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Table of contents :
The Taproot Series
Contents
Explanatory Note
Foreword
Prologue
Introduction
Lecture One
Lecture One
Discussion
Lecture Two
Lecture Two Discussion
Lecture Three
Lecture Three
Discussion
Lecture Four
Lecture Four
Discussion
Lecture Five
Lecture Five Discussion
Lecture Six
Lecture Six Discussion
Lecture Seven
Lecture Seven Discussion
Lecture Eight
Lecture Eight Discussion
Lecture Nine
Lecture Nine Discussion
Lecture Ten
Lecture Ten Discussion
Lecture Eleven
Lecture Eleven Discussion
Lecture Twelve
Lecture Twelve Discussion
Lecture Thirteen
A Comment on Lecture Thirteen
Lecture Fourteen
A Comment on Lecture Fourteen
Lecture Fifteen
Epilogue
References
Recommend Papers

Following Foucault: The Trail of the Fox
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LECTURES BY Howard Richards FOLLOWED BY DIALOGUES AMONG Evelin Lindner Howard Richards Catherine Odora Hoppers

Following Foucault – The Trail of the Fox Published by AFRICAN SUN MeDIA under the SUN PReSS imprint. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2018 AFRICAN SUN MeDIA and the author This publication was subjected to an independent double-blind peer evaluation by the Publisher. The author and the publisher have made every effort to obtain permission for and acknowledge the use of copyrighted material. Please refer enquiries to the publisher. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic, photographic or mechanical means, including photocopying and recording on record, tape or laser disk, on microfilm, via the Internet, by e-mail, or by any other information storage and retrieval system, without prior written permission by the publisher. Views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher. First edition 2018 ISBN 978-1-928357-62-9 ISBN 978-1-928357-63-6 (e-book) DOI: 10.18820/9781928357636 Set in Linux Libertine O 10,5/13,5 SUN PReSS is an imprint of AFRICAN SUN MeDIA. Scholarly, professional and reference works are published under this imprint in print and electronic format. This publication may be ordered directly from www.sun-e-shop.co.za Produced by AFRICAN SUN MeDIA. www.africansunmedia.co.za africansunmedia.snapplify.com (e-books) www.sun-e-shop.co.za

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THE TAPROOT SERIES

A “taproot”, the Oxford English Dictionary tells us, “is a straight root, of circular section, thick at the top, and tapering to a point, growing directly downwards from the stem and forming the centre from which subsidiary rootlets spring.” The metaphor is chosen to suggest a unity that draws nourishment from diversity, a visible world supported by the power of an invisible world, a living connection between the algebraic geometry of modernity and the non-modern rhizomes that are the conditions of its possibilities. Differing from previous efforts to articulate a central core for the multitudinous discourses of the human species and its academic faculties, the Taproot Series draws its agenda equally from epistemology and from ethics. It reconsiders metaphysics as the matrix of both. It calls for respect for the metaphysics of the other as an indispensable requirement for fruitful intercultural dialogue. This book is book two of the taproot series, sponsored by the South African Research Chair in Development Education, hosted by the University of South Africa.

CONTENTS Explanatory Note ..................................................................................................................................... v Foreword

........................................................................................................................................... 1

Crain Soudien

Prologue: Power and knowledge in multi-paradigmatic science ......................................... 5

Magnus Haavelsrud

Introduction ........................................................................................................................................... 15 Lecture One

3 May, 2013 ................................................................................................................. 17

Discussion .................................................................................................................................. 29

Lecture Two 4 May, 2013 ................................................................................................................. 33

Discussion .................................................................................................................................. 41

Lecture Three 6 May, 2013 ................................................................................................................. 45

Discussion .................................................................................................................................. 51

Lecture Four 8 May, 2013 ................................................................................................................. 57

Discussion .................................................................................................................................. 63

Lecture Five 8 May, 2013 ................................................................................................................. 71

Discussion .................................................................................................................................. 79

Lecture Six

9 May, 2013 ................................................................................................................. 85

Discussion .................................................................................................................................. 93

Lecture Seven 18 May, 2013 .............................................................................................................. 99

Discussion .................................................................................................................................. 109

Lecture Eight 20 May, 2013 .............................................................................................................. 117

Discussion .................................................................................................................................. 127

Lecture Nine 21 May, 2013 .............................................................................................................. 135

Discussion .................................................................................................................................. 143

Lecture Ten 22 May, 2013 .............................................................................................................. 153

Discussion .................................................................................................................................. 161

Lecture Eleven 23 May, 2013 .......................................................................................................... 169

Discussion .................................................................................................................................. 177

Lecture Twelve 26 May, 2013 .......................................................................................................... 187

Discussion .................................................................................................................................. 195

Lecture Thirteen On Discipline and punish ................................................................................ 205 Commentary ............................................................................................................................. 217

Evelin Lindner

Lecture Fourteen Mainly on The First Volume of Foucault’s History of sexuality;

Le volonté de savoir (The will to knowledge) .............................................................. 219

Commentary ............................................................................................................................. 235

Evelin Lindner

Lecture Fifteen

Evaluating the power perspective ............................................................... 235

Epilogue

As the Objects begin to have Voice ........................................................... 251

References

Catherine Odora Hoppers

.............................................................................................................................................257

v

EXPLANATORY NOTE In May of 2013, I gave a series of twelve lectures titled “Against Foucault” in Pretoria, South Africa, under the auspices of the South African Research Chair in Development Education hosted at the University of South Africa. Catherine Hoppers is the incumbent of the Chair. Evelin Lindner was then a visiting scholar invited by the Chair. Subsequently, three more lectures have been added. The lectures inspired the discussions that in turn inspire the title Following Foucault: The Trail of the Fox. The composition of the lectures that form the core of this book was driven by a passion to defend moral authority, especially the authority of ideals that prescribe cooperation and sharing. Although I am not the first to read Foucault as a conservative, albeit a very clever one, when it comes to economic issues, I believe I have provided some details to add to the evidence for that case. The lectures were not written to be read in Africa, but as it has turned out they were. The ensuing discussions raised, but did not adequately consider, questions about the implications of Foucault’s oeuvre for African thought and for indigenous knowledge systems. Hopefully, others will join me in taking up such questions in a later companion volume. Such a sequel would also provide an opportunity to consider numerous writings by and about Foucault that have been (and will be) published between the time when these lectures were composed and the time of the writing of the sequel; as well as an opportunity to pay more attention to Foucault’s final phase (1977–1984). Many thanks to Emily Vosloo, Wikus van Zyl, Natasha Van Niekerk, Anina Joubert, Jaime Ribeiro, Gianna Devoto and especially many thanks to Na-iem Dollie, without whose efforts this book would not have been possible. Howard Richards

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FOREWORD Crain Soudien In the very first lecture in the series of talks that have come to constitute this book, Following Foucault, Howard Richards poses an important question. The point of the question is to help those of us listening to him understand what he is seeking to do: “If you ask me what kind of philosophy would help humanity to achieve the ‘nonauthoritarian authority’ that would give our species the cohesion we need to solve our main problems, my first answer would be that it should not be a divisive one.” The point is critical. It provides Following Foucault with its ethical raison d’etre. It is to this that I seek to talk in this brief foreword. This book is about many things. It is, of course, a dialogue between three key global social scientists about French philosopher Michel Foucault and his significance for understanding the constituted nature of dominant thinking in the world, particularly, the dominance of modern European thought. But it is also, at another level, very related to the idea of “second-level indigenisation” raised by Catherine Odora Hoppers. Hoppers, in talking about “second-level indigenisation”, means having the voiceless and excluded, those who are bearers of suppressed and marginalised knowledges, not only being present in the world of meaning-making, but actively participating in defining the rules governing meaning-making. In terms of the first of these two points, the book demonstrates Richards’s remarkable insight into the mind of Foucault. His exposition is, on its own terms, a tour de force. He provides all of us with a lesson in deep reading. In it he shows us how Foucault actually shifts position around the question of power, from a totalizing view in his earlier texts to a completely dispersed view later. His closeness of reading is exemplary. But there is much more to the text. In listening to Richards, I was struck (and this is the more significant second feature about this text) by the urgency in his attempt to make it clear to us all what a philosophical project might consist of that is not “divisive”, as he says. It is this to which I now turn. Before I do that, a single observation which bears, I hope, on the discussion below about Richards’s geist in approaching this task of Following Foucault is necessary. In delivering these lectures, Richards is almost without conceit. His purpose, exemplarily, is to shed light. Only that. And so he does in these lectures what he has to do: to show in response to Hoppers’ engagement with Foucault, and to us all, what he himself is seeing in the Foucault oeuvre. That he does so, without pretence and artifice, and, most notably, in the context of talking about subjugated knowledges, without any patronising concessions to ideas of inclusion, is remarkable in its own terms. The way in which

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he listens and responds to Catherine Odora Hoppers and to Evelin Lindner is in itself an important lesson for all of us, because at no point does he either patronise or take them for granted. His approach is to approach the major point Hoppers seeks to make with and about Foucault, namely that he has helped her come to understand the constitutive nature of dominant knowledge – and thus her question to Richards very early on in the text, “then why are you speaking ‘Against Foucault’ instead of ‘For Foucault’” – entirely on its merits. The purpose of his engagement with Foucault is to bring to the surface more clearly what he is actually meaning. A divisive philosophy. What does Richards mean? What does he mean particularly in relation to Hoppers and Lindner’s probing interpolations that follow each of his lectures? He is primarily driven to make clear how the powerful idea of power used in Foucault’s writing ultimately comes down to something that is exercised rather than possessed. He says that Foucault spoke of power not as the privilege of a dominant class, but rather as the effect of a set of strategic positions: “He will continue to speak of power as exercised … Without specifying any person, any institution, any social class, or any group that is doing the exercising. The ‘intrinsic mechanisms of power’ exercise themselves” (Richards, Lecture Fourteen). He continues to quote Foucault who says that power is “the multiplicity of relations of force (rapports de force) that are immanent to the domain where they exercise themselves or are exercised (s’exercent) and which are constitutive of their organization; the game (jeu) that by way of struggles and confrontations incessantly transforms them, reinforces them, reverses them … Is the institutional crystallization which takes form as the state apparatus, as the formulation of the law, as social hegemonies.” These, says Richards, provide us with the illusion that we are free. Invoking a juridical-discursive view that Foucault appeared to be ambivalent about, says Richards, which views power at once as law and repression, in which we imagine ourselves to be autonomous bearers of power before the law represses us, or more benignly plays the function of placing limits on our freedom, leads us to legitimize the law. It is here that Richards makes his own move. That move is to try to explain rule and law in another way. He takes the core Foucauldian unit of analysis – the “complex strategic situation” – and proceeds to work with it differently. “We should be entitled”, he says, “to assert the existence of facts that are more distorted than depicted when we essay to look at them through the lenses of Foucault’s power perspective. As pragmatists and herd-moralists (‘pragmatists’ because we want solutions that work, ‘herdmoralists’ because we mean here by ‘work’, ‘work for the good of all’) we are entitled to say, further, that we prefer to choose to do more rule-talk and less power-talk because we find that understanding human institutions in terms of the norms that constitute them helps us to solve the principal problems that humanity faces” (Richards, Lecture Fifteen). As opposed to Foucault’s essentialisation of a conception

Foreword

of power as animating the world of the everyday, Richards offers the idea of culture and co-operation. It is not my purpose in this Foreword to do a comparison of the value of the two positions put forward here. It is sufficient to say that Richards comes to his position through a careful appraisal of Foucault’s thinking. In doing so he is mindful of and acknowledges the importance of many of the crucial contributions Foucault makes. But he is deeply critical of the Foucault who talks of power as a technique, a technique which emanates from a multiplicity of forces that are imminent to the domain where they find themselves. He shows how, in this, Foucault affirms his debt to Nietzsche and in particular Nietzsche’s notion of the will to power. But, asks Richards in bringing his lectures to a close, is this the only way in which one can speak of power? What about, inter alia, the Derridean way, which holds Aristotle’s alternative idea of power, of power as friendship, alive? It is here that the point about divisive philosophies is brought to a fine point. Should, asks Richards, “we follow Foucault”? The question is pivotal for the great project defined by Hoppers, the project about the inclusion of subjugated knowledges. What Richards does, and it is seen best in his closing fifteenth lecture, is show how the “facts” Foucault uses to justify his approach to power – which amount to the idea about relational forces, war in the main, constituting human beings’ evolutionary survival strategy – can easily be discounted. Co-operation and culture count in the empirical archive from which Foucault mines, Richards argues, for a deeper historical genealogy of law and its real obeisance to the laws of capital. The regularity and the logic of this form of power are dismissed by Foucault. Richards says: I have a larger pragmatic objection to Foucault. I recommend choosing to talk as if inclusive human relations were possible as a step in the direction of bringing more of them into existence. I find that the word ‘power’ as Foucault employs the term functions more to discourage than to encourage a dynamic of inclusion. In some respects, to be sure the opposite is the case, and insofar as the opposite is the case, I want to encourage Foucault and his followers. Foucault encourages in some respects the social inclusion of the mentally ill, of prisoners, and others frequently discriminated against. But if the sorts of views of the dynamics of capitalism that I am sympathizing with are ‘telling it like it is’, then even the prisoners and patients whose causes Foucault frequently espouses are prejudiced in the end because his conceptual apparatus overlooks a dynamic of exclusion that separates the haves and the have-nots. (Richards, Lecture Fifteen)

It is here that Richards makes clear that he is for a different philosophical project. Some of us, he says, want to encourage a spirit of caring, “a characteristically feminine spirit that complements formal changes in rules. It puts into practice the sorts of mutual obligations to meet each other’s needs, the sorts of reciprocity and

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partnership and gift-giving that anthropology show to be typical of the cultures of human groups” (Richards, Lecture Fifteen). As a critical socialist philosopher, Richards sheds light on Foucauldian lines of thinking. His dialogues with Lindner and Hoppers illustrate capaciousness in his own thoughts and they demonstrate his commitment to modes of reasoning for the public good. He advocates thoughts and structures that take on board the intended and unintended consequences of managing change. To this end, he engages the constitutive rules at the root of how people relate to one another. He argues that established norms are not necessarily bad, especially if these norms reinforce what is life-enhancing and not divisive. In pursuing his philosophical and political project, Richards and his co-thinkers, Lindner and Hoppers, reflect on the content of change. But change, for Richards, is not the change encoded in Foucault’s work. While Foucault’s writings are important appraisals in understanding how knowledge is produced, his changing positions and his mantra to constantly “re-invent” himself are not sufficiently convincing for Richards and his discussants to hold on to. Foucault overlooks the “dynamic of exclusion that separates the haves and the have-nots”, and this paradigmatic limitation points to self-indulgent freedoms in Foucault’s mercurial thoughts that follow the logic of German philosopher, George Wilhelm Hegel’s idea that thinking is “defined by an incessant alternation of thoughts”. For this reason, Richards is convinced that Foucault’s intent is not to promote a social revolution, unlike his contemporary and fellow French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. Instead, Richards proposes a radical re-interpretation of Foucault’s writings, opposing a trend among a swathe of contemporary social scientists to view Foucault in mostly complimentary terms. His dissonance with Foucault is deeply embedded in his belief that humanity and its interlocutors, as a cultural community, have a responsibility to make the world a better place.

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PROLOGUE Power and knowledge in multi-paradigmatic science Magnus Haavelsrud The reader of this book is taken for a journey revolving within a multi-paradigmatic social science from the vantage point of Michel Foucault. From the work of this scientist a version of the incommensurability of science itself evolves in light of the fact that – as this book illuminates – even the work of one scientist lacks a common and coherent measure for its validation. Foucault’s many masks and transformations may seem as an example of his own theory at that particular moment when he argued that discourses develop without any apparent non-discourse reason and that the heart of the matter is “dispersion”. It may be argued that his incoherence is only a reflection of his existential honesty and authenticity in the “here and now” even though one of his major combatants in the struggle for domination for the truth about human beings and their societies was his fellow Parisian protagonist of existentialism, JeanPaul Sartre.1 So, we ask whether Foucault in many ways lived and worked in line with existentialist thought, but refuted its theory. He shows existentialist traits – in spite of his refusal of existentialism – by letting “here and now” moments of his own experience be of significance in guiding his next move towards gaining more insights about humanity. According to Bueno Fischer (2009: 205), Foucault claimed “the right to permanent change”, the right of individuals to exercise force on their own intellectual work, to face what is foreign to them, to undergo, through study and inquiry, a “transforming experience of oneself in the play of truth, and not as a simplistic appropriation of others for the purpose of communication”. And this “historian of the present” points us towards what is happening today by reminding us of “the genealogy of the great constituent themes of the Western tradition, through a detailed description of the social practices related to the confinement of ‘abnormal’ individuals, the control and disciplining of bodies, techniques of confession, and exposure of the self” (Bueno Fischer, 2009: 208). Foucault might be a most clear example of a social scientist who not only relates to the multi-paradigmatic world of social science by adopting insights from different paradigms in his eclectic approach, but also feels free to 1

Richards points out in this book that “Sartre and Foucault were not engagé in the same way. Even when they were at the same place at the same time doing the same thing, their philosophies were different. Sartre was participating in a long-term global movement to change the system. Foucault was participating in a short-term specific action to resist an effect of power.” What is interesting is that they agreed on the action but not the reasons for the action.

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critically evaluate his own contributions in his quest for improved ways of knowing. One example of how his academic curiosity and self-criticism leads him to basic new research questions late in his career (upon entering the Collège de France in 1971) is his realisation that he needed to embark on a study of the relationship between cause and effect. This book adds new insights into the lack of coherence in Foucault’s work, highlighting how he within short time spans (sometimes within a year) turns around in his views, for instance, from adhering to Althusserian structuralism or a systematic view to understanding social reality in terms of dispersion and “discursive formations changing their patterns over time for no discernible reason” (Richards, Lecture Nine). One reason for this confusion might have been Foucault’s lack of a concept of cause and effect, implying, I believe, an acceptance of status quo: “He had to accept things as they are because his philosophy allowed no concept of social activism oriented by causes that could rationally be expected to produce effects” (Richards, Lecture One). As pointed out by Howard Richards in this compilation of lectures, Foucault’s research did not help him to explain or to point out ways and means to improve ills in society. Instead, he wanted to devote his research energy to studying concepts of cause and effect – and found answers in Nietzsche’s philosophy and his concept of the will to power. Against this background it may be seen as a good quality for a scientist to search for truth by utilising insights from diverse paradigms, even though the accumulated result of the research is found to be incoherent and marked by internal disagreements. Even though Following Foucault demonstrates Foucault’s incoherence, I agree with the authors of this book in summing up their conversations about the man: “Foucault’s role as an emancipatory critic of institutions and social forces that tend to impose a bogus orthodoxy, to call it knowledge, and to try to compel everyone else to call it knowledge” (Eribon, 1989: 62). This appreciation may imply that Foucault’s work in diagnosing such empirical realities should be seen as a first step in the creation of knowledge about preferred potential realities. This view of science is in harmony with Richards when he argues (also in this book) that science should be problem oriented and contribute to solutions. In this sense Foucault’s work may become part of developing what Galtung (1977: 59–65) has coined “trilateral science”, which would aim at consonance between the empirical, ideal and foreseen worlds through continuous change in each with the help of enacted scientific knowledge. In order to do so science cannot only criticise the world as it is, but must show how the world should be improved and also how the world will turn out to be if no plan is implemented for its improvement. This type of science, however, needs a normative base. In absence of universal values, it may be required of the scientist to explicitly state the normative foundation of research to facilitate critical analysis by peers.

Prologue

These questions are decisive in any discussion of the relationship between power and knowledge. Scientific knowledge for improvement of society will be more relevant in the development of society than a science disregarding these criteria. Transformative science of this kind would help produce knowledge that is not to be categorised as bogus orthodoxy. The effects of the interconnection between this kind of scientific knowledge and power would be positive in terms of problem solutions assuming that the value base is legitimate and leads to corresponding changes both in the world as it is and as it is foreseen. This question of the interconnection between power and knowledge, therefore, is an important part of the problem of finding a common measure of what is to count as scientific knowledge in social sciences. I discuss in this introduction to what extent Foucault’s work on and conception of power and knowledge helps in understanding more fully how enacted social science can become more directed to solving the world’s ills by producing knowledge that limits the gaps between the empirical, predicted and prescriptive worlds. Multi-paradigmatic social science is marked by divisions on, for example, how research questions are limited to either micro interactions or macro structures, and how and the extent to which interactional and structural relations are conceptualised, or whether social science research should take a normative stand or be value neutral. Different answers to basic questions lead to contradictory knowledge about social reality and hence result in the lack of a common measure for the validation of knowledge. One basic question deals with the essential qualities of the human being. How heated the debate between scientists can become is exemplified by the disagreement between Foucault and Noam Chomsky about the nature of the human being. Chomsky asserted that there are innate human faculties, including concepts of justice rooted in reason. He found Foucault’s rejection of a universal basis for a concept of justice to be completely or totally amoral (Miller, 1993: 201–203). This “dark” side of Foucault is supported by the philosopher, Richard Rorty (1986), when he argues that Foucault fails to construct a new theory of knowledge. I take this to mean that he fails to show how new knowledge may be developed and how knowledge is created. This view is supported by Taylor (2010) who argues that Foucault’s theory cannot generate positive alternatives because it lacks understanding of important phenomena such as freedom and justice. Habermas (Ashenden and Owen, 1999) writes that criticising social and political issues without suggesting solutions is a weakness in Foucault’s thought.

Reciprocity in power and knowledge

When Foucault in 1977 looks back at his work on Madness and civilization and The birth of the clinic, he asks himself what else he was focusing on other than power. If so it may not have been a surprise – as Hoy (1986: 2–5) writes that “Discipline and

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punish seemed to imply that discursive knowledge is produced under the rules of social power as manifested in various institutions such as schools, prisons, factories and armies.” This means that discourse itself does not constitute social reality, but is interconnected with and situated in or embedded in something larger. That something larger is, according to Hoy’s (1986: 13), “interpretation of the scientific disciplines required to acquire knowledge, which will go hand in hand with the disciplining process in the institutions mentioned.” I agree with how this interconnecting link between micro discourse interactions and science is described by Hoy. The question is where these rules come from and to what extent they have been or can be changed by discourses among the recipients of the power emanating from the discourses in the scientific disciplines. If reciprocity in the interconnection between knowledge and power is to be identified, it would be necessary to search for the interdependence between them. So, in researching the reciprocal relations between knowledge and power, the question begs an answer as to what and who controls science as it goes hand in hand with the disciplining rules to which discourses in societal institutions are subjected. But this question of who is the ruler is not of interest to Foucault as nothing irritated him more than enquiries on the foundation of power in society. He insists that there are only reciprocal relations – implying that these are not foundational. This means that the analysis of interconnections is Foucault`s methodological preference as studies in the primacy of one thing over another have no meaning to him. Searching for fundamentals is useless as nothing is fundamental – no fundamentals exist according to him and he finds the “approach of searching for fundamentals to be metaphysical” (Foucault, 2007: 166). In 1981, Foucault writes, and contrary to his view four years earlier, that his research goal over the last twenty years “has not been to analyse the phenomenon of power, nor to elaborate the foundations of such an analysis” (Foucault, cited in Hoy, 1986: 3). So, in order to grasp Foucault’s work on the reciprocity of power and knowledge, I do not search for the phenomenon of power, but for reciprocal interconnections between power and knowledge in light of the concept of disciplining – noting that the “scientific knowledge” is used by the authorities as a means of social control. But without a theory of how the “authorities” have come to and stay in power, it will be difficult to find answers to the question of in whose interests this “scientific knowledge” have been created. The reciprocity between power and knowledge therefore has to be understood at a non-totalising level because he opposed structuralism’s search for universal categories and permanent structures, and instead sought to understand how discourses evolved and produced both knowledge and power as interconnected at the discursive level. This means that the power he analysed was the power manifested in

Prologue

the discourse, which by definition would have to be at the level of human interaction in the micro (another proof of his existentialist habitus). This reciprocity between power and knowledge develops in the micro even though he recognised in History of sexuality that “differing contextual conditions present in institutions would lead to a dual and mutual conditioning between discursive and non-discursive practices” (Bueno Fischer, 2009: 208).

Resistance

Here, I am asking how marginal groups may resist the power imposed upon them in line with the scientific knowledge produced in the interest of the dominant power. Even though Au and Apple (2009: 91) point out that Foucault himself reminded us that the normalizing practices and governmentality in his theories of social control qualify people for resistance, we do not see that Foucault gave sufficient answers as to how “collective resistance among marginals could be created and channelled in direction of the power that had marginalized them.” I have to conclude that collective resistance has not been conceptualised by Foucault and I think this may be related to his lack of interest in researching the relationship between what his teacher Althusser called “ideological state apparatuses” and the connection of these two dominant social power constituted in a patriarchal social class through what Richards notes is characterised by the constitutive rules of capitalism. When he argues that knowledge depends upon the acceptance of authorities to be considered scientific, it is not difficult to find examples of such, even in our days with the majority of the labour force in some countries specialising in what Basil Bernstein calls symbolic control. Foucault has shown that “social categories such as the poor, the sick and the homeless more easily have been classified as mad or mentally insane than elite social categories” (Stokes, 2004: 187). But the question still remains: whether knowledge produced and validated in marginal social categories in spite of the lack of legitimation by dominant authority can become part of resistance to dominant power. Not focusing on collective resistance, Sassone refers to Foucault (1988) when she writes that: he was partisan of an attenuated form of individualization that subverts organizational controls through strategies of shifting identity. In his later writings, he advocated practices of self-care as disciplines that might produce states of being akin to those promoted by Dewey and Nietzsche. However, Foucault, like most contemporary critical theorists, was far more contained about the promise of individualization in a society of disciplining organizations than was Dewey or even Nietzsche, both of whom wrote before the tendency toward disciplinization became hegemonic.” (Sassone, 2000: 391)

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Apple (1996: 33) in reference to Best and Kellner (1991: 34–75), recalls how Foucault diagnosed how power works at the margins of society and how both knowledge and self-understanding of those groups that have been defined as “the other” by powerful groups in society struggle to handle this cast-off status. Apple’s searchlight then is turned towards the New Right and their classifications of “the other”. This realisation that the marginals are defined according to the likes of the powerful is basic in any study of power, but Foucault does not conceptualise units of power in macro society as exemplified by Apple’s pointing out the New Right as one such unit at present. Another example of how new trends in what is called “the state theory of learning” (Lauder, Brown, J-A. Dillabough et al. 2006: 50), involves the downgrading of issues concerning curriculum and knowledge in the self-serving interests of dominant groups, implying that major threats now confronting the world are silenced in the curriculum. Instead there is an upgrading of testing performance in knowledge suited a market-driven economy. “These preferences in educational policy making is seen as reflecting major changes in power advantaging middle-class students and sometimes girls over boys” (Lauder, Brown, and J-A. Dillabough et al. 2006: 52). An interesting example of how discursive formations and dominant official knowledge meet is the approach taken in studies undertaken by Hoppers (2010) in which the relations between modernity and modernity’s “Other” is the main theme and how the Academy can assist in change towards human development. This reasoning is highlighted in her Epilogue in this book titled “As objects begin to have voice” in which she credits Foucault for opening our eyes to the objectification of people through disciplining and normalisation. Foucault sees resistance as part of power – not external to it. In History of sexuality he describes resistance and power this way, according to Bueno Fischer (2009: 209), “Like power, resistance is mobile, transient, and unstable, it exists within relations, within practices and it even permeates the individuals themselves.” And Bueno Fischer adds on the same page that Foucault did not see “power as something negative, but rather, as something that produces, incites, is exercised” (Bueno Fischer, 2009: 209). For him, power works in a complex, productive, and subtle web that sets in motion other webs of discourses, knowledge, and daily and institutional practices – which are, in turn, related with production as circulation of truths.”

Alternative approaches in understanding knowledge and power

I agree with Foucault that science, education and knowledge institutions are parties to the reciprocity of power and knowledge, and I agree that science is a major source of knowledge applied in social control. As noted above, this means that the relationship of power to science becomes an important part of understanding the interconnections

Prologue

and reciprocity between power and knowledge. His biographer notes that Foucault argued that the conditions of discourse changed over time and from one period’s episteme to another and that these epistemic changes are important in understanding how humanity came to be an object of knowledge. So even if Foucault points out “that all periods of history have possessed certain underlying conditions of truth that constituted what was acceptable as scientific discourse” (Eribon, 1991: 158–159), I do not find any answers as to how specific epistemic conditions relate to power in past or present societies. What is missing in his work are attempts at finding answers to the question: in whose interests and on which normative base social science research is founded? There is no answer to the question of how social research and social power and its rules relate to the larger society. In a reflexive moment towards the end of a great introduction to a great book on education theories, the argument is aired that the central place given to classical theories in sociology (Durkheim, Weber and Marx) is “a product of forms of nineteenth century colonial domination that excludes the key variables of gender, ethnicity and imperialism” (Lauder, Brown and J-A. Dillabough et al. 2006: 63). This observation belongs to the more general question of in whose interest social science research is founded – and they find that this question is “most sharply” posed by Foucault (Lauder, Brown and J-A. Dillabough et al. 2006: 63). But Foucault’s contribution in answering the question is not included in this book of more than 500 pages and the reason is, as noted, that Foucault has no answer – partly because he is not interested in analysing the foundations in society. I have to turn to other scientists for conceptualisations of how power in society influences the academy and scientific knowledge, which again is applied to symbolic control influencing discursive formations. To what extent knowledge and power also floats the other way is part of the reciprocity question as well, and important for how both individual and collective resistance may develop both within and external to discursive formations. But finding answers to this question is conditioned by an answer to where the source of that power that influences knowledge production in science is to be found. In the Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education in the mid-1980s, only one of the selected authors, Basil Bernstein, has referred to Foucault’s work as relevant for their contributions. Bernstein admits that Foucault has had influence upon his work even though his theorising of pedagogic discourse has a very different focus: “Indeed, we would consider that the articulation of the specific grammars of the pedagogic device is fundamental too much of Foucault’s work” (Bernstein, 1986: 205). Atkinson (1985: 178) points out that “Foucault does not relate the articulation of discourse to social structure.” He lacks the sociological analysis of power important in Bernstein’s work because he consistently relates discursive analysis to the division of labour. Foucault sees discursive formations and practices as obeying their own

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laws of transformation in a play of power, writes Atkinson. Power is a relational phenomenon in Foucault – not an attribute of an actor or collectivity – and the empirical manifestation of power is to be found in the procedures and relations of the discursive formations, according to Atkinson.

Reference List

Apple, M. W. 1996. Cultural politics and education. New York: Teachers College Press. Ashenden, S. & Owen, D. 1996. Foucault contra Habermas: Recasting the dialog between genealogy and critical theory. London: Sage. Atkinson, P. 1981. Bernstein's structuralism. Educational Analysis: 85–95. Atkinson, P. 1985. Language, structure and reproduction: The sociology of Basil Bernstein. London: Methuen. Au, W.& Apple, M.W. 2009. Rethinking reproduction: Neo-marxism in critical education theory. In: The Routledge International Handbook of Critical Education, 83–95. New York: Routledge. Ball, S. J. (Ed.) 1990. Foucault and education: Disciplines and knowledge. London: Routledge. Ball, S. J. 1990. Politics and policy making in education: Explorations in policy sociology. London and New York: Routledge. Baumann, Z. & May, T. 2001. Thinking sociologically. London: Blackwell Publishers Ltd. Bernstein, B. 1977. Class, codes and control: Towards a theory of educational transmission, Volume 3. 2nd Edition. London: Routledge. Bernstein, B. 1986. On pedagogic discourse. In: J. G. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education, 205–240. New York, Westport, London: Greenwood Press. Bernstein, B. 1990. Class, codes and control, Vol. IV. The structuring of pedagogic discourse. London: Routledge. Bernstein, B. 1996. Class, codes and control: Vol. V. Pedagogy, symbolic control and identity: Theory, research, critique. London: Routledge. Best, S. & Kellner, D. 1991. Postmodern theory: Critical interrogations. London: MacMillan. Bjerg, J. (Ed.) 1998. Pædagogik – en grundbok til et fag. København: Hans Reitzel forlag. Bueno Fischer, R. M. 2009. Foucault's challenges to critical theory in education. In: The Routledge international handbook of critical education, 204–217. New York: Routledge. Eribon, D. 1991. Michel Foucault. Translated by Betsy Wing. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Foucault, M. 1988. The ethic of care for the self as a practice of freedom. In: J. Bernauer & Rasmussen, D. (Eds.), The final Foucault, 1–20. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Foucault, M. 2007. Space, power and knowledge. In: Simon During (Ed.), The cultural studies reader, 164–171. Milton Park: Routledge. Galtung, J. 1977. Methodology and Ideology: Theory and Methods of Social Research. Christian Ejlers forlag, Copenhagen.

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Giroux, H. A. 2001. Theory and resistance in education: Towards a pedagogy for the opposition. Westport, Connecticut and London: Bergin & Garvey. Halperin, D. M. 1997. Saint Foucault: Towards a gay hagiography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Halsey, A.H.; Lauder, H.; Brown, P. & Wells, A.S. 1997. Education: Culture, economy, and society. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press Hoppers, C. A. O. 2010. Framework and strategy constituted as the South African Observatory on Human Development. Unpublished paper compiled for DST/NRF South African Research Chair in Development Education, UNISA, Pretoria. Hoy, D. C. 1986. Introduction. In: D. C. Hoy (Ed.), Foucault: A critical reader, 1–26. Oxford, UK and Cambridge, USA: Blackwell. Karabel, J. & Halsey, H.A. 1977. Power and ideology in education. New York: Oxford University Press. Lauder, H.; Brown, P.; Dillabough, J.A. & Halsey, A.H. 2006. Introduction: The prospects of education: Individualization, globalization, and social change. In: H. Lauder, P.B. Rown, J.A. Dillabough & A.H. Halsey (Eds.), Education, globalization & social change, 1–70. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. Loon, B. v. 2001. Introducing critical theory. Thriplow: Icon Books Ltd. Macey, D. 1993. The lives of Michel Foucault. London: Hutchinson. Mathiesen, T. 1980. Law, society and political action. London and New York: Academic Press. Miller, J. 1993. The passion of Michel Foucault. New York: Simon & Schuster. Østerberg, D. 1986. Michel Foucault. Nytt Norsk Tidsskrift, no. 3. Rorty, R. 1986. Foucault and epistemology. In: D. Hoy (Ed.), Foucault: A critical reader. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Sadovnik, A. R. (Ed.) 1995. Knowledge & pedagogy: The sociology of Basil Bernstein. Norwood, New Jersey, USA: Ablex Publishing Corporation. Sassone, L. A. 2000. Individualization. In: D. A. Gabbard (Ed.), Knowledge and power in the global economy, 389–392. Mahwah, New Jersey and London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Sheridan, A. 1980. Michel Foucault: The will to truth. London: Tavistock. Slagstad, R. 1998. De nasjonale strateger. Oslo: Pax forlag A/S. Smart, B. 2002. Michel Foucault. London: Routledge. Stokes, P. 2004. Philosophy: 100 essential thinkers. Kettering: Index Books. Taylor, D. 2010. Michel Foucault: Key concepts. Acumen.

