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

My original question was trying to counter the complaint that Foucault sees everything as a construction with no role for "human nature". From the responses so far and from my own reading, I would think that he is not so much interested in debating the actual reality of things such as mental illness, human behavior, etc, but rather show that how we perceive these phenomena is often dependent on cultural epistemological formations that are unique to certain time periods or arose over several time periods (Christianity, Greco-Roman thought, etc; crude examples).
Many dismiss Foucault for not looking at "simple human nature" for the cause as to why people act the way they do. A problematic claim but it exists and most people seem to take "human nature" to be a fundamental given.
The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker had this specific criticism of Foucault and other "postmoderns" such as Butler and Adorno (both radically different). Its been quite popular with many readers though.
On Mar 5, 2010, at 3:11 PM, Edward Comstock wrote:

I suppose I'm somewhat confused by the original question. It seems to me
that if Foucault thought we had a knowable human nature, he would also
think that we would have a firm transcendental grounding on which to base
an empirical knowledge about man, which is precisely what he does not

It also seems to me that even what we call human nature or look for is
going to change based on different knowledge practices, such that the
question can only be answered within given systems of knowledge. Foucault,
after all, for instance, believed that modern medicine presented valid
abstractions against which we could gain usefull knowedges. But I dont'
take this to mean that he believes modern medicine to be "true" in the
absolute sense.

Ed Comstock
College Writing Program
Department of Literature
American University
The easy possibility of letter writing must--seen theoretically--have
brought into the world a terrible dislocation of souls. It is, in fact, an
intercourse with ghosts, and not only with the ghost of the recipient, but
also with one's own ghost... How on earth did anybody get the idea that
people can communicate with each other by letter!--Franz Kafka
Foucault-L mailing list

Re: [Foucault-L] foucault and "human nature", Matt Wootton
Re: [Foucault-L] foucault and "human nature", Thomas Lord
Re: [Foucault-L] Foucault and "human nature", Edward Comstock
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