R: Enlightenment (was Re: Postmodernism & Liberalism)

-----Messaggio originale-----
Da: Jude Hollins <jlhollin@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
A: foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx <foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Data: Saturday, March 13, 1999 7:39 PM
Oggetto: Enlightenment (was Re: Postmodernism & Liberalism)

>You've got mail!
>What a "discussion." Both Mr. Pithouse's and Mr. Roberts' passion resonate
>with me. This initial student commentary certainly has its problems, but
>what of this verbiage: "Postmodernism is a passive site of resistance."
>Fascinating what stirs dialog 'round here. :(
>The student who wrote the initial article might be helped if s/he read F's
>"What is Enlightenment?" (and learned to do more sympathetic readings). I
>try to revisit that F piece, in thinking about tensions/differences between
>"Liberalism" and Foucault. I keep going back. Years now, and things are
>not clearer.

There must be something there that keeps sending you back. What is it?

>"...an attitude, an ethos, a philosophical life in which the critique of
>what we are is at one and the same time the historical analysis of the
>limits that are imposed on us and an experiment with the possibility of
>going beyond them." F- What is Enlightenment? (C.Porter translation)

Seems straightforward to me. What's unclear?

>What is "postmodernism" anyway? Is this Q answered via more citations?

Well, this has been written about. I mean it's not as if the academy that
everyone so whimsically dismisses with thoughtless contempt hasn't wrestled
with some of these issues. The answers aren't always neat. But there's
enough conceptual material out there to make this a term with enough content
to make it useful to intellectual inquiry. There can be heuristic value to a
wide variety of kinds of terms, some of them looser than others. None of
this is so strange or without precedent.

Thus, in case anyone's happened to miss them, there is

Huyssen, A (1984), "Mapping the Postmodern", _New German Critique_, 33.
Jameson, F (1989), "Marxism and Postmodernism", _New Left Review_,
Number 176.
Jameson, F (1988), "Cognitive Mapping", in C Nelson and L Grossberg
(eds), _Marxism and the
Interpretation of Culture_, London, Macmillan
Jameson, F (1984), "Postmodernism or the Cultural Logic of Late
Capitalism", _New Left Review_,
Number 146
Kellner, D (1988), "Postmodernism as Social Theory: Some Challenges and
Problems", _Theory,
Culture and Society_, Volume 5, Numbers 2 and 3.

In addition there's Stephen K. White, Political Theory and Postmodernism
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), and Barry Smart's very
thoughtful _Postmodernity_ (London: Routledge, 1993). And there's plenty
more. The question isn't answered with citations, but when actually read the
works above would give anyone, I imagine, plenty to work with conceptually.

>Honestly, I struggle, especially with the extended war (in Higher Ed)
>around this term. I think I could be convinced that it implies a
>Condition, yet I tend to agree with Bruno Latour regarding the
>proliferation of "hybrids": That "we" have never actually _been_ Modern.
>One thing is for sure, the discussion of political situations is worth
>every ounce of blood and passion. imho. What can we say about the kinds
>of discussions we have, here in 1999?
>Oh, to be the most Radical in the Room, slaying the bigger Dragon. I
>suppose that being an American feeds my cynicism. "Theory in America" may
>imply a more direct relationship with Higher Ed Reading industries than
>elsewhere. The huge grad student Niche Markets and intermediate level,
>undergraduate textbook markets... (add the small niche, cosmopolitan,
>coffee table, Barnes and Noble-type, bathroom, art-scene,
>often-multi-lingual, and politically active savants).

Yes but surely intellectuals of this kind have always played an important
role in oppositional thought.

>Accordingly, I'm curious about how folks approach TEACHING Foucault. I
>have in mind 18 year olds, and not just the charming 5% who "get it" right
>away for whatever reasons. This too is part of history and the ironic
>Enlightenment project. Who here hasnt "used" Foucault?

I teach in a liberal arts college and Foucault is no problem. One sign of
Foucault's greatness as a thinker is his ability to write a book like
_Discipline and Punish_ in a way that allows readers to respond to a variety
of levels.

Habermas, by contrast, is very difficult, though not impossible. He works
his ideas out in dialgoue with the views of others and it's easy to lose the
thread and end up feeling utterly bogged down. But Foucault isn't like that.
Which isn't to say that Foucault isn't complex. Another author the students
like is Marcuse. With Marcuse you have someone talking on a much more
'systemic' level than with Foucault, and yet I've seen a lot of students
respond positively to Marcuse.

>"This philosophical attitude has to be translated into the labor of diverse
>inquiries." -F
>My impression was that some dragons just conquer, others protect booty.
>Many do both in the supernatural ways they do the things they do. Don't
>some even talk?

Protecting booty is not a waste of time. Zarathustra also honors the camel!

>But, then again, what do I know about dragons or their relationships with
>Telos for that matter. That's right. We Bad. We Bad.

Dragons conquer in supernatural ways? Dam up that stream of consciousness!

-- John

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