Re: [Foucault-L] citation query

I didn't see Foucault as denying reality, but as interested more in how many
possible interpretations there are for given facts and the power dynamics
that determine which discourses dominate and possess the facts as their own.
As I read his argument, Foucault is saying that while the individual might
have unusual brain chemistry or be hearing voices, or believe himself to be
John The Baptist, these facts could be given meaning under a number of
possible rubrics. Mental illness is one possible analysis, which assigns
meaning (social, scientific, moral) to these facts.

>>> 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
>>>>>>> *******************************************
>>>>>> _______________________________________________
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>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>> 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
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Re: [Foucault-L] citation query, Chetan Vemuri
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