Re: [Foucault-L] Lack of examples

I had the same problem with the lack of examples about what exactly an
"enonce" is, as well as for other concepts of Foucault's. I also find many
studies on Foucault useless when one wishes to actually put Foucault into
use. Many comments are highly philosophical, and surely of high quality, but
not really good guidelines for a practitioner. After drawing in this kind of
literature, my motto has been to read Foucault by myself, and try to figure
out in practice how his ideas work.
As I am actually trying to put into practice his method, I did a lot of
thinking on my own, a lot of prosaic thinking that is. The problem is not
only that he does not give very concrete examples in AK, he did not really
state clearly either in OT, what parts were e,g. "enonces" or "strategies".
The reason for this lack of examples, I think, is also that it is not easy
to think about an example concretely. I think that one has to bear in mind
that the "enonce" is not visible, it is neither written nor said. But it is
not hidden either; it is there.
The example of the typewriter is puzzling at first, but after some careful
thinking, thinking in practice, it is quite brilliant. Let's say that the
letters on the typewriter are words in a text. An "enonce" is not one
letter, or a series of letter written. You cannot quote an "enonce" from a
text. But because of the particular order the letters have, e.g. QWERTY, you
can see that it's not entirely due to chance. There are some rules behind
this order. These rules are the ones that constitutes the "archive", or more
rightly the "archive" creates rules. There you only have the "intuition"
that there is something behind. This is why Foucault also gives four
conditions for constituting an "enonce". These conditions were summed up in
my previous contribution. Finally, in order to be sure that there is an
"enonce", one has to bear in mind that they are very rare, fairly constant
through time, constantly repeting themselves, and not easily subjected to
change. Again see my previous contribution for further details.
Furthermore, I recommend Deleuze's study on Foucault, if it is available in
English (Deleuze, Gilles. Foucault. Paris: Minuit, 1986). He makes a
specific study of the "enonce". He gives again the example that Foucault
used to introduce his archaeology of human sciences. The disposition of
animals in the following categories: a) belonging to the Emperor, etc. is an
"enonce" because it is about our way (our past way) of thinking our
relations to animals, to nature, to the world, in other words our
perceptions of the world, how we "ordered things". For Deleuze, Foucault's
concept of the "enonce" is the core of his new "science" that is his
"archaeology". The "enonce" points to a "way of thinking" or a new "form of
knowledge (savoir)" (bear in mind Foucault's idiosyncratic conception of
"knowledge" i.e. "savoir", as the "space" in which discursive practices and
"eononces" are applied, and that exercise a clout on sciences, but is not
equal to scientific knowledge).
So to take again this type writer example, it is an "enonce" because there
is a certain "way of thinking" behind it, this particular order the letters
take answers to certain conceptions of our "knowledge". But it is not
written on the typewriter, and it is nonetheless not hidden either because
you can see the order. I couldn't say which "way of thinking" it represents,
but the person making an archaeology of universal metric systems, or on
universalism in Western civilisation, could find it interesting, and reveal
why the English use QWERTY, the French AZERTY, and the Germans QWERTZ as
"universal" standards, i.e. what ways of thinking "universality" different
countries have.

Hope it helps. Again, all this is only my common sense, and my own views on
Foucault, and I may be wrong.
Frank Ejby Poulsen

  • [Foucault-L] RE : Lack of examples
    • From: Gagnon François
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