Re: Order of Things


I will also give it a try.

[>The fundamental codes of a culture - those governing its language,
>its schemas of perceptions, its exchanges, its techniques, its values, the
>hierarchy of its practices - establish for every man , from the very first,
>the empirical orders with which he will be dealing, and within which he
>will be at home.]

This is what may be termed as cultral a priori. For Foucualt it is both
historical and empirical. It establishes in any culture what is syable and
what is unsayable. It is much like Heidegger's concept of fore understanding
with the exception that it is more structured then Heidegger's 'fluid'
conception of pre understanding [may be explained by the influence of
structuralism on Foucault beside his Heideggerian deep roots].

People have trouble about such passages in Foucault mainly because they miss
the key Foucauldian innovation of combining a priori with empirical. These
structures are a priori to the extent that they historically define the
whole field of experience but they are emprical to the extent that they are
transcendentable and replaceable by wholly new a priori sturctures.

[ At the other extremity
>of thought, there are the scientific theories or the phloshophical
>interpretations which explain why order exists in general, what universal
>law it obeys, what principle can account for it, and why this particular
>order has been established and not some other.
>(Order of Things - Preface page xx).]

As far as the cultural a priori is concerned it is unthematized. But as
Kant's critique of pure reason testifies to it, what is unthematized can be
'thematized' in philosophical thought. Heidegger calls this enterprise
phenomenology. As Heidegger writes, "In the horizon of the Kantian problem
what is understood phenomenologically by the term phenomenon (disregarding
the other differences) can be illustrated when we say that what already
shows itself in appearence prior to and always accompanying what we commonly
understand as phenomenon, though unthematically, can be brought thematically
to self showing. What thus shows itself . . . are the phenomeonon of
phenomenology" (BT, section 7, p. 31 of the original and pp. 27-28 of Joan
Stambaugh trans.). In this context Focuault's cutlrual a priori can be
roughly understood as corresponding to Heidegger's pheonomeon (disregarding
differences) while phenomonology would correspond to the efforts of
thematizing that cutltural a priori and a priori order. But we also know
from Heidegger that pheonomonology can be turned into bad theorization where
it forgets its roots in a priori, where theory tries to level the ambiguites
and ambivalences of thought and tries to give a general account of the order
in transperent manner. I think with theories and philosophical
interpretations above, Focuault has these second sorts of endeavours in mind
which he distinguishes from thought proper, which would correspond more to
phenomenology in Heiddeger's sense.

Sorry if I have made it more complicated. But I did not have enough time and
did not have the OT available at the moment to check the context. Hope
meomory did not deceive me totally.

If you need any further clarifications please right back. Others are welcome
to correct me.


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