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INTRODUCTION What does Foucault help us to understand? When does he mislead us? How can we go beyond Foucault, travelling farther on paths he opened up for us? These are our research questions that helped us navigate our way through Foucault’s work. In lieu of a lengthy introduction, we recommend that our readers take a look at the video recordings of these lectures and dialogues at: www.humiliationstudies.org/whoweare/videos.php#foucault Evelin Lindner, Howard Richards and Catherine Odora Hoppers

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LECTURE ONE 3 May, 2013 This first lecture will begin by trying to provide a sense of the perspective I bring to the study of Foucault. I will then discuss a text from 1983 in which Foucault himself provides an introductory outline of his philosophy. Next, I will start a chronological study of Foucault’s life and works to be taken up and continued in the second and following lectures. This first lecture will close with a brief comment on the serendipity of having the opportunity to present my examination of Foucault in South Africa and to discuss it here with Professor Catherine Odora Hoppers of the University of South Africa and with the globetrotting scholar Evelin Lindner who happens to be here in residence. Solving the complex economic puzzle posed by the need simultaneously to manage capitalism and to transform it – this is I talking – is not independent of building cultures of solidarity. I believe it is the other way around: building cultures of solidarity is a key to solving the complex economic puzzle. To put this aspect of my perspective differently: Achieving a broad social consensus supporting what solidarity and ecology require is both a worthwhile achievement in itself and a key to disarming the systemic imperatives that tend to override even a broad social consensus. I will sometimes call norms whose effectiveness is due to a broad social consensus – as opposed to force – “non-authoritarian authority”. What I have in mind is not just any broad social consensus, but one that favours values of solidarity and which (partly because it favours them) works in practice to solve humanity’s pressing problems. In order to work in practice – let me repeat – a philosophy has to contribute to disarming systemic imperatives. People who have read Ellen Meiksin Wood’s book Empire of capital (Wood, 2003) will know what I mean; others may have a rough inkling sufficient to make a reasonable guess. I hope that the remainder will have the patience to wait while I gradually explain not only “systemic imperative” but also other ideas that are very important for me, and in my opinion very important for humanity, and which I bring with me to my reading of Michel Foucault. If you ask me what kind of philosophy would help humanity to achieve the “nonauthoritarian authority” that would give our species the cohesion we need to solve our main problems, my first answer would be that it should not be a divisive one. It should be one reasonable people can agree on. It should help bridge gaps, establish

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communication, and facilitate co-operation among young and old, straights and gays, women and men, religious believers and irreligious unbelievers, conservatives and liberals, socialists and capitalists, and in general among people of all kinds. It should be a philosophy that combines the celebration of diversity with working together for the common good. Articulating such a philosophy is a tough assignment in a world where people who have pretty clear ideas about what the common good is and who try to promote their pretty clear ideas can be accused of being “totalitarian”, “dogmatic”, “fascist” and so on; while those who try to accommodate everyone’s point of view with charity for all and malice toward none can be accused of being “relativist”, “without values”, or in a pejorative sense “post-modern”. It should be a philosophy that acknowledges and copes with the conflicts inherent in the facts; most notably the conflicts inherent in the basic rules of the game that govern the economy. Those basic rules imply conflicts among people who work for a meagre living, people who cannot even find work, people who are comfortable in their careers and businesses and perhaps do not understand why everyone else cannot do as they do and be comfortable as they are; and people in the leisure class who do not need to find work because they live as rentiers. It is also a tough assignment to acknowledge these conflicts and at the same time favour a “broad social consensus”. A philosophy is needed that can cope with the conflicts there are and the illusions there are, and can help bring to fruition the possibilities for co-operation there are. I believe I have a philosophy that fills the bill, not because I have invented it myself, but because I have found it in books I have read, perhaps most notably in John Dewey’s naturalistic pragmatism and more recently in critical realism. I mention these sources – I will be mentioning many others later, some of them quite soon – not as a prologue to an exposition and defence of Dewey or of critical realism, but in order to give the reader a sense of the mind-set I bring to reading Foucault. I believe that the views I will develop from the perspective I am coming from offer a flexible and scientifically valid framework within which people with different interests, different cultures, and different philosophies can understand one another and work with one another while continuing to be different. The inclusive and emotionally satisfying culture of solidarity, I want philosophy to contribute to building, seems more likely to precede than to follow economic transformation. It seems even more likely that it will neither precede nor follow, but that instead is what Norbert Lechner called the conflictive and never completed construction of the desired social order (Lechner, 1983), that will continue indefinitely on several fronts at once, and will be marked by innumerable interrelated advances

Lecture One

and setbacks. A more human economy will favour the emergence of a more human culture and vice-versa. (This word “human” will be one of our frequent companions as we accompany Foucault through his several takes on what it and related terms mean and are worth.) One might well ask, then, why I am talking about Foucault at all, and why in a sense it will take a long time to explain I am talking not just about Foucault, but against Foucault. I think a sufficient, although not a complete, answer to the question why I am talking about Foucault at all is that an examination of his philosophy will test my neo-Deweyan naturalistic and realistic approach. If there is something false in my philosophy, its falsity should come to light if it turns out that Foucault disagrees and has good reasons for disagreeing. If, on the other hand, the general drift and influence of Foucault proves to be less than satisfactory and even counter-productive with respect to the concerns I have just briefly outlined, then I can fairly claim to have a case against Foucault and not just a commentary from a point of view. Another author who has been important for me is Michal Kalecki (see, for example, Kalecki, 1943). Although Kalecki never applies his own ideas to the history of culture, I will be applying them to a certain strand of that history, namely the life and times of Michel Foucault. My neo-Kaleckian interpretation of contemporary philosophy in general and Foucault’s in particular suggests that philosophy shifts in accordance with the perceived interests and the ideals of people who control society’s discretionary expenditures. If my neo-Kaleckian interpretation is valid, then working it out in detail in the case of Foucault should be useful to anyone who is trying to understand the world. If it is not valid, then the case of Foucault should refute it. It is, however, just one dimension of what I have to say. It is not my centrepiece. My overall aim is not to evaluate Foucault’s work, but to improve in some small or middle-sized way humanity’s capacity to solve its principal problems. Although I do not intend to be deliberately unfair to Foucault, I am not directly or principally interested in assessing the value of his work or in interpreting it correctly. What is important from a problem-solving point of view is not whether Foucault really meant what I take him to mean, or whether he perhaps left the door open for people to attribute to his implausible views that he never held, but rather what is true. (“True” will be another frequent companion.) We need to work on solving our problems on the basis of what is, not under illusions that lead us to mistake what is not for what is. For example, Foucault sometimes suggests that politics is the continuation of war by other means (for example, Foucault, 1997). What might he mean by that? Well, actually, I am not really interested in determining exactly what he might mean. I am not interested in perfecting my interpretation in order to grasp exactly what Foucault

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meant (as if “exactly what Foucault meant” were an entity capable of being grasped by a mind or by a text). I am interested in assessing what consequences for practice such a claim might have if it is in some sense true. Examining Foucault is a way of testing my own way of reading the world around me. It is also a search for ideas in Foucault that promise to be useful. Let us start by taking just a peak at the beginning of Foucault’s life. Paul-Michel Foucault was born October 15, 1926, at Poitiers, France, into a family combining advanced education with property ownership; his father was a physician and medical school professor, his mother inherited land (Eribon, 1989: 21). These few facts give me an opportunity to say a little more about my use of Kalecki. Even if Foucault had not been born into a rich family, Kalecki would suggest that it would be advisable while interpreting him to notice that there is an elephant in the room. The elephant is that the funding of literary and academic life in France or anywhere else largely depends on decisions made by people like the Foucault’s who have enough money to be able to decide what to fund. It seems to me hardly open to doubt that broad trends in academic work will reflect the perceived interests and the ideals of the bulk of its funders and purchasers. Dewey expressed a similar perspective when he heaped scorn on what he called “the dogma of the immaculate conception of philosophical systems” (Dewey, 1931: 220). I will read Foucault as broadly fitting the pattern suggested by this point of view. Having tracked Foucault only as far as the exit door of the maternity ward, let us postpone re-starting my tracking of Foucault’s life and works in more or less chronological order. Instead let’s next go a little more deeply into why I decided that a study of Foucault would be a forward step – and perhaps even a necessary step – in my efforts to serve the causes I hold dear. On a first and superficial glance, my philosophy and Foucault’s are incompatible. If one is right, the other must be wrong. Foucault is against authority. I am for authority. Foucault unabashedly favours devoting life to pleasure seeking, although perhaps he changed his mind in his last years to the limited extent of favouring discipline of the self by the self. I am in favour of social norms (although on the whole not of laws) that limit and channel pleasure seeking. Foucault sides with the sophists; I am with Plato. He sides with Nietzsche; I side with religion and not just with intelligent religion, but also with the dumb rituals and stories that go with the morality of the herd. I believe there is an objective basis for ethics in physical reality; he believes discourse defines its objects. I believe in truth. Foucault (it is sometimes said) does not. I explain social reality to some considerable extent in terms of rules. He explains it in terms of power. I have any number of proposals for solving humanity’s main problems. Foucault has none. (Even his activism on prison issues was not framed as a proposal for solving

Lecture One

the prison problem; it was framed as giving voice to the prisoners to tell their own stories in their own words.) “He says he offers no solutions” (Foucault, 1980b: 86–87). On a closer examination, these differences, which appear on a first and superficial glance, tend to vanish. I agree with Foucault more than would appear from my self-portrayal in the preceding paragraph. His claims are overall rather modest and limited, although not uninteresting or unimportant. He did believe in truth. His writings are often not so much extremist as ambiguous, lending themselves to multiple and sometimes mutually inconsistent interpretations. Jana Sawicki wrote about him, “That he has been labelled structuralist determinist and voluntarist, activist and fatalist, leftist and neoconservative suggests either that his own discourse was incoherent and confused or that his interpreters have been unwilling to suspend assumptions and categories when judging it” (Sawicki, 1994: 354). The first and superficial glance will not do. We need the closer examination. Let us begin a closer examination by looking at one of the introductory summaries of his work provided by Foucault himself. In 1983 on a visit to Berkeley during the year before he rather suddenly and unexpectedly died, leaving a great deal of work in progress uncompleted, he wrote a brief introduction to his philosophy in English, which included the following words: As a starting point, let us take a series of oppositions which have developed over the last few years: opposition to the power of men over women, of parents over children, of psychiatry over the mentally ill, of medicine over the population, of administration over the ways people live. It is not enough to say that these are anti-authority struggles. We must try to define more precisely what they have in common. 1. They are ‘transversal’ struggles; that is, they are not limited to one country. Of course, they develop more easily and to a greater extent in certain countries, but they are not confined to a particular political or economic form of government. 2. The aim of these struggles is power effects as such. For example, the medical profession is not criticized primarily because it is a profit-making concern, but because it exercises an uncontrolled power over people’s bodies, their health and their life and death. 3. These are ‘immediate’ struggles for two reasons. In such struggles people criticize instances of power which are closest to them, those which exercise their action on individuals. They do not look for the ‘chief enemy,’ but for the immediate enemy. Nor do they expect to find a solution to their problems at a future date (that is, liberations, revolutions, end of class struggle). In comparison with a theoretical scale of explanations or a

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revolutionary order which polarizes the historian, they are anarchistic struggles. (Foucault, 1983: 211)

Each of these three commonalities of the new struggles defined in Foucault’s proposed “starting point” is consistent with what Foucault told Catherine von Bülow at JeanPaul Sartre’s funeral when he said that his youthful passion had been to separate himself from the “terrorism” of Sartre and Sartre’s journal Les Temps Modernes (Eribon, 1989: 297). He is building an alternative to phenomenological Marxism. In each of the three cases the “anarchistic struggle” Foucault endorses contrasts with notions typical of Marxism, namely: concern with a particular political or economic form of government; criticism of profit making; solutions to problems at a future date through liberations, through revolutions, through ending the class struggle and establishing a classless society. Having identified the above three commonalities of the new struggles, Foucault goes on to say three more things about them that he calls “more specific”: 4. They are struggles which question the status of the individual: on the one hand, they assert the right to be different and they underline everything which makes individuals truly individual. On the other hand, they attack everything which separates the individual, breaks his links with others, splits up community life, forces the individual back on himself and ties him to his own identity in a constraining way. These struggles are not exactly for or against the ‘individual,’ but rather they are struggles against the ‘government of individualization.’ 5. They are an opposition to the effects of power which are linked with knowledge, competence, and qualification: struggles against the privileges of knowledge.

But they are also an opposition against secrecy, deformation, and mystifying representations imposed on people. There is nothing ‘scientistic’ in this (that is, a dogmatic belief in the value of scientific knowledge), but neither is it a sceptical or relativistic refusal of all verified truth. What is questioned is the way in which knowledge circulates and functions: In short, the regime de savoir. 6. Finally, all these present struggles revolve around the question: Who are we? They are a refusal of these abstractions, of economic and ideological state violence which ignore who we are individually, and also a refusal of scientific or administrative inquisition which determines who one is. (Foucault, 1983: 211–212)

Lecture One

Earlier in the same text Foucault states what his own goal has been “during the last twenty years”, that is, during the period 1963–1983. He writes: I would like to say, first of all, what has been the goal of my work during the last twenty years. It has not been to analyse the phenomena of power, nor to elaborate the foundations of such an analysis. My objective, instead, has been to create a history of different modes by which, in our culture, human beings are made subjects. (Foucault, 1983: 208)

He identifies three such modes. The first is science, or, rather, modes of inquiry that pretend to be scientific. The second is dividing practices: for example, dividing the sick and the healthy, the criminals and the “good boys”. The third: “Finally, I have sought to study – it is my current work – the way a human being turns him- or herself into a subject. For example, I have chosen the domain of sexuality – how men have learned to recognize themselves as subjects of ‘sexuality’” (Foucault, 1983: 208). Let me follow up these quotations in which Foucault introduces himself with some general remarks discussing three worries, or three sets of worries, people might have about Foucault. Since Foucault supported several worthy and important causes, one might worry that his influence would divert energy away from other equally or more worthy and important causes that are less identified with his name. He is sometimes assigned part of the blame for the rise of a divisive identity politics that put movements to transform capitalism on the back burner. His friend (with whom he later quarrelled) Gilles Deleuze credited him with having undermined all “leftism” by making “normalization” rather than some typically Marxist theme like oppression or exploitation the centre of historical analysis (Deleuze, 1977: 183–184). One might worry that Foucault’s influence has undermined and continues to undermine social movements that think of themselves as resisting oppression or exploitation. My view is that it is unlikely that transforming capitalism, ecology, and other important issue areas will be neglected because some people emphasise queer rights, prison justice, and other topics that were Foucault’s special concerns. I see no logical reason why this should be so. However, this does not mean I am not worried about Foucault. It is one thing for one person to work on poverty issues and another person to work on prison reform issues while both persons have a comprehensive understanding of how the system works and how to change it. It is quite another thing for Foucault to go out of his way to construct a non-economic interpretation of history that filters out the economic structures that need to be changed (see, for example, the Introduction to Foucault, 1969).

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Barry Smart has written that the political effect of Foucault’s philosophy is, in summary, to render problematic the classic discourse of socialism and its associated forms of political strategy (Smart, 1986: 166–169). Although Smart does not explicitly consider the possibility that this political effect was one Foucault intended, consciously or unconsciously, I believe that the following lectures will convince an open-minded reader that this possibility is a probability. I have chosen, like John Dewey, to identify with the positive, liberal, and undogmatic senses of the historically battered term “socialism”, with full awareness of the crimes that have been committed in its name; with an intention to eliminate those ideas historically associated with the term that have lent themselves to committing them, and with no intention of eliminating either markets or privately-owned businesses. I tend to identify achieving desirable forms of socialism with making progress toward solving humanity’s principal problems. To get from here (a world that exchange value made) to there (a world where people evaluate and revise institutions continually so that little by little the institutions do a better job of meeting human and environmental needs), I believe that theories are needed. By a “theory” I mean an account of causes and their effects. One need not embrace totalising theories to see the need for theory linking actions to be taken (regarded as causes) to expected consequences that will tend to solve problems (regarded as effects). I think I have good reasons for worrying about Foucault insofar as his work tends to discredit social democracy and to discredit theory. One might also worry that Foucault’s chronic aversion to authority (Sawicki,  1994: 394) would make him anti-social. However, he also came to speak toward the end of his career of a crisis of governability similar to Hannah Arendt’s crisis of authority (Foucault, 1980b: 94). I believe Foucault would agree that in the real world the breakdown of reasonable, functional, legitimate non-authoritarian authority does not lead to the full freedom of the individual to pursue unusual pleasures. It leads instead to chaos quickly followed by brutal authoritarian domination. My thinking here is influenced by my experiences living in Chile during the Pinochet coup and its aftermath (see Caroline Richards, 1985). Foucault was sympathetic not only to the anti-authoritarian movements of the 1960s, but also to that period’s experiments in communal life and worker ownership. He opposed “everything which separates the individual, breaks his links with others, splits up community life, forces the individual back on himself and ties him to his own identity in a constraining way” (Foucault, 1983: 211). In general, I am not worried about anti-authoritarian passions overwhelming an ethic of solidarity. One of my reasons for optimism is empirical. Findings of studies in the psychology of moral

Lecture One

development show that the people committed to co-operating under the guidance and direction of norms of solidarity and the people who respect other people’s right to be different tend to be the same people (Hoffman, 2000).Being anti-authoritarian appears to make people more pro-social, not less pro-social. A third set of worries one might have concerns Foucault’s relationship with Marxism. Sometimes he associated himself with Marx (for example, Foucault, 1980a:  53). Sometimes he distanced himself from Marx (for example, Foucault, 1980a: 58). One might fear that he gives aid and comfort to whomever one takes the enemy to be. He once described himself as neither an adversary nor a partisan of Marxism (Foucault, 1984: 595). That self-description can be contested, but it is not wrong if it mainly means that he was willing to learn from Marx and Marxists. He was clearly an intellectual adversary, although not a personal enemy, of Jean-Paul Sartre. I will be regarding Foucault as a life-long Marx-avoider in the sense that he avoids coming to grips with the ethical issues posed by a critique of political economy – for example with the ethics of property rights. I confess that my terminology is odd in the respect that Marx himself can be regarded as a Marx-avoider in my sense if he is read through lenses, for example Althusserian lenses, that sharply separate science from ethics and read Marx (or at any rate the mature Marx) as a partisan of the former at the expense of the latter. Foucault avoided the political commitments of Sartre engagé, although for a time he became engagé in his own way with the prison rights and the anti-psychiatry movements. In the last years of Sartre’s life, the aging Sartre leaning on the arm of Simone de Beauvoir sometimes marched down a street in Paris together with Michel Foucault demonstrating for the same worthy cause. But Sartre and Foucault were not engagé in the same way. Even when they were at the same place at the same time doing the same thing, their philosophies were different. Sartre was participating in a long-term global movement to change the system. Foucault was participating in a short-term specific action to resist an effect of power. Now I will make the first of specific remarks to be continued in the next lecture concerning Foucault’s earliest works. The first remark will be biographical and a bit repetitive. Remark 1: I already said that Paul-Michel Foucault, later known as Michel Foucault, was born 15 October 1926 in the provincial city of Poitiers. Here is more detail. He was the second child of his parents, following his older sister Francine and preceding his younger brother, Denys. The family is rich. A governess takes care of the children, while a cook does the cooking. There is even a chauffer (Eribon, 1989: 21). His father, Paul Foucault senior, with whom he never had an affectionate relationship, is a

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surgeon and a teacher at a school of medicine. His mother, with whom he will spend the month of August and other vacation days throughout his life (ibid.: 31) inherited extensive real estate holdings in the region. Madame Foucault devotes herself to the education of young Paul-Michel. She even sometimes hires private professors to supplement what the local lycée is able to offer (Id. pp. 23–24). When he fails in his first attempt to gain admission to the École Normale Supérieur she sends him to Paris to prepare for the entrance examinations again, this time at the prestigious lycée Henri IV. He does not get along with his classmates. He is different because he lives alone. The students at Henri IV, except for Paul-Michel Foucault, are either external or internal. Those from Paris live with their families and are externals. The provincials like Foucault live in the dormitory. But Paul-Michel cannot stand to live with a group, and since his family has means, his mother tries to buy an apartment for him. She finds none for sale and Paul-Michel ends up taking a room in a house on Boulevard Raspail (ibid.: 32–33). Both in the lycée and later at the École Normale Supérieur, to which he is admitted after a second attempt, Foucault is seen by his classmates as wild, enigmatic, a loner, sarcastic, argumentative, aggressive, and half crazy. He was almost unanimously detested (ibid.: 33, 43). In the 1940s homosexuality was not as widely accepted as it is today, and young Paul-Michel suffered greatly because of being gay and because of what appeared to be some form of insanity. More than once he attempted suicide (ibid.: 43, 44). He read widely and passionately. He read Plato, Kant, Hegel, and all the philosophical classics; he read the Marquis de Sade, Kafka, Genet, Faulkner and vanguard literature generally; he read Freud and other psychologists; and like everyone else of course he read Marx. But more than anyone else he read Martin Heidegger (ibid.: 47). At a slightly later period he read more Nietzsche than Heidegger; in an interview in 1984, Foucault said that reading Heidegger and reading Nietzsche were for him two fundamental experiences (ibid.:  48). First, he read the translation of Sein und Zeit into French by Alphonse de Waehlen, which appeared in 1942. Then he devoted himself to learning German so that he could read Heidegger in the original (ibid.: 47). In 1948, he graduated with a degree in philosophy, writing a senior thesis on transcendental history in Hegel. In 1949 he graduated again, this time in psychology. In 1952, he finished earning a graduate level diploma in pathological psychology (ibid.: 62). He joined the Communist Party in 1950 and left it in 1953. Let me close today by saying that although I did not prepare these lectures to be given in Africa, I have the good fortune to be able to present them here in Pretoria and to discuss them with two scholars who bring to the reading of Foucault perspectives of their own. Catherine Odora Hoppers is perhaps the world’s leading expert on indigenous knowledge systems. Evelin Lindner is a medical doctor and a psychologist. She is the founding president of a worldwide network devoted to dignity and humiliation studies. Although these lectures retain their original title

Lecture One

“Against Foucault”, their published version, including discussions with Catherine and Evelin, will draw its title from a completely new perspective provided in the first instance by Catherine, then adopted by all three of us and brought into dialogue with my perspective and Evelin´s. It is a perspective that appreciates Foucault’s role as an emancipatory critic of institutions and social forces that tend to impose a bogus orthodoxy, to call it knowledge, and to try to compel everyone else to call it knowledge.

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LECTURE ONE Discussion COH - Catherine Odora Hoppers EL - Evelin Lindner HR - Howard Richards

COH:

Michel Foucault has been important for those of us who critique the constitutive rules of the modern world system, and work for secondlevel indigenisation and indigenous knowledge systems.

EL:

I think I understand what you mean about the constitutive rules of the modern world-system. Foucault can be read as “deconstructing” them although he does not use the term “deconstruction”.

COH:

Yes. He does not use the term “constitutive rules” either although he comes close when he shows how discourses create their own objects.

EL:

… like madness-talk creating madness in Madness and civilisation. And I also think I understand what you mean by “indigenous knowledge systems”.

COH:

Foucault showed me how knowledge is linked to discourses, to who can speak, when, for how long, and with what authority. He was a champion of subjugated knowledges.

HR:

… or as our friend Shiv Visvanathan says, “defeated epistemologies.” I like that phrase …

EL:

… and of levelling the playing field by deflating the scientific pretensions of psychiatry, criminology, sociology, psychology … and so on.

COH:

… showing them to be as much products of power as they are products of knowledge. Foucault helped me to see that power and knowledge are inseparable. I find confirmation of what I learned from him every day in my work to transform universities in Africa.

EL:

Yes. I can understand “critique of constitutive rules” and “respect for indigenous knowledge systems.” But could you explain to our viewers what you mean by “second-level indigenisation?” I imagine that there must be something called “first-level indigenisation” and that “secondlevel indigenisation” must be something different from it.

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COH:

Perhaps I can explain that in terms of what is familiar in other contexts. When Europeans took control of Africa and divided it up into colonies ruled by European nation states, they imposed on the continent what they regarded as “civilisation”.

EL:

Would that be an example of what you mean by a “discourse”?

COH:

Yes, exactly. Their discourse on “civilisation” excluded many people! Distinguishing the civilised people from the uncivilised people is a good example of a discourse disqualifying knowledges and silencing speakers.

EL:

Is it a good example of knowledge and power being inseparable?

COH:

I know that some Africans were persuaded to become “civilised” by missionaries, and some acquiesced because of trading voluntarily with European merchants, but …

EL:

… so were those cases where the discourse of civilisation spread by …

COH:

… the subtle, insidious, and pervasive operations of power that Foucault taught us how to see. But anybody can see even without Foucault that fundamentally Africans had no choice because of what Walter Rodney called “Europe’s temporary military superiority”.

HR:

… which reminds me of something you said when we first met at the meetings of the Global Political Economy Commission of the International Peace Research Association in Durban in 1995. You said, “Europeans never remember that the rules of the game of the global economy were imposed on Africa by violence. Africans never forget.” Echoes of your words have been ringing in my mind from then until now.

COH:

I do not remember using exactly that language. It is a bit of an exaggeration to say no Europeans remember. There are probably some Europeans who remember. There are probably some Africans who forget.

EL:

A code that governed discourse, what Foucault might call an épistème, and a set of practices, what Foucault might call techniques of discipline, were imposed on Africa.

COH:

The civilisations …

EL:

… by speaking in the plural you mean the African civilisations, the ones that were here before the Europeans came …

COH:

… the epistemologies, all what Africans already had, were defeated …

HR:

… so you like Shiv´s phrase too …

Discussion

COH:

… and Africans were reduced to being allowed to have “cultures” but no “knowledge”. They were allowed to have “belief systems” but not allowed to call anything in their heritage “science”. “Civilisation” by definition was European civilisation.

HR:

In Immanuel Wallerstein’s terms, it was the European world system, and not the Chinese world system or some other system that became today’s modern world system.

COH:

When formal colonialism ended in the 1950s and 1960s, then for the most part European “civilisation” remained. Its constitutive rules remained. Foucault, writing The order of things at about the same time, might have said that its épistème, its basic cultural code governing knowledge, remained.

EL:

So, are you saying that independence meant first-level indigenisation, but not second-level indigenisation?

HR:

Would you say that in spite of the Umoja of Julius Nyerere and other Africanising movements?

COH:

After we make the conceptual distinction we can go into the question of how that conceptual tool applies to varied patterns of facts. Conceptually, in first-level indigenisation there are more highprofile players with black faces and fewer high-profile players with white faces, but the rules of the game stay the same. In second-level indigenisation, indigenous knowledge systems participate in defining the constitutive rules.

EL:

Reading between the lines …

HR:

… or listening between the lines …

EL:

I think you meant to say also that the very concept of second-level indigenisation constructs an object of discourse. Borrowing from Foucault the idea that what we can talk about defines what we can see, once you make that conceptual distinction, you look around and see things you did not see before you proposed the concept. You see that in Africa today there is quite a lot of first-level indigenisation. There is very little second-level indigenisation. When you work to promote more of it, Foucault is your ally because he has shown in exquisite detail how the “savoir” – the knowledge – of “notre modernité” – European modernity is not universal and eternal as the Enlightenment thought, but local and temporary. And it is less the product of the accumulation of discoveries than it is the product of the evolution of techniques of social control.

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COH:

This might be a good place to insert a question I have wanted to ask Howard. Assuming that you agree with what we are saying …

HR:

I would go on to add some further qualifications – as I am sure you and Evelin would – but in the main I do agree.

COH:

… then why are you speaking “Against Foucault” instead of “For Foucault?”

HR:

A good question. Perhaps I should begin to answer by saying that the reason I call my interpretation of Foucault neo-Kaleckian is that Michal Kalecki observed that normally works of art and learning are composed for the benefit of people who have discretionary income that can be spent on art and learning. I do not think Foucault’s work was an exception. In any case, this was only the first of fifteen lectures. I will have fourteen more opportunities to complete my answer.

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LECTURE TWO 4 May, 2013 I continue with remarks on Foucault’s early works. Remark 2: Interviewed by Gerard Raulet, Foucault said that his first book was his doctoral dissertation, his history of madness published in 1961 (Foucault, 1994). He preferred to forget a 1954 book written for a series edited by his then supervisor Professor Louis Althusser. It was an introductory manual for students of psychology oriented toward so-called scientific psychology. It included a lengthy and favourable presentation of the tenets of Soviet behaviourism (Foucault, 1954). Remark 3: In 1955, in his first published book (not counting the book he preferred to forget), a long introduction (so long that it was longer than the text it introduced) to a French translation of Traum und Existenz by the Swiss psychiatrist, Ludwig Binswanger, Foucault described his method as a Heideggerian one in which philosophy was always present, but not presupposed. Therefore, he wrote, “we can dispense with an introduction that summarizes Sein und Zeit with numbered paragraphs, and free ourselves for the less rigorous task of writing marginal notes to Traum und Existenz” (Foucault, 1955: 68). Following Heidegger, but without explicitly stating the reasons Heidegger gave for taking the positions he took, Foucault rejected all positivist psychology. Since positivism has had a long and varied history since it began with Auguste Comte in the early 19th century, it is well to note what sort of thinking he had in mind when he rejected the thinking he named with that word. He glosses over his own meaning by saying he rejects all psychology that treated the human mind and the human being as part of nature. The existential analysis of Dasein, which Foucault contrasts with “positivism” as its polar opposite, is, “… a form of analysis that designates itself as fundamental with respect to any knowledge that is concrete, objective, and experiential; in which the point of beginning and also the method are determined only by the absolute privilege of their object: man, or rather human being, Mensch-sein” (Foucault, 1955: 66). Since Foucault takes Heidegger’s position without reviewing Heidegger’s reasons for taking it, I will briefly review some of the philosophical moves that accomplished the turning of the tables that allowed Foucault and Heidegger to regard naturalistic psychology as naïve, and Daseinsanalysis as fundamental, starting with Heidegger’s teacher, Edmund Husserl. Husserl called for “bracketing the natural standpoint”, in other words for putting the natural standpoint between parentheses and suspending judgment concerning it. The natural standpoint is a standpoint that takes the objects

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in the everyday world and ordinary ways of thinking about them for granted. Husserl insisted that from a scientific point of view, the natural standpoint assumes what is to be proved. It accepts without question what needs to be rationally examined. Husserl revived the Hegelian word “phenomenology” and started a school of thought that proposed (as Descartes had proposed more than 300 years earlier) to rebuild knowledge on a sound basis, this time starting (instead of with Descartes’ “clear and distinct ideas”) with the phenomena given to consciousness. In other words: starting with experience – not the naïve experience of the person who simply reads reality through the lenses of the common sense of her time and place, but the carefully bracketed experience of people who follow Husserl’s method for purifying experience of all its built-in assumptions. Heidegger elaborated Husserl’s phenomenological method in his own way, as did Foucault’s teacher, Maurice Merleau-Ponty (Merleau-Ponty, 1945). Heidegger made “being” the central issue. (His point is clearer in German because the verb to be (sein) is spelled with the same letters as the capitalised noun being (Sein).) This makes intuitive sense. How can you say anything about anything before you know what “is”, “are” and other forms of the verb “to be” mean? At the beginning of Sein und Zeit Heidegger (1927: 5–38) proposes a method for going about inquiring what being is. It turns out that the right way to ask the question is to ask about the questioner, that is, that being for whom being is a question, that is, human being, designated by Heidegger as Dasein (literally being-there) (Heidegger, 1927: 7, 11, 12, 41–49). (Instead of just calling it human being, Heidegger needs to coin a term like Dasein in order to avoid falling back into the natural standpoint.) Dasein (human being) turns out to be a being always interpreting itself; it is a self that is always a question for itself; it is always reading itself, always telling stories about itself; and it always finds itself already thrown into the world, it is already in-der-Welt-sein, being-inthe-world, experiencing a world where the sun rises in the East and sets in the West (even though science says the planet earth revolves around the sun) and in which (to borrow an example from Frege) there is a morning star and an evening star (even though science says both are the same planet, Venus) (Heidegger, 1927: 50–88). I have suggested in other writings that evoking respect for traditional patterns of social authority is the main payoff for Heidegger of his strategy for turning the tables on the scholars Foucault calls positivists (and also on those known as neo-Kantians), thus establishing the interpretation of experience as a foundation of knowledge prior to natural science. The world where the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, and where there is a morning star and an evening star, is the same world that has the heaven above and the earth below (a point Heidegger elaborates in his essay on “The Thing” (Heidegger, 1987)). For Heidegger, the question of being (a question that

Lecture Two

rescues the morning star from the astronomers) – far from being empty and general – is the “most concrete question” (Heidegger, 1927: 9). I suggest that the main payoff for early Foucault is that Heidegger’s Daseinsanalyse authorises the study of “concrete experience”. Concrete experience, in turn, grounds the rescue of all that he and his mother hold dear from the terrifying advance of conformist pseudo-scientific mediocrity. In later years Foucault’s work will give new meaning to the word “experience”. In this early work, that “concrete experience” is for him a doorway to realms disregarded by naturalistic psychology quickly becomes apparent in Foucault’s comments on Binswanger’s Traum und Existenz. Descartes, the grandfather of modern science, had worried that everything he thought he knew might be false because although he thought he was sitting in his robe in a chair beside the fire, he might be dreaming. Merely dreaming. Freud had rescued concrete experience from Descartes because he rescued dreams from being “mere dreams”. Foucault writes of Freud, “With his book Traumdeutung the dream made its entry into the field of human meanings” (Foucault,  1955: 69). But Freud only rescued the semantics of dreams. Freud interpreted fire as a symbol for sex or water as a symbol for death. It was not until the coming of Ludwig Binswanger, the Heideggerian author of Traum und Existenz, that science took seriously the morphology and the syntax of dreams. Later in his career Foucault will rescue not only dreams, but also madness, art, criminality, unusual sexual behaviour, the history of the sciences, and history itself from reduction to the pre-formed categories of naturalistic analysis (which early Foucault calls “positivist”). What he did always was “concrete analysis”. It started with Mensch-sein and later, after a series of transformations, it became the creation of a history of different modes by which, in our culture, human beings are made subjects; and still later it became a history of sexuality. Consistently until the end of his days, in spite of the changes his thought underwent from one period of his life to another, and even though in 1969 he decided that in some senses it was good and not bad to study “positivities” (Foucault, 1969), his studies always carried an antinaturalist message, although not always the specifically Heideggerian message of his 1955 introduction to Binswanger. In 1955 Foucault writes: “This project locates itself in opposition to all the forms of psychological positivism that seek to extinguish the meaningful content of the person by using the reductive concept of homo natura, and it replaces them into the context of an ontological reflection that takes as its major theme the presence of being, existence, Dasein” (Foucault, 1955: 66). In 1983 Foucault writes that he identifies with social struggles that “underline everything which makes individuals truly individual”, he is still talking about the freedom to be authentic, to be crazy, to be an artist.

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Remark 4: Although early Foucault took phenomenological hermeneutics in a somewhat different direction, which, with the benefit of hindsight, we can call a characteristically Foucauldian one, he also participated in characteristically Heideggerian moves. Pierre Bourdieu has shown that Heidegger was the academically respectable spokesperson for numerous popular conservative writers who dreamed of soulful rural utopias of yesteryear and despised and feared the soulless urban masses (Bourdieu, 1985). Although I have found nothing in writing regarding Foucault’s mother’s ideology, since we do know that a conservative one would have served her material interests, and since we do know from Bourdieu’s research and other sources that a conservative romanticism was in the air in Europe, we can entertain the working hypothesis that Foucault himself imbibed popular conservatism with his mother’s milk. Consistently with this conjecture, in his early work Foucault, following Heidegger, re-enchanted the disenchanted modern world. In the process he returned to it a vivid sense of right and wrong. Here are two examples in the form of quotes from Foucault’s long introduction to Binswanger [with explanatory notes in brackets]: Every act of expression is to be understood against the background of these primary orientations [those of Daseinsanalyse]; it is not produced ex nihilo, but it situates itself in their trajectory, and it starts with them, as the starting point of a curve to which one must attribute the ensemble of the movement of its total accomplishment. It is in that measure that there can be a [philosophical] anthropology of art, which is in no way a psychological reduction. It cannot be a matter of tracing back the structures of expression to the determinism of unconscious motivations, but it is a matter of being able to acknowledge them along all the line of transformation of human freedom. Along that line that goes from near space to distant space, we will encounter a specific form of expression; there where existence knows the dawn of triumphant departures, the voyages and adventures, the marvellous discoveries, the sieges of towns, the unforgotten exiles, the stubborn insistence on returning, the bitterness of the things found unchanged and aged, throughout the length and breadth of that Odyssey of existence, in the ‘great songs woven of dreams and realities’ epic expression takes its place as a fundamental structure of the expressive act. (Foucault, 1955: 105) [T]he experience of dreaming cannot be separated from its ethical content. Not because it reveals secret penchants, unspeakable desires that bring to the surface nude instincts, not because dreams are able, like Kant’s God, to ‘plumb the depths of hearts and kidneys;’ but because it restores to its authentic sense the movement of freedom, because it shows in what way it is grounded or alienated; because it shows whether it is constituted as radical responsibility in the world, or whether it forgets itself and abandons itself to

Lecture Two

the fall into causality. The dream is the absolute revelation of ethical content, the naked heart. (Foucault, 1955: 91–92) As a critical realist, I want to say that such characteristically conservative ideas and passions (those of Heidegger, those of Bourdieu’s popular protofascist writers in central Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, those of early Foucault, those of similar contemporary thinkers) can be understood, accommodated, and respected within an ecological view of the physical functions of human cultures.

