate an effect of
discouraging us from asking this very question. However, the periodization
on which Foucault relies in his examination of sexuality, interiority, etc.
does imply that it is the rise and development of industrial capitalism
that gave rise to the discourse/ideology that interests him so much.

One more point. Have you guys read Nancy Fraser's _Unruly Practice_? I
think that her critique of Foucault, which says that Foucault implicitly
depends on normative ideals which the seeming value-neutrality of his
explicit writings disavow, is a must read regarding the question of the
status and function of critique vis-a-vis discourse/ideology.


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