[Foucault-L] Taylor/Habermas vs. Foucault

Dear List,

Both Charles Taylor and J. Habermas have criticized Foucault. They allege
that F's critical analyses of modern forms of power are flawed because he
does not provide a positive alternative, or a normative foundation, in
relation to which these forms of power are found wanting. Charles Taylor
(if I am recalling his argument correctly) makes the further claim that
Foucault *does* in fact have an unacknowledged normative framework, but
that he does not make it explicit, and that if he did he'd find that F's
critical analyses are contradictory, because they depend as premises on the
very set-up he is criticizing.

I have always seen these criticisms of Foucault as misplaced. One does not
need to specify a positive alternative to say one finds something
"intolerable," as F says of popular initiatives by prisoner and others who
resist power (in Language, Counter-memory, Practice, p. 216). F claims his
own analyses are guided, in part, by actually existing instances of
resistance, but it would be equally coherent, I argue, for him simply to
say that "I find this intolerable." (I believe he actually speaks in the
first person like this somewhere, but I can't find the quote---I thought it
was in D&P.)

Anyway, coming to my question: does anyone know of a secondary work that
discusses this issue, and contests Taylor's/Habermas' claim that criticism
must be premised on some normative framework or positive conception of the
good? I feel sure I've seen such an argument developed somewhere, but I
can't recall where.

The closest thing I've found is Raymond Geuss' essay "Must Criticism Be
Constructive?" (in "A World without Why"). But this does not specifically
mention the Foucault or the Taylor/Habermas criticism.


Dr. Nathaniel Roberts
Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity
Herman-Föge-Weg 11
37073 Göttingen
+49 (0) 551-4956-0
  • Re: [Foucault-L] Taylor/Habermas vs. Foucault
    • From: Mark Kelly
  • Partial thread listing: