Re: Foucault and pragmatism

Hmmm good thoughts. One problem with Rorty is that he seems to look at
Proust, Nietzsche, Heidegger, as having an infinite ability for
self-creation. I think Foucault demonstrates that the panopticon sets up a
disciplinary environment that makes this significantly more difficult.

One thing about Rorty that disgusts me is the way he conceives of ethics
(HEIDI RIMKE - this is what we discussed!). Rorty collapses ethics into
disciplinary norms, and argues simply that ethical acts are ones that "we"
do, and that unethical acts are ones whose practicioners become outcasts.


----- Original Message -----
From: <kjd23@xxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: <foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2001 5:33 PM
Subject: Re: Foucault and pragmatism

> What kind of normative presuppositions are needed to make a claim about
> usefulness? That is: "useful for what?" "useful for whom?" I can't hear
> utility evoked in a discussion about Foucault without thinking of his
> critique of Bentham's panopticon, the notion that 'utility' was the
> driving force behind the techniques of disciplinary modernization he
> relates in Discipline and Punish. The question remains, however, does
> poststructuralism as a method have an ethical content or is it value
> neutral? 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 (think of Nussbaum's article
> where she says that Judith Butler is 'in league with the forces of
> evil!'). 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? 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?
> On Wed, 25 Apr 2001, Andrew Brokos wrote:
> > The question is not whether thinking differently is political, but
whether it is politically useful. It is all well and good for academics to
proclaim that our new thinking has great political implications, but how
exactly has thinking in a new way about, to take a particularly relevant
example to Foucault, prisons, actually contributing to any kind of
change/improvement (or is Foucault even useful for determining what would
constitute an improvement?). For the pragmatist, the final question is one
of utility- thinking differently does nothing to help the mental patients
whom even Foucault admits are treated badly. Foucault was involved in
political action surrounding prisons, perhaps someone can enlighten us on
what exactly his involvement was? It may not have been the liberal politics
that Rorty recommends, but then Rorty is not really the best representative
of "American pragmatism". He paints Dewey, for example, as much more of a
conventional liberal than he actually was!
> . !
> > !
> > I wonder if anyone has an opinion about Dewey, as opposed to Rorty.
Dewey seems at some basic level to converge with Foucault. Dewey is critical
of science's truth claims and of the division between the humanities and the
social sciences. Dewey and Foucault both have a much more radical conception
of democracy than what either saw in America or France. My question, then,
is what exactly are the politics of thinking differently, and how do they
relate to the goals of Deweyan, rather than Rortyan, pragmatism?
> >
> > foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:
> > >
> > > Yes, to think different is poltical position in the
> > > age of mass thinking; its the philosophy in the
> > > policy.In this sense foucault is polticaly usefull.But
> > > an american pragmatist can not understand that.
> > > -
> > > Zhivko
> > > >
> > >
> > >
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