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

You didn’t sound rude – you were rude. Not because of the tone of your post, but because you make far too much of the little I said, and attribute to me things I didn’t say. Such is the way of things

- K.

P.S. Take a look at the subject heading of the emails – a new thread?

> -----Original Message-----
> From: jean.frm@xxxxxxxxx
> Sent: Thu, 20 Sep 2007 14:30:47 -0400
> To: foucault-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Subject: Re: [Foucault-L] Foucault: philosopher or historian?
> Hi,
> 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
> clear.
> Regards,
> 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: Jean-François Mongrain
  • Replies
    Re: [Foucault-L] Foucault: philosopher or historian?, Flemming Bjerke
    Re: [Foucault-L] Foucault: philosopher or historian?, Jean-François Mongrain
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