Re: [Foucault-L] citation query

oh that's very true. "Social construction" definitely can be found in
Foucault and what's more, does not involve the "nature/nurture"
opposition often attached to it by most popular commentators.

On Fri, Sep 3, 2010 at 1:37 AM, David McInerney <vagabond@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> On this question of 'construction' etc I have found the recent book
> by Susan Hekman - 'The Material of Knowledge: Feminist
> Disclosures' (2010) - to be a useful summation of the field that
> attempts to push the reading of Foucault (and others) in a direction
> that avoids this understanding of 'construction' as immaterial,
> ideal, or arbitrary.  It is also a good starting point for further
> inquiry into the texts it discusses, although in some cases the
> readings provided seem to draw on material that I am very aware of
> but which she perhaps has remembered from conversations past but
> couldn't remember where from.  For example, the discussion of
> Althusser seems to draw on Montag's 1995 paper on Althusser and
> Foucault.  This is probably the case with some of the other
> discussions in there.   Regardless, it is is a good starting point
> for those interested in the work of Ian Hacking, Liz Grosz, Judith
> Butler, Bruno Latour, etc.
> There are some free chapters (PDF) here: http://
> On 03/09/2010, at 2:52 PM, Chetan Vemuri wrote:
>> I wouldn't say his early material "denies" biological reality, but
>> rather focuses on the "history of concepts" in the tradition of
>> Canguilhem. The early work is dealing with the particular investitures
>> placed on particular concepts like "mental illness", "therapy" and
>> such through various historical eras in western history and what they
>> signified or their very usefulness as terms varied by general period.
>> The biological/physical phenomena itself is not denied but the
>> conceptual interpretations attached to its various states are
>> historicized (or relativized depending on your point of view)
>> On Fri, Sep 3, 2010 at 12:03 AM, Fouad Kalouche
>> <fkalouche@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>>> I think that there is a lack of clarity in the original question.
>>> If indeed the question is about the "reality" or "unreality" (sic)
>>> of the fact of suffering, then Clare and David responded
>>> adequately to it.
>>> But if the question is actually about whether any illness
>>> (including "mental illness") is a social construction (a set of
>>> discourses and practices or a regime of truth, etc.) and not
>>> purely a biological (or a physical or metaphysical) "reality",
>>> then Foucault could be denying such a reality. In the early works
>>> of F. about mental illness, it is clear that Foucault wants to
>>> focus on how illness is historically created as a "social
>>> reality"--through institutions and apparatuses, etc.-- based on
>>> different discourses and practices addressing/interpreting the
>>> physical "manifestations" of said illness. Some may argue that
>>> there is a neo-Kantian element here, but it is actually a position
>>> that is geneologically related to post-Hegelian and Nietzschean
>>> approaches to historical, social, and political "(over-)
>>> determination" of values and meanings.
>>> Fouad Kalouche
>>>> From: vagabond@xxxxxxxxx
>>>> Date: Fri, 3 Sep 2010 07:57:07 +0930
>>>> To: foucault-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
>>>> Subject: Re: [Foucault-L] citation query
>>>> It's worth remembering that Foucault had more than one personal
>>>> friend who suffered from mental illness.
>>>> Nikki Moore's PhD thesis on Foucault, Althusser, and Jacques Martin
>>>> is available on the web
>>>> 'Between work : Michel Foucault, Louis Althusser and Jacques
>>>> Martin' (MIT, 2005)
>>>> Like Foucault, Martin was a homosexual affliliated with the PCF, but
>>>> not a member (this of course has strong resonances with Foucault's
>>>> situation in the '50s), and his suicide had a big impact on
>>>> Althusser, who dedicated For Marx to him. From what I remember,
>>>> Foucault was close to him as well. From what I remember of
>>>> Althusser's recollections, they resonate strongly with Foucault's
>>>> comment cited by Clare below.
