Foucault and the problem of argument

As they say in the classics, 'long time listener first
time caller'...

after maintaining a certain passivity with respect of
this on-line discussion group I feel compelled to
intervene in the list's consideration of the problem
of nationalism and the recent history of the Balkins.

First, I wish to commend Dr Stuart Elden for his
efforts over a very long time in drawing participants
back to the analysis of Foucault's primary texts and
the range of debates and polemics that have emerged
from this body of work. I lot of what passes for
serious debate on this list appears to feature some
very idiosyncratic interpretations of Foucault's core
arguments and whilst naturally one should encourage
the application and development of Foucault's
genealogies I believe such a project should start from
honest and charitable exegesis and explication of
Foucault's principal works. Dr Elden has been tireless
in his efforts in encouraging list participants to
return to these basic epistemological and pedagogical
principles and I for one look forward to his
contributions to the on-going development of
Foucault's thought.

Now before you accuse me of sycophancy, I know there
are many, many participants on this list who maintain
a very strict and sober propriety with respect of this
task. Nonetheless, I suppose I have felt impelled to
draw our collective attention to the importance of
this most basic feature of good scholarship given the
recent cacophony of outrage upon the postings of Mr
Jivko Georgiev. Now I know very little of the complex
history of the region, so I wont comment on some of
the vissisitudes of recent postings on the subject.
And, of course, Jivko has every right to offer his own
rather unique interpretation of Foucault's work;
afterall, the list exists to encourage foucauldian
scholarship and open debate.

Want I do want to do is echo Dr Elden's consistent
calls for more careful and dare I say scholarly
appraisal of Foucault's writings. It is so tiresome to
read yet another bewildering treatment of what
Foucault 'really meant'. Whilst none of us holds the
patent on the true and incontrovertible essence of the
foucauldian oeuvre I believe we all need to remain
cautious, humble and resolute in this great collective
enterprise of foucauldian inquiry. Without wishing to
sound like yet another turtle-necked wanker, I'm sure
we all came to Foucault because he offers us a way
forward in our efforts to cultivate a certain self and
a certain politics, let's not undermine such efforts
in senseless distortions of what he did or did not


cameron duff
university of melbourne

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