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

I agree with Kevin. The passage is perhaps a little bit overdone in its polemic against the humanists, but it is certainly for real.
It was an interview in Italian or at least published in Italian
'Che cos'è Lei Professor Foucault?' an interview by Caruso, P., first date of publication 28 September 1967 in: La Fiera Letteraria, XLII, no.39, pp.11-15;
= no.61 in Dits et Ecrits under the title: 'Conversazione con Michel Foucault'
A more extensive version was edited in: Caruso, P., Conversazioni con Levi Strauss, Foucault, Lacan (Milano: Mursia, 1969), pp. 91-131.

machiel karskens

At 20:06 9-3-2010, you wrote:
Is this article for real? What is your take on it?
On Mar 9, 2010, at 12:57 PM, Kevin Turner wrote:

> 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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Prof. Machiel Karskens
social and political philosophy
Faculty of Philosophy
Radboud University Nijmegen - The Netherlands

  • Re: [Foucault-L] foucault and "human nature"
    • From: Chetan 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
    Re: [Foucault-L] foucault and "human nature", Chathan Vemuri
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