I should say here, hoping it will be understood implicitly elsewhere, that although in some important ways some of his work is appropriately called anti-naturalist, I do not believe that Michel Foucault ever denies the main premises of critical realism. The dialogue between him and critical realists is not one between people who agree on the definitions of the terms, but disagree about the truth values of the statements made with the terms; so that some say yes where others say no, some say true where others say false; it is rather a dialogue among speakers who have made different choices about how to speak. Although in later years Foucault became famous for showing how discourses create their objects, to my knowledge he never said there are no natural objects prior to people giving names to them, nor that the natural world is unknowable, nor that socially created realities are the only realities, nor anything similar to any of these three claims, but expressed in different terms. Sometimes he makes it a point to distinguish nature from culture (see, for example, Foucault, 1966). He also makes it a point to distinguish legitimate natural science from bogus disciplines that pretend to be natural science (Foucault, 1976: 73). Remark 5: Young Foucault was driven to the study of the history of psychology by the same anti-positivist anti-naturalist concerns that drove his 1955 work on dreams. In 1957, he contributed to an anthology on contemporary philosophy a chapter on “Psychology from 1850 to 1950”. Foucault began his review of a century of psychological research and writing by saying that psychology had inherited from the Enlightenment the desire to align itself with the natural sciences and to find in human beings the prolongation of the laws that govern natural phenomena. Thus, we learn that alignment with the natural sciences and seeking to prolong natural laws into the explanation of human behaviour are targets Foucault aims to hit in rejecting positivism. He goes on to write that from its beginnings until the middle of the 20th century psychology had been unable to escape the contradiction between its project (to understand human beings) and its postulates (anti-historical positivism). He concludes, “Is the future of psychology not then to be found in taking seriously its contradictions, the very contradictions that gave it birth? There would not then be any psychology possible except by the analysis of the conditions of human existence

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and by the recurring to the study of what is most human in man, that is to say, his history” (Foucault, 1957a: 137; see also Foucault, 1957b). Thus, Foucault sets the stage for his doctoral dissertation, his history of madness, Histoire de la Folie. His doctoral dissertation was a study of a psychological topic, insanity, written using an historical methodology. Its aim would be humanistic: to recover what is most human from the grip of a dehumanising positivism. Remark 6: His 1961 doctoral dissertation, Histoire de la Folie a l’Age Classique (Madness and civilization), was a polemic against positivism from beginning to end (Foucault, 1961: 67–70, 166, 179, 188–189, 208, 274, 428, 440, 472, 548, 552, 572, 598; cf., Derrrida, 1994: 65–68). Like Sein und Zeit it was a story of decline and fall. In the early days, “En marche vers Dieu, l’homme est plus que jamais offert à la folie, et le havre de vérité vers lequel finalement la grâce le pousse, qu’est-il d’autre, pour lui, qu’un abime de déraison?” [On the way to God, man is more than ever opened to madness, and the haven of truth toward which finally grace pulls him, what else is it, for him, than an abyss of unreason?]” (Foucault, 1961: 51). The story ends sadly: “Le positivisme alors ne sera plus projet théorique, mais stigmate de l’existence aliénée. Le statut d’objet sera imposée d’entrée de jeu à tout individu reconnu aliéné” (Foucault, 1961, p. 575). [Positivism, now, would no longer be a theoretical project, but the stigma of alienated existence. The status of object would be imposed at the beginning of play on every individual considered insane.]” (Foucault, 1961: 575). One is reminded of Heidegger’s famous question, “What has happened to us in the roots of our being now that science has become our passion?” Remark 7: Also like Sein und Zeit, Histoire de la folie can be treated – quite apart from its author’s explicit claims – as a prophetic book that reveals what must be done to cure modernity of its crisis of authority. I will here use Histoire de la folie to revise my own proposals for social transformation without claiming to speak for Foucault. In the final chapter Foucault says that Descartes’ approach to truth made impossible le lyrisme de la déraison (Foucault, 1961: 638). It would seem to follow that if early Foucault and his allies succeed in dispelling the illusions of a Cartesian approach to truth generally and of naturalistic psychology specifically, then le lyrisme de la déraison could be rescued. It had continued to exist in romantic undercurrents during the times when a Cartesian approach to truth was rising and gradually becoming dominant – the poetry and prints of William Blake come to mind; as do Nietzsche’s last words, proclaiming himself to be at once Christ and Dionysius; as do Friedrich Hölderlin and other romantics Foucault mentions appreciatively. Now, thanks to Heidegger and to followers of Heidegger like young Foucault, le lyrisme de la déraison might become once again the centrepiece of our understanding of whom we are. Perhaps it will save us. Perhaps the following words from Foucault tell us what

Lecture Two

it is: “Thus, in the common discourse of delirium and dream we find together the possibility of a poetry of the world; since madness and dream are at once the moment of extreme subjectivity and that of ironic objectivity, there is here no contradiction: the poetry of the heart, in the final solitude of its lyricism, exasperated, finds itself being by an immediate return the original song of things; and the world, long silenced by the tumult of the heart, finds again its voices” (Foucault, 1961: 639). I must admit that even though I find Bourdieu´s sociological perspective enlightening and even though I have suggested extending it with a psychological conjecture regarding Foucault and his mother, I still do not feel that I fully understand what Foucault might have meant in the lines I have just quoted. Clearly, he is in favour of le lyrisme de la déraison. Perhaps, like Plato, he conceives of divine madness being integrated into a healthy harmonious well-disciplined personality and a just social order. Perhaps he is mainly interested in authority figures leaving individuals alone so they can enjoy le lyrisme de la déraison by themselves. In any case, early Foucault and Heidegger make me fear the emotional power of fascism; and they make me believe that social democracy must compete with it to succeed. People cannot endure even the Supreme Good if it is boring. Although I do not fully understand what Foucault might have meant in this passage, I do think he reflects here in poetic language an important fact. Most people, maybe all people, maybe some people all the time and all people some of the time, are not satisfied with dull routine and live for excitement. Whether one deduces this fact from phenomenological Daseinsanalyse; or intuits it identifying with poets, novelists, and playwrights one admires; or proves it by writing a history of madness; or breathes it every day as part of the breath of personal experience; or, as appears to be the case with Foucault, derives it from all four of these sources; or whether, like Elias and Dunning, one extracts it from sociological analysis of human behaviour (Elias and Dunning, 1986); or whether, like me, one deduces it from emotional proclivities of the human body hundreds of thousands of years old; it is, undoubtedly, a fact. Remark 8: In his doctoral dissertation, the word “experience” takes on new meanings as Foucault researches the historical conditions of the possibility of having one. The subject of an experience is no longer a John Locke or a David Hume sitting by himself having his sense impressions. The subject of a Foucauldian experience in Histoire de la folie is likely to be “the seventeenth century” or “l’age classique”. Nor is Foucault an Immanuel Kant who prescribes once and for all the conditions of any possible experience. Foucault delineates the concrete a priori that determines what experiences are possible at a given time and place. (He will later delineate the concrete a priori that made Hume possible (Foucault, 1966, Chapter 7).)

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Let me give an example comparing classic folie with modern insanity. Actually, my example will be a paradigm in a sense Thomas Kuhn coined in the second edition of his The structure of scientific revolutions (Kuhn, 1969) because that comparison was the central particular scientific achievement of Michel Foucault in Histoire de la folie. The condition of possibility of the age classique’s experience of folie was déraison. Déraison was the background, the fond, against which it was possible to see and to talk about “the fool”. Déraison in turn presupposed and meshed with a set of institutions, practices, and meanings, all of which themselves came into being during earlier periods of historical time. It required, in particular, notions of reason, in comparison with which there could be unreason. For Foucault, an “experience” is simultaneously what is seen and what is said. The condition of possibility of modernity’s experience of insanity was early Foucault’s bête noire, the psychology that seeks to align with the natural sciences and to find in human beings the prolongation of the laws that govern natural phenomena. It classifies mental illnesses as botanists classify plants. Foucault turns the tables on the “hard scientists”, who in their proud overconfidence had regarded themselves as the real scientists of the social and psychological domains, by describing in great detail the historical processes that had to occur before it would become possible for them to have the experiences they have.

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LECTURE TWO Discussion COH - Catherine Odora Hoppers EL - Evelin Lindner HR - Howard Richards

EL:

Are you saying that as a youth and young man Foucault learned to pretend to be a Marxist revolutionary when it was in his interest to do so, but that he was a romantic conservative at heart?

HR:

I think there were a lot of feelings whirling around in his heart and a lot of thoughts whirling around in his mind and that he himself much of the time did not know what he felt or thought, but on the whole my short answer would be yes. The yes requires some context …

EL:

You mean the context of France in the 1940s?

HR:

At least.

EL:

My own life was shaped, as Foucault’s must have been, by World War II and its consequences. My parents were DPs, forcibly displaced persons, Heimatvertriebene. They thought of themselves as Silesians, but when Russian troops liberated Silesia from the Nazis, my parents soon learned that they were thought of as Germans. They were forced out. Against their will, they were transported west and were settled in Hamelin, Germany.

HR:

… the town of the Pied Piper …

EL:

… the Pied Piper of Hamelin. I am a child of parents, parents who regarded home as a place that no longer existed. They did not even continue to speak Silesian, even not to each other, to hide their background. Those displaced people (and there were more than 10 million of them after WW II) were unwelcome newcomers wherever they were settled, forced upon the local populations against their will.

COH:

So, your own youth helps you to understand Foucault’s youth?

EL:

Our lives were impacted by the same war. I can imagine Paul-Michel Foucault as a teen in Poitiers, not knowing whether Hitler would win the war and France would remain a fascist state under German suzerainity.

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COH:

… or whether there would be a revolution and a Communist France? Foucault writes like someone who does not take European normality for granted. Neither do I.

HR:

To a lad in Poitiers it could easily seem that the old world had ended, that the times were dangerous, that intense and violent struggles were under way that would decide what the new world would be, and that the new world might well be run by people who would treat him and his family the way Evelin´s family was treated when World War II ended.

COH:

Would it have been different if Foucault had grown up in Paris?

HR:

In Paris Paul-Michel would have had more opportunities to mix with youngsters of his own social class and intellectual level. When I think of young Foucault going to school in Poitiers I cannot free my mind from the famous photograph of Ludwig Wittgenstein and Adolf Hitler in school together at the Realschule of Linz, Austria, almost a half century earlier. It is disputed whether the well-groomed well-dressed child in the photo really is Ludwig, but in any case, whoever the Ludwig lookalike may be, his photograph exudes the privilege and intelligence that the real Ludwig Wittgenstein would have exuded if he had been there. It is not disputed that young Adolf Hitler is in the picture. It is not disputed that Ludwig and Adolf were of the same age and in the same school at the same time. They were not in the same class. Ludwig was academically two years ahead because he had been promoted one year ahead, while Adolf failed a grade and had to repeat it. Judging by the appearance of the other students in the picture, Adolf appears as a regular guy. Ludwig or his stand-in looks like an outsider who does not belong there.

EL:

So, in your mind the image of an elegant young Ludwig Wittgenstein in the midst of Adolf Hitler and his boyhood pals crystallises the point that brilliant, rich, sensitive, eccentric children are likely to be miserable in provincial schools? In the cases of young Ludwig and young PaulMichel, the image adds to what we already know from biographies.

HR:

Yes, the image evokes sympathy, or at least my sympathy. And then young Foucault discovered the writings of Martin Heidegger!

EL:

He was enthralled with Heidegger, as many of us have been at one moment or another of our lives.

COH:

I think I have a sense of why you bring in Pierre Bourdieu´s sociological study of Heidegger, but I suspect there is more to say. Would you like to say more?

Discussion

HR:

Bourdieu tracks wide swaths of European society already predisposed to listen to Heidegger’s question, “What has happened to us in the depths of our being now that science has become our passion?”, even before Heidegger articulated that question and girded his answers with strong philosophical argumentation.

EL:

Do many intellectuals born to privilege spend their lives looking for justifications for privilege? I can think of many who did, and many who did the opposite.

HR:

Quite apart from the question where Heidegger stands on the class struggle, and the question where Foucault stands on it, and the question whether there exists a class struggle on which everybody by commission or omission takes some stand or other; quite apart from these questions there is Heidegger’s charm as a knock-downer slam-dunker. Surely no question is more fundamental than “What is being?”. Surely anybody who asks it correctly and answers it correctly will be a hotshot in the intellectual world, regardless of what the social implications of her or his answers to it might or might not be.

EL:

So, you think young Michel Foucault was so captivated by Heidegger partly because Heidegger got to the bottom of things, asked fundamental questions, and gave plausible answers to them?

COH:

But you want to say more than that, at least I think you do. You want to say that Bourdieu was right to read Heidegger as the intellectually respectable visible tip rising out of the sea of a giant underwater iceberg of conservative sentiment. What I would like to understand better is what you think Bourdieu´s sociological reading of Heidegger adds to our reading of Foucault?

HR:

Well, as a general rule I do not think we can ever completely separate a philosophical perspective from the practical concerns of the social milieu where it was created. I also think Bourdieu sheds light on two specific themes I will develop. One is that whatever side of whatever social issue Foucault decides to fight on, he will fight with Heideggerian weapons.

COH:

You are going to call archaeologies and genealogies Heideggerian weapons. I think perhaps I can catch a glimpse of what you mean. Foucault’s genealogies rewrite the past from the point of view of excluded knowledges. In Heidegger’s terms this would mean adopting the way of being-in-the-world of the excluded. I would call it a “metaphysical” methodology.

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HR:

“Metaphysical” in the sense in which Roy Bhaskar reclaims that muchabused word, in the sense that every culture has metaphysics because it has its characteristic categories of thought.

COH:

… a methodology that moves back and forth between the mental models or categories of one culture and those of another culture, as in Chinua Achebe’s novel Things fall apart.

EL:

You mean between the dominant metaphysics and the metaphysics of one or more defeated or excluded knowledges? For example, between a colonial worldview that makes civilisation by definition European civilisation, and the recovery of the dignity of indigenous knowledge systems.

COH:

Yes, but what was the second of Howard’s two specific themes where he thinks Bourdieu´s sociological study of Heidegger helps us to understand Foucault? I think he should have said the third, because he had already suggested that Bourdieu helps us to understand the influence of Foucault’s mother and generally of the social milieu he was born into.

HR:

he second, or third if you prefer, is that Bourdieu provides some sociological context for understanding Foucault’s abiding passion to undermine the prestige of a philosopher who used Heideggerian insights as tools for building a left-wing ideology.

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LECTURE THREE 6 May, 2013 Remark 9: Some of my questions now are: Does Foucault gives any good reasons for considering the principle that nature judges culture to be false? Is Dewey wrong when he says philosophical (ethical) hypotheses are to be evaluated by their consequences? Ought institutions to be reformed because they are defective when they fail to assure that everybody has food, clean water, pure air, shelter against cold and heat, and medical care; or are the institutions that do not facilitate the provision of basic security for all simply different, no better and no worse, but only other series of experiences, miserable ones, that people in the course of history happen to have? It seems clear to me that Foucault would answer this last question in the affirmative, that is to say, choosing the first and not the second option – judging by his practical political activities, and by the favourable impressions he had of Swedish social democracy when he lived and taught there. This affirmative answer I attribute to Foucault would lead to a resolution of my doubts about the passage I said I could not understand in the last lecture. Foucault did not say le lyrisme de la déraison in a good society would be physically functional, but if you had asked him he would have said so. It also seems clear that Foucault gives good reasons, noted above in Remark 7, why prosaic achievements meeting physical needs are, although necessary, not sufficient. People also need le lyrisme de la déraison for its own sake quite apart from its practical utility. I would say, being fairly confident that I am agreeing with Foucault while using language he would probably not use: People need mystical experiences. They seek déraison in rock music concerts, in football frenzy, in all night fiestas, in experimental sex, in substance abuse, in violence, in religion, in love, and in art. The need for le lyrisme de la déraison is both an intrinsic and an instrumental need. It is the latter because social structures that do not cultivate constructive forms of it collapse in quarrels. For lack of charm they do not maintain workable human relationships. They do not succeed in meeting even basic physical needs because they fail at what Hannah Arendt calls “the art of living together” (Arendt, 1958: 169). Remark 10: I am reasonably certain that Foucault would agree with the critical realist that society should adjust to physical reality in order to provide concrete benefits for its members. Nevertheless, what he emphasises is a different point: that people who claim to know what reality is and how to adjust to it, abuse their positions as possessors or soi-disant possessors of knowledge. Doctors and other experts exercise

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unwarranted control over other people’s bodies, on the pretext that they, the experts, know what people’s needs are and how to meet them. Surely neither Foucault nor anyone else would deny that there are physical needs that would exist even if there were no doctors, or even if there were none of the cultural forms we know. Foucault sheds some light, and perhaps also some darkness, on this question in his discussions of signs and symptoms in La naissance de la clinique (finished 1961, published 1963). This book continues the humanist and anti-positivist work of the book on madness. Its general thesis is that the medical gaze, le regard médical, the clinical experience, should not be taken for granted as part of nature, for it is a product of history that could only come into existence after the historical conditions of its possibility were met. It is an undesirable product of history. The human being becomes an object, a case. However, like his doctoral dissertation so much of the book is about historical facts that it could almost pass for materialist history. Louis Althusser appears to have thought the dissertation was material history (Eribon, 1989: 153). Much of it could have been written by Fernand Braudel or by Immanuel Wallerstein. The clinical experience, the experience of diagnosis of the patient at the clinic, arose out of the rough and tumble of political struggles, and out of a series of efforts to reorganise medical practice in the aftermath of the French Revolution. The old university faculties of medicine had been abolished and dissolved. Something had to be done to train and certify doctors, and to organise health services. But Foucault adds a non-naturalistic dimension, a Heideggerian one, to his otherwise Braudelian history of medicine when he gives le regard médical the status of fondateur. Or – to put the matter the other way around – Foucault, coming from a background strongly marked by phenomenological studies with Merleau-Ponty and of Heidegger, and following out early Heidegger’s principle that human being is through and through interpretive and historical, and following it out with a personal passion to redeem outcasts and to expose the frauds of those who abuse science to abuse power, is in La naissance de la clinique in the process of becoming more and more immersed in history’s material details. But – here is a point Althusser might not have noticed – Foucault’s methodology meshes with a rather idealistic way of looking at the material details of the history of science. Science’s very categories change in time. In this respect, its categories are no different from myths; the history of science intertwines with that of myths. This comes out in Foucault’s 1961 review of Alexandre Koyre’s La revolution astronomique: Copernic, Kepler, Borelli (Foucault, 1961a). In La naissance de la clinique itself it is not simply the case that after shutting down the old medical establishment, the French Revolution had to reorganise medicine somehow to provide for the health of the people. It is rather the case that the very possibilities of thinking and seeing “medicine”, “health”, and “people” are historically

Lecture Three

contingent and hotly, often violently, contested. In the new order, that of the modern clinic, the doctor or the apprentice-in-training-to-be-a-doctor (or, more impersonally), le regard medical, sees the patient at the clinic. The doctor or assistant takes the pulse, measures the heartbeat, weighs the patient, asks questions, listens to the patient’s self-reports, examines the body, checks the temperature, and diagnoses. In the signs the doctor sees symptoms. Symptoms of what? Symptoms of the underlying cause, the disease. Given the underlying cause, the patient’s condition can be expected to develop – give or take individual differences – as other cases with the same diagnosis develop. It can be treated with the same remedies. The sign/symptom structure of the diagnosis is, Foucault points out, homologous with ideology (ideology as an empiricist semiotic, a systematic study of ideas of the sort Destutt de Tracy proposed when he coined the word). It follows the same pattern in relating words to things as other ideologies. It is a social product, as are other ideologies. Very well, says the critical realist. At a phenomenological level, the relation of sign to symptom is an ideology. Foucault is quite right to say that the regard is fondateur with respect to the object of discourse (Foucault, 1963: vii, x). But, continues the critical realist, if the correct diagnosis is that the patient has measles, the reason why the diagnosis is correct is that the patient has measles. Measles is the physical reality the doctor has detected. I do not believe that anywhere Michel Foucault specifically denies this point, and if he were to deny it, I would not believe that he could have any good reasons for denying it. When the signs are taken as symptoms of measles, the diagnosis is either right or wrong depending on whether the patient has measles or does not; and whether the patient has measles or not depends on the presence or absence of certain germs in the blood and tissues, which have certain molecular structures. Of course, admits the critical realist, there are socially created realities and in an important sense the molecular structures of measles germs can be counted among them; they are ideologies too; they are part of the discourse of chemistry and bacteriology; but, adds the critical realist, in an important sense they are not (Bhaskar, 1978; 1979). Remark 11: I will not give reasons why critical realism is a plausible position to hold vis à vis other contemporary philosophical positions. This has been done better than I could do it by Roy Bhaskar, Margaret Archer, and others. Remark 12: Acknowledging the existence of physical realities is a step toward acknowledging the need to change social realities so that they in turn will change physical realities, which will then in turn change social realities again – hopefully, if all goes well, favouring non-authoritarian authority by making a society’s norms more respectable and more respected because the norms are working better at a physical level.

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Social realities change physical realities not only because discourses define their objects, as in the case of madness-talk creating the category of “insane” and placing certain persons in it. The social changes the physical also because human action guided by conventional rules changes what physically happens. For example: the futures of plant and animal species today depend less than previously on random mutations and old-fashioned Darwinian natural selection, and more on the relationship of the species to the activities of homo sapiens sapiens. Human activities, in turn, are programmed by culture. The future of a species is likely to depend today on whether urbanisation will destroy its habitat; or on whether, as in the case of the coyotes who hunt rats in the landscaped borders of the freeways of Los Angeles, human activity is creating new opportunities for the species; or on whether the heating of waters due to human CO2 emissions is moving the species’ habitat out of the temperature range it requires. But the activities of homo sapiens sapiens – the ways our particular species interchanges matter and energy with the environment – are driven by the prevailing basic cultural structures, notably by capital accumulation. It is still true that human activities are driven by capital accumulation to a major extent – certainly to an extent large enough to impact the future of many species – even after due account is taken of the endless attacks on totalising theories that have proliferated since May of 1968. The conventional social rules that organise commerce conducted for the purpose of turning money into more money explain a lot and move many activities, even though they do not explain all or move everything. Remark 13: As I write this, on the sidewalk outside my hotel in Valparaiso poor people are trying to sell trinkets nobody wants or needs. Basic conventional rules, the ones derived from the Roman jus gentium, explain and animate what they are doing. On the sidewalk they are doing a form of selling that amounts to begging, since it is more likely that someone will buy from a desire to help than from a desire to own. It is a combination of selling and begging that could easily turn into stealing if a seller-beggar encountered a tourist in a dark alley. Their pain and their needs are physical realities, even though there are many layers of cultural interpretation intervening between the cellular level and the concretely experienced in-der-Weltsein of a contemporary impoverished Latin American urban Dasein. They are physical realities interwoven with the legal norms written down in the Civil Code. Remark 14: In 1961, when a reporter from Le Monde asked Michel Foucault who had inspired the methodology he employed in Histoire de la folie, in reply he named two literary artists, Maurice Blanchot and Raymond Roussel, and one specialist in the study of the religious myths of ancient India, Georges Dumezil (Foucault, 1961b). Let us pretend that it is still 1961, and we know who Foucault told Le Monde the inspirers of his methodology were, but we do not know what Michel Foucault will write next;

Lecture Three

we can only speculate. Let us pretend that we have to speculate without knowing what in the later sixties, the seventies and eighties he will say about the choices he made in 1961. His interests in language and myths, one might speculate, might lead him to study language-games as episodes in the natural histories of human beings. Having written a cultural history of a science (psychiatry), and having followed it with a cultural history of another science (medicine), he might have decided to write next a scientific history of a culture, in which he would analyse the material conditions that influence the generation, growth, and selective survival of symbolic structures. Given that he had chosen not to tell the reporter from Le Monde that Heidegger was a major influence, even though there are numerous employments of Heideggerian concepts in Histoire de la folie (see Foucault, 1961: 52, 140, 166, 178, 179, 180–182, 298, 210, 264, 278, 282, 472) we might infer that in 1961, in public, Foucault is backing away from Heidegger. He might have written the material history of the juridical myths that constitute the conditions of possibility of the concrete experiences of entrepreneurs, accountants, lawyers, and economists. He had indeed already advanced in that direction regarding the concrete experiences of doctors and patients by writing La naissance de la clinique (which by the end of 1961 he had finished writing, but had not published). That book was in many ways a study of how the forces of history had shaped the culture of the medical profession. What actually happened was that on Christmas Day of 1961, right after finishing La naissance de la clinique, Foucault began to write an article that grew until it became a book on a purely literary subject, Raymond Roussel (Defert and Ewald, 1994: 24). My conjecture is that having gotten into writing history, as he said, to rescue from positivist psychology what is most human in human beings (Foucault, 1957a; 1957b) he found himself veering towards historical materialism more than he wanted to veer. Histoire de la folie and even more so La naissance de la clinique tend towards the conclusion, in my opinion contrary to their author’s intentions, that material conditions determine the course of history. His next book, a book devoted to a purely literary topic, Raymond Roussel (Foucault, 1963a) was a first step in avoiding that unwanted conclusion. It was followed later and more famously by Les mots et les choses (Foucault, 1966), a book Jean-Paul Sartre quickly recognised as a disguised polemic against materialist accounts of history. Still later it was followed by explicit critiques of seeing economics as the mainspring of history in Archéologie du savoir (Foucault, 1969), in Foucault’s lectures at the Collège de France and in Foucault’s published books in the 1970s.

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LECTURE THREE Discussion COH - Catherine Odora Hoppers EL - Evelin Lindner HR - Howard Richards

COH:

I have a hypothesis about what Howard is trying to do. My hypothesis – or guess, it is really only a guess – is that Howard wants to express and to justify some great fear of Foucault and Foucault’s influence.

EL:

In other words, he wants to warn the public that Foucault is a dangerous man whose influence needs to be checked for the sake of the common good, perhaps even for the sake of the survival of the human species and the biosphere.

COH:

Yes, something like that, but I suspect that Howard is also afraid he will be accused of being unfair to Foucault. So, what he is trying to do is to give the impression of giving Foucault the benefit of every possible doubt, making every reasonable concession to Foucault’s point of view, so that when he finally makes his convincing case that we need to save the world from Foucault-ism, it will be clear that he means no disrespect toward Foucault as a person; it will be clear that he is not violating the sacred norm of respect for persons by twisting the ideas of his opponent to cast scorn on them out of spite; but rather he is recommending a different and better philosophy for the sake of the common good.

EL:

What you are saying suggests to me an explanation for what may be a bit of a muddle. It is that Howard is racing through so many telegraphic replies to objections he is imagining – which we, the listeners, do not know about – that in the end we cannot easily discern what he is trying to say.

HR:

It is not as though we were still living in times like those of the Inquisition, when there was a well-defined orthodoxy in much of Europe. In times like those we live in, if I am going to comment on Foucault at all, I have to comment from some point of view and I have to explain what that point of view is. I cannot assume that we all share a point of view that can remain tacit while I demonstrate that Foucault is mistaken because he violates its principles.

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COH:

So, in a way you are trying to do something similar to what Foucault did in Madness and civilization? He showed that we cannot just talk about “insanity” as if there were some obvious consensus everybody agreed on defining “sanity” so we could count as “insane” whatever deviated from it. Foucault illumines our present post-modern relativism by showing that back in the 17th century people could only use their notion of “folly” by thinking of “folly” as a kind of déraison that could only make sense in a context where there was a concept of raison. If you are going to argue that Foucault is in some sense “wrong”, then you have to answer the questions “wrong as opposed to what?” “What counts as right?” as there can today only be insanity if there is sanity, and in the 17th century there could only be déraison as a companion of raison.

EL:

You call yourself a critical realist, dear Howard. You want to insist that science with all its faults has really achieved some knowledge of the world as it really is – its practical success could not have happened if science were merely a social construction and not also a successful attempt to know reality as it is – and you want to build a naturalistic ethics – which sounds a lot like John Dewey – that establishes rational criteria for judging moral norms, customs, and institutions; in other words, you are reconstructing moral authority.

HR:

I cannot claim to be a carbon copy of Roy Bhaskar or of anybody else, but I think I can claim that my ideas are not idiosyncratic. In coming out frankly in favour of moral authority – in favour of Emile Durkheim’s thesis that every human group generates norms because the existence of social norms is a physical necessity; and in favour of Jean Piaget’s thesis that human children are biologically predisposed to form groups governed by rules, I am not saying anything that other people reputed to be reasonable and knowledgeable have not already said.

COH:

OK, but let’s not get carried away here by the drift of the current. Unlike some people who complain that Foucault is a “relativist” who is undermining “values”, you are not defending modern western civilization as it is. On the contrary, you are saying modern western civilization is fundamentally flawed.

EL:

What an arresting phrase “fundamentally flawed”! I would love to hear more about what you have in mind.

COH:

It is a way to express some of my own ideas, as well as Foucault’s and Howard’s, and also to save Howard from an interpretation of his ideas that would make “restoring moral authority” equivalent to “cementing in place the status quo”.

Discussion

EL:

Would you not want to save Foucault from a similar misinterpretation?

COH:

Similar in what sense?

EL:

Similar in the sense that the effect of his work is to cement in place the status quo.

COH:

Let me quote Foucault himself. He describes his task as recovering “a whole set of knowledges that have been disqualified as inadequate to their task or insufficiently elaborated: naïve knowledges, located low down on the hierarchy, beneath the required level of cognition or scientificity”.

EL:

I see. So, when you use the phrase “fundamentally flawed” you describe a dominant culture that has excluded that whole set of knowledges, to its loss?

COH:

And to its danger. I see no contradiction between Foucault’s project and critical realism. The whole point of critical realism is to distinguish the natural world as it is in itself from the different cosmologies and different epistemologies that different cultures have constructed in interaction with it. The dominant culture is no more and no less a social construction of reality than any other. I think I know the next question you are going to ask and I am going to answer it. The stakes are high. It is not just a matter of achieving respect for indigenous knowledge systems. It is a matter of saving modern western civilisation from its own fundamental structural defects, which are carrying the species and the biosphere down with them.

EL:

So “fundamentally flawed” is an expression that asserts that in the foundations of the modern global order there is a great chasm, a great emptiness, where many take it for granted that there must be solid rock supporting it all. It acknowledges that people who believe in the worldview that undergirds and organises the global economy may well be subjectively sincere. When Barack Obama, or the official spokespeople for the International Monetary Fund or the European Union or the G-20 declare in reassuring phrases that they want security and prosperity for everyone, that for example they want to build a lasting peace in the Middle East so that we can put violent conflict behind us and get on with social and economic development, they may sincerely believe what they are saying. They may believe that with “security” assured then “development” …

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HR:

But we see some growth points, possibilities perhaps even in the most orthodox pronouncements when we get qualifications like “sustainable development” and “human development”, and by the way while I agree that for the sake of our very survival we need to learn from indigenous peoples I also think that we need to avoid falling into the implausible claim that standard science is simply one culture’s story about reality.

EL:

Let me finish saying what I think Catherine may be trying to do with the notion of “fundamentally flawed”, which perhaps could also be read as “flawed in its foundations”. No matter how subjectively sincere a Barack Obama for example may be when he envisions establishing security – in other words the rule of law backed by sufficient force – to clear the way for social and economic development, in fact what he envisions is not possible given the particular legal structures now considered standard and orthodox.

COH:

… because of the constitutive rules of the system, because of the basically Roman legal framework of commerce – because we are not transforming modernity by an enlargement that brings in what indigenous epistemologies and cosmologies have to teach us.

EL:

This leads me to a question for Howard. Why are you interested in Foucault at all? Why not give lectures on John Dewey? Why not follow Henri Bergson’s advice by simply articulating what you find to be true and right, and then let other people draw their own conclusions about how your views compare with Foucault’s or with anybody’s?

HR:

My answer to your question would be, “because of experience”.

EL:

Experience?

HR:

I mean the experience of teaching philosophy to undergraduates for thirty-five years.

EL:

I think I see where you are going. It is known that adolescents go through a stage of establishing their autonomy which often goes together with questioning authority.

HR:

… which performs a useful social function in examining the status quo as a step toward re-inventing culture all over again as each new generation must do, but by itself it does not get us far toward building a new society closer to the heart’s desire.

EL:

And then you add to normal adolescence the frustrations born from the failure to solve social problems.

Discussion

HR:

It’s like the problem of going to school forever and ever and then having nothing to show for it, but genteel underemployment or outright unemployment together with a mountain of student loans you do not earn enough to make the payments on.

EL:

And you live in a society where the moral authority of all or most institutions is crumbling, or has already crumbled; and where those who call for a restoration of authority are more often than not calling for “authoritarian” hierarchy, which means fascism, or right-wing dictatorship, or religious fundamentalism, or putting women back in their place, or homophobia, or xenophobia; or cracking down on the criminal element with the death penalty, more jails, more police with broader powers and fewer safeguards for liberty; more military and more wars, og så videre …

HR:

… og så videre, which is Norwegian for et cetera.

EL:

And then when Foucault’s works are read as dissolving all legitimacy of all authority, you have a philosophical problem compounding a series of social problems.

COH:

But who actually reads Foucault that way?

HR:

Here we have a first level of complication. When I read my students´ papers I am often shocked to read what they think I said, and I am sure Foucault would be equally shocked to read some things some of my students thought he said. So, we have to try to distinguish Foucault’s own published words from the versions of Foucault I heard over and over again year after year from my students.

EL:

You are assuming that something like what you experienced in one university in one country goes on in many universities around the world.

HR:

It is not that we cannot find some quotable lines from Foucault himself that oppose all authority and all rules en général …

EL:

en général, which is French for “in general”.

HR:

It is not that those quotable lines have gone unnoticed in the secondary literature. It is that the answer to the question why I take the trouble to study Foucault is that my motivation derives mainly from his massive influence on millions of people that I believe to exist. I think I encountered a sample in my teaching experience.

COH:

So, you would agree that Foucault himself is not to be blamed for exaggerations of his views, or for taking his words out of context or for views he once held, but recanted later.

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HR:

Yes, I would agree. But there is another dimension of the problem. To some extent Michel Foucault really did deny the legitimacy of authority. One of many questions to ask is to what extent he really did mean to say that authority was bunk. And more important: was he right?

EL:

I see. It is one thing to ascertain that yes; this is what Foucault really meant. It is quite another thing to ascertain that yes, this is what he really meant and furthermore he had valid reasons for meaning what he meant.

HR:

In the second case if we are true philosophers in the spirit of Socrates, following reason …

EL:

… logos …

HR:

… following logos, also known as reason, wherever it may lead, we should be convinced by Foucault’s philosophy. We should mean what he meant. If he said authority was bunk, and if he had valid reasons for saying so, we should say so too, not because Foucault said it but because it is true.

COH:

The Socratic idea of a co-operative dialogue where the participants follow reason wherever it may lead, is similar to many traditional African ideas, for example the idea of the meeting place, the kgotla in the Setswana language, where you come together not to debate, but to seek consensus.

HR:

These thoughts inevitably lead us to another dimension of our multilayered inquiry. Foucault is among the recent philosophers associated with questioning traditional western ideas of reason, of truth and falsehood, of right and wrong. If I want to distinguish true from false, right from wrong, in his writings, I have to provide some sort of explanation to the students I worked with for thirty-five years. They would tell me – or at least some of them would tell me – that I was asking old-fashioned questions. In the twenty-first century after Foucault and partly because of Foucault – so some of them would say – we should no longer be asking what is true and what is false or what is right and what is wrong.

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LECTURE FOUR May 8, 2013 Remark 15: The terrifying truth is that many human beings are rejected by the labour market, and that most of those who are accepted are accepted only provisionally. Having evolved as gatherers and hunters over several hundred thousand years to live in small tribal groups organised by kinship ties, we find ourselves in successor states of the Roman Empire, where the principle of dominus implies that every physical thing is under the control of one juridical subject or another, leaving those who do not control any place with no place to sleep; and where the principles of commerce imply that unless there is a contract nobody owes anybody anything. The permanent possibility of being rejected by the labour market is at bottom a consequence of these basic structures of modernity. What Ulrich Beck (Beck, 1992) calls “risk society” and what Viviane Forrester (Forrester, 1996) calls “l´horreur économique” are recent developments whose generative background has been for several centuries and still is the constitutive rules of modernity. Those rules are the rules of our kind of society, the kind the legal historian Sir Henry Maine (Maine, 1861) describes as having achieved the transition from being a traditional society based on status to being a modern society based on contract. Employment is a contract. Those who do not own enough property to live without working need employment, but like any contract employment requires another party. That other party may and may not be found. As John Maynard Keynes showed, normally there will be more work-needers than work-providers (Keynes, 1936: 249–250). Keynes wrote his General theory in 1936, but in Europe ever since the dawn of modernity (and even previously in some civilisations with similar institutions, such as the imperial Rome from whose laws modern laws mainly derive), there has existed the phenomenon of surplus population. The phenomenon is not a function of the ratio of number of people to quantity of land; it is a function of supply of people to demand for people. It can be and has been modified by charitable and socialistic measures; hopefully in some sweet future day it will not occur. In the world we now live in it does occur. It has ramifications throughout the social order in many forms, including sending surplus people to colonies, sending them to jail, keeping them in various kinds of asylums, enlisting them in the army, having them go to school year after year. Details are given by many writers among whom Michel Foucault is one.

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Michel Foucault stumbled onto the phenomenon of surplus population (Foucault,  1961: Chapter 2) when he encountered le grand renfermement of the 17th century, the great locking up in hospitals of fools along with surplus people of all kinds. He discovered it as he was in the process of using history to save psychology from positivism. Le grand renfermement has not only ramifications but also analogues; it goes together with parallel forms of alienation growing from the same roots. Le grand renfermement and the rejection of people by the labour market are only two examples, not the root source of all the market-generated hypermodern Unsicherheit that spreads uncertainty, insecurity, and isolation everywhere (Bauman, 2001). We live in a world so disconnected that almost everyone, at one point in time or another, suspects himself or herself of being crazy; where almost everyone can relate to the feelings of Roquentin, the protagonist of Jean-Paul Sartre’s novel, La nausée (Sartre, 1938) for whom everything, the trees, the buildings, the streets … was de trop, too much, unnecessary. By natural processes people are born; they emerge into the light from the wombs of women. But it is culture, largely through its principal institution, the market, which threshes out the difference between those who are wanted and those who are unwelcome. Foucault stumbled across the phenomenon of surplus population in his history of madness in early modern times. He was not looking for it. He was writing a polemic against positivism designed to redeem social outcasts, to promote respect for deviant individuals, and to deflate the pseudo-scientific pretensions of knowledge-based power trips. He discovered that the history of lunacy was part of the history of surplus population. In the grand renfermement of the mid seventeenth century, hospitals were created to put out of the way and to care for all the people whom society did not know what to do with: people who refused to go to mass, blasphemers, invalids, indigents, mentally retarded people, people who walked the streets talking to themselves, troublemakers, old people with no family to support them, dangerous people given to rages, people who denied Christ or thought they were Christ. The result was similar whether they were deranged and impoverished because they were socially rejected, or whether they were socially rejected because they were deranged and impoverished. In either case France had a surplus population. A royal decree of 27 April 1656 founded a General Hospital charged with preventing “begging and laziness as the sources of all disorders” (Foucault, 1961: 90). In England and Germany and elsewhere in Europe there were workhouses and poorhouses with a similarly catholic clientele. We do not read in Histoire de la folie anything about what was happening in Asia, Africa, Latin America or the Middle East in the mid-17th century. Those places were,

Lecture Four

as we learn from Braudel, Wallerstein, and others who fill in parts of the picture Foucault does not paint, at that time still places where for the most part modern economic relations had not yet arrived. I suggested at the end of the last lecture that what Foucault was discovering about the role of economic rejection in generating madness, and about the role of political conflict in constituting modern medicine, was not what he wanted to discover. Frightened by his own thoughts, he sought refuge in an author who deliberately generated purely imaginary worlds. Having written a history of stigmatism and separation in the particular case of madness, and having shown how the histories of psychiatry and of medicine as sciences are interwoven with the history of institutions, Foucault might have written, as his next book, a history of class-divided societies in general. Instead he began a book about someone in many ways similar to himself – someone who never had to do manual labour; somebody who suffered from bouts of madness and suicide attempts (Eribon, 1989: 43–44), who had indeed been treated by the famous psychiatrist Pierre Janet, who was, however, in that respect unlike Foucault because Foucault on Louis Althusser’s advice declined to seek psychiatric treatment (Eribon, 1989: 50). Roussel was a homosexual; a writer; a sensualist; someone who meditated at length on the relation of death to language; someone who wanted to prolong his life beyond his life by his writing. Pierre Janet in his book, De l´angoisse à l´ exstase (Janet, 1927), had described his patient Raymond Roussel as “a poor little sick man”. In his book on Roussel Foucault shows (once again deflating the pretensions of psychiatry) that folie, madness, is admittedly and declaredly absence d’oeuvre, absence of work; it appears to be useless, but it is akin to great art. He shows that the same discourse can be madness or literature. In Roussel’s case it was madness during an early period of his life and literature in a later period (Foucault, 1969a: 605). I want Foucault to be right in honouring Roussel, because I want it to be true that through writing works of fiction, sometimes closely allied to madness – always closely allied to dreaming and to playing – humans can create alternative worlds, which can then influence and hopefully improve the existing status quo. I agree with Herbert Marcuse (Marcuse, 2007) that to change the world empirical social science devoted to the study of what happens needs to be complemented by other methodologies that focus on what might happen, what is possible, what could be imagined. Otherwise humanity has no hope of transcending the tragic social reality in which it has, for now, trapped itself. When I read Claude Levi-Strauss’s account of totemism, in which he depicts Australian aborigines as snobs who construct elaborate genealogies non motivés that achieve no objective and serve no discernible function, I attribute to the

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aborigines’ prolific exercise of their symbolic capacities enormous long run survival value (Levi-Strauss, 1992). Homo ludens lives in stories. I want to say – if only to be provocative and start conversations – that from taking pleasure in making up stories for no reason at all have come all the sciences and all the civilisations. Pierre Machery, in his Presentation to a reprinting of Foucault’s Raymond Roussel encourages me to believe what I want to believe about the causal powers of imagination and about Foucault: At first glance, one might be tempted to consider that Foucault then applied his notion of experience, elaborated at the junction of philosophic discourse and history, to the study of literary texts. But, if one reflects attentively, one will perceive that in fact it is the contrary that must have been the case. Literature was without doubt for him the privileged place where he elaborated on the status of experience, considered as such, and starting from which he was able to think – based in a way on a literary model – other ‘experiences’ such as those of exclusion, of knowledge, of punishment, or of sexuality (Machery in Foucault, 1963a: ix).

Roussel, an admirer of Jules Verne and a precursor of Alain Robbe-Grillet, structured in fiction bizarre experiences that do not happen outside fiction. For example, concerning Roussel’s La vue, Foucault writes: The view, as an immediate contradiction to its title, opens onto a universe without perspective. Or perhaps it combines the vertical point of view (which makes it possible to embrace everything as in a circle) and the horizontal point of view (which places the eye at ground level and only allows the foreground to be seen). (Foucault, 1963a: 138)

Foucault’s account of Roussel begins in the first chapter and ends in the last chapter with Roussel’s suicide, representing his suicide as the end toward which his literary activity was tending; in language reminiscent of Heidegger’s notion that human being is being-towards-death (Heidegger, 1927: 235–267); and also, reminiscent of young Foucault’s own attempts at suicide. Roussel staged his own death, elaborately contrived and passionately desired, in a hotel room in Palermo, where he had gone to live alone in a state of constant drug-induced euphoria. Foucault seems to me to give away the secret of Roussel’s suicide in words that confirm Emile Durkheim’s empirical study of the subject (Durkheim, 1951), and which illustrate the terrible truth that in modern society many people are bonded to others by nothing more solid than contracts, and in the absence of contracts by nothing at all. I think my Durkheimian reading of the following words of Foucault about Roussel will be understood by those who acknowledge that in modern society the alienation

Lecture Four

of the rich is of a piece with the alienation of the poor; and by those who agree with me that Roquentin in Sartre’s La nausée was projecting onto the world around him his own sense that he was unwanted and unnecessary; and that his presumably left-wing (because his creator Sartre was left-wing) boredom with middle-class life in Mudville reflected its Weberian disenchantment, its Polanyian disembeddedness; and that the same terrifying truths are perceived from a different perspective when the right-winger Heidegger writes of das Man and the right-winger T.S. Eliot writes “A crowd flowed over London Bridge so many/I had not thought that death had undone so many” (Eliot, 1922). Foucault on Roussel: Roussel at the time when he was writing his first book experienced a feeling of universal glory. Not an exasperated desire to be a celebrity, but a physical confirmation: ‘[quoting Roussel] What I was writing was surrounded by rays of sunlight. Every line was repeated with thousands of copies, and I wrote with thousands of flaming pen points.’ When the book was published [and turned out to be a failure] all the doubled suns were extinguished; the flaming words drowned in black ink; and all around Roussel the language which scintillated in the depths of his least syllable like marvellous waters dissolved into a faceless world. ‘[quoting Roussel again] When the young man with great emotion walked out onto the street and realized that nobody noticed as he walked by, the feelings of glory and luminosity were quickly extinguished.’ It was the night of melancholy; and nevertheless, that light continued to burn near and distant (as at the heart of a darkness that abolished distances and made them unattainable), troubling and imperceptible in a mistake in which all his work was lodged; it was there also that there was born his decision to die, in order to rejoin in one bond that marvellous point, that heart of the night and threshold of light. (Foucault, 1963a: 199)

In short, a simple story: a man who wanted love and did not get it. A classic Durkheimian suicide. Because I want a world in which the terrifying truth is not true, I want to retain from Foucault on Roussel the suggestion (which I will not say is Foucault’s suggestion because he hedges it with qualifications that do not appear when I quote him partially) that language has the power to create new realities. I find that suggestion in passages like this: “There is no system common to existence and language; for a simple reason; it is because language and it alone, forms the system of existence” (Foucault, 1963a: 203, cf. 69, 74, 85, 137, 142, 171, 209–210). Foucault developed similar notions of self-referential languages creating their own worlds in two articles also published in 1963, one in Critique (Foucault, 1963b) and one in Tel  Quel (Foucault, 1963c). I take Machery in his Presentation to be saying that Foucault discovered the capacity of language to create experience in fiction, and then found that capacity to be operative in history. If we now relax the rule that we are not

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allowed to consider what Foucault later said about his book on Roussel, we will find that although Machery´s thesis is a plausible one, and one perhaps not incompatible with accounts that emphasise the importance of Nietzsche or of music for the genesis of Foucault’s early methodology (for example, Eribon, 1989: 89), it is not one endorsed by a later Foucault. Foucault later said that his youthful passion for Roussel was a summer love that did not lead anywhere, while characterising the methodology he adopted in L´histoire de la folie as defined by a “rupture” with phenomenology and Marxism that was sparked by a series of influences, more influences than he mentioned to the reporter from Le Monde earlier and only some of them literary (Foucault, 1983a). Remark 16: In saying that humanity has trapped itself in a tragic social reality, because its dominant constitutive rules do so much harm at the same time as they do so much good, and because they so fiercely resist change, I do not want to get side tracked onto the question whether modernity is good or bad. I do not ask questions about whether our time and our place are better or worse than other times and other places. I do not want to make wholesale value judgments. I do not want to tell people what ought to be their mood. I want to help people solve problems. I call attention to modernity’s basic cultural structures because I think solving humanity’s main problems requires consciously revising them.

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LECTURE FOUR Discussion COH - Catherine Odora Hoppers EL - Evelin Lindner HR - Howard Richards

EL:

Are you saying that Foucault did not want to be a Marxist?

HR:

Yes. He did not say so in public in the early 1960s. I deduce his aversion from his behaviour. He also fled versions of materialism that one would probably place outside Marxism if one were to attempt to draw a bright line separating what is Marxist from what is non-Marxist.

EL:

Issues around Marxism were taken very seriously in French universities then. I remember that Nicos Poulantzas, a Greco-French political sociologist in Paris, who was one of Pol Pot’s teachers, committed suicide when seeing what he had set in motion. At some other place and time Marxism might have been a side issue. There and then it was the issue.

HR:

Perhaps especially for a person whom fate for a time assigned Louis Althusser to be his academic supervisor.

COH:

Earlier you described Foucault’s first important public writing if you do not count the book he wrote for Althusser and preferred to forget. It was a scathing critique of psychology as a contradictory pseudo-science. It was contradictory because its methodology was incompatible with its subject matter. Its methodology was naturalistic. Its subject matter was the human psyche. Foucault argued that to emerge from its self-imposed falsification of its object of study, psychology would have to focus on what is most human about human beings, namely their history.

HR:

Geschichtlichkeit.

COH:

Why? I think you are saying that when Foucault wrote that “history” was what made human beings human he meant Geschichtlichkeit. I think I have heard you or someone else say that is a key word for Heidegger. Did I understand you?

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HR:

Young Foucault was enthusiastic about Heidegger. Where he writes histoire I read Heidegger’s Geschichte. Both the French word and the German word can be translations of the English word “story” and sometimes also the English word “history”.

EL:

So Geschichtlichkeit would mean something like “story-ness”.

COH:

When Foucault wrote his doctoral dissertation published in English as Madness and civilization, he was following his own advice. He was rewriting the psychology of insanity as a history. It was a history not only of an idea, but as also the history of practices and of experiences.

EL:

For Foucault, it is only possible for us to experience, to see, to talk about, or to build a discourse and a practice around insanity as we know it because of the history.

COH:

Or what he calls archaeology.

EL:

… leading up to what insanity has become in “our modernity”.

COH:

What I am trying to say is that Foucault’s history of madness was a history of stories, a history of stories people tell themselves and each other. They are stories that constitute what the stories are about; they constitute insanity, and they constituted other ways of experiencing madness before insanity as we know it existed. Foucault helped me to see that it is the words that last.

HR:

Actually, the original French title of Madness and civilization was Histoire de la folie à l´age classique. Here again I read histoire through the lenses of Heidegger’s Geschichtlichkeit, or story-ness.

COH:

But for some reason Foucault insisted that he was not an historian.

HR:

In his early writing on psychology he said that to recover humanity we need to recover history, but then later he found that “history” was a word that got him into trouble. He always meant we needed to recover Geschichtlichkeit but when he wrote “history” he was misunderstood. He was put in the same bag with the historians, and the important historians in France at the time were materialists. I believe that was a reason why he decided to call himself an “archaeologist”.

EL:

Maybe Foucault wanted to avoid being counted among the historians partly because he set himself different objectives implying different criteria for evaluating his work, and it would not be fair for his work to be judged by the same standards French historians were using to evaluate each other’s work.

Discussion

COH:

Are we forgetting that in between his critique of psychology of 1957 and his doctoral dissertation of 1961 came his long introduction to Ludwig Binswanger´s Heideggerian theory of dreams?

HR:

It is a text that makes my interpretation stronger and clearer. In that text Heidegger and Binswanger as glorified by Foucault save humanity from “falling back into causality”. They save ethics. And they do so with a methodology that is more concrete than the abstractions of positivist or naturalist psychology. They trump the positivists intellectually. The social payoff is a celebration of romanticism. Young Foucault pulls off this tour de force in an introduction longer than the book he is introducing.

EL:

Young Foucault’s enthusiasm leaves far behind the dry-as-dust writing style that is so common in professional psychology journals. Foucault praises Heidegger’s philosophy and Binswanger´s application of it to the scientific study of dreams in what amounts to a prose poem. Foucault’s language is worthy of the great German romantic poet so often quoted by Heidegger, Friedrich Hölderlin.

COH:

It strikes me that Howard and young Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu are all reading Heidegger as a revivalist. They read Heidegger as echoing in the rarefied language of fundamental ontology – Novalis´ 18th century romantic passions for giving the commonplace a higher meaning, giving the finite the illusion of the infinite, giving the known the dignity of the unknown; his preference for the rural over the so-called civilised; his preference for love over law; and thus echoing – as Bourdieu documents – thoughts and sentiments typical of conservative Europe. But aren’t you guys a minority? Don’t most scholars read Heidegger differently?

HR:

Maybe. Some people tar him with the same brush as Hitler, seeing a deep congruence between the role Heidegger played for a time as the Nazi Rector of Heidelberg and his philosophy. Some people view his “destruction of the history of ontology” as an early salvo in waves of “deconstruction” that have undermined belief in the great traditional values of western civilisation and left us intellectually and morally rudderless.

COH:

Do you agree?

HR:

While it is true that his “destruction of the history of ontology” presaged Jacques Derrida´s “deconstruction” of “onto-theology” and the “metaphysics of presence”; and while it is true that Heidegger thus did a post-mortem on a myth about the relationship of time to eternity that tended to define a human being as an eternal soul in a mortal body …

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EL:

I think you are calling Heidegger’s destruction of the history of ontology a post-mortem because he was dissecting a myth that was already dead.

HR:

… but the post-mortem was in the service of constructing a new way of looking at the relation between being and time, namely Geschichtlichkeit, story-ness. From the beginning of Being and time human being (Dasein) is described as that being whose being is always a question for itself, as a being whose very being is inseparable from interpretation. And after traditional notions about how being relates to eternity are scuttled, Geshichtlichkeit frames the new way we talk about how humans are and move and have our being, and Heidegger rushes through that the breach is in the armour of materialist science …

EL:

Bourdieu would say that the breach in the armour of modern urban society tending toward democracy and socialism …

HR:

… yes, I should have said that Geschichtlickheit does what ontotheology and the metaphysics of presence can no longer do; it saves the Gemeinschaft from the Gesellschaft.

EL:

… traditional community from modern society.

HR:

And through that breach in the latter part of Being and time, Heidegger imports into what is supposed to be pre-theoretical pre-scientific fundamental philosophy reframed versions of any number of spiritual insights taken directly from the writings of the Danish theologian, Søren Kierkegaard.

EL:

The theologians at Marburg got right to work, turning Heidegger’s being-talk into God-talk. You think young Foucault got Heidegger right when he praised Heidegger and his disciple Ludwig Binswanger for rescuing what is most human in human beings? And the tragic ending of Madness and civilization is tragic precisely because it is about how bureaucratic discipline and positivist psychology …

COH:

… what Foucault will later call power/knowledge.

EL:

… have in the modern world reduced madness to insanity, stigmatised the mad as insane, objectified them as objects to be classified according to the different classes of illnesses defined by their different symptoms, and imprisoned them in mental hospitals.

COH:

But did not Heidegger call himself an anti-humanist?

HR:

Not in the sense that Louis Althusser was an anti-humanist, and not in a sense inconsistent with Heidegger being a philosopher of latterday romanticism.

Discussion

COH:

And not in the sense of African ubuntu humanism, with its motto and essence, “I am because you are”?

HR:

Certainly not. When Louis Althusser calls himself an anti-humanist, he is attacking the mishy mushy social democrats. He is cleaning out of the French Communist Party anti-Leninist stains that mar its purity. When Heidegger calls himself an anti-humanist, he echoes what Yahweh told Moses through the burning bush: The covenant between Being and Israel is a very unequal relationship; so, get this straight once and for all Moses: I am what I am and besides controlling everything else I also control my own names.

EL:

I think you mean that what Heidegger calls “Being” or even “Being” crossed out with an X drawn through it, is identical or very similar to what in plain English is usually called “God”, and that when he calls himself an anti-humanist he means to put humans in their place. He means to tell them to respect higher authority. But as we go on to consider what Foucault wrote next we will have to explain why it was that the young Foucault who so passionately and so eloquently rescued humanity from positivism and materialism transmogrified himself a few years later into a self-professed anti-humanist.

COH:

Let me question that question. Could it not be that throughout his career Foucault defended the human individual against pseudo-science and technocracy, and that in this sense Foucault was always a humanist? Maybe he only seems to switch sides from being pro-humanist to being anti-humanist and then in the last four years of his life back to prohumanist again because the words “human” and “humanist” have a number of different senses and meanings that are easily confused?

HR:

Maybe. But we are skipping a step.

EL:

I think you mean we are skipping an earlier switch, the one that according to legend happened on Christmas Day of 1961 when Michel Foucault having followed up his critique of psychiatry in Madness and civilization with a broader critique of medicine in general in The birth of the clinic; on the very day when he finished writing The birth of the clinic, he began writing Raymond Roussel.

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HR:

Madness and civilization can be called a story of decline and fall. It begins with the medieval legend of the ship of fools. It ends with mental hospitals like the one in Paris where Foucault himself worked and saw how the patients were treated. But while decline and fall was its motivating plot, its central fact was surplus population. When Foucault went to work digging through musty archives doing research for his book, he discovered the decree of Louis XIV about 1650 ordering that all kinds of misfits and troublemakers be locked up in hospitals. The great locking-up of the surplus population became the empirically discovered pivot of the book’s argument.

EL:

While Foucault set out to save psychology from materialism by studying what is most human about human beings, as it turned out material reality had everything to do with what he found when he got down to actually doing historical research.

COH:

You could make the same point more strongly for his sequel to Madness and civilization where he studies the birth of modern medicine, The birth of the clinic. The clinic turns out to be born in the political struggles that followed the French Revolution.

EL:

So, you conjecture that Foucault became frightened of his own thoughts. He was drifting into historical materialism, perhaps into Marxism. He hit the panic button. The panic button was Raymond Roussel. Arguing that all reality is language, that there is no reality apart from language, is certainly a way to argue against materialism.

COH:

Let me ask Howard a question. Do you agree with Pierre Machery´s interpretation of Foucault? Machery alleges that Foucault’s methodology came to him mainly through reading literature, reading fiction.

HR:

I find Machery´s interpretation to be consistent with what I have been saying about Geschichtlichkeit and Heidegger.

COH:

That may be true, but it is not obvious.

HR:

Let me explain. Heidegger built on his teacher Edmund Husserl’s idea of Lebenswelt (lived-world) with his own somewhat similar idea of in-derWelt-sein (being-in-the-world). I read in-der-Welt-sein as a philosophical move designed to recover the meaning of the commonplace. It recovers the meaning of the morning star and the evening star, of the sunrise and the sunset. These are examples Heidegger uses.

Discussion

COH:

I hear Novalis: giving the commonplace a higher meaning, giving the finite the illusion of the infinite, giving the known the dignity of the unknown; a preference for the rural over the so-called civilised. I think I may hear indigenous knowledge systems, the resurrection of defeated epistemologies, the local people’s knowledges. But go on. I am listening with my ears and my heart.

HR:

Science teaches us that what we see as the morning and evening star is one planet Venus. The earth orbits around the sun and revolves on its axis. The sun does not come up; the earth turns. But science’s world is not our world, not our primary world, not the lived-world, not our primordial being-in-the world. It is not the world where the stories of our lives unfold.

EL:

Geschichtlichkeit! I knew it!! I knew you would come back to stories.

HR:

In our lived-worlds the sun still rises and sets. The evening star comes out in the evening and the morning star comes out in the morning. If we think of young Foucault as holding on to that insight, then we can think of Pierre Machery as coming at Foucault’s methodology from a different direction but coming out with a similar way of explaining it. He explains Foucault’s methodology as generalising what Foucault learned from reading works of fiction about how language creates worlds. Works of literature – those of Raymond Roussel are as good an example as any – create imaginary lived-worlds. They create imaginary ways of being-inthe-world. But we live in our imaginations. It is impossible to separate the stories we imagine from the stories we are.

COH:

It would make sense to think that a young man who is enthusiastic about Heidegger and about literature would read literature through Heideggerian lenses.

EL:

… and Heidegger through literary lenses.

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LECTURE FIVE May 8, 2013 Let me restate the point of talking about measles at the risk of being repetitive, for the sake of being clear. You may remember that I talked about measles in connection with Foucault’s book The birth of the clinic (La naissance de la clinique, written 1961, published 1963) (Foucault, 1963). There is a disease called measles. It thwarts life and is therefore a problem. The problem should be solved. Voilá, there you have it: metaphysics and an ethics; that is to say, an illustration of metaphysics and an ethics. The metaphysics is realism. The ethics is solidarity. The social philosophy: hyper-Popperian pragmatism. Illustration: there should be medical doctors, vaccinations, nurses, caring parents, clinics, research institutions; in general, there should be a health care system designed and periodically evaluated and improved to cope with the measles problem, among others. My pragmatism is hyper-Popperian rather than simply Popperian because Karl Popper himself never acknowledged that achieving social democracy requires transforming the basic structures of the modern world. And because Popper was unwilling to work with, rather than against, the ancient emotions he called tribal (Richards and Swanger, 2006: Chapter 9). It is a pragmatism blended with realism that acknowledges that truth works because it is true. You may if you wish say I am not a pragmatist even though I want to call myself one, but please do not attribute to me the view that the meaning of truth, of what is, of being, can be reduced without remainder to the meaning of “what works”. To do philosophy is to decide how to talk. In the early 1960s Foucault decided to talk about medicine in terms of ideology. I have decided to talk in terms of problemsolving. Following Dewey, I take the view that talking evolved to solve problems. If I were to make a list of examples of what I mean by “problem”, I fear it would remind some readers of the Argentine poet Jorge Luis Borges’s famous list of animals, attributed to an ancient Chinese encyclopaedia, which includes animals belonging to the Emperor, stray dogs, embalmed animals, imaginary animals, animals that from a distance look like flies, and other categories that seem to have either nothing in common or no proper separation from each other entitling them to be discrete items on one list. Foucault quotes Borges’s list of kinds of animals in full at the beginning of his preface to Les mots et les choses (1966) (a book whose English title, The order

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of things, is a translation of the title Foucault had originally intended for the French edition) because, he says, this is going to be a book about what it is possible to say. Borges’s list plays with what it is possible to say by being transgressive. Borges discloses and destabilises the rules by violating them. He laughs at “our millennial practice of Same and Other” (Foucault, 1966: 7). In the course of the book Foucault helps me to improve my own practice of Same and Other by naming a common feature of each of the items on my list of problems to solve, and by helping me to articulate a reason why deciding to speak in terms of problem-solving is a good decision. Foucault helps me by providing some history of the word “life”, which I then connect with the word “problem”. Foucault writes: [H]ere the relations of importance are the relations of functional subordination. If the number of cotyledons is decisive for classifying plants, it is because they play a specific role in the function of reproduction, and they are linked, therefore, to all of the internal organization of the plant; they indicate a function which commands all the dispositions of the individual. Thus, for the animals, Vick d’Azyr has shown that the alimentary functions are without doubt of the greatest importance; it is for that reason that [quoting d’Azyr] ‘constant relationships exist between the structure of the teeth of carnivores and those of their muscles, of their fingers, their claws, their tongue, their stomach, and their intestines.’ Their character is not therefore established by a relation of the visible to itself; it is not in itself more than the visible point of a complex and hierarchical organization whose functions play an essential role of command and determination. It is not because something is frequent in observed structures that it is important; rather it is because it is functionally important that it is frequently observed … One thus understands in what conditions the notion of life was able to become indispensable to making orderly sense of natural beings. (Foucault, 1966: 240–241)

Building on such an idea of life as systems providing for the performance of vital functions, in the spirit of Dewey a “problem” can be regarded as an obstruction, an impediment, a frustration, of the vital functions that constitute it, including those of reproduction, nourishment, respiration, circulation, and others. Again, building on Dewey, taking cognisance of the fact that most human behaviour is conventional (customary, norm-guided, rule-following), the general form of most major problem solving is to modify the rules that constitute institutions (modify the culture, the conventions) so that they function in ways that assure the performance of the vital functions of life. This includes unavoidably, in the modern world-system we live in, modifying those basic cultural structures that govern property ownership and the exchange of goods and services in (and outside of) markets. A society that continuously engages in such modifications (some basic, some non-basic) for the sake of continuously improving the welfare of its population is called a social democracy, or, in Popper’s terminology, an open society.

Lecture Five

Michel Foucault was not opposed to social democracy. He was favourably impressed by its Swedish version when he was a cultural attaché in Uppsala, and he was offered a post as cultural attaché in New York by the French socialist president François Mitterand (which he declined). However, his purpose in the passage I have quoted was not to contribute to a realist socialist ethic; it was to show how “quelque chose comme la biologie va devenir possible” (Foucault, 1966: 245). There had to be a concept of life as constituted by systems that perform vital functions before biology as we know it could become possible. It remains to inquire why he thought it important to determine the historical conditions of possibility of the science of biology, and, indeed, those of all the sciences. Les mots et les choses – Foucault tells his readers in his preface – is going to be about “the fundamental codes of a culture –those that regulate its language, its perceptive schemas, its exchanges, its techniques, its values, the hierarchy of its practices” (Foucault, 1966: 11). In contrast to Histoire de la folie, which was about the Other (l’Autre), it is going to be about the Same, the mainstream (le Même). It is a book about how things can be mastered, organised in networks, designed according to rational schemas (Foucault, 1966b: 498). At the beginning of the book Foucault produces an example of a fundamental cultural code. It was resemblance in renaissance Europe. Already at the beginning of the second chapter he writes, “Until the end of the sixteenth century, resemblance played a constructing role (rôle batisseur) in the knowledge (savoir) of the western culture” (Foucault, 1966: 32). (The second chapter is in a sense the first chapter, since the first chapter in the published book was written subsequently as an afterthought when the manuscript was already completed.) The idea that resemblance could play a rôle batisseur for a whole culture echoes Roussel (whom Foucault mentions on page 9); for, as a writer of fiction Roussel could batir (build) whole imaginary worlds starting with a grammatical relationship. Similarly, an entire culture could endlessly build variations on structurally possible relationships of sign to sign. Forms of resemblance proliferated in late medieval and renaissance Europe: amicitia, consonantia, concertus, continuum, paritas, proportio, similitudo, conjunctio, copua, aequalitas, and under this last head contractus, consensus, matrimonium, societas, pax et similia (Foucault,  1966:  32). Foucault discusses four similitudes at length: convenentia, aemulatio, analogie andsympathies. I offer, instead, the alternative of identifying the fundamental codes of a culture (which I call “basic cultural structures”), not with a fundamental code that builds knowledge in a culture, but with those rules that govern the satisfying of basic needs, agreeing with Vick d’Azyr, quoted in the passage from Les mots et les choses reproduced above, that for any animal the alimentary functions are of the greatest importance; and

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finding (as a fact that is both a priori plausible and empirically observed) that in any culture the ways basic needs are satisfied (or not satisfied) has pervasive effects on every institution including, but not limited, to those that produce knowledge (Richards, 1995; Richards, 2000; Richards and Swanger, 2006; Richards 2007). In the case of the modern world-system, the fundamental codes (or basic rules) are those of property ownership, commercial exchange, and, for everybody except the leisure class work. I believe that most anthropologists view culture in a manner more akin to mine than akin to Foucault’s, since they tend to speak of cultures as hunting and gathering, nomadic pastoral, settled pastoral, slash and burn agricultural, settled agricultural, fishing, and the like, according to their food source. It is commonly said that class-divided societies came on the scene only after the agricultural revolution made it possible to produce surpluses that could be used to maintain upper classes. Claude Levi-Strauss, to be sure, viewed culture in a manner more akin to that than Foucault’s of 1966. My realist problem-solving approach calls immediately for two kinds of respect. One is respect for physical reality as a judge whose requirements culture must ultimately satisfy. A second is respect for common sense whatever it may be at any given time and place. Common sense embodies the patterns of legitimate authority that currently exist, which must necessarily be the point of departure for constructive change. I have been gradually expressing a viewpoint, echoing Charles Taylor, from which both respect for common sense and critique of common sense are seen to fit nicely with applying the phenomenological interpretive analysis of being-in-the-world of early Heidegger, and of similar thinkers like Hans-Georg Gadamer and Paul Ricoeur. This philosophical proclivity of mine no doubt comes at least partly from my on-theground work as a community organiser. At a practical level applied phenomenology has become a source of useful tools for Paulo Freire and his many followers, and for anybody who seeks to facilitate citizen participation in democratic social change starting by meeting people where they are (Freire, 1973). Freire’s practice of organising adult education starting with a codification of a thematic universe draws directly on Husserl’s idea of a theme in a lived-world. The lived-world, or life world, is Lebenswelt in Husserl’s terminology, roughly equivalent to in-der-Weltsein in Heidegger’s; their basic insights were developed in social science by Alfred Schütz (Schütz, 1967). It seems to me that an interpretive social science of everyday life leads inevitably to acknowledging that the kind of society we are in and in which we have our everyday experience is what Taylor calls a bargaining society. It is a property-owning society. It is sometimes called an acquisitive society or a commercial society. Unavoidably questions come up like the question whether land like the land Foucault’s mother inherited from her ancestors should remain private property, or should be socialised

Lecture Five

or pressed into the service of public or community needs or of the needs of the propertyless in some way. Thematising the rules of everyday life and problematising them de-naturalises them. In Freire’s terms, it raises consciousness. Foucault declared in an introduction to the English translation of Les mots et les choses that he had broken with his past when he was a student of Merleau-Ponty and a devotee of early Heidegger, and he had now written an anti-phenomenological book. His declaration should be marked with an asterisk and qualified with marginal notes, even assuming that his biographer is right to note that the book was regarded by some as a polemic against Maurice Merleau-Ponty from beginning to end, and assuming that his biographer is well-informed in asserting that the original manuscript included many direct attacks on Jean-Paul Sartre that Foucault suppressed before publication (Eribon, 1989: 184–185). It is true that there is no Dasein in Les mots et les choses. There is no stand-in for the first-person singular conceived as knower. Les mots et les choses is a book about words that do not originate in the mouths of speakers and about ideas that are not located in minds. But it is not a book about objective physical reality either. It is not about ecology; or about the ecology of culture. Foucault still rejects, for example, placing “the appearance of culture, the dawn of civilizations, in the movement of biological evolution” (Foucault, 1966: 344). He still seems to feel, as he implied in 1955, that conceding that humans are part of nature, accepting homo natura, would constitute giving in to the enemy, whatever the enemy might be; whether it is as in 1955 and 1961 “positivism” or whether it is something else. He once described his research for Les mots et les choses as doing an ethnology of our culture, or at least an ethnology of our rationality, our discourse (Foucault, 1969c: 606). He writes a book about a domain whose boundaries he never succeeds in marking, where subjective consciousness used to be located before subjectivity and consciousness were banished from it. Foucault still stands, moreover, in Heidegger’s shoes and in Husserl’s, because he, like they, is engaged in a project of massive trumping. As in a card game the player with the trump card wins no matter what cards other players may have, so a philosopher who holds the intellectual equivalent of a trump card can afford to disregard massive evidence and argument adduced by other players. For early Heidegger, his inquiry into “being” and “time” was trumps because science depended on it. It did not depend on science. Centuries earlier Aristotle’s inquiry into the meaning of ousia in the book that came to be called Metaphysics was trumps because it established first principles everything else depended on, but which themselves did not depend on anything (Richards, 1995). Similarly, Foucault proposes a trump (remember that I am talking about 1966) when he subtitles Les mots et les choses “an archaeology of the human sciences”. Archaeologists are people who dig. The word suggests that Foucault is not

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digging up foundations, but digging deeper, to find what lies under the foundations. He says his book is going to work at an “archaeological level”, to be contrasted with the level of “surface effects” (Foucault, 1966: 14). It is to be about “that experience of order, massive and first in its being”, and something “more solid, more archaĭque, less doubtful, always more ‘true’ than the theories that try to give it an explicit form, an exhaustive application, or a philosophical foundation” (Foucault, 1966: 12). There is a line in a magazine article Foucault published the same year he published Les mots et les choses that illuminates how the trumping process works: The plot (fable) of a story takes place inside the mythical possibilities of a culture; the writing of the story takes place inside the possibilities of a language; its fiction inside the possibilities of the act of speaking. (Foucault, 1966a: 506)

Viewing matters in this manner, it appears that the person who investigates possibilities trumps the person who investigates actualities, since the latter works within a framework framed by the former. In this respect, the post-phenomenologist anti-phenomenological Foucault follows exactly the imperial strategy of Husserl and Heidegger. As orthodox phenomenologists defined “regional ontologies” that articulated the modes of being of the objects of study proper to specific academic disciplines inside the larger framework of general phenomenology, so Foucault in the last chapter of Les mots et les choses, Chapter 10, defines the fields of each of the human sciences. He identifies the central concepts of each one inside the discourse he himself has established during the course of the book. His archaeological discoveries of the conditions of possibility of their disciplines, which are reported in the previous nine chapters, presumably authorise him to tell other scholars what the boundaries and key organising concepts of their respective fields of study are. “It is that [the knowledge produced by archaeology] that makes possible the appearance at a given time of a theory, of an opinion, of a practice” (Foucault, 1966b: 498; compare Heidegger,  1927: 9). I do not mean to suggest that Foucault ever succeeded in explaining what he meant by “archaeology”. I do mean to suggest that what is ultimately at stake is authority. When the digging of Foucault, the archaeologist of European culture, digs up the key cultural codes of Europe at a time just prior to the early 1600s, it uncovers Resemblance. According to Foucault, as noted above, Resemblance was a fundamental code governing knowledge in Europe at the time of the Renaissance. He calls it the Renaissance’s épistème. At the beginning of the 17th century it rather abruptly comes to an end. “We must stop for a moment at that point in time when resemblance will detach itself from its connections with knowledge (savoir) and disappear, at least in part, from the horizon of knowledge (connaissance). At the end of the 16th century

Lecture Five

and still at the beginning of the 17th …” (Foucault, 1966: 32). Europe’s new episteme will be Representation; Representation will reign throughout four of the ten chapters of the book (chapters three through six); throughout the classical age of the 17th and 18th centuries, until the French Revolution and the beginning of what Foucault calls notre modernité at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries. Foucault’s periodisation discombobulates my mind. Assuming the truth of the premise that humans are animals who need to eat, I am accustomed to identifying as the major changes in history the ones that affect how people survive. Accordingly, I am persuaded by the periodisations of those historians and social scientists who classify the kind of world we live in as Marx classified it, as “that form of society whose wealth appears as a vast collection of items for sale” (Marx, 1867: 16), (of “Waren”, usually translated as “commodities”) because in our modern world most people survive by purchasing what they need from among the items for sale in markets. Those items were produced by hired labour for the purpose of selling them. I find convenient Immanuel Wallerstein’s periodisation that makes the modern worldsystem begin in the 15th century when the expansion of long distance trade was made possible by the exploratory voyages of Portuguese navigators. Wallerstein´s account makes sense to me; as does Fernand Braudel’s account of the gradual transformation of material life due to the penetration downward into the lives of the majorities of the new forms of social relationship created by large scale commerce, finance, and, later, production; and as does Karl Polanyi’s account of a “great transformation” in which economic relations become “disembedded” from the general matrix of social relations. Periodisation’s of historical events that take into account the logic of capital accumulation provide me with contexts for at least trying to understand the diverse factors and the achievements of human inventiveness that have led to the rise of science, the protestant reformation, early modern philosophy, colonialism, the reception of Roman Law and the promulgation of modern commercial and civil codes, nationalism, mass consumption society, mass media, marginalised surplus populations, and wars. Foucault’s periodisation making modernity begin around 1800 because Europe’s episteme changed from Representation to Modernity then helps me to see that logically there could not have been modern biology, or modern medicine, or modern economics, or modern linguistics, before certain conditions of possibility identified by Foucault were satisfied. But it does not associate periodising with a dynamic force that moves events. It refrains from identifying causal powers and therefore does not provide all the guidance concerning why things happen and how to make more good things and fewer bad things happen that activists who want to make a difference for good in the world would desire. I concede that there is a danger that

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I may think I understand more than I do understand. It may well be that when I act as a communitarian social democrat, who seeks to re-embed economic relations into social relations, and to build another world not dominated by the logic of capital accumulation I am acting on false premises. My realist understanding of history might be false. My social change efforts might be doing more harm than good. The reason or part of the reason for my blunders might be that Foucault’s understanding of history is true and mine is not. Consequently, I will continue to read Foucault. I will seek especially to find in his texts some reason or reasons why my understanding of history is not just different from his, but mistaken in ways his investigations will call to my attention, so that with Foucault’s help I can rectify my understandings and my actions.

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LECTURE FIVE Discussion COH - Catherine Odora Hoppers EL - Evelin Lindner HR - Howard Richards

COH:

Foucault taught me that we are much freer than we feel. People accept as truth, as evidence, themes that have been built up at certain moments during history. But this so-called evidence can be criticised and destroyed. Intellectuals can make changes in the minds of people.

HR:

That is certainly true of your work on indigenous knowledge systems, and on structural constraints to policy formation in Africa.

COH:

Nevertheless, it is not entirely clear to me how his The order of things of 1966 connects with the rest of his work.

EL:

It represents a stage in the development of his thinking.

COH:

Today as far as I know Foucault’s influence is everywhere. But for me at least and I suspect for some others his importance stems more from his earlier work Madness and civilization from 1961, and his later work where he analysed how knowledge and power create each other. But maybe his 1966 study of four different epistemes succeeding one another in France and neighbouring countries between 1600 and 1820 is one of the reasons behind why people in Africa and Asia and the Americas in 2013 speak of different cultures having different epistemologies. Maybe that is an important connection between this middle phase of Foucault’s work and Africa today.

HR:

Remember that in the early 1960s Foucault was still a rather minor figure in the French intellectual scene. The order of things of 1966 was widely read, but still he remained in fairly low prestige provincial universities. He did not become the famous world-renowned Michel Foucault or a tenured professor at the Collège de France until after the almost-successful revolutionary movement that shook the foundations of French society in 1968.

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EL:

What you just said draws a lot of strands together for me. It crystallises a coherent pattern pulling together what you have been saying in your lectures and what we have been saying in our discussions. What I see emerging is the idea that Foucault lived a somewhat lonely life, devoting himself for over a decade to working out the details of a new and coherent alternative to the more-or-less Marxist ideas that then dominated French intellectual life.

HR:

At least he thought they did. That appears to have been his perception. One would have to add that the synthesis of Marxism and phenomenological existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre was probably at least as influential as the Leninist Marxism of Louis Althusser or the humanist Marxism of Roger Garaudy.

EL:

Foucault later in the 1970s would speak of “Marxists and their allies” having dominated the universities in the 1950s and 1960s.

HR:

And he seems to have counted Annales historians like Fernand Braudel as “allies” of the Marxists, or in any event as intellectual opponents who needed to be refuted along with Marxism and Sartre.

COH:

I can’t help feeling a little bit the way I felt in elementary school when the smallest detail about Europe seemed always to be more important than anything happening in Africa. But you are seeing a pattern where recent African history and world history fit together.

EL:

Maybe I should be saying “story” instead of “pattern”. Foucault’s role in the story Howard is telling, and that you and I are more or less falling into agreeing with, is analogous to the role of Milton Friedman and the Chicago economists. They burned the midnight oil during the 1960s keeping the torch of liberal economics burning on the Midway of the University of Chicago campus by writing scholarly critiques of the thenmainstream macroeconomic synthesis championed by people like Paul Samuelson at Harvard that included strong Keynesian elements.

COH:

And then – I think I catch the drift of your story – the moment in history came when the Age of Keynes ended, the age of social democracy ended, and the neoliberals of Chicago were ready waiting in the wings to take over as the intellectual leaders of the new era. High drama. And are we saying that by analogy to Milton Friedman and Anna Schwarz’s A monetary history of the United States published at about the same time, in 1963, The order of things was the centrepiece of Foucault’s covert case against the Marxists and their allies? It was the book that positioned him more than anyone else to be the man of the hour, the intellectual in the right place at the right time, in 1968?

Discussion

HR:

Back in the 1960s in the western democracies Keynesian ideas favourable to building welfare states, to expanding the public sector of the economy, and to government “steering” the whole economy as Habermas put it, were still on the agenda and moving forward as they had been ever since the Great Depression and World War II. Meanwhile in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, for many years there was a persistent hope or fear – depending on one’s point of view – that a Marxist revolution was about to occur.

COH:

If it were true that Marxist revolutions were about to occur in Africa in the 1960s, and if it is true that we have the Chicago economists and the Paris philosophers to thank for shifting the worldwide balance of power against socialism and in favour of what has been called the capitalist revolution …

HR:

… or maybe we should say “the worldwide balance of intellectual power”. There were other kinds of power too behind the capitalist revolution of the late 20th century.

COH:

Then we should all be grateful to Chicago and Paris because if Africa had fallen under the heel of “really existing Communism” and stayed under it until 2013, we would probably be even worse off than we are now. But it is not true except perhaps maybe for a few temporary exceptions like Ethiopia for a time. What my heroes like Milton Obote and Julius Nyerere and Kwame Nkrumah were working for was a synthesis of Scandinavian-style social democracy with African cosmologies and values. We Africans were quite capable of defending ourselves from Communism.

HR:

The analogy with Milton Friedman is incomplete because he and his friends quite openly dissected and criticised each and every tenet of social democracy.

EL:

… while there is no sentence in The Order of Things that says, “This is an anti-Marxist book” …

HR:

Well, actually there is the famous sentence toward the end saying that since humanity does not exist the foolishness of gauchistes and gauchies who want to emancipate humanity deserves from a philosopher only a silent laugh. But on the whole Foucault kept the ideological thrust of his archaeology under wraps.

EL:

Which did not keep Jean-Paul Sartre from calling attention to its ideological thrust as soon as The order of things was published.

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COH:

So, The order of things is written in a sort of secret code. It is a secret attack on Marxism that does not mention either Marx or any Marxist because its author did not dare to reveal his true feelings at the time. It is also a secret attack on Jean-Paul Sartre. The original manuscript referred to Sartre by name, but all the explicit references to Sartre were deleted before the book was published.

HR:

When Foucault realised that in Madness and civilization and The birth of the clinic he himself was drifting into materialism he hit the panic button. The panic button was Raymond Roussel. There is no reality apart from language. But later he backed away from Raymond Roussel and said it was a book of no importance, somewhat as he pretended he had never written his book in praise of Soviet behaviourist psychology at all.

COH:

That book in praise of Soviet psychology might be a clue to his distaste for Marxist domination of the universities. Given what he had to say in 1955 about psychology being a contradictory science that destroyed its object of study with its positivist and naturalist methods, and given his 1952 Heideggerian introduction to Binswanger´s psychology of dreams, we know that Foucault did not believe a word of what he was writing. Yet he did write it. He must have felt oppressed.

HR:

So, Foucault wrote Raymond Roussel and then later depreciated it. But three years after it was published he came out with another book, The order of things, that made a similar case in a much more sophisticated way. The new book was not just about fiction written in the style of Jules Verne. It was about science, about biology. It was about social science, about economics. And it was about language and how language was understood. It was much more carefully researched. It was not about an individual like Roussel making up idiosyncratic imaginary worlds. It was about basic cultural codes, epistemes, which governed and constituted realms of scientific knowledge that were taken seriously and considered orthodox by the intellectual elite of Europe.

COH:

As long as they lasted. You must mean as long as they lasted because one episteme succeeded another in time. Foucault demonstrated in that book that the so-called “modern” ideas that were imposed on Africa by colonialism were not universal and eternal “civilization”. They were only the most recent phase of cultural evolution in Europe itself.

HR:

But what Foucault did not do in The order of things was to show how social conflicts, changes in the material world, and differing human approaches to challenges posed by the material world shaped epistemologies and shaped science.

Discussion

EL:

If we believe the story you are suggesting to us then we are supposed to conclude that those omissions were deliberate.

HR:

Well, do you believe it? Or are you just saying that now you see a coherent pattern in my story describing Foucault’s intellectual development, but you still suspect that for all its coherence it may be an inadequate or even a misleading account of Foucault’s philosophy as it changed over the years?

EL:

I think at this point my answer to that question would be “yes, no, and maybe”.

HR:

Tell me more about the “no” part of your answer.

EL:

Dear Howard, I cannot really separate the “no” from the “yes” and the “maybe”. Maybe we are talking about shifts in Zeitgeist that have many different effects at once, including some that are not intended by the intellectuals that lead them. In Rwanda, the path toward genocide was “prepared” by what Michael Chege calls “Africa’s Murderous Professors”. Also in Germany, we can say with the benefit of hindsight that academics were complicit in forming a Zeitgeist that made it easier for the Nazis to rise. Are the Chicago economists and the Paris philosophers – I suppose you mean Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida, and others as well as Foucault – similar intellectual legitimators of the capitalist revolution of the late 20th century?

HR:

It would not be hard to find quotes from any of the most famous Paris philosophers, except for the explicitly anti-Marxist nouveaux philosophes, expressing at one time or another sympathy for one or another Marxist idea – remember Derrida´s Specters of Marx. And I at any rate do find it hard to imagine what Milton Friedman and Michel Foucault would have had to say to each other if they had met.

EL:

Yet they somehow participated in the shaping of a Zeitgeist.

HR:

Yes. They were not overt allies. Still, I do not see how the libertarian economists could have pulled off the sea-change they did pull off without the contributions to academic culture of the libertarian philosophers. Somebody had to offer rebels and idealists radical causes to believe in. They had to be radical causes that were compatible with larger and ever larger markets, few or no exceptions to private ownership of the means of production, and minimal government.

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LECTURE SIX May 9, 2013 Foucault does not even try to analyse every field of knowledge that existed in Europe during the two centuries when Representation reigned as its episteme. He limits himself to three fields that he identifies as dealing with complex phenomena and as having in common arranging knowledge in tables, or doing taxonomies. They are: general grammar, natural history, and the theory of wealth. They are the predecessors, respectively, of philology, biology, and political economy. The members of the latter trio could not exist yet because the logical/historical conditions for the possibility of their existence had not yet been satisfied; for example, there could be no biology because the concept of “life” discussed in the previous lecture was not ready. His articulation of the historical material he places under the rubric of a Representation episteme depends on finding similarities among naming things in grammar, classifying species of animals and plants in natural history, and exchanging goods for money in the theory of wealth. All three – naming, classifying, and exchanging – count as representing. But all three do not fall into the pattern of the Representation episteme at the same time. Exchanging is late. There is a décalage. Naming and classifying become Representation early in the 17th century, while it took another half century to bring the theory of wealth under the sway of its episteme by establishing that money represents wealth as signs represent what they signify. Foucault explains: But while in the last two cases, the mutation happened quickly (a certain mode of being in language appears suddenly in the Grammaire de PortRoyal, a certain mode of being of natural individuals manifests itself almost d’un coup with Jonston and Tournefort), on the other hand the mode of being of money and wealth, because it was connected with a whole praxis, with a whole set of institutions, had an index of historical stickiness (viscosité historique) that was much greater. Natural beings and language did not need the equivalent of the long operation of mercantilism in order to enter into the domain of representation, to submit themselves to its laws, and to receive from them their signs and principles of order. (Foucault, 1966: 192)

This is the opposite of what one would have expected from the Foucault of Histoire de la folie (1961). There praxis and sets of institutions led to the new ways of thinking; they were not the historical stickiness that slowed them down. Internment in asylums was the historical a priori, the condition of possibility, for the concept of insanity. Now, in Les mots et les choses (1966) it is the other way around. Institutions resist the

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rise of the rule of Representation, but in the end their resistance collapses and they submit to the requirements of the ruling episteme. My opinion is that Foucault was partly right both earlier and later. There are different sorts of causal explanations for the various phenomena he describes in his various works. In my view institutions and practices have causal powers. Speech acts have causal powers. Rules have causal powers; as do stories and ways of thinking growing out of stories. In his doctoral dissertation that Althusser endorsed, Foucault was right to feature in his explanation of the evolution of the concept of insanity the royal attempt to cope with surplus population by ordering a grand renfermement. In his later 1966 work, he was right at least to some extent in calling attention to the causal powers of constellations of ideas. A way of thinking (a loose category intended to include the tight notion of episteme), once it gets rolling, can indeed spread just because of its own momentum and in spite of institutional resistance. A whole society can be blinded or illuminated by its ideology just because it is its ideology. (I should know, having been born and raised in the United States.) To reply to the objection that Foucault would not accept the compliment I am paying him because the phrase “causal powers” was not part of his vocabulary and suggesting causal explanations was not part of his intention (Foucault, 1966: 275); I would employ the Lacanian phrase, il ne sait pas qu’il sait (“He does not know he knows”). But quite apart from the dubious turnabout represented by attributing the half century delay in the arrival of Representation in the field of political economy to a historical stickiness that slowed down the inevitable advance of an episteme, leftists had other and better reasons for objecting to Foucault’s new doctrine (Eribon, 1989: 190). Even if one agrees with me that at this point in time the issue of material causes versus ideal causes should be cheerfully disregarded as a non-issue, because both of these two supposedly opposed categories have now been superseded by better ways of talking about science, one should still acknowledge that leftists in Paris in 1966 were not wrong to recognise in Les mots et les choses a sophisticated salvo fired against them (see the summary of their critical reactions in Eribon 1989: Part two, Chapter 5). Archaeological analysis in terms of the episteme of the age had the consequence that questions leftists are accustomed to thinking of as important, such as the question, whose interests are served by an ideology, were dismissed as irrelevant. They were surface effects above the archaeological level. For example, in Foucault’s long discussion of the various economic theories of the classical age (Chapter 6) is full of quotes airing bourgeois commonplaces that Marx satirised, such as the commonplace that everybody gains by trade since if each party did not consider what he was buying to be worth more to him than what he was selling,

Lecture Six

there would be no contract and no transaction. Foucault feels authorised to repeat them with a straight face, not because he is saying he takes common liberal economic ideas at their face value and agrees with them, but because he claims to be saying something at a wholly different level. Foucault’s claim is that all parties to those 17th and 18th century controversies about money and wealth were disagreeing with one another within the common framework of the same episteme. When Foucault finally gets to a question about whether an ideology serves class interests he declines to answer it. He writes instead: It is necessary to distinguish carefully between two forms and two levels of study. One would be an opinion inquiry to find out who in the 18th century was a Physiocrat and who was an anti-Physiocrat; what were the interests at stake; what were the points and the arguments in the polemics; how the struggle for power played out. The other consists in without considering the personalities and their histories defining the conditions in which it was possible to think coherently and simultaneously both the knowledge (savoir) of the Physiocrat and the knowledge (savoir) of the Utilitarian. The first analysis would lead to a doxology. Archaeology can only recognize and practice the second. (Foucault, 1966: 214)

David Carroll argues that the key concepts Foucault invented in his 1966 book, “archaeology” and “episteme”, already positioned him to be the anti-Marxist he became in the mid-1970s, along with Gilles Deleuze, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Jean Baudrillard, and the “nouveaux philosophes”. They positioned him to be a leader of the wave of anti-Marxism that swept Paris a decade later. Carroll writes: In Foucault’s archaeology events in their traditional historical sense – events produced by human subjects (individual or collective) – are considered to be of only superficial interest, surface rather than fundamental, non-events in the archaeological sense. The only ‘true’ events are epistemological events, those produced by changes in the episteme. Time and time again Foucaultarchaeologist will judge changes in historical, philosophical, political, scientific, and literary positions to be inconsequential, not by denying their existence, but rather their pertinence and their status. The differences between Marx and Ricardo, for example, are inconsequential because they do not affect the episteme, because they occupy the same space and are determined to be in the same context; Foucault argues that they are ultimately (epistemologically) the same. In other words, Marxism is a nonevent. (Carroll, 1978: 712, referring in his example to Foucault, 1966: 213–214)

For Jean-Paul Sartre it was clear that the purpose of Les mots et les choses was to undermine Marxism and that its way of achieving its purpose was to remove from

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history any reference to the dynamic forces that shaped it. In an interview shortly after its publication, he said: What Foucault has presented us with, as Kanters has rightly seen, is geology: a series of successive layers that form our ‘soil.’ Each of these layers defines the conditions of possibility of a certain type of thought that has triumphed during a certain period. But Foucault does not say what would be most interesting: namely how each thought system (pensée) is constructed starting with certain conditions, nor how people pass from one thought system to another. For that it would be necessary to make reference to the role of praxis, therefore of history, and that is precisely what he refuses to do. Certainly, his perspective remains historical. He distinguishes epochs, a before and an after. But he replaces the cinema with the magic lantern, movement with a series of immobilities. (Sartre, 1966: 191)

Let me mention my own perspective. The waves of anti-Marxism that came a decade later, in which Foucault was a participant, can also be viewed – and I view them that way – together with the rise of neoliberalism, more as effects than as causes of the breakdown of social democracy. The breakdown of social democracy in turn can be seen as due to its inability to escape from the systemic imperatives of capitalism (Richards and Swanger, 2006). I am looking for ways to build a culture of solidarity, and to build strong and efficient public sectors and third sectors, so that their combination can weaken the power of capital (thinking of capital as a social structure, not as a group of people) to dictate the terms of the social contract. In other words, I am looking for ways to complement the logic of capital accumulation, and thus to make society less dependent on it. People like me want to decrease the dependence of all of society – of ordinary people for jobs, of governments for tax revenues, etcetera – on compliance with the requirements of a regime of accumulation. In this light the crisis of authority can be viewed – even at the pre-political levels of families and classrooms – as the crisis of a society that does not know how to organize social and economic democracy. Let me try to relate Foucault of 1966 to the discussion of these larger issues. Let me try to pen some nuances to the rather harsh judgments about Les mots et les choses made by David Carroll and Jean-Paul Sartre. To do so I need to first say something about how Foucault handles the transition from the episteme of Representation to the episteme of modernity, which is supposed to have happened between 1775 and 1825. Foucault writes, “The last years of the 18th century are broken by a discontinuity symmetric to that which broke, at the beginning of the 17th, the thought system (pensée) of the Renaissance …” (Foucault, 1966: 229).

Lecture Six

I used the generic term “handles” instead of the more specific term “explains” because Foucault does not explain why there was a sea-change in the fundamental cultural codes around 1800. I have paid Foucault the compliment of giving him credit for shedding light on some causes even though il ne sait pas qu’il sait. But in principle he does not explain anything in the sense of providing an account of the causes that produced it. What then does he do? Here is what he says archaeology should do: “Archéologie, elle, doit parcourir l’evenement selon sa disposition manifeste; elle dira comment les configurations propres a chaque positivité se sont modifées” (Foucault,  1966:  230). I quote these lines in French so that people will not have to rely exclusively on someone’s attempt to translate them. My feeble attempt is this: “Archaeology, for its part, should follow the pattern of appearance of the train of events; it should say how the configurations proper to each positivité are modified.” The word positivité, positivity, seems to refer both to a pattern of phenomena and to an episteme, a way of talking about, of seeing, and of thinking about a pattern of phenomena. It is what is given at any point in time. But Foucault has taught us that what is given is never simply given by nature. It is always also given by history. In some sense still problematic, which Foucault himself will struggle to clarify in later years, the Foucault of 1966 tells us what happened to knowledge between 1775 and 1825 without “saying why”. On his approach Foucault cannot possibly “say why” because what counts as “saying why” changed as a result of the very epistemic mutation between 1775 and 1825 whose history he traces. That mutation was a prime example of what Foucault calls the “perpetual oscillation which makes the human sciences always contested, from the outside by their own history” (Foucault, 1966: 388). Foucault justifies his claim that there was a general epistemic mutation around 1800 by referring to three specific fields. First, as already mentioned, biology became possible because the classification of living species switched to being based on the functions performed by their vital systems (for example, Foucault, 1966: 238–245). Second, philology and linguistics became possible because the study of language shifted from studying the meanings of words to studying the transformations of grammatical systems (for example, Foucault, 1966: 245–249). Third, political economy became possible because “since Ricardo the possibility of exchange is founded on labour [that is, on a labour theory of exchange value], and the theory of production from his time forward had always to precede that of circulation” (Foucault, 1966: 267). (Writing in Paris in the early 1960s, Foucault did not then anticipate that economics would in the late 20th century favour theories disagreeing with this view attributed to Ricardo, but he did begin to study the comeback of liberal economics in his lectures and seminars at the Collège de France shortly before his death.)

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What these three disciplinary mutations have in common, and what makes them elements of a general culture shift is that origins, causality, and history came from great hidden forces starting from primitive and inaccessible cores … From now on, things would no longer come to representation any way but on the basis of that thickness retired into itself, troubled perhaps and rendered more sombre by its obscurity; but knotted strongly to themselves; assembled or divided, grouped without appeal by the vigour that hid them there down below, in that depth. (Foucault, 1966: 263–264) The episteme of modernity cannot be neatly named with a single word like Resemblance or Representation. Its consequence is dispersion, not unity. Descarte’s famous deduction, “I think, therefore I am” no longer works. Can I say indeed that I am this language that I speak …? Can I say that I am this labour that I do with my hands, but which escapes me not just when I finish it, but even before I start? Can I say that I am that life that I sense in the depth of my being, but which at the same time envelopes me …? (Foucault, 1966: 335) Something that did work in modernity temporarily was an illusory concept of humanity. It was Kant’s transcendental account of human nature. It was Kant’s “discovery that the subject, to the extent that he is reasonable, gives himself his own law which is the universal law” (Foucault, 1966: 339). The human subject was said to give itself its own law both with respect to morals and with respect to general truths. The human was thus defined as a double being: an empirical being studied by biology, linguistics, political economy and other sciences; and also, a transcendental being – what Kant called a rational being – whose transcendental rationality established the conditions of possibility of experience, for example the condition, without which experiences would not be possible, that there is a three dimensional space to have experiences in. Foucault goes farther: [T]he threshold of our modernity is not located at the moment when one decided to apply objective methods to the study of man, but rather on the day when there was constituted a dual empirical-transcendental being and it was decided to call it humanity. [The word I translate here as “humanity” is homme, more literally translated as man.] (Foucault, 1966: 330) One needs to add some nuances to Foucault’s rejection of Marxism, which in the last pages of Les mots et les choses (the same pages where Kant’s concept of humanity is discussed) becomes explicit (for example, page 274). Foucault accepts many of the characteristic doctrines of Marxism, if not as truth then at least as central characteristics of a modern episteme that has rejected the bourgeois commonplaces so

Lecture Six

prominent in 17th and 18th century theories of wealth. Those characteristic doctrines include the priority of production over circulation, capital accumulation as the driver of production, the labour theory of value, the theory of surplus value, and the concept of alienated labour. The conceptual mutation that led to these modern ideas is attributed to Ricardo, and in the last analysis not to any individual, but to a general shift of cultural codes that made Ricardo possible (see Foucault, 1966: 265– 275). With respect to them, Foucault regards Marx as an optimist and Ricardo as a pessimist. Foucault also connects phenomenology with Marxism, disparaging both at once, and disparaging their essential connection with each other (Foucault, 1966: 332). It is as if Foucault had been reading these lectures, or reading Charles Taylor, and had agreed with me that the interpretation of the lived-world can only lead to a critique of political economy reminiscent of Marx. If I can say so without getting too far into the question what Foucault thought of Marx personally, which should not be the issue, and concerning which numerous diverse quotes could be collected, I should say that although in the script of Les mots et les choses Marx plays the modest role of author of optimistic variations on themes from Ricardo, elsewhere Foucault pairs Marx with Freud as one of the two most important modern path breaking founders of new forms of discourse (Foucault, 1969d: 805). Foucault once explained that Marx’s work was not an epistemic break in economics, but was an epistemic break in politics and history (Foucault, 1967: 587). I do not for one minute agree with Foucault that humanity is a dual being, at once empirical and transcendental, whose birth was indistinguishable from the birth of modernity at the time of Kant and the French Revolution, and whose short life ended when Nietzsche made it clear that the death of God entailed the death of man, whose posthumous ghosts still walk the earth in the form of bogus doctrines “gauches et gauchies” that the honest philosopher can only oppose with a silent philosophical laugh (Foucault, 1966: 353–354). On the contrary, humanity was born some 200  000 years ago, more or less, the exact date depending on how one reads the fossil evidence. Humanity has invented many cultures. If we succeed in making a transition to sustainability, it will invent many more. Most of human culture has either been at a different time or at a different place, or at both a different time and a different place, from the capitalist Europe between 1650 and 1966 whose ways of knowing are charted by Foucault in Les mots et les choses. Nevertheless, Foucault does make some valid points. When Kant wrote that it is a categorical imperative to treat humanity, whether in yourself or in some other person, never only as a means only, but always as an end-in-itself, Kant really did mean by “humanity” precisely the dual being, at once empirical and transcendental, that Foucault identifies as l’homme. (I think when Foucault names the concept of

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humanity as masculine he deliberately evokes its links with patriarchy; e.g. in the French Revolution, in Kant, and in Auguste Comte. If he had been interested in refurbishing it and in rescuing its positive aspects he would have found a genderneutral way to refer to it; if not in 1966 then later.) The network of meanings Foucault calls l’homme really was invented when Foucault says it was, with the precursors Foucault notes. It really was the object of worship in Auguste Comte’s religion of humanity. It really has become the official moral framework for the period Foucault calls modernity, which, following Wallerstein, I prefer to call the liberal period of a modern world-system that began earlier. Kant crystallises ideas of l’homme typical of his time and characteristic of the French Revolution. He has many followers and (a point Foucault does not make but could have) the other characteristic ethical theories of liberal culture, such as utilitarianism, differ from Kant very little in their practical conclusions and in what Foucault would call their archaeological basis. Even people in modern times who have no philosophy usually have modern common sense. It is precisely modern common sense, the moral and legal framework of a commercial society that Kant brilliantly rationalised, with a logical elegance superior to that of the other early modern philosophers who were offering similar rationales for the same institutions (Richards, 1995). Concepts of human dignity and respect for persons that echo Kant are explicitly included in the United Nations Charter, and in many international declarations of human rights. They are in several national constitutions. Foucault is also right concerning the centrality of a Kantian concept of humanity in modern culture for a reason he himself does not mention and perhaps deliberately refrained from mentioning. L’homme is a concept that describes the juridical subject of a world physically organised by commodity exchange and capital accumulation. L’homme fits – perhaps taking a cue from Taylor we could even say he constitutes – its ethical and legal institutional framework.

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LECTURE SIX Discussion COH - Catherine Odora Hoppers EL - Evelin Lindner HR - Howard Richards

EL:

Now I think we have to revise the story about Foucault’s place in history that we were telling in our last discussion. To get closer to the details often means to get farther from clarity.

COH:

What do you mean?

EL:

I mean that to be accurate we need to paint a picture that is more complex and therefore less clean-cut.

HR:

Much of the complication stems from Foucault being less one-sided and dogmatic than our simple story suggested. I think it is a virtue of academic institutions …

COH:

You mean universities, academic presses, critical reviews, public forums, panel discussions on TV, lectures with question periods, a free press.

HR:

Yes, that is the sort of thing I mean. I think, or at least I think I think, I hypothesise, that the give-and-take of academia motivates everyone, whatever her or his project may be, and whatever she or he may be trying to prove, to acknowledge the reasonable points made by people with different points of view.

EL:

I think I hear you suggesting that Foucault really was a “young conservative” at heart as you and Jürgen Habermas say he was, but that he needed to gain credibility by acknowledging the verisimilitude or even the truth of some aspects of viewpoints he basically disagreed with. At a personal level, he always remained on friendly terms with Louis Althusser.

HR:

And with Jean-Paul Sartre and with Pierre Bourdieu. Paradoxically, he ended up quarrelling and breaking up with his close intellectual ally, Gilles Deleuze.

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EL

If your hypothesis, dear Howard, about the way academic life works is valid, then there should be a tendency to converge toward a reasonable centre. Then if his story about Foucault is true, we might be tempted to read The order of things as a young conservative’s intellectual project revised to make it less vulnerable to objections.

COH:

Nevertheless, Foucault makes some striking and at first glance rather immoderate claims toward the end of the book. At least on the surface he seems to be saying that it makes no sense to work for the emancipation of humanity because humanity does not exist. Maybe the tendency of academic debate is to converge toward a reasonable centre only some of the time. Or maybe we need to try harder to understand what Foucault is saying. In my understanding of the word “humanist” Foucault himself would count as a humanist because he strove passionately against treating victims of mental illnesses as “cases” instead of treating them as people.

EL:

I find the anti-humanism that appears rather suddenly at the end of The order of things surprising. I do not want to believe that it implies that there can be no human dignity and no human rights because there are no humans. If I believe anything I believe there is not enough respect for human dignity in this world. There is too much humiliation and there is not enough humility (would this be what Foucault wants to say when he says there is no humanity?).

COH:

If we find the anti-humanism at the end of The order of things surprising and inconsistent with Foucault’s work to include the excluded then perhaps we do not fully understand what Foucault is really saying. Perhaps we are taking it out of context and applying it to other contexts where it was not intended to apply.

HR:

Certainly, part of Foucault’s context was structuralism. Structuralism was very influential in Paris as he was writing. Without structuralism’s prestige in the milieu where he expected to find his readers I do not think Foucault could have written lines like, “Can I say indeed that I am this language that I speak …? Can I say that I am this labour that I do with my hands, but which escapes me not just when I finish it, but even before I start? Can I say that I am that life that I sense in the depth of my being, but which at the same time envelopes me …?”

Discussion

COH:

But there is another way to look at it. Foucault was not just saying that Descartes´ idea, “I think therefore I am”, no longer works because we cannot count on introspection to identify ourselves as a “thing that thinks”. He was also deconstructing a quite specific idea of what it means to be human that has turned out to be extremely influential in modern western civilisation.

EL:

… and therefore in the entire world, since, as history has turned out, to a large extent modern western civilisation is now the world’s civilisation.

COH:

Or maybe we should put the word “civilisation” in quotes, remembering that when Mahatma Gandhi was asked what he thought of modern western civilisation he replied, “It would be a good idea”.

EL:

So, we would say that as history has turned out modern western socalled “civilisation” has become the world’s so-called “civilisation”.

COH:

In the end, the “humanity” or “man” criticised in the “anti-humanism” of Foucault is a highly ethnocentric concept of what it means to be “human”.

EL:

I think you are onto something. Can you tell us more of what you mean?

COH:

In this particular text Foucault literally identifies “humanity” with Immanuel Kant’s concept of humanity. Kant’s concept is among other things highly individualistic and highly rational.

EL:

Part of the explanation for Foucault’s focus specifically on Kant’s concept might be that he had translated Kant’s “anthropology” from German to French.

HR:

In that translation the word “anthropology” refers to something like Kant’s “theory of humanity” or Kant’s “theory of man”. It does not refer to the academic field of anthropology as we know it today.

COH:

I think we are saying that Foucault should not be read as deconstructing every concept of humanity. He is not deconstructing my concept of humanity.

EL:

Foucault’s identification of Kant in The order of things as the inventor of “humanity” must be some kind of shorthand because neither Kant nor any other philosopher just makes up a concept of what it means to be human out of pure imagination. Kant must have articulated humanity as vernünftiger Wille.

HR:

Rational will.

EL:

… out of meanings and ideas already present in his culture.

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COH:

That is what I think. It must also be what Foucault thinks because a central message of The order of things is that individual minds are shaped by the cultural codes of their time and place. The humanism Foucault criticises was part of late 18th century European culture, but it pretended to be eternal and universal. Foucault is right to call its bluff.

EL:

Do you mean Kant thought he had deduced an eternal and universal concept of “human” from eternal and universal science? Or do you mean that Europeans in general already thought their brand of humanity was the only real humanity, so that Kant was just articulating what they already believed?

COH:

Both. Kant thought there was only one science. The “human” he identifies and Foucault deconstructs was a corollary of it. I do not mean to say that the whole population of Europe was thinking implicitly what Kant made explicit, but I would say that at the time they conquered Africa, their religion and their thinking generally led them to regard themselves as superior.

EL:

… so that whatever they thought proper human conduct might be, was, if not the only way, in any event the best way. So, you are saying that Foucault was right to attack “humanism” if we bear in mind what he meant by it?

COH:

What he meant was a philosophical concept more logical and reasonable than the simple prejudices of simple Europeans, but nonetheless the discourse of the great philosopher reflected the general public’s pretensions. I would not say precisely that Foucault “attacked” humanism so defined. I believe it would be more precise to say that Foucault pointed out that it was a myth that could pass itself off as truth for a time, but that time has passed. It is not believable now.

EL:

And he was right.

COH:

He was right, but we would be wrong if we took his words out of context to infer that he is against dignity, against human rights, against human development, and in favour of humiliation.

HR:

There would be a further consequence of reading Foucault’s antihumanism as anti-ethnocentrism. It would direct attention to other cultures and other historical traditions that have their own concepts of what it means to be human.

EL:

Do you have a concept of what it means to be human?

H

I do.

Discussion

EL:

What is it?

HR:

Humans are the animals whose ecological niche is culture. Humans are creators of culture.

EL:

So, you would say that, among other things, humans have created different concepts of what it means to be human?

HR:

Yes. Biologically, our bodies have evolved to be the bodies of cultural animals. Our bodies do not function properly when deprived of society – as is seen perhaps most dramatically when newborns are not welcomed into a loving environment and they fail to develop basic trust in the first few months of life. Culture is passed on by upbringing in interaction with genetics, which gives humans an advantage over other species that have less capacity for flexible co-operation and for changing behaviour in response to changing circumstances. The other species rely more (or rely exclusively) on adjusting to change by mutation and natural selection. Humanity at its best develops cultures that continually improve.

EL:

Would you say that cultural diversity is an invaluable resource for cultural improvement somewhat as genetic diversity is an invaluable resource for genetic improvement?

HR:

Yes. The flexibility we are blessed with as creators of cultures enables us to continually improve the functioning of our institutions and to improve them in harmony with …

COH:

… in harmony with the natural environment, and I would like to point out – if you do not mind me interrupting you a moment – that if we were to rank order the different cultures humanity has created according to their success in developing a sustainable relationship to the natural environment, then modern western “civilisation” would rank dead last. It is the only one that has threatened and is now threatening to destroy life on this planet completely.

HR:

I see you are not a cultural relativist.

COH:

Not completely. If I understand you, then you are not either. Your critical realist approach rather audaciously tries to draw a general concept of what it means to be human out of the findings of the sciences of biology and anthropology.

EL:

So, if we are going to conclude that Foucault’s anti-humanism amounts to opposing a kind of “humanism” that is hell-bent on destroying the biosphere …

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COH:

… and in any case unbelievable, continuing to exist, as Foucault points out, only as a fraud perpetrated by charlatans …

EL:

… then we can rest assured that his concept of anti-humanism is quite compatible with my concept of human dignity.

COH:

I agree completely.

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LECTURE SEVEN May 18, 2013 In the closing words of the last lecture I was talking about Foucault’s deconstruction of the entity he calls l’homme in the closing pages of his 1966 book, The order of  things. Let me go on now to add to my list of ways I think Foucault was right. He was also right to portray Kant as filling a need by articulating a principle of legal and moral authority when the traditional principles of authority in Europe were breaking down. I would add that Kant was part of a broad historical trend in which personal rule was gradually being superseded by the rule of law. Foucault discusses at some length the void-in-the-heart following the death of the king in the French Revolution (Foucault, 1966: 318–323). I read him as alluding also to well-known views like those of Auguste Comte who called for re-establishing authority by creating a social science that would legitimate rationally the social cohesion that allegiance to God and throne had formerly legitimated irrationally (see Comte, 2009). Foucault’s main point, however, is not that traditional principles of authority collapsed at the time of the French Revolution; nor is it, as some would have it, that they had long been eroded and increasingly ineffectual so that the Revolution merely ratified and made official a culture shift that in substance had already happened. His main point is that the transcendental philosophy hastily invented at the end of the 18th century to make up for the lack of God and king is also no longer credible. The ghost of its dead body is passed off as a living humanism today only by writers Foucault despised as charlatans such as, to name a few, Albert Camus, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and the humanist Marxist Roger Garaudy. One of the despised, Garaudy, had the misfortune to work for a time in a philosophy department chaired by Foucault at the University of Clermont. His biographer reports that Foucault decided to leave Clermont when Garaudy was appointed over his protest, but before leaving he waged war against him. “He used every pretext to give free reign to his hatred. A ferocious hatred. Implacable. Garaudy had to suffer all the sarcasms and all the accusations that the mind of his department chair could invent against him” (Eribon, 1989: 162–163). When Garaudy made the mistake of asking a student to translate a text from Marcus Aurelius from Latin, not realising that Marcus Aurelius had written it in Greek, Foucault succeeded in getting him fired for incompetence.

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According to Foucault, the transcendental humanism hastily invented to give new life to moral authority just when Europe was freeing itself from authority, had a legitimate philosophical existence for only about a century, from the 1780s when Kant invented it until the 1880s when Nietzsche exploded it. Here again I think Foucault has a partially valid point. Nietzsche was in a sense right to argue that the Death of God entails the death of humanity. I think there really was, and in some circles still is, a belief that humans are human because they are made in the image of God; and I think that Nietzsche and Foucault are right to say that this belief about what makes humans human cannot survive in an atheist or agnostic culture. Of course, Foucault does not rest his case entirely on citing Nietzsche. In his 1966 book and in other writings, he gives many reasons for why any humanism resembling the humanism Kant propounded has lost credibility. In the end many apparently abstruse philosophical issues revolving around what it means to be a human person are issues about authority. Dewey was right to say that Kant’s critique of knowledge posed the central political question of modernity (Dewey, 1927). In some respects, Foucault echoes Dewey by saying that when belief in a transcendental realm dissolves, l’homme as conceived by Kant no longer exists. The only people who do not know this are people who do not know that Marcus Aurelius wrote in Greek, not in Latin. But Foucault does not echo Dewey in all respects. Let us now look again at the brilliant but unbelievable idea of a transcendental non-empirical humanity. This time let us take cues from critical realism, from John Dewey and Emile Durkheim. Let us consider the matter from points of view that focus on the physical functions of moral authority. Assuming my premise that authority is to a large extent what organises human life, we can reply to Foucault, that the demise of God, of the monarchy, and of belief in transcendental philosophies, need not mean the demise of all authority. It need not mean the disorganisation of human life. To see authority as a broad category whose referents do not all disappear when some of them, even major ones, disappear; it may help to reflect that socialisation has taken many different forms in many different cultures. In normal cases where there is one social person in one physical body, I would claim that what integrates behaviour to make the body’s behaviour a person’s behaviour is some principle of authority; for example, the alliance of logos and thymos in the soul as Plato conceives it, or the alliance of Ich and Űberich in the personality as Freud conceives it. Such general ideas as socialisation, logistiche psuche, ego as integrator, and ego-strength, I take invariably to include some sense of authority in their meanings. In addition,

Lecture Seven

I am inclined to believe they are probably applicable at an abstract level in all or most cultures. Nevertheless, they only take on concrete existence in the light of the customs of particular societies (see Gibbs, 2010). If it were fully true – actually historically it was only partly true – that the French Revolution brought both religion and monarchy to an end, this would indeed mean the end of a world where un gentilhomme ne vit que pour servir son Dieu et son roi. It would mean the disintegration of one historically given way of being a person in a body. If Kantian humanism suffers a similar fate announced and perhaps to some extent produced by the Nietzsches and Foucaults of this world that would end the efficacy of another historically given way of being a person in a body. On Foucault’s view, the invention shortly before 1800 of l’homme, a dual being at once empirical and transcendental, was in principle the invention of an autonomous moral agent whose self-given law was simultaneously the source of its own dignity and of what Charles Taylor might call constitutive rules of a bargaining society (Taylor, 1971). He says toward the end of his 1966 book that humanity thus reformulated by Kant made psychology possible. Humanity so conceived also made possible emancipatory social movements whose aim was articulated as reforming social institutions so that l’homme would enjoy in real life the dignity to which he was entitled as a pure Kantian transcendental idea. Let us assume for a moment that Foucault is right about all this. However, none of this is equivalent to assuming that Foucault would be right to insist that there is no other way to conceive humanity. Melville’s “Ca Ca Caliban Get a new master, be a new man” suggests other options (Melville, 1949). Even granting that as a matter of historical fact humanity was conceived in Kantian terms in Europe in 1800, this does not imply that there can be no humanism without Kant. Even granting that there was a crisis of authority in Europe that Kant’s invention of l´homme temporarily resolved, it does not follow that other cultures at other times and places had no concepts recognisable as concepts of humanity, such as for example the African concept of ubuntu (Bhengu, 2006). It does not follow that we today are forbidden to construct non-authoritarian authority using humanistic words and phrases such as “person” and “human development” and “humanity” and “human rights” and “human” itself. We can even rescue some points similar to Kant’s, such as the point that humans should be treated as ends in themselves not as means only. To rescue them we do not need to say that the arguments Kant made for them were valid. We can say they are valid for other reasons. We can say they work. We can say they solve problems.

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I have been saying to Foucault, OK even if we assume Kant was wrong, there are still good reasons for holding humanist ideals. Now let me backtrack a little. I do not actually think Kant was one hundred percent wrong. The respect for persons Kant called for can be defended partly with modified versions of the reasons Kant gave for respecting persons, but perhaps more importantly with reasons Durkheim gave. Moral authority is a physical necessity without which no culture can function (Durkheim, 1897; 1987). What ought to be respected in the end is a functioning culture. A functioning culture is the current accommodation of culture to physical reality. At its centre are the norms that are customary here and now, wherever here may be and whenever now may be. It is the starting point for improving norms and institutions to make them more compatible with physical reality, or to make them better in any way (Richards, 1964). Respect for that animal whose ecological niche is culture needs to be respect for culture. Kant is unavoidable for a reason Durkheim gave: we in the modern West happen to have a conscience collective that denies that there is a conscience collective. It asserts that we are all individual subjects with rights who deserve respect. We need to accept Kantian ethics (and build on it, and ignore some off-the-wall judgments Kant personally made, and reform it) just because it is an indispensable working part of the actually existing common sense of the world we live in. If Kantian respect for persons is unavoidable – even if it is unavoidable for the practical reasons Durkheim gave and not for the transcendental reasons Kant gave – then the Foucault of 1966 is avoidable. We can still be humanists even if the philosophical arguments for humanism that flourished in Europe in 1800 are no longer convincing. For Foucault in 1966 the death of l’homme spells the futility of misguided projects seeking “the liberation of l’homme, human being in plenitude” (Foucault, 1966b: 502). Elsewhere the same year he says in an interview: “Our task today is to free ourselves definitively from humanism, and in that sense our work is political” (Foucault,  1966c:  516). In 1966, he attacks the very idea of human liberation. He attacks the very idea of emancipation. He attacks Sartre’s philosophy of human liberation (not Sartre alone, but Sartre and others who think in similar ways) as straightforwardly as Ludwig von Mises attacks proposals to socialise ownership of the means of production. (However, it was Guy Debord, not Foucault, who persuasively argued that Sartre was deluded when he wrote of a proletarian revolution as if it were a real possibility (Debord, 1994).)

Lecture Seven

Foucault briefly summarised his anti-Sartrian (anti-emancipation) strategy in an interview with Madeleine Chapsal (Foucault, 1966c) as follows:

Chapsal:

As a philosopher, what most interested Sartre?

Foucault:

… Sartre wanted to show … that there was meaning (sens) everywhere. But that expression, in his thought, was very ambiguous: to say, ‘There is meaning’ was at the same time an observation and an order, a prescription. There ought to be meaning; that is to say, we ought to give meaning to everything …

Chapsal:

When did you stop believing in meaning?

Foucault:

The point of rupture was the day when Levi-Strauss for societies and Lacan for the unconscious showed us that the meaning was probably no more than a surface effect, a mirroring, a foam; and that what deeply ran through us, what was there before we were, what sustained us in time and in space was the system. (Foucault, 1966c: 514)

Foucault’s answer fits the pattern of the varied arguments I am assembling in favour of the view that interpreting the meanings of everyday events leads to engagement with the ethical issues concerning property rights and the commoditisation of human relationships classically posed by the works of Karl Marx. The phenomenology of daily life – as in Paulo Freire or as in the linguistic hermeneutics of Charles Taylor – leads to radical criticism. I take the view that the French structuralism of the 1960s, or the more recent systems theory of Niklas Luhmann, or Pareto’s theory of residues and derivatives (see Winch, 1958), or any social science that avoids looking directly at the rules of everyday language games does not lead to radical criticism. It leads away from raising consciousness by analysing those rules, for example the rules of property and contract. The ideas of ordinary people are held to be illusions while only sophisticated scholars understand the deeply hidden processes that produce them. The conventional rule-following of everyday life in a commercial society or in any society is seen as lacking causal efficacy. It is not, as it is in critical realist social theory, an integral aspect of the constitution of social structure. It is not the script of the actors in the theatre where social change must be performed. It tends to be the opposite of Aristotle’s uncaused cause. It tends to be the effect that causes nothing, the uncausing effect, mere surface, mirroring, foam. To my line of thought here, a line of thought that identifies conservative politics with assigning primary causal efficacy to what Foucault in 1966 called the system or the structure, Foucault more than once replied. In 1968, at a time when he had already left behind the anti-Marxism of the closing pages of his 1966 book, but

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had not yet begun his collaboration with the anti-Marxist nouveaux philosophes of the mid-1970s (see Foucault, 1978: 611); at a time when he was still identifiable as a structuralist, before he decided he was not and never had been a structuralist, Foucault said to a Swedish reporter, “You will understand what is going on with the manoeuvre of Sartre and Garaudy when they claim that structuralism is a typical right-wing ideology. That allows them to call people accomplices of the right when in reality they are to the left of themselves. It also allows them to present themselves as the only real representatives of French leftism and Communism. But that is just a manoeuvre” (Eribon, 1989: 194). He praised his old friend the Marxist structuralist, Louis Althusser: The mushy, faded, humanist Marxism defended by Garaudy is opposed by the dynamic and renovating Marxism of the students of Louis Althusser, who represent “the left-wing of the Communist Party, and who are very much in favour of the theses of structuralism” (Eribon, 1989: 194). In a famous and highly controversial polemic against Althusser, the British socialist historian E.P. Thompson took up nearly the same line of thought I have expressed above. Yes, Althusser is indeed a member of the French Communist Party, and yes, he is a structuralist. But his structuralism, like any version of social science that avoids bringing into focus the phenomenology of everyday language games in an acquisitive society is more likely to lead away from ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity than toward them. According to Thompson, “Althusser announces, as original and rigorous Marxist theory, notions disintegrative of the full historical process, notions highly regarded within bourgeois historiography” (Thompson, 1995: 123). When ideas such as those of Althusser´s come to define Marxism, honourable scholars like Cornelius Castoriadis decide to leave the Marxist tradition because “they see it as irreparable, inherently elitist, dominative, and anti-democratic (the ´scientists´ and the vulgar rest)” (Thompson, 1995: 227). If E.P. Thompson is right, or even half right, then Foucault´s endorsements of Althusser´s anti-humanist Marxism and his recruitment of Althusser´s students to teach at the new experimental university at Vincennes need not be read as evidence that Foucault was a leftist at heart after all. They could be read as evidence that he was (in Habermas´s phrase) a “young conservative” who knew a good thing when he saw it. Althusser´s influence among the students was huge (Eribon, 1989: 194). At the same time his hostility to the state (see the essay on the state in Althusser, 1971), and other immoderate aspects of his approach could be counted upon at the end of the day to undermine the herd morality of social democracies and welfare states. The Foucault of 1966 considered that the powers-that-be East and West were defrauding the people under the cover of an empty rhetoric of human rights and human dignity. “Experience shows that in their development the sciences of man lead

Lecture Seven

rather to man’s disappearance than to his apotheosis.” (Foucault, 1966b: 502) Foucault appears to have in mind especially his own interpretations of the scientific advances due to Claude Levi-Strauss, Jacques Lacan, and Georges Dumezil. In his interview with Madeleine Chapsal, he disclosed why he decided to cast what he wanted to say in terms of an episteme incompatible with l’homme. Foucault’s answers to Chapsal illumine the overall design and plan of Les mots et les choses. Foucault tells her and us that today (in France in the 1960s) knowledge is reverting to the Empire of the Sign, to the episteme of the classical age. L’homme must disappear for the same reason he appeared; he could not appear in the 17th and early 18th centuries because he was incompatible with the episteme of Representation; he appeared when it ended, as that dual being the subject at once empirical and transcendental, required by modernity; he must now disappear as Levi-Strauss, Lacan, and Dumezil dissolve the subject into the system. “In a certain fashion we are returning to the point of view of the 17th century, with this difference: not putting man in the place of God, but rather an anonymous thought, a knowledge without a subject, a theory without identity …” (Foucault, 1966c: 515). What I am suggesting is not that Foucault interpreted his immediate intellectual environment in the light of 17th century thought, but rather the reverse; in Les mots et les choses he created an interpretation of the 17th century for the purpose of grounding an argument he wanted to make in his immediate intellectual environment. He himself says that contemporary French debates on humanism provided the “point of historical possibility” for his own archaeological research (Foucault, 1969: 26). Foucault was perfectly aware that for the renaissance humanists, man was a being made in the image of God and placed by Him a little lower than the angels, that for Shakespeare man was an actor on the stage of life, that for Descartes he was a chose qui pense (thing that thinks). If during those centuries man (and woman) did not exist, in spite of what appeared to be endless talk about them, it was because the endless talk was not specifically about l’homme as Kant would come to define him. Foucault found in the 17th century a passion for conceiving knowledge in terms of tables, for classifying everything. In those tables there was no need to create a space in the table for locating l’homme as classifier; there was no need for the Kantian rational being whose a priori categories determined the conditions of any possible experience. Why not? Because God had already classified everything when He created it. Things were simply there. Hume was possible because God had been there ahead of him, laying out a field of phenomena, which only had to be perceived, and then represented. But Hume was only possible for a while and to a certain extent; as Foucault says more elaborately and in more detail in the chapter of The order of things (Chapter 7) on the limits of Representation. Hume himself was consistent

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enough to realise that on his own worldview he himself was not necessary; he could find no perception of the self, and therefore rightly concluded that in the terms of the episteme he was working with he had no good reason to believe in his own existence, or in that of anything else, or of any links between causes and effects. It was because the classical episteme of Representation was not viable without God that there had to be a Kant. There had to be a Kant because someone had to find a way to do God’s work making sense of the world in the absence of God. Kant found a way: the invention of l’homme. There had to be l’homme to make modernity viable. So, conceived, l’homme was needed, but he is not needed anymore, according to Foucault. He is not needed now that we have systems. By system, one should understand a set of relations which maintain themselves, which transform themselves, independently of the things they link. One has been able to demonstrate, for example, that the Roman myths, and those of Scandinavia and the Celts, caused to appear gods and heroes quite different one from another but the organization that linked them (those cultures were ignorant of each other) their hierarchies, their rivalries, their betrayals, their contracts, their adventures obeyed a single system. (Foucault, 1966c: 514) Foucault goes on to talk about codes in biology, about Lacan’s psychoanalysis, about recent discoveries in prehistory, and concludes: “Before any human existence, before any human thought, there was already knowledge, a system, which we rediscover” (ibid.: 515). From the premise of the nonexistence of humanity, Foucault draws the conclusion that all projections for the liberation of humanity, or for the emancipation of humanity, are nonsense. Foucault admits, even in Les mots et les choses, that his reading of intellectual history is unusual. He admits that it is more common to see in the 17th and early 18th centuries not so much a passion for representation in tables as a passion for Galilean physics, for Cartesian analytic geometry, and finally for a Newtonian mechanical worldview, culminating in Kant’s granting to the principles of Newtonian physics the status of a priori synthetic conditions of any possible experience. It is more common to see in Kant’s ethics a realm of ends modelled on Roman law as the social equivalent of the laws of nature. It is more common to see mechanistic thinking in political economy conceived as social physics (for example, Husserl, 1973; Merchant, 1983). Foucault distinguished his project in The order of things by saying that the mathematising of the world characteristic of the period he studied applied mainly to simple phenomena, such as the orbits of planets, which could be represented as one conic section or another, while making tables applied to the complex phenomena of his preferred field of study: life, language, exchange.

Lecture Seven

Later, in a theoretical work devoted to methodological issues titled L’archéologie du savoir, Foucault agrees with his critics (Foucault, 1969: 26–28, 256–275; Foucault 1969b). In 1969 he admits that his 1966 interpretation of the 17th century was arbitrary. Its episteme was Representation because Foucault decided to talk that way, not because of anything in his sources that compelled him to do so. Next time we will examine in more detail the Foucault of 1969 so remarkably different from the Foucault of 1966. Now let me close by giving another reason why l’homme survives in spite of Foucault’s low opinion of him. Here I refer to the survival not only of humanity as conceived in other ways in other cultures at other times, but the survival even of the specifically Kantian creature Foucault designates as l’homme. Let us peer into the maternity ward of the late 18th century and witness again the birth of l’homme. Immanuel Kant, who according to l’homme’s birth certificate was his father, although he lived in the 18th century and had little or no truck with that century’s Foucauldian episteme, neither with Linnaeus, nor with the PortRoyal grammar, nor with debates among theorists of wealth concerning currency devaluations in France. He was a died-in-the-wool Newtonian. When he wrote jedes natürliche Ding wirkt nach Gesetzen (everything in nature works according to laws), the Gesetze he had in mind were Newtonian laws plus the similar laws he expected would be discovered in the future. When he wrote nur ein vernünftiges Wesen kann nach der Vorstellung des Gesetz handeln (only a rational being can act according to the conception of law), he had in mind the capacity of human beings to follow moral and juridical rules conceived as analogous to physical laws (Kant, 1785). OK. Now let the critical realist speak. Let the critical realist make a case that the rule-following creature Kant described actually exists. She exists not where Kant said she was – in the realm of pure reason, but where Kant said she was not, in the realm of empirical facts. This remarkable human capacity, this conception of law, this capacity to form groups whose members respect the rules of the group, does not depend on a transcendental premise that Kant affirms and Foucault denies. It is observed. The biologist-turned-psychologist Jean Piaget (Piaget, 1932) showed empirically that children growing up under normal conditions develop patterns of behaviour guided by norms of mutual respect remarkably similar to the ideals Kant had described more than a century earlier in his philosophy. Piaget’s findings have been amplified and modified within and across several rather different cultures, by hundreds of researchers working in the field of the psychology of moral development (Hoffman, 2000; Gibbs, 2010). For this and other reasons we can say that the human being is biologically programmed to be ethically programmed (Tanner, 1985; Archer, 1995; 2001).

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Non-authoritarian moral authority is not an unrealisable utopian dream nor is it a metaphysical postulate. It is everyday life. L’homme survives because people (and indeed la femme even more than l’homme) really are what the liberal thinkers at the beginning of the 19th century thought they were: social animals who can learn (and normally do learn) to respect moral and legal rules. The rule of law as a principle of political authority is viable because of a biological proclivity.

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LECTURE SEVEN Discussion COH - Catherine Odora Hoppers EL - Evelin Lindner HR - Howard Richards

COH:

Let me see if I understand. You are making a case for continuing to work with Kantian ideals like treat humanity, whether in yourself or in another person, always as an end not as a means, even though you find Foucault’s critique of Kantian humanism mostly correct. You are saying that Foucault says Kant says …

HR:

Foucault says Kant says …

COH:

… that the human person …

EL:

… the vernünftige Wille or vernünftige Wesen …

HR:

… the rational will or rational being …

COH:

… is both in this world and out of this world; both a part of the empirical world that can be studied scientifically.

HR:

To be more precise, it can be studied presupposing that it must be governed by causal laws like those discovered by Sir Isaac Newton.

EL:

… not because Newton discovered them; rather because according to Kant they are principles of pure reason that are conditions of any possible experience, and would have been the laws governing everything even if Newton had never lived.

COH:

But Foucault says Kant says a human being is at the same time out of this world, transcendent, not subject to causal laws.

EL:

Yes, and according to Kant it is this transcendence that is the source of his …

COH:

… and one hopes Kant meant also her …

EL:

… dignity. Every ordinary object can have a price, but only a vernünftiges Wesen.

HR:

… a transcendental being participating in the universal and eternal realm of pure reason …

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EL:

… has dignity.

COH:

You are saying that this is what Foucault says Kant says and that Foucault is right. This really is what Kant says. And then Foucault is right a second time when he says that this Kantian interpretation of what it means to be a human being has been the dominant interpretation of what it means to be a human being in modern western civilisation …

HR:

… or as Foucault says in notre modernité …

COH:

… which is the only civilisation he studied. We have to conjecture what Foucault might have said about any other culture or civilisation.

EL:

Towards the end of his life Foucault had a lot to say about the care of the self in ancient Greece and ancient Rome. But we are not talking 1984; we are talking 1966. We are talking about another book by Foucault dissecting what he called the “classic age” plus a little bit about its predecessor, the late renaissance, and a little bit about … about … sometimes it is hard to tell whether Foucault means his conclusions about the outcomes of the evolutions he studies to apply to the time about 1780–1820 when Notre Modernité was first constituted, or whether he means them to apply to all modern times right down to the date when he is writing his book.

COH:

But in any event, we are agreeing that Foucault was right to identify Kant’s concept of human dignity as the dominant one in modern times, at least as far as Europe is concerned.

EL:

I would not say that I agree entirely. It must be an exaggeration to attribute so much influence to Kant, overlooking many other voices and many other episodes in the history of the development of the idea of dignity. Charles Taylor’s book, Sources of the self: The Making of Modern Identity, gives a very interesting historical account of the evolution of contemporary ideas of what it means to be a “person” or to be “human”. I would add that, today, it is not just dignity, but equality in dignity that is at the core of present-time human rights ideals, as becomes clear, for example, in the sentence “all human beings … are equal in dignity”. In former times, of unequal dignity, a person of noble birth, for instance, would have more dignity, so to speak, than others. What, to my view, is the revolutionary, new situation, is the notion that all human beings are supposed to be equal in dignity. I use often the phrase “worth of a person” …

Discussion

HR:

… which is perhaps an echo of Kant’s German, since his word we translate as “dignity” is Würde, which is related to the word Wert, or the English “worth”.

EL:

And I have chosen, for my work, to call a context and historical time when people are or were supposed to be born high or low, the “context of honour”, and for the Zeitgeist we have now, namely, that people are supposedly equal in worth, I choose to use the phrase “context of dignity”. In other words, I use the term “honour” for ranked worth, and the term “dignity” for equal worth.

HR:

I would also say that Foucault is right to insist – although I would agree that, to some extent, he does exaggerate – on the central role of “man” or “l´homme” conceived in Kantian terms in modern, western civilisation, for a time.

COH:

Of course only for a time, because Foucault tells us that the reign of Kant’s universal and eternal “man” is over. Even if we think Foucault periodises history so that everything from 1780 to the present is “our modernity”, we have to recognise in his thinking at least one great subdivision, a first part of modernity when Kant was credible, and a second part …

HR:

Foucault sometimes says that it was Nietzsche who ended the reign of “man” by unmasking the utter nonsense of Kant’s anthropology.

EL:

“Anthropology” in the sense of “theory of man” or “theory of human being”, as we noted in our previous discussion.

HR:

Yes, the topic of the book on Kant’s Anthropologie, published in French, consisting of Kant’s writings on the nature of human beings, translated from German to French by Michel Foucault. Catherine was saying that Foucault must recognise at least two phases of modernity, the phase when Kant’s concept of human dignity was credible, and a later phase, now, when people no longer believe it. And I was saying that even if it is true that on paper Nietzsche wrote a devastating critique of Kantian optimism from which it would never recover, it must have taken some time for Nietzsche’s ideas to sink in, and indeed even today there are minds into which Nietzsche’s critique has not yet sunk.

EL:

But you were making some other point also.

HR:

Yes. It was that Kant’s enormous influence and continuing importance was and is not due just to Kant’s transcendental argument, but to the similarity of his concept of human dignity with what people were inclined to believe anyway.

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EL:

We said, before, that when Europe conquered Africa, Europeans thought of human nature in a way that made human nature more fully realised in Europe than in Africa. Now, after your latest lecture, I think you mean to add another dimension to that thought. When you say people were inclined to believe anyway the “anthropology” of Kant, another part is that Kant’s view of human nature fits like a hand in a glove with commerce. European society by the 18th century was, to a great extent, already a commercial society.

COH:

With constitutive rules coming mainly from Roman law …

HR:

A point I think Charles Taylor in The Sources of the Self, underestimates. When people spend all day, every day, walking around with wallets in their pockets and money in their wallets …

COH:

… or in their purses …

HR:

… buying things and selling things, it becomes part of common sense that each adult individual is a juridical subject, an owner of property, a vendor and a purchaser, in other words a subject who enters into contracts.

EL:

Which is pretty much what Kant says in his Metaphysical Elements of Justice, where he even elevates the basic postulates of Roman law, articulated by Ulpian, to the status of universal and eternal principles of reason on a par with those of Newton. The “free” subject, the one not subject to the laws of causality because transcendental, turns out to be also the property owner and the juridical subject who enters the market as buyer and seller. So Kant was defining “human dignity” in a very partial and incomplete way, even though it was a way that would resonate with part of everyday common sense in a certain kind of society. So, you are saying Foucault was right, partly for a reason he does not mention.

HR:

He was right in the first place because what Foucault says Kant says, is really what Kant says; and then Foucault was right in the second place – partly for a reason he does not mention – because Kant’s notion of “man” really did come to articulate dominant ideas in modern western civilisation.

EL:

Although some of us think Foucault overstated the extent of its dominance.

COH:

And some of us think it was not a minor matter that modern western “civilisation” was imposed by way of violence on the rest of the world.

Discussion

HR:

And then Foucault was right a third time when he pointed out that the concept of human being as a dual being, at once empirical and transcendental in Kant’s sense of “transcendental”, is not a concept any intellectually honest scholar could believe anymore in 1966.

COH:

Not to mention 2013, not to mention people who never believed it in the first place, not to mention people who always felt compulsory westernisation to be a violation of their cultural identity, not to mention people who suffered colonialism as a curse that downgraded what they believed and felt, degraded to the status of “barbarism”, “superstition”, or “underdevelopment”.

HR:

But here is my point: We still have a commercial society. We still have a fit between Kant’s anthropology and common sense. We may not believe Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason anymore, and we may find Nietzsche’s critique of Kant persuasive, but we still act in daily life, to a large extent, like the homo economicus for which Kant wrote an ethic and a metaphysic. I do not want to use the idea of homo economicus here in a wholly negative sense. It does not connote the highest of human ethical ideals, but neither does it connote the lowest. A world where people walk around with wallets in their pockets and money in their wallets and, several times a day, buy something or sell something is not the worst of all possible worlds. I want to suggest that it is also a world in which the maxim to treat humanity always as an end, never as only a means, makes intuitive sense.

EL:

I have often thought that this Kantian maxim is one that people respond to favourably almost by instinct. It is as if we say, “Yes, that’s right”, even before we know what reasons Kant gave to prove it.

HR:

And, even if we do not believe his reasons. My conjecture is that, when people play buying and selling games, they are quite aware that the humans playing the games are not, themselves, commodities. So, when Kant says everything in nature has a price, but only a human being has dignity, he echoes what people in a commercial society normally already think.

COH:

… and are inclined to believe, with or without philosophical arguments that justify believing it. So, if I understand, you agree with Foucault, but nevertheless you praise some Kantian ideals.

EL:

… as always, treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of another, as an end, never as only a means …

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COH:

… or at least you praise certain uses of Kantian ideals, even though when Kant tries to prove the universal and eternal validity of his ideas, his proofs are invalid.

EL:

Perhaps we need to distinguish between Kantian ideals when seen in the worst possible light, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the best uses we can make of the best features of Kant’s ethics.

HR:

… and of the common sense of people who have grown up in a mercantile world order …

EL:

… as we go forward.

HR:

We do not really have any choice. We can only go forward, starting from where we are.

COH:

But surely you do not mean to say that we gain nothing by studying indigenous knowledge systems that, by and large, were not those of commercial societies? Especially now, at a point in history when economics has run amok, threatening to commoditise everything?

HR:

Kant himself, or rather the common sense that makes people instantly agree with Kant without believing him or without even knowing his arguments, already gives us a place to start to build what Evelin calls a dignity economy.

EL:

I think you are saying it is more than a place to start. It is a place where we must start, because it is the place where most people are. In Catherine’s terms, in Africa today, we have a great deal of first-level indigenisation, and not nearly enough second-level indigenisation. We have to ground transformation in the ethics people actually have, even though we know that they are not the highest ethics.

HR:

We will not get a full-blown ethic of co-operation and sharing out of Kant, or out of modern western common sense.

COH:

But we will get it from ubuntu.

HR:

But at least we can get an ethic of respect for persons from Kant and modern western common sense. We can obtain an ethic of honesty and integrity. The moral principles that legitimate the laws and institutions of the modern global economy are not the highest, but they could be lower.

Discussion

EL:

They could be a whole lot lower, and we would be a whole lot further along towards reweaving the social fabric and saving the biosphere if we would just put into practice the ethical consensus we already have, in principle, in international declarations of human rights solemnly ratified by most governments.

COH:

But that is not going to happen.

HR:

What is not going to happen?

COH:

Putting the United Nations´ declarations of economic, social, cultural, and civil rights into practice.

HR:

Why is it not going to happen?

COH:

… I was going to say “unless”.

HR:

Unless what?

COH:

Unless we start with a thorough deconstruction of the modern western dysfunctional common sense that so many people in the world take for granted and cannot see beyond.

EL:

Of course, I agree. I was going to say, a moment ago, that the ethics of a commercial society are not the highest ethics, and also, at this point in history, they are not even a sustainable set of ethics. As Buckminster Fuller used to say, the time has come when humanity must “graduate”. It must graduate in the sense that it is not enough to simply comply with the norms of right and wrong that people who grow up in a commercial society internalise. We need more ethics, not just in the sense of more compliance with standard norms, but also in the sense of raising ethical standards.

COH:

We are grateful to Michel Foucault for defending subjugated knowledge, much of which has kept alive higher ideals of sisterhood and brotherhood and respect for nature – which have somewhat gone into eclipse during the last few centuries.

HR:

But transformation is also not going to happen if we do not enlist and enhance the best of the West’s deeply entrenched ideals, which, for better or worse, have become the ideals of people everywhere as firstlevel indigenisation has taken root, to a great extent.

EL:

Like human dignity, bearing in mind that Kant’s definition of it is only a partial one, and bearing in mind that ideals of dignity are found outside the West just as much as in the West.

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HR:

I mean we should work with the best ideals already functioning in daily life, and already formally declared in national constitutions and international treaties, even though we agree with Catherine that these formal declarations of human rights cannot become effective without a culture shift that re-evaluates and recovers subjugated knowledge.

COH:

I am not disagreeing with you. I am particularly grateful to Sweden, the country that received me when I went into exile, and that taught me much about the best of western ideals. I am for mutually respectful dialogues among all the cultures of the world, including modern western cultures, in which we all learn from each other. For example, while the West may have something to teach about rights, it may have something to learn about duties. This is just an example.

EL:

Would such a dialogue itself be second-level indigenisation?

COH:

Second-level indigenisation would be a prerequisite for respectful dialogue. We need a metaphysical culture shift.

EL:

Metaphysical?

COH:

Yes. We have to stop taking it for granted that the only real categories of thought and the only real logics for producing knowledge are those generated in the West, while the rest of us are defined by what the modern West thinks about us.

EL:

And you would say that Michel Foucault, as an inside critic of the West, helps us to achieve the necessary metaphysical culture shift?

COH:

I would.

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LECTURE EIGHT 20 May, 2013 Foucault’s 1969 book, L’archéologie du Savoir, sets out to answer a question that Foucault discussed in a letter to the French magazine, Esprit. In his letter to the magazine, he posed the question of the relation of “la contrainte du systėme” (the constraint of the system) to the (for Foucault problematic) human subject. In the English-speaking world, this is sometimes called the relationship of systems to persons, or of structures to individuals. It is a question that blends into the question of how historical change happens. Do people change history? Or is history driven by forces independent of human will? In Foucault’s terms, as he expresses himself at the beginning of his 1969 book and in his letter to Esprit prefiguring it, it is a question about the sources of the innovations that produce historical discontinuities (Foucault, 1968: 674). The problem arises, he says in his “Introduction” to the book (Foucault, 1969: 9–24), because historians have treated economic history as a history of physical events, as if the behaviour of markets were determined by the same sorts of causal powers as those that determine droughts and floods, births and deaths. He also makes it clear in the “Introduction” that, while the book can be regarded as a critique of some economic interpretations of history, it is also a critique of the somewhat different and also somewhat similar thinking of a certain philosopher which he does not name. I beg leave to remark that the question does not arise in the same way in my mind. Indeed, in my mind it does not arise at all. It is a non-question if rules are understood as I have been proposing to understand them, following Ludwig Wittgenstein, Peter Winch, H.L.A. Hart, Rom Harré and Paul Secord, Charles Taylor and John Searle. The misunderstanding that makes people worry about whether economic history can be treated as if it were a history of physical events (here I am speaking, not Foucault), is, I claim, a misunderstanding inherent in the very idea of economics. I beg leave to recommend, or rather to repeat an idea which I and others have recommended elsewhere, an institutionalist view of economics. I should note, however, to avoid misunderstanding that I am not recommending what is called the new institutionalism championed by Douglass North, but rather the older intellectual tradition of the same name. Institutions are made of rules. Economics is about institutions. I beg leave to recall that, in its early drafts, Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations was the concluding portion of his lectures in the history of jurisprudence. His classic work marked an

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institutional turning point in a history he himself had studied (see Richards and Swanger, 2006: 13–19). In this light, one can regard the great founding classic of political economy as a precursor of institutionalism. It is about human life as it was lived in the institutional frame its author lived in, and its author knew very well that there had been and were other institutional frames (for a discussion of “institutional frame”, see Schumpeter, 1954: 544–569). Economics is located at an intersection of social reality and physical reality, where rules (also known as norms) are found. Its central concepts depend on the legal concepts of property and contract. Its history is a history of rules and of the consequences of following rules, most notably those that constitute markets (Richards, 2000). I have been making the recommendation that thinking about rules in ways derived from my readings of late Wittgenstein, Winch, Hart, Harré and Secord, Taylor and Searle. I include in the very concept of a rule (or norm) what Hart calls its “internal aspect”. People consciously and deliberately follow rules. Good old Aristotle was on the right track. Conscious deliberation precedes human action. Actions form habits. Habits generate ethics. Ethics organise human conduct. From my perspective, when Foucault introduces his letter to the editor, and his book, saying he will address questions about the constraints of the system, La Contrainte du Systėme, his questions seem, to me, to be non-questions. The system itself is made of the actions of human agents (see Archer, 1995; 2001). Of course I realise that, when Millicent Jones goes to the shopping mall to buy a Barbie Doll for her three year old daughter Deirdre, Millicent does not know that her young daughter´s desires and her own desires have already been shaped by the norms of a society of mass consumption; nor does she know that those norms have been shaped by a structural need to maintain a regime of accumulation that creates the conditions for making profit and therefore the conditions for keeping what we call “the economy” going. But Millicent does deliberately buy the Barbie Doll. She knows that other little children have them and she wants her daughter to have one too. To understand the rules that guide her behaviour we need to understand their internal aspect, what goes on in her mind as she follows them. Call my approach here phenomenological. To be sure Millicent does not know the history of the rise of consumerism. Nor does she intend the consequences of millions of people acting as she does. Nevertheless to understand her and to change the world, we need to understand the Millicents in their own terms, and to acknowledge their autonomy as human persons. Foucault addresses the conundrums posed by people, being at the same time individual persons and parts of systems in a different way. He has in mind the discoveries of Levi-Strauss, Lacan and Dumezil, regarding unconscious, hidden, deep structures that

Lecture Eight

determine what goes on in people’s minds without people knowing anything about them or making any decisions regarding them. He writes about economic historians who find long period continuities that, for some readers, look like consequences of systemic constraints. He appears to have in mind the Annales historians, Marc Bloch, Lucien Febvre and Fernand Braudel (Foucault, 1969: Introduction). I have been subscribing to a point of view in which the systemic imperatives of capitalism are real enough, but are not systemic constraints analogous to the underlying structures found by Chomsky in languages, or by Levi-Strauss in myths. I think Levi-Strauss mixed genres of causality when he said he was inspired by Lyell’s geology and by Marx’s economics, as if the underlying invisible determining structures of tectonic plates deep in the earth were similar to the logic of capital accumulation. What happens in commercial transactions like Millicent buying a Barbie Doll is that people buy and sell. They know what they are doing. Usually they have not read Karl Marx or Rosa Luxemburg or John Maynard Keynes. They do not know the long-term consequences of many people following the same norms they follow. Nevertheless, they know what they are doing. They are buying and selling. Contracts are meetings of minds usually written on paper and signed; property rights are recorded on deeds at courthouses. The system is made up of what Aristotle called praxis, that is, physical activity guided and accompanied by talk; it is made up of what Saint Thomas called human acts; of what Rom Harré calls self-monitoring activity. From such a point of view the question of what to do as an activist to move history in desirable directions, has a straightforward generic answer: work to improve the rules that guide human life and constitute institutions (Richards and Swanger, 2008: 45–61). Now back to Foucault: The philosopher whom he does not name is, of course, JeanPaul Sartre. L’archéologie du Savoir is partly an engagement with a Sartrean version of Marx, a version which conceives of revolution as subjective consciousness assuming the management of human affairs (Foucault, 1969: 22). It is also an avoidance of an ethical reading of Marx, a reading which critiques and proposes to modify the rules that govern market transactions and property rights. In his “Introduction” Foucault rather refers to an Althusserian Marx, an anti-humanist one who achieved an epistemological mutation (Foucault, 1969: 21–24). Now back to me again: It is the ethical reading which, I am claiming, is crucial today. It is crucial to overcoming the worldwide defeat of labour by capital produced by free market globalisation. It is crucial to repealing the systemic imperatives that are driving global warming. It is crucial to softening the hardness and stabilising the chronic insecurity of life under capitalism. It is crucial for showing young people that it is feasible to follow better paths to happiness than the paths of drugs, alcohol, wild sex and the thrills of violence. We live in a world where production is done

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for profit and where the right to consume normally depends on success in selling something; a world in which meeting people’s needs, ecology, and everything else must take second place behind doing whatever it takes to persuade people with money to invest and to advance operating funds. To get out of the traps we are in, we need to motivate production and distribution, if not entirely differently, then at least partly differently; and to make such needed improvements practical, we need ethics of solidarity. Back to Foucault: Foucault’s philosophical target, the Sartrean half-existentialisthalf-Marxist account of revolutionary consciousness, is a big theory. Foucault also discerns and decries a tendency to write big theories in the work of some economic historians. Big theories threaten to become total theories purporting to explain everything. At the same time, even when he is writing big theories, Sartre’s philosophy views humans as condemned to be free, whether they want to be free or not. (Here I read Sartre as not breaking with this central tenet of his early work in his later work closer to Marxism.) Without ever mentioning him by name, Foucault complains about Sartre in lines such as this one: “Time is conceived in terms of tantalisation and revolutions are never understood as anything other than achievements of consciousness” (Foucault, 1969: 22). Foucault’s methodological alternative opts for dispersion. He proposes “dispersion” as a guide to the right way to do research. Dispersion separates the sheep from the goats, the sense from the nonsense. It separates legitimate research, like his own, from bogus totalising. It cuts the ground out from under big, pretentious theories like those of Sartre and the economic historians. “Dispersion”, as Foucault employs the notion, dissolves both historical totalities and conscious human subjects. The method begins at a descriptive level, defining the items to be described as énoncés, or, interchangeably, as évenements discursifs. (Locutions or discursive events (Colin Gordon reads “énoncés” as “effective oral or written utterances” (Gordon, 1985: 243–424)).) What is special about Foucault’s énoncés, or évenements discursifs; what clearly distinguishes them from Wittgenstein’s languagegames, is that they are to be understood as dispersed. They are not to be understood as patterns. Here I take “dispersed” to mean something like “separated” and “individual”. Domains of énoncés are “constituted by the set of all énoncés (whether spoken or written) in their dispersion of events … It is a population of events in the space of discourse in general” (Foucault, 1969: 38). Foucault’s énoncés are also different from some other notions taken to be the ground-level starting point of a scientific method, because they are not to be taken as documents, but rather as monuments. This means that they do not represent anything. They just are. A document would

Lecture Eight

be documentation of something, representing something beyond itself. A monument just is. For several chapters, Foucault elaborates on how to do archaeological research, starting with énoncés, building up a theoretical machinery whose parts are defined in terms of énoncés. Each part of Foucault´s theoretical apparatus is as subtle and elusive as énoncés themselves. The parts include discursive formations, objects, concepts, and what Foucault calls archives. An archive is a full set of “discourses effectively pronounced” (Foucault, 1969a: 772). An archive is not just any set of items, but a set that has its own principles of transformation. Foucault invents a number of other technical terms here, which I do not name because I do not think their bare names, out of context, mean anything. Let’s focus on how this proliferation of technical terms starts, on what remains constant as they multiply, and on how it ends. It starts with énoncés. He starts with a rough idea of énoncés and then tries to make his way of using that term more precise, later. What remains constant is dispersion. All along – true to his anti-totalising, anti-Sartrean, bent – he sticks with dispersion. When he discusses the historical a priori – what three years earlier, in 1966, was the historically given analogue of Kant’s universal conditions of the possibility of experience; and eight years earlier, in 1961 was what made it possible, for example, to experience insanity in the nineteenth century but not in the seventeenth – even “that a priori must give an account of the énoncés in their dispersion” (Foucault, 1969: 167). It ends with the archive. The archive is first of all the law of what can be said, the system which governs the appearance of singular events. … it is that which, at the very root of the énoncéévenement, and in the body where it is given, defines the entry into the game of the system in which it can be said. (Foucault, 1969: 170) The archive thus claims to avoid being a structure or a generality of any kind. It purports to be faithful to the basic idea of dispersion, of separation, of individuality, but nonetheless to provide a sort of law, a law defining what can be said. If you find it incredible that Foucault can remain true to his principle of dispersion and also find something in an “archive” that defines what it is possible to say, then you are in good company. Richard Rorty for one remarked that of all Foucault’s books, The Archaeology of Knowledge was the least convincing. For me at least it is also hard to see how if at all the research methodology developed in the book provides an answer to the question about La Contrainte du Systėme that the book set out to answer.

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Foucault’s arguments against l’homme take a turn with the publication of The Archaeology of Knowledge in 1969. In his own mind the turn apparently came a few years earlier. Foucault said that he had finished writing The Archaeology of Knowledge before the tumultuous events in France in 1968, even though the book was not published until 1969 (Foucault, 1980: 71). Now with the new turn the arguments against humanism rely more on Alain Robbe-Grillet who wrote novels in which events lack patterns and characters lack coherent personalities. The arguments against humanism rely less on Claude Levi-Strauss who thought cultures were governed by the patterns of underlying myths. They rely more on the idea that when Sigmund Freud psychoanalysed someone he found something like a pulsing of desire instead of a dual empirical/transcendental being, and less on the idea that when Jacques Lacan analysed someone he found language instead of an individual. They rely more on dispersion and less on system. Thus three years later Foucault is still an anti-humanist, but his reasons are roughly the opposite of what they were three years earlier. In The Order of Things man, l’homme, does not exist because he has been swallowed up by great self-governing cultural codes where there is no room and no need for a conscious subject. In The Archaeology of Knowledge, human beings as conscious subjects do not exist, because everything is fragmentation, dispersion, separation. His increasing emphasis on the dispersed and the singular (reminiscent of the emphasis on “differences” of Jacques Derrida, who, in a review article, had accused the early Foucault of being a totalitarian structuralist (Derrida, 1963)), leads the Foucault of 1969 to apologise for what he now regards as his own earlier errors. The same author who, earlier, had said he ceased to believe in Sartrean meaning because Levi-Strauss and Lacan had convinced him that meaning was a mere surface effect of deep, underlying structures, the same person who earlier had spoken of the archaeological level as if it were a deep underlying level, now says: What I am researching are not secret relationships, hidden, more silent or deeper than the consciousness of men. I seek on the contrary to define the relationships that are on the very surface of discourse; I seek to make visible what is only invisible because it is too much on the surface of things. (Foucault, 1969a: 772).

According to his own reconstruction and correction of his own past, in Histoire de la Folie he was still writing as if history had some sort of subject, not to be sure a Cartesian or Husserlian or Humean individual consciousness, but some sort of “anonymous and general subject of history” (Foucault, 1969: 25), which had “experiences” of folie that differed from one period of time to another. In Naissance de la Clinique, he was too close to structural analysis, in danger of ignoring the specificity of the problem

Lecture Eight

posed. In Les Mots et les Choses he had written of cultural totalities, the famous epistemes. Having used the totalising explanations of the structuralists to argue that the human subject was an outdated illusion that should be abandoned, he now distances himself from them. At one point in 1969, he says that among all the diverse trends in social science, the central transformation taking place in our time is the one that questions the subject; it questions the privilege of the human. His own thought is part of this great transformation. It is located beside structuralism, not within it. It is another part of the same anti-humanist transformation (Foucault,  1969a: 779). Elsewhere, in an interview for an Italian magazine, he says that for a long time he had a “badly resolved conflict” between his literary interests, the eroticism of Bataille and the preoccupation with language of Blanchot (he also discusses Sade, the musicians Boulez and Barraqué, and the painter Klee) on the one hand; and on the other hand his interest in the positive sciences, for example the studies of Georges Dumezil and Claude Levi-Strauss. The former led to the dispersion, the dissolution, the disappearance, of the erotic subject and the speaking subject. They suggested to him a theme which he then transposed to the latter, to structural and “functional” social science: an analogous disappearance of the subject (Foucault, 1969c: 614–615). As in the hot intensity of orgasm one can cease to exist as a social person, so in the cold light of science one can cease to exist as a social person. The social necessity of a humanist ideal is now “neither more nor less than that of the idea of God” (Foucault, 1969c: 619). The role of the philosopher, which is that of saying ‘what is happening’, consists perhaps today of showing that humanity is beginning to discover that it can function without myths. The disappearance of philosophies and religions relates no doubt to something of that sort. (Foucault, 1968: 620) Now I would like to do a little flashback to 1963, which I believe will shed some light on the Foucault of 1969. In a 1963 homage to one of his sources mentioned above, Georges Bataille, Foucault devotes many pages to long, paradoxical, poetic sentences, whose meaning is that at this point in the history of culture, there is no meaning (Foucault, 1963b). On about the twentieth page he takes a break from fanciful images, as if he needed to catch his breath, and there he explains what it is that the worldview he is praising, that of the erotic author Georges Bataille, is an alternative to. The outdated common sense his philosophical poetry, and that of Bataille, is intended to get beyond is identified with an economic interpretation of history, “based entirely on need, and need based itself on the model of hunger” (Foucault, 1963b: 49). I regard this as a scrap of evidence supporting my thesis, which is akin to the thesis of Jürgen Habermas, that Foucault can be read as a young conservative, who opposed common

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sense because he realised (consciously, semi-consciously, or unconsciously) that common sense, ordinary meaning, and an economic interpretation of history go together. They jointly lead to the herd morality, the democracy, the socialism, and the anarchism that Friedrich Nietzsche, another of Foucault’s sources, hated and feared. L’archéologie du Savoir set out to be an explanation of the archaeological method, offered as an alternative to the sort of economically oriented history practised by the Annales school and as an alternative to Sartre’s vision of conscious revolutionary transformation. It regarded much of what Foucault himself had done in the past, as error. However, one can also read the book as marking a turn toward a version of positivism, if one sees a similarity between his point of departure in the single, isolated énoncé and the atomic facts of positivism, and if one takes Foucault´s frequent use of the word “positivité” to be a sympathetic echo of the word “positivism”. Foucault’s positive turn would be followed by a Nietzschean turn about a year later, influenced especially by Friedrich Nietzsche’s seminal, Genealogy of Morals. After the Nietzschean turn, Foucault would, with a few exceptions, cease to call his work archaeology, and would usually begin to call it genealogy instead. From 1971 on, Foucault usually called his studies genealogies, following the example of Nietzsche’s genealogy of morals. He even re-described his pre-1971 works as genealogies (see Foucault, 1983: 618). However, he also continued, at times, to speak of his work as archaeology (see Foucault, 1976: 172; Foucault, 1984b: 632). In a 1977 lecture in Italy, he said, with some qualifications I omit: “‘archaeology’ would be the appropriate methodology for the analysis of local discursivities, and ‘genealogy’ would be the tactics whereby, on the basis of the descriptions of these local discursivities, the subjected knowledges which were thus released would be brought into play” (Foucault, 1985: 85). Allow me now to do a short review of the main works discussed so far. Foucault’s first book, the one he preferred to forget, was an exposition of the materialist psychology, which he later devoted himself to fighting. His 1955 introduction to Binswanger defended Mensch-sein with arguments borrowed from Heidegger. His 1957 articles on psychology recommended the study of history as the only possible route to understanding human beings. His 1961 polemic against positivism, Histoire de la Folie, amassed enormous quantities of historical detail to show that the social world taken for granted by contemporary psychology and psychiatry is neither natural, eternal, universal nor desirable. La Naissance de la Clinique (written 1961, published 1963) did the same for medicine.

Lecture Eight

Immersion in the details of history, according to the interpretation I am offering, led Foucault in a direction he did not want to go. His next book, Raymond Roussel (1963), praised literary imagination more than historical fact. He now appeared as a historian inspired mainly not by his Marxist teacher, Louis Althusser, not by his phenomenology teacher, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and not by the professor of the history of science, Georges Canguilhem, who sponsored his dissertation. Now Foucault was inspired by his independent reading of works of fiction. Language structures experience. Foucault learned this from literature and applied it to history. The thesis of Les Mots et les Choses (1966) is that cultural codes determine not precisely history, but the organisation of knowledge at any given point in history. The cultural codes determine so much that the human subject fades away. In its Kantian form as l’homme, the human subject disappears completely. A strange result. Foucault says he learned from Levi-Strauss and from Lacan that social science can proceed without subjects, and from his literary readings that novels can be written without characters. What is strange is that a philosopher, who had dedicated himself so passionately to defending Mensch-sein against its positivistic enemies, should regard this news as good news. One can hardly resist the hypothesis that there is some underlying constant in Foucault’s motivation, such that at one time, humanism, and at another time, anti-humanism, serve for him the same constant purpose. It is not hard to find a constant purpose served by varying philosophical arguments when comparing Les Mots et les Choses (1966) with L’archéologie du Savoir (1969). The constant purpose is to refute Jean-Paul Sartre. Foucault deleted explicit references to Sartre from the first book prior to publication, but he clearly makes Sartre a target in his “Introduction” to the second. The second book is far from the all-embracing cultural codes of the first. The second book announces itself from the beginning as offering an alternative methodology of social science designed to correct the errors of people like Sartre (whom he does not, however, actually name); that is to say, the errors of people who think both that subjective consciousness determines human action and that economic forces determine the course of history (Foucault, 1969: 22). The methodology offered corrects archaeology as it explains it. Foucault now resembles an Ockham’s Razor positivist historian, who parsimoniously shaves the documents he finds in libraries. The primary unit of discourse found in the document (the statement, the énoncé) does not represent anything. It has no necessary connection with anything else. Knowledge begins in dispersion (Foucault, 1969: 32‑66). “The analysis of statements [énoncés], then, is a historical analysis, but one that avoids all interpretation” (Foucault, 1972: 27). If, finally, a study of the entire archive shows that there are patterns in the dispersion that mark historical discontinuities or exclude

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certain possibilities, they are not patterns determined by an originating consciousness or by laws of historical development (Foucault, 1969: 217–231). The seventeenth and early eighteenth century classical age of the 1966 book no longer has an episteme by 1969, a cultural code, which imposes a single form on all its discourse. On the contrary, to refer to the classical age is, now, simply to give a name to observed continuities and discontinuities (Foucault, 1969: 230–231). Sartre is wrong once again, but now for different reasons.

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LECTURE EIGHT Discussion COH - Catherine Odora Hoppers EL - Evelin Lindner HR - Howard Richards

COH:

Can you remind me about what it was that Jean-Paul Sartre wrote that Michel Foucault did not approve of?

HR:

At the beginning of The Archaeology of Knowledge, published in 1969 but according to its author, written before the near-revolution of 1968, Sartre is accused …

EL:

… without mentioning him by name …

HR:

… of being unable to conceive of great historical changes as due to anything other than the wills of subjective consciousness.

COH:

That must mean the united wills of many subjective consciousnesses.

EL:

And a great historical change would be a revolution like the French Revolution or the Russian Revolution.

COH:

Was Sartre guilty as charged?

HR:

Maybe not entirely, but Foucault certainly had a valid point. In Sartre’s book, Critique of Dialectical Reason, published in 1960, he develops a philosophy of revolution that is, to a large extent, an interpretation of the history of the French Revolution in terms of the wills of subjective consciousness. He gives an account of how wills come to be united to form a cohesive historical subject, capable of pulling off a revolution.

EL:

So, Sartre’s general theory of revolution depends on a projection of his reading of one particular revolution?

HR:

Uh huh.

COH:

How does Sartre interpret the history of the French Revolution?

HR:

He tells a story about a transition from the absence of a united and cohesive historical subject to the presence of a united and cohesive historical subject.

COH:

How does the story begin?

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HR:

It begins with what Sartre calls a series. A series is like a series of numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and so on. An even better simile would be the series of numbers 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1 et cetera.

EL:

You are saying that Sartre is saying that, in a series of persons, each person is enclosed in her or his own private subjectivity. There is no united cohesive will. The series is incapable of pulling off a revolution.

COH:

How does the story proceed?

HR:

It proceeds by stages that build a collective commitment to a common cause. For example, part of the book is about an event in the history of the French Revolution called The Oath of the Tennis Court. Rebels who had gathered together at a tennis court swore loyalty to each other and to the revolution.

COH:

How does the story end?

HR:

It ends with violent stuff that is consistent with Sartre’s support for the Mau Mau rebels in Africa, some of whom were still fighting as Sartre wrote. Unity and cohesion come from the brotherhood of combat, where the loyalty of the comrades to each other is a matter of life and death …

EL:

… and also from a shared passion to avenge the deaths of brothers and sisters who were killed by the enemy?

HR:

I think so. That would be consistent both with Sartre’s support for the Mau Mau and with his preface to Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth.

EL:

There are better things to remember Sartre for. But are we wandering from the topic? Were we talking about how an individual becomes a passionate revolutionary, or more generally about how many individuals unite to form a cohesive, historical subject?

COH:

I think we began with the question, how does The Archaeology of Knowledge defuse a revolutionary ideology like Sartre’s?’

EL:

You have been telling us that Foucault learned to fear revolution at his mother’s knee.

HR:

Not only revolution, but even more what was widely perceived as a compulsory march into ever more regimentation and mediocrity that snuffs out everything free, creative, and beautiful. Regarding proletarian revolution itself, the fear and loathing he had probably imbibed with his mother’s milk he had learned over again from his own experience in Communist Poland, where he worked on the staff of the French Embassy while he finished writing Madness and Civilization.

Discussion

EL:

And yet at one point in his youth Foucault joined the Communist Party.

HR:

He said later that he joined the CP as a youth for the same reason he read Nietzsche as a youth – because he perceived both the Communists and Nietzsche as being against everything. On my interpretation, in his mind and heart, the Communists merged for a time with everyone who rebelled against the compulsory march into ever more regimentation and mediocrity. They represented what he would come to call resistance. But I suspect that there was also another reason, which was that his friends were joining, so he joined too.

EL:

And at the same time, when he was a young Communist reading Nietzsche and don’t forget Heidegger, he was also reading erotic sensualists like Georges Bataille, who celebrate deviant behaviour of all kinds. “To become happiness pleasure must be mixed with poison.” “Intellectual despair leads not to weakness or dreams, but to violence.” I am quoting from memory, perhaps not accurately.

COH:

You are quoting Bataille, but you could also mention Raymond Roussel with his drug trips and the elaborate staging of his own suicide.

HR:

These literary influences seem to be the main reason why Habermas classifies Foucault as a young conservative. He reads Foucault’s works as a continuation of the 19th and 20th century French literary tradition of rebellious, libertarian, sensualist and gilded youth. Habermas must be at least partly right because they were authors whose influence Foucault himself acknowledges.

COH:

Let me get back to the question of how The Archaeology of Knowledge is a rebuttal to Sartre.

HR:

I was going to say, not just a rebuttal to Sartre, but a rebuttal to all the ideologies of the establishment … 

EL:

Establishment?

HR:

“Establishment” used to refer, more often than not, to the upper reaches of the capitalist class, together with the higher levels of government and the military commanders who are perceived as keeping the capitalists in power.

EL:

Why do you say “perceived as”?

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HR:

Because I think the capitalists, as persons, are not nearly as much “in power” as the system is in power, and because I emphasise its homeostatic features, like capital flight, for example, and like the necessity of establishing a political regime that ensures capital accumulation. The homeostatic features of the system, more than anything else, guarantee that it will bounce back and re-establish itself after every crisis.

EL:

But still you use the word “establishment” and you think “the establishment”, in a broader sense, was something Foucault aimed to subvert in The Archaeology of Knowledge.

HR:

I mean “establishment” as Foucault must have experienced it. Growing up in France during and after the war, he must have felt that the establishment included the power brokers in academic politics, in the schools, in the unions, and in the hospitals …

EL:

… especially the mental hospitals? And the police, and anybody who confiscated illegal drugs, or persecuted sexual minorities – not just homosexuals but also practitioners of S and M, of sex while on drugs, and so on …

COH:

So would Jean-Paul Sartre count as a member of “the establishment”?

HR:

I read The Archaeology of Knowledge – and here I think Gilles Deleuze’s reading was the same as mine – as a torpedo designed to sink all the ideologies of what Foucault felt to be the establishment, as well as to sink Jean-Paul Sartre.

COH:

I hope you won’t mind if I repeat my question. Then would Jean-Paul Sartre count as a member of “the establishment”?

HR:

It might be more accurate to count Sartre as a rival of Foucault for the allegiance of the anti-establishment dissidents. In The Archaeology of Knowledge and other works, Foucault sought to unseat Sartre as the leader of the opposition.

COH:

Your reading of it as a torpedo might strike many people as innovative – not to say bizarre – because on the surface it is a book so technical and so obscure, that only a few specialists would read it.

HR:

The same could be said of other books that came out with similar messages at about the same time, such as De la Grammatologie by Jacques Derrida, published in 1967. They combined the prestige of erudition with the passion of libertarian rebellion.

Discussion

COH:

So what is this message that, at one and the same time, trumps establishment ideologies with impeccable logic and justifies people who just want to have fun?

HR:

It is a message with many distinguished ancestors, going back at least to the sophists who debated with Socrates in Plato’s dialogues. It is the message that no big ideas are valid. Only little ideas are valid. But in this case, the littleness of the ideas is extreme. Knowledge starts not with statements reporting facts but with énoncés. Énoncés are not statements. They do not report facts. They do not report anything. They just are. When you do research in the libraries of Paris, you do not find documents. You only find monuments. Or, rather, what other people call documents, Foucault calls monuments. The difference is that the monument is not about anything. It just is what it is.

EL:

And I think you said that as Foucault elaborates his theory he never moves outside the énoncés or monuments he started with. Everything is dispersion. Nothing is connection.

HR:

The effort to trump everyone else echoes ancient scepticism, Ockham’s razor, and René Descartes’ methodical doubt, among others. Such a logic claims to be impeccable because it never moves beyond the phenomena in a very limited sense of the word “phenomena”, leaving everyone else on less-sure ground because everyone else asserts more. Foucault himself does not even use the word “phenomena”, preferring “positivities”, a term I believe he intends to use to assert even less than whatever assertions the use of a term like “phenomena” might imply.

EL:

And what about people who just want to have fun?

HR:

They can cite Foucault against any reason – religious, philosophical, moral, psychological, political, medical, legal or whatever. Any reason at all.

EL:

Let me think that one over. There must be some missing steps in the arguments that lead from, at one end, the extreme form of positivism advocated in The Archaeology of Knowledgeto, at the other end, children who talk back to their parents.

COH:

It is not just a matter of argument. It is a matter of historical change. Foucault has an audience because history has created classes of people who find that what he writes describes what they live.

EL:

Can you give an example of what you mean?

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COH:

There was a time when the working classes of Europe were fighting for free education for all. Then they received it. But it turns out that western civilisation was moving down a blind alley. It turns out that many of today’s young proletarians do not like the schools their ancestors fought to win for them.

EL:

Pink Floyd: We don’t need no education We don’t need no thought control No dark sarcasm in the classroom Teachers leave them kids alone Hey teacher leave them kids alone All in all it’s just another brick in the wall All in all you’re just another brick in the wall

COH:

So it turns out that Foucault is right …

HR:

Whether he is right or not, there is certainly a large audience that resonates to his message.

COH:

Right about education, right about health care, right about mental illness. He was right that today’s applied human sciences legitimate oppressive institutions with bogus knowledge. They enforce the rules of the status quo.

EL:

And by rules of the status quo, you mean the really deep basic rules that go the heart of modern identity.

COH:

There is something missing in the basic constitutive rules of western civilisation that you cannot supply with more and more creeping socialism.

EL:

Can you supply it with less and less creeping socialism?

COH:

No, not that either. The cure for the illnesses of western civilisation is to be found in listening to the voices of modernity’s others, in transformation by enlargement.

EL:

You sound quite confident, sure the time has come when Africa has at least as much to teach Europe as Europe has to teach Africa.

COH:

I am sorry if I sound overconfident, and I do not want modernity’s other to defeat modernity, marginalising its epistemologies and cosmologies by force of arms. I do not want to turn the clock back for the sake of historical revenge. But would you not agree that transformation by enlargement and second-level indigenisation are at least reasonable working hypotheses?

Discussion

EL:

I would. And I think I know what you mean by transformation by enlargement. You are not the sort of African revivalist who wants to cleanse Africa of everything European. You want to add, not subtract. You want to synthesise the best from everywhere. I want that too.

HR:

And what do you think of Foucault’s implicit refutation of Sartre?

EL:

Frankly, I am somebody who has a very wide heart and mind and I enjoy the inspiration of Sartre’s theory of revolution. I also find The Archaeology of Knowledge stimulating and inspiring.

HR:

Inspiring?

EL:

If The Archaeology of Knowledge is supposed to be the underlying substrate where you find the foundations on which all knowledge rests, then the idea that the foundation of all science is énoncés or monuments is also …

HR:

… inspiring?

EL:

Evelin Lindner: Maybe Foucault’s point, like Richard Rorty´s, is that in the last analysis knowledge has no foundation at all, which, to me, is hugely inspiring, and I find such a claim about the nature of science fascinating. Or maybe his archaeology is not supposed to be about all science, but only about the particular kinds of research he does himself?

HR:

In any case, the theory of énoncés of 1969 is pretty much the opposite of the theory of epistemes of 1966. I take this to be evidence in favour of the hypothesis that Foucault was more interested in political results than in intellectual coherence.

EL:

Could it also be taken as evidence for the hypothesis that he frequently changed his mind? Or that he looks at things from different angles, including angles that oppose each other?

HR:

We could expand my hypothesis to say that not just Foucault, but most or all thinkers, in most or all times and places, have been more interested in political results than in intellectual coherence.

COH:

If that is your hypothesis then I think you will find, as we continue to consider Foucault, that he develops very similar ideas, perhaps the same idea.

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LECTURE NINE 21 May, 2013 In the course of replying to questions posed by a group of readers of Esprit, a French magazine expressing a Christian left perspective, Foucault formulated the hypothetical question, “whether I am a reactionary, or … whether my texts are (in themselves, intrinsically, through a certain number of coded signs)” (Foucault, 1968: 683). The question Foucault replied to was: “Does not a way of thinking that introduces the constraints of the system together with discontinuity in the history of the mind (esprit), take away all grounds for progressive political action? Does it not lead to the following dilemma? - Either accept the system, - or call for a savage event (événement sauvage), an eruption of external violence, the only thing capable of crashing the system?” (Foucault, 1968: 673).

Foucault acknowledges (in 1968) that this question accurately characterises his writings. He recognises himself in the question almost completely. “[Y]ou have arrived at a definition of my work that I cannot avoid signing,” but which leads to consequences no reasonable person would agree with (Foucault, 1968: 673). “Suddenly I feel all my weirdness” (Soudain, je sens toute ma bizarrerie) (Foucault, 1968: 674). Foucault writes a long reply to Esprit’s question (Foucault, 1968: 673–695). In it, and in a similar reply to a similar question posed by the Cercle d ‘Ēpistemologie of Paris (Foucault, 1968a) at about the same time (the summer of 1968, which was also the time of tumultuous political events in France), he previews what he will publish as a book the following year (Archeologie du Savoir, 1969). Everything is dispersion. There is no system. There are only systems which are better described as practices. There is no knowledge in general. There are only knowledges, better described as discursive formations. The same Michel Foucault who, a year earlier (in April of 1967), in an interview in Tunisia, had described himself as “the choir boy of structuralism” (Foucault, 1967: 581); the same Michel Foucault who had explained to the Tunisians the tenets of structuralism, as if he were its ambassador; is now emphatically not a structuralist. Foucault does not answer the hypothetical question of whether he is a reactionary; he answers, instead, another question he conceives to be more legitimate and to be

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the question the readers of Esprit are really asking: the question of the relationship of his philosophy to political practice (Foucault, 1968: 683). The answer is that his philosophy leads to progressive political action to change particular practices. For example, his research on the history of medicine supports progressive action to curb the abusive power exercised by doctors in modern society (Foucault, 1968: 688–692). To be counted as a progressive, one need not (and one ought not) believe any of the totalising philosophies of history of the 19th century, nor any of their untimely prolongations into the 20th; nor (in particular) need one follow Louis Althusser in trying to save Marx by separating him from Hegel. In 1967 in Tunis, Foucault had praised Althusserian structuralist Marxism as “an effort to analyse all the conditions of human existence, an effort to understand, in its complexity, the ensemble of relations that constitute our history, an effort to determine in what historical conditions (conjoncture) our actions are possible today” (Foucault, 1967a: 583). Now, in the summer of 1968, he endorses dispersion. If that made him a reactionary, then yes, he would be a reactionary, but distancing himself from structuralist Marxism does not make him a reactionary because there are better ways (more particular and detailed ways) to relate scientific research to social practice and political action. I do not think Foucault’s answer to the questions posed by the readers of Esprit is satisfactory. With their questions they posed as one horn of the dilemma of “accept the system”. I believe, reading between the lines, that they had the following in mind, “We find the system unsatisfactory; it has an inherent tendency to exclude and to generate violence; indeed as Christians we cannot help, but notice that it generates each and every one of the seven deadly sins; we want to contribute to changing the system, but the results of your historical inquiries discourage us, for they seem to say that the course of the history of knowledge, which seems to have some bearing on the course of history in general, is determined by epistemes, impersonal structures nobody can control, which ordinary people do not know about; and which even scholars did not understand until you published your book (Les Mots et les Choses).” I would paraphrase Foucault’s reply to the charge that his philosophy of history discourages those who want to make a difference for good in the world as follows: “Tu me prends pour un autre (You take me to be somebody else). You identify me with those old-fashioned philosophers of history who wrote big theories claiming to explain what has happened and to predict what will happen based on what they took to be history’s great determining causes. But I am a modest scholar, devoted to noticing in the sources I study their great variety of discourse and practice; I am averse to great embracing theories, and incredulous in the face of those who imagine there is some great system determining events. Far from discouraging your good

Lecture Nine

intentions, I encourage you to undertake modest political projects to deal with particular discerned evils.” The readers of Esprit, it seems to me, are left approximately where they were before they received Foucault’s answer. They had feared that he was telling them they could not change the system because it was beyond the power of human mind and will to change it. Now they learn that they cannot change the system for a different reason – because “the system” is not a legitimate concept. The term does not refer to any entity that a person who has accepted the method and the conclusions of Foucault’s studies, as they are about to be published in Archéologie du Savoir, would set out to change. In response to the questions of the readers of Esprit, Foucault develops a vocabulary that acquits him of the charge of regarding history as a single, monolithic, all-powerful and all-pervasive system. But in the course of doing so, he confesses several times that he feels that his questioners will not be satisfied by his answers. Indeed. They had something in mind when they asked about “the system”, as Immanuel Wallerstein has something in mind when he writes about “the modern world-system”. Neither they nor Wallerstein will be satisfied if Foucault answers them in terms that invoke what J-F Lyotard calls “incredulity toward meta-narratives”, if that means that what they wanted to say when they asked a question about “the system” cannot be said. I suggest that my concept of rules leads to a useful way to interpret the phrase “the system” – a way which grants meaning to the concerns I think the readers of Esprit had in mind. It offers guidance for social activists. “The system” can be identified with the basic constitutive rules concerning contracts and property rights. The logic of accumulation and the corresponding need for a regime of accumulation (see below) follow from them as corollaries. I do not agree with Foucault (the Foucault of 1966 at the end of Les Mots et les Choses), with Marx, nor with Foucault’s interpretation of Ricardo, insofar as they claim that it is at the level of production that the keys to understanding political economy are to be found. I agree with Keynes, Karl Polanyi and others who attribute to markets (to what Marx called the sphere of circulation) a leading role. “The system” is about who owns the means of production, yes, but it is also about owning in general and about commodity exchange in general. To say with the readers of Esprit that we do not want to accept the system, that we want to change it, is to be like John Dewey a thoroughgoing pragmatist, a consistent pragmatist who is willing to consider moving whatever parameters need to be moved to solve concrete problems. The readers of Esprit wisely regarded an événement sauvage as one horn of a dilemma, of which both horns are unacceptable.

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The readers of Esprit wanted to know, I believe, at least two things more about the system: (1) why it is so hard to change, and (2) how to change it. With respect to these two questions also I think rules-talk helps. The basic constitutive rules of modern society (employing ideas of “constitutive rules” developed by Charles Taylor and John Searle, with roots in Wittgenstein and Kant; and adding the idea of “basic”, that is, concerned with satisfying the basic needs of life) set up the systemic imperatives of capitalism (Wood, 2003). The concept of “systemic imperatives” helps to explain why the system is so hard to change. In addition to social inertia, apathy, ignorance, reluctance of people with vested interests to give up privileges, superstition, dualism, military institutions organised to defend the status quo, traditional ethnic hostility, inexperience with new practices, fear of the unknown, and other factors, the system is hard to change because of its systemic imperatives. In the language of the French regulationist school of economics, the imperatives of the system require that there be some regime of accumulation, some set of economic, political, social, and cultural institutions that make it possible for the accumulation of capital to proceed (Aglietta, 2000). To the extent that such a set of institutions is lacking, for example when a progressive government imposes taxes that discourage investment, the system does not function; its failure to function sets in motion forces that tend to restore the conditions it requires to function (Richards and Swanger, 2006). Among the reasons why the system is hard to change, another one that rules-talk plays a useful role in illuminating is the crisis of authority. It is associated with the lack of adequate cultures of solidarity and social responsibility. People do not pay their taxes. They ignore environmental regulations. They prefer stealing to working. They do not do volunteer work for community service or show up for meetings of civic organisations. These common failures can be expressed in terms of rules-talk by saying that it does not matter what the stated rules (or norms, or expectations) of a culture are, if people do not follow them. One of the advantages of using rulestalk here is that it suggests neatly dividing the difficulties into two parts: one sort of difficulty occurs when the norms are dysfunctional, even if followed; another sort of difficulty is a crisis of authority, a tendency not to follow norms at all. An answer to the question of how to change the system is to change the rules. In particular, change those rules that set up the systemic imperatives that make the system hard to change. This is a practical and pertinent answer: it suggests that rather too much time and energy is spent in protest demonstrations of the kind that were raging in Paris during the summer of 1968. The cause of the evils protested could more effectively be addressed by nurturing alternative practices, organised according to different rules. Protests generally require an existing rule, whose

Lecture Nine

violation is protested. Protests serve a purpose because good existing rules are often violated. But social change also requires organising institutions that do not yet exist, which will function according to new rules; or according to old rules like those of solidarity, that half-exist in the sense that people have heard of them, but which do not exist as rules according to Professor Hart’s definition of “rule”, because they do not yet describe and guide practice. I have been suggesting that rules-talk is rooted in common sense, and that there are systemic reasons why, in the 20th century, and beginning with Nietzsche and others in the 19th century, there have been heavy trends toward attacks on common sense. Common sense can only lead to Marx, not to Marx in the sense of abolishing private enterprise, of bogus science, and specious pretexts for violence, but to Marx in the sense of modifying the rules that govern property ownership and markets. Having replied to the readers of Esprit in terms that he himself doubted they would be happy with, and having explained “archaeology”, Foucault also became uneasy with the relationship of his approach to history to the traditional (Aristotelian and Kantian) category of cause and effect. In a research proposal submitted to the Collège de France, he announces that he will take up again a group of problems concerning “la causalité dans l’ordre du savoir” (causality in the order of knowledge) (Foucault, 1969f: 845). High time. Foucault had come perilously close to falling into what Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow call “the illusion of autonomous discourse” (Dreyfus and Rabinow, 1983). Unless the world is very different from what Kant thought it was; unless it is not a world where patterns of phenomena follow regular laws so that like causes produce like effects; then the stories Foucault has been telling us about discursive formations changing their patterns over time, for no discernible reasons, are not about history wie es eigentlich gewesen war (as it really happened). In La Naissance de la Clinique, Foucault came close to saying that political and economic events that were not just discourse-caused changes in medical discourse. Non-talk caused talk. But he backed away from his drift into materialism when he wrote Raymond Roussel, Les Mots et les Choses and Archeologie du Savoir. Nonetheless he always denied that he simply wanted to erase and deny the category of causality. He usually said that what he was doing was not determining which causes produced which effects; he was doing something else. But the something else he was doing, the archaeology, was not entirely unrelated to causes and effects. In late 1969, he decided to take another look at how it was related. For Kant, the relationship of concepts to causes had been reasonably clear. There were two realms: the a priori, which did not depend on experience; and the a posteriori,

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which did depend on experience. The concept of cause was given a priori. It did not depend on experience. The mind brought it to experience. It was a condition of any possible experience. The realm of experience, of phenomena (which Kant sometimes called “intuitions” or “percepts”), was necessarily a world governed by causal laws. Concepts without percepts were empty, because the a priori form only said what an experience would have to be. Percepts without concepts were blind because no sense could be made of experience without ordering it in categories. Nearly two hundred years later for the Foucault of late 1969, who told the Collège de France that he was going to re-examine causality, Kant’s clarity was muddled. Kant’s eternal and universal a priori had been replaced by an historical a priori. “Conditions of the possibility of experience” continued to play a role, but they played a different role. They changed from one century to another. They had left the eternal realm of Kant’s a priori that does not depend on experience, and had joined the hurly burly of time; but they had not made it all the way across the divide that separates a priori from a posteriori. They were still not full citizens of Kant’s a posterioiri realm where they, like everything else, would be explained and predicted by determining what causes had produced them. Two different but interrelated sets of questions emerged: ूू What causes the changes in the concepts that determine what experiences are possible? This is a question difficult to separate from questions about what moves history in general, and the related question whether nothing moves history in general, but rather a series of diverse causes; or whether however history might be moved it is necessarily impossible for scholars to determine the cause or causes of its movement. ूू How do cultures of different times understand cause and effect? Foucault could simply have answered these questions by adopting the viewpoint of the realist (mainly economic) historians he discusses at the beginning of Archeologie du Savoir. But instead, he then devotes that book to offering an alternative to the economic historians, and of course an alternative to Sartre. He could have simply changed his mind and decided that homo natura is not a bad idea after all. Now we know about demographic processes. We know about climate change and other ecological causes. We know how markets work and how capital accumulates once certain institutional conditions are given. We know, going a bit beyond the expertise of the economic historians, how myths organise cultures, and so on. So, Foucault might have said that we can now read our own scientific culture’s understandings of

Lecture Nine

cause and effect backwards into time, to explain what happened in the past. In other words, Foucault might have decided to become a realist. But Foucault did not want to go there. He remained reluctant to continue in the direction he had been going in La Naissance de la Clinique, toward realist historical explanations. (I collapse the distinction Anthony Giddens makes much of in A Contemporary Critique of Historical Materialism between political explanations and economic explanations, counting them both as realist explanations.) We are not free to simply disregard causality, pretending to know nothing about it on the pretext that we know nothing certain about it (here, again, I am speaking, not Foucault). Causality requires attention if one is to have any ethical life at all. To behave in even a minimally responsible manner; even to have an intention (and a fortiori to have good intentions); one must have some expectation of what the results of one’s actions will be. We are causes. Our actions have effects. There is no responsible way to avoid explaining and predicting. Explaining why events happen, and predicting what will happen, presuppose identifying the causes at work; they presuppose ideas about what produces what. Following Rom Harré and critical realism, I have been developing the view that rules have causal powers. Norms are at the heart of causal explanation. They often explain why people did what they did, and they often predict what people will do. For example, the social psychologist, Michael Argyle, predicted that the passengers who got on Oxford city buses would pay the fare. He sent out his students to collect data. The data verified his prediction. The explanation of the observed phenomenon was that the conventional norms in Oxford, England, prescribe that when one gets on the bus one pays the fare. Interpreted in the light of the principle thus illustrated, that rules are causes, Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, Karl Marx’s Capital, and John Maynard Keynes’s General Theory, can be read as books about what happens when certain rules are followed (Richards, 2000; 2004). Keynes’s references to “the psychology of the community” should be read in the light of the norms of the community (see Keynes, 1936: 27). Since most human action is conventional, social change consists mostly of changing conventions. A culture of solidarity is equivalent to a culture with norms of solidarity. To choose an option with regard to how to understand cause and effect is part and parcel of choosing an option with regard to how to be a social change activist. So there you have it. In 1968, in speaking to a group convened by Esprit Magazine, Foucault was embarrassed to find that he had no concept of cause and effect. Therefore, he seemed to be conservative or even reactionary. He had to accept things as they are because his philosophy allowed no concept of social activism oriented by causes that could be rationally expected to produce effects. On the other hand, the club of the scientific realists who did have concepts of cause and effect was not a club Foucault

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wanted to join. In 1969, Foucault submitted a research proposal to the Collège de France, saying he would devote himself to studying concepts of cause and effect. What would Foucault do next? Where would his study of cause and effect lead him? How could he come up with a convincing concept of cause and effect that would not lead him back into the economic history he had worked so hard to avoid? How could he think about causes without falling into the camp of the scientific realists, where he did not want to be? In the next lecture, I will suggest that he found in the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche the answers he was looking for.

