Re: Foucault and pragmatism

on 4/25/01 8:33 PM, kjd23@xxxxxxxxxxx at kjd23@xxxxxxxxxxx wrote:

> The question remains, however, does
> poststructuralism as a method have an ethical content or is it value
> neutral?

What is poststructuralism, though? If you mean Foucault and "his method"
then I don't think there is an intrinsic ethical content but instead a
contingent ethical content - ie it's impossible to use without "an ethics"
but that ethics is not itself part of "his method."

I think that a lot of Foucault's political commitments arise from a
combination of liberal normative values with post-liberal political

> This seems to be the critique leveled from folks on the left,
> that poststructuralism/ postmodernism has betrayed the Marxist/liberal
> cause by severing knowledge from praxis

Not severing, I think, but demonstrating how they are ALWAYS inherently
interconnected. You don't get to choose whether you have an ethics, but what
that ethics is.

> (think of Nussbaum's article
> where she says that Judith Butler is 'in league with the forces of
> evil!').

Yes but Nussbaum is just a moronic liberal who doesn't understand Butler.
See above.

> I think Foucault's work certainly suggests that he has certain
> political commitments (the plight of prisoners, workers, the mentally
> ill, and sexual minorities) but can these commitments be derived from his
> theories or are they a kind of Marxist/liberal residue?

Definitely, but they are always contingent commitments. What foundation do
they have? None, probably. Only an imported ethics.

> Butler at one
> point (I can get the citation) suggests that postmodernism has no
> normative base, that it is merely a set of methodological tools that
> could presumably be put in the service of good or bad causes, that the
> political/ethical content has to come from somewhere else. Any thoughts?

That's how I see it. In terms of being good/bad, I think Foucault has a
strong point in saying that nothing is good or bad but everything is
dangerous - any ideology can be manipulated and used either for good or bad.


Asher Haig ahaig@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Dartmouth 2004

"It would be helpful if we opened up ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge).
I think it's a mistake not to. And I would urge you all to travel up there
and take a look at it, and you can make the determination as to how
beautiful that country is."

-- Bush, referring to allowing Oil Drilling in the ANWR.
Press conference, Washington, D.C., March 29, 2001

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