Re: [Foucault-L] Foucault: philosopher or historian?


Honestly, I don't care if Foucault was an ''historian'' or a
''philosopher'' or only a original thinker. It does'not change the way I
understand the texts, and I think it should not. The only way to understand
who was Foucault would be to be him... I'ts just plain impossible, so I read
the text and try to make sense of them. I studied philosophy, so I
understand thoses texts in a philosophical perspective. I do not believe I
will ever be able to find ''the'' original meaning of the texts, so I just
want to have a reading which is both coherend and comprehensive.

Then, I must say that (rightly) pointing out Archeology was completed with
Genealogy in order to put aside a discussion is, well, not very welcome on
my part. I mean, sure you can discard a discussion on Newton by saying
Einstein replaced his theory, but then, you're not discussing Newton any
longuer. The topic was on ''énoncés'' and the archeology of knowledge, and I
propose that, if you wish to start a discussion on genealogy, you start a
new thread. This is just to be able to have a discussion which will not go
everywhere at once.

I hope I do not sound rude, it is only a proposal in order to keep things


Jean-François Mongrain

2007/9/20, Flemming Bjerke <lister@xxxxxxxxx>:
> tor, 20 09 2007 kl. 01:03 -0800, skrev Kevin Turner:
> > on the question of whether Foucault was a philosoher or historian, you
> > should check out the discussion between Gary Gutting
> > ( and Béatrice Han
> > (
> > 202003-05.pdf).
> >
> > Personally, I think Foucault was both a philosopher and a historian
> > and thus not quite either or more that either.
> I don't really feel it important whether he is a historian or a
> philosopher. But, Han's critique of Foucault doesn't appear to dismiss
> Foucault. Han writes:
> > Dreyfus and Rabinow both agree with you that "Foucault certainly does
> > not want to say that the rules are followed by the speakers" (MF, 81);
> > they even take up the example of grammar themselves to suggest that
> > compliance to grammatical rules is neither conscious nor reflective
> > (MF, 82). However, they deny that the grammatical model can be
> > extended to social regularities in the sense that it requires either a
> > causal efficacy (Chomsky or Lévi Strauss), or that one should see the
> > rules in a much weaker sense, as merely "descriptive approximations"
> > devised to specify the norms sustained by social practices themselves
> > (Wittgenstein, Heidegger). Both options are rejected by Foucault: the
> > first, because he asserts that the rules must not be understood in
> > terms of causal determination (cf. quote above, AK, 73-74). The
> > second, because of his postulate that the rules can (and must) be
> > analysed at the sole level of discourses, and not in their connection
> > to social practices (these will only be taken into account after the
> > genealogical turn). Therefore, Dreyfus and Rabinow conclude that, as
> > the rules of the historical a priori rely neither on physical
> > causality nor on non discursive practices, one should reject the idea
> > that they are prescriptive, and understand them as merely
> > descriptive: they must be "rules which serve to systematise the
> > phenomena, that statements can be given coherence according to
> > them" (MF, 81). However, this conflicts with the many places in which
> > Foucault also attributes to them their own specific efficacy, and
> > claims that the historical a priori "makes possible and governs" the
> > formation of discourses (AK, 72), and that statements "obey" (AK,
> > 108) its rules.
> >
> I don't think this is convincing: Discourses are discursive practices.
> Practices are social. Thus, discourses are social practices. No doubt
> they are a special brand of social pracitices and therefore requires
> special treatment. Han rejects Foucault's regularity concept because
> Foucault does not accept any the following two concepts: "social
> regularities ... that ... requires either a causal efficacy" and "...
> "descriptive approximations" devised to specify the norms sustained by
> social practices themselves". She lets out a third opportunity: social
> rules that are cogent for intellegibility, but do not determine what
> you say? That is exactly the way I understand Foucault's enounces.
> Eventually, Han says:
> > You're right that, independently of the reconstructions I have
> > offered, many of my criticisms implicitly rest on the idea that
> > archaeology and genealogy need foundations that Foucault fails to
> > provide. I'll readily grant that this is per se a debatable
> > assumption, the validity of which depends on what is meant by
> > "foundation". Obviously, there can be no foundation in the sense of a
> > metaphysical ground, an underlying principle which would unify the
> > whole of Foucault's thought in such a way that all his assertions
> > could be traced back, one way or another, to that ground.
> That is, she admits that her "foundationalism" is debateable.
> So, what is left, is that Han says that Foucault's works to some extent
> is inconsistent. Fine, something is left to do.
> Flemming
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  • Re: [Foucault-L] Foucault: philosopher or historian?
    • From: Kevin Turner
  • Replies
    [Foucault-L] Foucault: philosopher or historian?, Kevin Turner
    Re: [Foucault-L] Foucault: philosopher or historian?, Flemming Bjerke
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