>>>> See, for example, the following passage from chapter 3 of her
>>>> thesis:
>>>> "Before examining the absence of work, or what Shoshana Felman calls
>>>> 'unaccomplishment at work', I would like to explore two readings of
>>>> the formation of the concept 'work' itself, as it was first defined
>>>> by Kant. From there I would like to explore the link between Kant's
>>>> notion of work and Foucault's theorization of its absence by looking
>>>> at two of Foucault's publications which mere most markedly
>>>> influenced
>>>> by the figure of Jacques Martin and his friendship with Foucault: L
>>>> 'Histoire de La Folie a l 'age Classique and an article entitled
>>>> "Madness, the Absence of Work". Following this, it is important to
>>>> look through the lens of Martin, as symbol and as friend, at
>>>> attempts
>>>> made in secondary literature which systematize Foucault's own work
>>>> along the lines of a false concept of an absence of work, in
>>>> order to
>>>> offer an alternative viewing which allows Foucault's own work the
>>>> freedom from oeuvre making it both seeks and deserves." (pp. 36-37)
>>>> This, together with Foucault's friendship with Althusser (also a
>>>> mental patient) and his work in the mental hospital suggest that the
>>>> suffering of the mentally ill had a personal pertinence for Foucault
>>>> On 03/09/2010, at 7:25 AM, c.ofarrell@xxxxxxxxxx wrote:
>>>>> Matthew
>>>>>> First, it's my impression that Foucault at one point acknowledged
>>>>>> that
>>>>>> people living under the description "mental illness" may be
>>>>>> suffering
>>>>>> in important respects, but that the reality or unreality of
>>>>>> that fact
>>>>>> was largely irrelevant to his project. I seem to recall seeing
>>>>>> this in
>>>>>> an interview, but don't recall where.
>>>>> I don't think he quite saw it that way. In fact one could argue
>>>>> that it is
>>>>> Foucault's outrage at the suffering of the mentally ill and other
>>>>> marginalised people that underpins this intellectual work. I think
>>>>> I know
>>>>> the interview you mean - I can't remember which one - but he would
>>>>> have been
>>>>> trying to distinguish what he was doing from existential or
>>>>> phenomenological
>>>>> work.
>>>>> See his 1977 'The Lives of Infamous Men' (in Power Essential Works
>>>>> vol 3).
>>>>> where he mentions 'the resonance I still experience today when I
>>>>> happen to
>>>>> encounter these lowly lives reduced to ashes in the few
>>>>> sentences that
>>>>> struck them down' (p. 158)
>>>>> See also 'Reponse a Derrida' (Dits et ecrits item 104) where in a
>>>>> fairly
>>>>> heated response to Derrida he notes that for Derrida his work on
>>>>> madness
>>>>> must seem 'naive indeed ... in wanting to undertake this history on
>>>>> the
>>>>> basis of these derisory events which are the enclosure of some
>>>>> tens of
>>>>> thousands of people or the organisation of an extra-judiciary State
>>>>> police'
>>>>> (p. 283)
>>>>>> --
>>>>>> Clare
>>>>>> *******************************************
>>>>>> Clare O'Farrell
>>>>>> *******************************************
>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>> Foucault-L mailing list
>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>> Foucault-L mailing list
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Foucault-L mailing list
>> --
>> Chetan Vemuri
>> West Des Moines, IA
>> aryavartacnsrn@xxxxxxxxx
>> (319)-512-9318
>> "You say you want a Revolution! Well you know, we all want to
>> change the world"
>> _______________________________________________
>> Foucault-L mailing list
> _______________________________________________
> Foucault-L mailing list

Chetan Vemuri
West Des Moines, IA
"You say you want a Revolution! Well you know, we all want to change the world"

  • Re: [Foucault-L] citation query
    • From: Margaret Robinson
  • Replies
    [Foucault-L] citation query, Matthew Gambino
    Re: [Foucault-L] citation query, c . ofarrell
    Re: [Foucault-L] citation query, David McInerney
    Re: [Foucault-L] citation query, Fouad Kalouche
    Re: [Foucault-L] citation query, Chetan Vemuri
    Re: [Foucault-L] citation query, David McInerney
    Partial thread listing: