Re: [Foucault-L] foucault and "human nature"

There's a passage from an interview that Foucault gave (in 1967, I think), which may help to shed some light on his understanding of "human nature."

The passage comes from 'Who are you, Professor Foucault?' in Carrette, J. R. (ed.) Religion and Culture, Manchester, 1999: 87-104, and it reads:

We have to resign ourselves to taking, faced with mankind, a position similar to the one taken towards the end of the eighteenth century with regard to other living species, when it was realised that they did not function for someone – neither for themselves, nor for man, nor for God – but that they quite simply functioned. Organisms function. Why do they function? In order to reproduce? Not at all. To keep alive? No more for this reason. They function. They function in a very ambiguous way, in order to live but also in order to die, since it is well known that the functioning which makes life possible is a functioning which constantly wears matter out, in such a way that it is precisely that which makes possible life which at the same time produces death. Species do not function for themselves, nor for man, nor for the greater glory of God; they confine themselves to functioning. The same thing may be said of the human species. Mankind is a species endowed with a nervous system such that to a certain point it can control its functioning. And it is plain that this possibility of control continuously raises the idea that mankind must have a purpose. We discover that purpose insofar as we have the possibility of controlling our own functioning. But this is to turn things around. We tell ourselves: as we have a purpose, we must control our functioning; whereas in reality it is only on the basis of this possibility of control that ideologies, philosophies, systems of metaphysics, religions can appear, which provide a certain image able to focus this possibility of controlling functioning...It is the possibility of control which gives rise to the idea of purpose. But mankind has in reality no purpose, it functions, it controls its own functioning, and it continually creates justifications for this control. We have to resign ourselves to admitting that these are only justifications. Humanism is one of them, the last one’ (RAC: 102).

I see no evidence that Foucault ever radically revised this position.


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    Re: [Foucault-L] foucault and "human nature", Mehmet Kentel
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