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

life, once again, has a purpose, and man can take up his rightful place at the center of all things...

> -----Original Message-----
> From: kevin.turner@xxxxxxxxx
> Sent: Thu, 4 Mar 2010 23:30:00 -0800
> To: foucault-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Subject: 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.
> Regards,
> Kevin.
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  • Re: [Foucault-L] foucault and "human nature"
    • From: Chathan Vemuri
  • Replies
    Re: [Foucault-L] foucault and "human nature", Mehmet Kentel
    [Foucault-L] foucault and "human nature", Chetan Vemuri
    Re: [Foucault-L] foucault and "human nature", Teresa Mayne
    Re: [Foucault-L] foucault and "human nature", Kevin Turner
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