Re: Foucault and pragmatism, q&a

foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:
> I dont know how exactly Rorty is politically useful.

I'm not claiming that he is. I am not overly familiar with him, but my impression is that he is a hack who misunderstands the philosophies with which he attempts to deal. Because I find him useless, I don't make a study of him and I don't join Rorty e-mail lists. I am starting to wonder what the "point" of studying the work of Foucault for us. Why should we have it in our "toolbox", to revive the jargon from a previous Rorty discussion? I've had difficulty coming across discussions of how to employ Foucault "on the ground". Admittedly, any morality or politics is contingent to the theory, but we all have our moralities and our politics, and I am wondering how Foucault can be used to advance them.

> What is political?What is politically usefulness?

The question of what is political is irrelevant. Define it however you like, or don't define it all. As for usefulness, I've ansewered this already. Can I use anything taken away from a study of Foucault and his work to change future conditions. Dewey says that for the pragmatist, the utility of a proposal or theory is judged by the likelihood that it will contribute to the future conditions it seeks. Granted, Foucault's work does not inherently suggest any future conditions, but were one to apply them externally to his work (for example, with a movement to reform or abolish prisons), would that person find that using the work of Foucault make it more likely that his/her desired end is achieved? If so, how?

> The thinking precedes the acting.

All I have ever seen anyone do with Foucault, and this seems to be the criticism Rorty is making, is think. Surely someone will tell me that thinking is action. Perhaps. The question then is what difference does thinking make? Does it bring one closer to one's goal? Certainly, I can think about the way disciplinary power functions in a prison. What can I do with that knowledge. Merely thinking differently about it has certainly done nothing to help the prisoner (or the student, or the mental patient, etc.)

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