[Foucault-L] Habermas: Foucault deprives us of normative yardsticks with which to judge power regimes

Hi everyone,

I was wondering if someone might be able to clarify something for me.

Habermas was critical of Foucault both in theoretical and in a practical sense.He clearly had problems with the apparent paradox in Foucualt work: in a crude sense, power entails freedom but this freedom is illusory given that it isn't clear who would be the agent of said freedom. In his essay "Taking aim at the heart of the Present" after accusing Foucault of "instructive contradictions"; Habermas says the following:

"Equally instructive is another contradiction in which Foucualt becomes enmeshed. He contrasts his critique of power with the 'analysis of truth'in such a fashion that the former becomes deprived of the normative yardsticks that it would have to borrow from the latter".

I realise that both Habermas and Nancy Fraser felt that Foucault did not adequately distinguish between good and bad power regimes; in terms of the relative degrees of freedom and opportunities for resistance that they offered; particularly in light of his anti-humanism.In other words, they may have asked:where is the subject or agent in which we can ground our pursuit of freedom and ground our resistance.Moreover, I take it that they feel that his distinction between power relations and domination is insufficiently fine grained?

My question is, assuming that my construal is correct and with respect to the above bolded quote; what is Habermas getting at? Is Foucault's anti-humanism in some way connected with what Habermas refers to as ' the analysis of truth'?


Scott Nicholas
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