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LECTURE NINE Discussion COH - Catherine Odora Hoppers EL - Evelin Lindner HR - Howard Richards

EL:

You are filling in a part of the intellectual history of Michel Foucault that is comparatively little known.

HR:

Yes, his early works Madness and Civilisation and The Order of Things are fairly well known.

EL:

Those are works prior to his adoption of a power perspective, and prior to his concepts of power/knowledge and normalisation. You are filling in some of the history subsequent to those fairly famous early works and prior to his even more famous later works. You have brought us to the point where Foucault is on the brink of adopting “power” as a central word in his vocabulary.

COH:

May I fill in some of the history of my own thinking?

EL:

I think this would be a good time for it. It would give us some context for understanding how Foucault’s work has resonated in Africa.

COH:

Or, at any rate, with me.

HR:

Tell us.

COH:

Already in the late 1960s, Julius Nyerere was warning us that one of the key threats to the attainment of endogenous goals in Africa was the West’s continuing domination at the level of official international discourse.

HR:

As a general proposition, that rings true. It could hardly be untrue. Can you unpack for us something of what it implies?

COH:

People who had never thought of themselves as “poor” were not consulted when they were defined as “poor” and as needing “development” by the globally hegemonic discourses.

EL:

Whatever they were thinking and saying would have been classified by Foucault as subjugated discourses, disqualified knowledges. Is that what you have in mind?

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COH:

And here is where power comes in – discourses, attributing to them the pathologies of poverty, backwardness, or congenital incapacity were sponsored, deployed, and disseminated. A major thwarting factor in the construction of a peaceful world is the absence, in the West, of a collective consciousness of the profoundness of this violence and violation.

EL:

In the West we are used to hearing that the “developed” countries accepted the burden of providing massive aid and technical assistance to the “underdeveloped” countries …

HR:

… at first called “underdeveloped” and later “developing” …

EL:

… either for the humanitarian purpose of lifting them out of poverty, or for the strategic political purpose of providing an antidote to the temptations of Communism, or for both purposes at once.

COH:

Once the discourse of “the poor masses of Africa needing to be developed” was in place, it became the raison d´être for disqualifying indigenous knowledge systems. Truth games are then played out where “development” and “aid” take their various positions in the game field, playing out the roles intended for them in this carefully structured and well-policed field. As the “backward” become constituted as “poor”, the “primitive” become constituted as “to be exploited”, “to be developed”. “To be conquered” becomes constituted as to “enrol for being developed … to be aided”.

EL:

I think I am seeing that the power of discourse to facilitate disqualification, subjugation, and exploitation, was a tragic reality for Africans, even before Michel Foucault was embarrassed in a meeting with the readers of Esprit for apparently having fallen into the trap of making discourse self-referential. When he found his way out of that trap by developing his concept of power/knowledge, he was articulating dimensions of reality already painfully evident to African leaders like Nyerere.

COH:

For me, reading Foucault was a revelation. It was a revelation of what I knew in my bones and in my heart. It was an articulation of what I was already thinking.

EL:

And yet at a certain point in his life, for example in the meeting Howard described with readers of Esprit, Foucault himself had some moments of self-doubt.

Discussion

COH:

I can see that Foucault was in some sort of trouble. He himself said he felt weird when some readers of Esprit pointed out what seemed to be some paradoxical implications of the ideas in The Order of Things. On Foucault’s account in that early book, science seemed to be all about basic cultural codes he called epistemes. They imposed themselves on the minds of people in Europe during certain periods of time. Somehow, he had lost track of the idea that science explains why things happen, what causes what. Foucault must have felt puzzled himself, or he would not have made a research application to the Collège de France, proposing to study causality.

EL:

And on a practical level, the readers of Esprit worried that his ideas implied that history moved itself like a giant automaton, which would, in turn, imply that there is nothing we can do to change the violent and unjust so-called “civilisation” we live in. We can only hope that someday, the episteme of will change of its own accord, and that the next time it changes, it will change in a way that saves us.

COH:

Or fear an évenément sauvage, which, I take it, would be some sort of disaster that would destroy European civilisation by force.

EL:

Which Foucault admits!

COH:

He admits it at one point. And yet, when I was working on my doctoral dissertation in the 1990s, I drew on Foucault precisely to legitimate research into human agency. I exposed the identity and the workings of particular individuals, agencies, think-tanks, and discourse coalitions in sustaining, validating, concealing or disseminating discursive technologies of power and violence in support of Western hegemony.

EL:

I think the people in the meeting, including Foucault himself, were finding that, in The Order of Things, Foucault somehow backed himself into a strange corner where he had no way of knowing things every normal person normally knows, like what causes what, what the consequences of my own actions are, what intentions count as good intentions because they are intentions to act in ways that will have good consequences.

HR:

Perhaps it might seem that Foucault was an unusual scholar, backed into a strange corner when he and his audience worried that his theories were leading to a paralysis of analysis. But actually, the number of scholars who “don’t do cause and effect” is quite large.

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COH:

She’s kidding. She knows you couldn’t count how many there are. But what do you mean when you say many scholars “don’t do cause and effect”?

HR:

If we divide universities into three divisions, the Humanities, the Natural Sciences and the Social Sciences, many will say that none of the scholars in the Humanities do studies that demonstrate the existence of causal relationships.

EL:

Are the social sciences any different?

HR:

I cannot tell you how many social scientists have said to me, “I don’t do causal models”.

EL:

Yes, this is also what I have heard, and I respect those who say it out of what one might call a sense of due humility. How would you describe what they mean, when they say that sort of thing?

HR:

They seem to mean that they do ethnographies, or what is called “qualitative” research. Some even say that they follow Foucault and do archaeologies or genealogies.

EL:

If that is what they do, what is it that they mean they are not doing when they say they are “not doing causal models”? Obviously they are not saying the same thing you say, because according to you, ethnographies do discover causal relationships.

HR:

Yes, according to me.

EL:

Well, not just you, since your opinions on this point are supported by many others.

COH:

According to critical realists?

HR:

According to us, I should say, meanings are causes, rules are causes, norms are causes and decisions are causes.

EL:

Thank you, Aristotle.

HR:

According to us, they have it all backwards. They think numbers are causes, or maybe I should say that they think relationships among numbers are causes. But numbers do not generate anything; they do not produce anything; the patterns in numbers only trace, track, what has been produced by something less abstract.

EL:

Statisticians and mathematicians often warn people against mistaking statistical significance or mathematical regularity for causality, but apparently to no avail.

Discussion

COH:

You are losing me here. Who are the “they” who have it all backwards? Are they the ethnographers who say they are not doing causal explanation when they really are, or is it someone else different from the ethnographers whom the ethnographers mean to distance themselves from, when they say they don’t do causal models?

HR:

It is someone else they mean to distance themselves from. It would be the followers of the standard positivist, so called “scientific method”, which consists of defining variables.

EL:

You mean like independent variables and dependent variables?

HR:

Or treatment variables and outcome variables, and then measuring the “impacts” of some variables on others.

EL:

The “impacts” would be the causes.

COH:

Wait a minute! You said Foucault was an “extreme positivist” in The Archaeology of Knowledge of 1969. But he did not define any variables. Énoncés and monuments, whatever they may be, are certainly not anything you could call causal models.

EL:

Neither are epistemes.

HR:

But I did not say Foucault was a positivist, nor did Foucault himself in 1969 talk about a standard, positivist-style, scientific method, starting with (in place of “atomic facts” or “protocol sentences”) what he called les positivités. And, of course, he did not talk about les positivités at all when he wrote about epistemes in The Order of Things, published in 1966. To be more exact, the French original, Les Mots et les Choses, was published in 1966.

EL:

It is easy to forget that Les Mots et les Choses and The Order of Things are the same book. The titles are so different.

COH:

OK, so Foucault was not a positivist in 1966, but he was one in some sense in 1969. But how can he be a positivist at all, when what he does is so different from the “standard positivist causal models”?

HR:

Who is and who is not a positivist, and why, have been questions without really clear answers ever since Auguste Comte coined the term “positivist” in 1830.

EL:

It seems to me that, in recent years, few people label themselves positivists. Karl Popper, for example, became angry when people mistook him for a positivist – even though many categorise him as sharing what Richard Bernstein and others have called “the positivist temper”.

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HR:

Comte declared positivism to be the basis of a new philosophy that would restore order and authority in a world fallen into chaos because all reasonable people could agree on the truths of science, when science limited itself to studying the phenomena …

EL:

… or in other words derived all knowledge from experience …

HR:

… eschewing all religion and metaphysics. But he did not mean what he said.

COH:

Why did Comte not mean what he said?

HR:

Because in the very next breath, Comte endorsed metaphysics. I call it the metaphysics of impacts of variables. It was a metaphysics that declared that all phenomena, both in nature and in society, occur with law-like regularity. All phenomena are governed by laws. In more mathematical terms, all reality can be described by functions relating variables to other variables. The functions are out there waiting for scientists to discover them.

EL:

Sticking to the phenomena, in other words, believing only what you experience, does not imply that there are causal laws governing all phenomena with clock-like precision. David Hume made a big point of that. So Comte was really making two different claims, although in his own mind they tended to fuse into one.

COH:

Now I see what you mean. There are two strands in the tradition founded by Comte. One strand is “confine science strictly within the limits of phenomena actually observed”. The other strand is “science is about finding the laws that govern all phenomena”. You call Foucault an “extreme positivist” in the tradition of the first strand …

HR:

… in 1969 but not in 1966 …

COH:

… but not a positivist at all in the tradition of the second strand. Whew! Now that we have that issue out of the way, perhaps I can ask Howard where critical realism fits in?

EL:

I can guess, and if my guess is right we have already started to answer your question. The answer is that advanced thinkers like Michel Foucault, and the hundreds of social scientists who say something like “we don’t do causal models”, signal that positivism has lost its following to the point where, today, there are few social scientists who would identify themselves as positivists …

Discussion

HR:

… both for the reasons Foucault gives toward the end of The order of things and worked out in detail by Gaston Bachelard, that science progresses mainly by not privileging the phenomena observed on the surface, but rather by privileging their deeply hidden underlying causes, like the tectonic plates of geology; and also for reasons given by scholars like Edgar Morin who show that “cause and effect” has grown into a complex and varied cluster of ideas that is more distorted than it is illumined by the metaphysics of impacts of variables …

EL:

… which might seem to throw the whole idea of “cause” out the window, leaving us all with an embarrassment similar to that of Foucault at the Esprit meeting, where we have lots of wonderful, elaborate theories, but they seem to leave us with no handle on how to intervene in the causal processes at work in the world to turn history around to push it in a better direction. But there is a path out of this embarrassment. Protocritical realists, like Rom Harré, and critical realists, like Roy Bhaskar, have articulated concepts of cause that are believable in the light of the findings of contemporary science and from which social change activists can derive promising action-ideas.

COH:

Of course it does not follow that critical realists are the only people who can be morally responsible. Other people, too, can anticipate the consequences of their own actions. Therefore, they can deliberate on how to act responsibly.

EL:

In other words, most of us are able to assume responsibility for the effects that are caused by our actions. However, I must confess that I have had some second thoughts. I think I overstated the claim that normal people normally know the effects of their own actions.

COH:

So what the critical realists have done is to resurrect causality as it functions in everyday life and in science …

HR:

… which gives science a chance to improve our knowledge of the effects of our actions, even if we are uncertain about how much normal people normally know the effects of their actions?

EL:

Critical realism is one of the schools of thought that has updated and defended the category of causality, when it seemed to many knowledgeable people that causality had died along with the standard positivist “causal models” …

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HR:

… which, by the way, are still alive and well as a dominant ideology. If you check the databases that report dissertations approved, you will find that the world is still accumulating mountains of old-positivistparadigm research …

COH:

… huge accumulations of “knowledge” that are proving to be incapable of showing us how to solve humanity’s principal social and ecological problems …

EL:

As you know, I have a background in medicine and in psychology, and I do know from direct experience that it is useful for pharmacologists to use double blind experimental designs to test the effects of new drugs before they are allowed on the sick person. However, one should not use the same approach in areas where they do not fit. I have written about the feelings of inferiority of some scholars in the field of psychology, their fear of being humiliated for being given to “soft” pseudo-academia, rather than real, “hard” inquiry. I have a lived experience of this feeling of inferiority, too: I studied psychology first, and then medicine, and I learned the lesson of never disclosing the fact that I was a psychologist among my fellow medical colleagues. Why? Because they would label psychologists as “soft-brained” or even “crazy”.

HR:

My opinion is that experimental designs “in the positivist temper”, work in pharmacology, because the chemical effects of drugs on the human body really do have a law-like regularity that can be detected by defining variables and measuring how different variables impact each other.

COH:

So to get back to answering my question, critical realism would offer Foucault a way out of the dilemmas he faced in his conversation with readers of Esprit.

HR:

We could say that nature judges culture …

COH:

… in the sense that there is a natural reality out there that is not completely socially constructed that decrees that whatever cultures humans may invent – like those of modern western civilisation – they will not survive if they are – as I think we all believe modern western civilisation currently is – programmed to self-destruct by collision with ecology …

Discussion

HR:

… and I would say that nature judges culture, not just in terms of death sentences, decreeing that physically non-viable cultures will not survive, but also in terms of people being happier in some cultures than in others. If, in Chicago, there is an epidemic of people who cannot sleep at night after their stress-wracked days, then nature is saying something to culture. Bodies are speaking to souls.

EL:

And all these neo-Aristotelian critical realist ideas, like human behaviour as rule-following and drama …

HR:

… Harré wrote about doing social science research as dramaturgy, a bit as in Kenneth Burke’s Grammar of Motives …

EL:

… give activists a handle on how to facilitate culture-shifts, namely change the rules, reframe the scenes, re-invent the roles.

COH:

So if Howard had been there when Michel Foucault met with some readers of Esprit in the summer of 1968, he would have expressed ideas the audience would have been happy to hear – ideas for turning the system around by changing its constitutive rules.

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LECTURE TEN 22 May, 2013 At the beginning of the 1970s, Foucault chooses a Nietzschean option. He had long admired Nietzsche. He reports that he started reading him in 1952 or 1953 (Foucault  1984c: 703). It appears that he admired Nietzsche and identified with him even before he read him. In retrospect, in an interview given in 1980, Foucault reflected that when he briefly became a member of the Communist Party in 1950–1953, it was not because his sentiments were Marxist but because they were Nietzschean. Nietzsche and Georges Bataille were the means of access that led to Communism. Communism was understood as another form of rejection of the world we are living in. Of course it was ridiculous to be a Nietzschean Communist, but he was one nonetheless (Foucault, 1980: 50). (His biographer Didier Eribon does not credit this interpretation by Foucault of his own past; Eribon finds that he was, for a time, a Marxist, and became a Nietzschean later (Eribon, 1989: 72).) Foucault reports that when he first read Nietzsche, he read him with a life-changing passion. He had felt trapped. Nietzsche helped him feel he could escape and change his life. He did. He quit his job. He left France (Foucault, 1988: 780). Foucault came to believe that there was no single philosophy to be found in the works of Nietzsche, but rather a series of somewhat disparate ideas that subsequent thinkers could draw on and develop. He came to rely on some of them to resolve his dilemmas regarding causality in history (Foucault, 1971a; Dreyfus and Rabinow, 1983). From now on (roughly from his essay on Nietzsche and history published in 1971) Foucault would be free of the illusion of autonomous discourse. He had never completely fallen into it. Although he sometimes seemed to say that language creates the world and all that is in it, he never literally accepted the absurd consequences that would follow from such a proposition taken literally. Now he found a way to talk about the world outside language, that allowed him to avoid the kinds of materialism and naturalism that he wanted to avoid. There would be something nameable outside discourse that determines what discourse will be. Namely: power. Formerly, when Foucault wrote what he called “archaeologies” in Les Mots et les Choses and elsewhere, he was writing about the culturally determining forms of knowledge of European modernity, putting the objects (as distinct from the forms) of knowledge at a distance. Henceforth, as Foucault writes what he now calls (borrowing the term from Nietzsche) “genealogies”, the way he writes social history will be sedorganised around the objects he studies: the ways in which social power is

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exercised (Honneth, 1991: 157). It should be mentioned, however, that Gilles Deleuze and others continued to speak of Foucault’s studies as archaeologies even after Foucault began to refer to them, usually, as genealogies. Foucault himself still in 1976 suggests that his history of the dispositif of sexuality can be regarded as archaeology of psychoanalysis (Foucault, 1976: 172). To get back to the main point: After Foucault’s Nietzschean turn there will be something à dehors, an outside, something that is not self-referential discourse. It will be about force (see Deleuze, 1986: 92). Jürgen Habermas makes what I take to be the same point in slightly different terms: In Les Mots et les Choses, Foucault had led himself and his readers to the strange result that regularities regulate themselves. Foucault escapes this difficulty by giving up the autonomy of knowledge and, instead, finding the foundation of knowledge in power (Habermas in Kelly, 1994: 81). Power (a polysemic term that over the years Foucault came to employ in unusual and controversial ways) becomes available to Foucault to provide plausible causal explanations concerning why, over time, some discourses burgeon while others wither away and disappear. (The word “causal”, however, is still more at home in my vocabulary than in his, since in spite of his declaration in 1969 that he would look more closely into it, he continued to shy away from it. Indeed, in 1980 he said he had been misunderstood or had failed to explain himself if power is taken to explain: Power is, he then says, not what explains but what needs to be explained (Foucault, 1980: 83).) It makes it possible to avoid reducing the social to the natural without seeing their relationship as a Kantian one. In other words, without seeing nature as a realm of laws, whose social parallel is again named as a law. Instead, one can see nature as a realm of power whose social parallel is, again, named as power (Nietzsche, 1885: part 1, section 22; Foucault, 1971; 1971f). But “power” is not, as Foucault employs it and develops it, a term that commits him to the implausible proposition that the principles of physics, chemistry, and other advanced natural sciences are generally determined by social struggles for power (Foucault also thinks of linguistics as an advanced science). He is saved from being committed to this implausible proposition because he now specifies that his field of study is savoir. Savoir is no longer appropriately translated as “knowledge”. It refers, rather, to the particular sorts of knowledge claims found in the rather dubious human sciences, such as economics and psychiatry, which Foucault particularly studies. He remarks, [B]etween opinion and scientific knowledge (connaissance scientifique) one can recognize the existence of a particular level, which one proposes to call that of savoir. This savoir is not embodied (ne pas prend corps) only in theoretical texts and research instruments, but in a whole set of practices and institutions … (Foucault, 1969: 844)

Lecture Ten

With respect to savoir, social struggles for power generally are constitutive in the historical evolution of concepts. Social struggles are, however, not completely without influence, even in the shaping of the concepts of the most rigorous and advanced of the natural sciences. Foucault’s Nietzschean turn drew him closer to some strands of Marxism and distanced him from others. He drew closer to Marxism as a philosophy that exposes the falsity of bourgeois ideology and the power of the class interests that drive its production. Marx and Nietzsche can be interpreted as agreeing that social life consists of a series of conflicts, in which the rules that govern the conflicts are made by the winners to serve their own interests, against the interest of the losers. Foucault became closer to those who place Marx beside Nietzsche and Freud in the Hall of Fame of thinkers who unmask middle-class hypocrisy (some also include Karl Mannheim in the Hall of Fame as the founder of Wissenschaftslehre, that branch of sociology that studies the biases introduced into knowledge by the social conditions of its production). Marxists are thus distinguished by what they do not believe. They are classed together with others also distinguished by their unbelief. Marx is drafted to be a combatant in the attack on common sense. His Nietzschean turn drew Foucault even further away than he already was from the deuxiėme naivetė of Paul Ricoeur; from those who find, in some religious and communitarian folk traditions, cultural resources, that function to improve the material conditions of life. Away from willingness to draw, in practice, on any surviving elements that can be found of the traditional “moral economy” described by E.P. Thompson in his history of the working classes of England, whose principles were not greatly different from those declared in Unto This Last, by the Victorian moralist John Ruskin. Away from a Gramsci-influenced (disregarding Gramsci´s Leninism) concept of a gradual moral and intellectual reform, a long-term war of position with shifting alliances and opportunistic educational strategies, in which elements of cultural advance toward solidarity, including, but not limited to, the legalising and civilising ideals of the bourgeoisie itself, and those of its organic intellectuals like Benedetto Croce, will eventually lead to the hegemony of socialist values in the realm of ideas, and to social democracy in practice (Gramsci, 1979). Nietzsche also helped Foucault to further his anti-humanist agenda without relying on structuralism. I will try to explain why, and will add some remarks about what is at stake. To the extent that it is persuasive, Foucault’s dissolution of the human subject however accomplished, whether by an alliance with structuralism that emphasises system, or by an alliance with avant-garde literature that emphasises dispersion (Megill, 1985);

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or by an alliance with Nietzsche that emphasises that the death of God entails the death of man, effectively undermines not only the existentialist Marxism of Jean-Paul Sartre, but also any democratic ideology that proposes to extend freedom and rights on grounds, taking as a premise, that humans have an essential dignity as rational beings. It effectively undermines socialism conceived as radicalised liberalism (see Laclau and Mouffe, 2001). But I do not believe that Foucault’s attack on liberal humanism dissolves social democracy conceived as the never-ending perfecting of institutions to make them more effective in meeting everybody’s needs. At any rate, on a practical level, Foucault was, during part of his career, an ally of social democracy so conceived. If one thinks of social democracy as frustrated by the legal framework declared to be eternal by Kant’s philosophy (Richards, 2013 interpreting Kant, 1788), and in need of greater legal flexibility to realise its ideals (Richards and Swanger, 2006), then once again one can see Foucault as its ally. In the process of dissolving the Kantian ethical subject he also dissolves the Kantian juridical subject, the owner of property, the maker of contracts. Foucault cleared the path for cultural creativity, for the invention of new selves and new social norms better adapted to physical reality. Some qualifications: My statement that Foucault’s anti-humanism (to the extent that it is persuasive) effectively undermines revolutionary socialism of a Sartrean type and democratic socialism conceived as radicalised liberalism needs some expansion. In the first instance, whether the undermining of these positions is effective, depends on whether their advocates care whether their premises have transcendental justifications. When Sartre takes as a starting point an existentialist neo-Husserlian conscious individual; who, like the indigenous people in Frantz Fanon’s Les damnés de la terre (for which Sartre wrote an introduction) becomes an individual with revolutionary consciousness; or, who, like the individuals in Sartre’s Critique de la Raison Dialectique gradually acquires revolutionary commitments to a group, Sartre is indeed presupposing l’homme of Kant’s Anthropology (of which Foucault was the translator for a French edition). Similarly Laclau and Mouffe might be read as taking the individual human being to be endowed by nature with inalienable rights that make democracy a transcendentally valid ideal. Then their argument that political democracy should be extended to become also social and economic democracy would also depend on an Enlightenment doctrine of natural rights. But revolutionaries and democratic socialists (including Laclau and Mouffe) can reply to Foucault that they don’t care. That they can do without Kant’s transcendental argument for human dignity. That they do not need the stand-in for God that Jean-Jacques Rousseau called “nature”. It is enough that conscious human individuals endowed by social convention with dignity and rights

Lecture Ten

exist historically. They are elements of existing culture that we can appeal to and build on. But this “we don’t need no transcendentals” defence of humanism does not escape Foucault’s critique. Foucault has another line of argument. Since Nietzsche, the role of the philosopher can be thought of as opening up new paths for thought (like Heidegger) or (like Nietzsche) as diagnosing what is happening in culture (for example, Foucault, 1966: 536; 1967a: 581–582). What happened in culture (according to Nietzsche and Foucault) was that humanity died. What is happening now is that the powers-that-be in the bureaucracies East and West, and charlatans like Albert Camus, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and Antoine de Saint Exupery are feeding on its corpse (Foucault, 1966e: 541). The 19th century figures most responsible for 20th century humanist frauds are, evidently, Hegel and Marx. The social conventions endowing conscious human individuals with dignity and rights are dissolving before our eyes. On this view l’homme is not an element of existing culture. He does not historically exist. My statement that Foucault’s critique of humanism makes him an ally of realist social reconstruction also requires qualification. Foucault finds in the literary works of Maurice Blanchot “L’érosion invincible de la personne qui parle” (the invincible erosion of the person who speaks) an irreparable dispersion (Foucault, 1966f: 536). But when he transposes his literary experience into asserting that progress in the human sciences is eroding day by day, the philosophical myth of the unitary subject, he can legitimately be answered with the reply, “yes and no”. Yes, some people have very little of what Jane Loevinger and other psychologists call “ego development”, but on the other hand, no, some people score high on that variable, according to elaborate mental measurement instruments that she and others have developed (Loevinger, 1976). The integrated and integrating ego exists in varying degrees and in diverse ways in our culture and in others. Jacques Lacan, whom Foucault originally cited as one of the leading scientists who confirmed for him that the literary discovery of subjectlessness was being validated scientifically by hard research reported in books to be found on the non-fiction shelves of libraries, helpfully observed in a dialogue with Foucault: I would like to remark that with or without structuralism it seems to me that there is nowhere any question, in the field vaguely marked by that label, of the negation of the subject. It is a matter of the dependence of the subject, which is extremely different; and particularly, at the level of the return to Freud, of the dependence of the subject with respect to something truly elementary, which we have tried to isolate under the name ‘signifier.’ (Lacan, 1969: 820)

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Foucault is an ally of the realist, insofar as he shows that nothing social is fixed or eternal. He is not an ally of those of us who believe in choice and construction, insofar as he holds that willy-nilly we must accept a Nietzschean diagnosis of contemporary culture whether we want to or not. He is not accurate to the extent that he underestimates the continuing vitality of humanistic ideals (see Lipovetsky, 1992). Foucault recognises where some key issues are: in questions about how subjects are, in fact, constituted in modern society. His further research (from about 1970 on) will focus on these key issues by creating “a history of different modes by which, in our culture, human beings are made subjects” (Foucault, 1983: 208). Nietzsche provides Foucault with a guiding concept without which, in Kant’s terms, the percepts gathered in Foucault’s thousands of hours spent reading books in the libraries of Paris would have been blind. Namely: in different modes human beings are made subjects by power. To say that Foucault took a Nietzschean turn is not to say that he consistently described himself as a Nietzschean, thereafter, or that he, thereafter, found a single message in Nietzsche’s writings (see Foucault, 1985: 53–54). It is to say that thinking in terms of will-to-power enabled him, thereafter, to reframe epistemology in a different perspective. It was, moreover, a perspective he desired. Concerning Marxism (taking it not only as an example, but also as a central example) since for Foucault, as for many others, it was a central concept with often hidden themes. His Nietzschean turn enabled him to say that seeking to demonstrate that Marxism is a rational science is seeking to invest Marxism with power (Foucault, 1980: 85). It is something altogether different from demonstrating that Marxism’s propositions are the outcome of verifiable procedures. His Nietzschean turn enables Foucault to transform himself several times: from the anti-Marxist of Les Mots et les Choses to the radical fellow traveller of the Marxists of the early 1970s, to the radical non-Marxist of a few years later, and then back to being a radical anti-Marxist, this time with an even more sophisticated discursive practice, outdoing even the sophisticated anti-Marxism of Les Mots et les Choses. By 1976, Foucault can refer to Marxism and psychoanalysis together as “the enemy”, because they are “unitary theories” (Foucault, 1976: 25–26). A Nietzschean Foucaldian can pass for a while among Marxist-Leninists as just one more comrade. Let me do a little parody: “Yes, comrades it is all about struggle, all about power. Yes, comrades, the reason why the prison system arose when and as it did was that capitalism required it at a certain moment of its history. Yes, comrades, there is nothing more despicable than a reformist, a humanist, a social pacifist, a class collaborationist.”

Lecture Ten

But it turns out that the Nietzschean Foucauldian discourse is not, in the end, Marxist-Leninist at all; it locates itself to the left of the Marxist-Leninists. The Soviet Union is just one more bourgeois state. Foucault, in his radical period, works with the Maoists (although it is a question what relationship there was between the Maoists of Paris and those of China). The labour unions are conservative organisations. The Communist Party is a conservative party. The conceptual move that makes it possible simultaneously to chime in with the most radical of the radicals and nevertheless to locate oneself to the left of them is the replacement of humanist ideals by power. As Foucault makes abundantly clear in a debate with Noam Chomsky, the proletariat (according to Foucault) is not fighting for justice. It is simply fighting to win (Foucault and Chomsky, 1974). But it follows from this Nietzschean premise that the bourgeoisie, or the rentier class, or a military cabal, or anybody who fights, is also fighting to win. Nobody has any more right to win than anyone else. The Nietzschean turn served to dissolve the traditional arguments reformers had made in favour of social justice, and to reinforce the sophist’s proposition that might makes right. “I am radically on the side of the sophists” (Foucault, 1974: 632). “Capitalism” is renamed and generalised as “power”; it is reduced to being just one form of “power” among others; and then, in a further development, it turns out that “power” is not bad after all: exercising power gives people pleasure; power is creative (for example, Foucault, 1974: 642). Following this line of thought, as he sometimes did – and I do not think he always did; I do not think he was consistent – Foucault sometimes comes to the conclusion that it does not matter what side one is on. Let me do a brief and evanescent flashforward here to quote an incident Paul Veyne reports: In 1982 or 1983, in Foucault’s apartment, we were watching a televised report on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; at one point one of the combatants (which side he was on is utterly unimportant) was invited to speak. Now this man spoke in terms quite different from the ones ordinarily encountered in political discussions. ‘I know only one thing,’ this partisan said, ‘I want to win back the lands of my forefathers. This is what I have wanted since my teens. I don’t know where this passion comes from, but there it is.’ ‘There we have it at last,’ Foucault said to me, ‘everything has been said, and there’s nothing more to say.’ Each valorization of the will to power, or each discursive practice (more scholarly types will spell out the relation between Nietzsche and Foucault on this point) is a prisoner of itself, and universal history is woven of nothing but such threads. (Veyne, 1997: 225–226)

I do not know what Nietzsche would have thought, had he lived on into the 21st century, about proposals like mine to reduce dependence on the logic of capital accumulation by organising nations and local communities with different rules, such as, for example, the three principles of permaculture (1. Love the earth, 2. Love its

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people, 3. Share the surplus) (Mollison, 2005). Nietzsche might be read as saying that I am misguided. Nietzsche might be read as saying that one cannot solve problems simply by establishing better rules and institutions because rules and institutions are made by power. They do not make power. Therefore the first step would necessarily be to get the power to make the rules. My reply, or part of it, to this speculation about how Nietzsche might be read, would be that the rules themselves constitute power, especially economic power. Therefore, whatever else may be done, and however the practical possibility of getting it done may be conceived, it is necessary to change the rules. Perhaps I should not trust my own motives. One might read Nietzsche as implying that I also must be driven by will-to-power because everybody is. Nietzsche might be read as saying that neither I nor anybody else could be sincerely interested in solving humanity’s problems. He could be read as saying that my will-to-power just happens to adopt the subtle form – perhaps even a resentful and unhealthy form – of a will to contribute to solving the problems of life. But, on the other hand, maybe not. Maybe if Nietzsche were alive today and we could ask him, he would not identify with any of these readings of his works. But there would remain the suspicion that, even if it is an incorrect interpretation of Nietzsche to read human motivation as ultimately and fundamentally about power, taking the word “power” here in some anti-social sense or senses; and even if it is an incorrect interpretation of Foucault to read him at a certain period of his life as following Nietzsche in this respect; even so there might remain the suspicion that such a view of human nature might be true. Whoever did or did not mean to say it, is such an opinion true? It might not seem to be possible to present any empirical evidence that would definitely prove such an opinion to be false. Part of such an opinion is that other human motives are disguised forms of power-seeking. Consequently – it might seem – anything that appears to be evidence that people have other motives would not count. But would anybody really want to say that when a mother nurses her baby, her real underlying motive is Wille zur Macht whatever her motives might appear to be? Citing such cases might be a way to begin to persuade people that (given that we humans have choices to make regarding which vocabularies we choose to employ) one might have good reasons for making a choice to talk less about power.

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LECTURE TEN Discussion COH - Catherine Odora Hoppers EL - Evelin Lindner HR - Howard Richards

COH:

So one might classify Nietzsche’s influence on Foucault into two categories. First, starting in his youth …

HR:

Nietzsche was on the reading list of every young intellectual with antiestablishment sentiments.

COH:

Foucault found inspiration from time to time in Nietzsche as a kindred spirit. And then, second, Nietzsche provided Foucault with a way out of an impasse.

EL:

An impasse where he did not want to be a materialist, but also was embarrassed to be composing a theory of language or of culture without relationship to any external reality outside language.

HR:

His use of Nietzsche to escape from what Fredric Jameson has called the prison-house of language is what I have called his Nietzschean turn. The occasion for its coming out party was Foucault’s inaugural lecture as a new professor at the Collège de France on 2nd December 1970, when he relied heavily on a text Nietzsche called a Streitschrift.

EL:

A term a professional translator would probably translate as a “polemical pamphlet”, which literally means fighting-writing or fighting-script.

HR:

… Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals.

EL:

Do you believe Foucault’s biographer, Didier Eribon, when he says Foucault was first a Marxist and later became a Nietzschean? Or do you believe Foucault himself when he says he was always a Nietzschean?

HR:

I think Paul-Michel Foucault was a mixed-up young man, like many of us were as adolescents.

EL:

And like many of us still are.

HR:

His soul vibrated to any text that fought the establishment and fought boredom. He devoured Nietzsche, Marx, Georges Bataille, Martin Heidegger. It did not matter that his heroes contradicted each other.

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EL:

So you would see, in his youth, precursors of his later metamorphoses from humanist to an anti-humanist, then back to humanist; from being an ardent anti-positivist and then, for a while, a kind of positivist; from being a fellow traveller and then later an ardent anti-Marxist allied with the nouveaux philosophes.

HR:

As a youth he read them all, and he loved them all for hating his enemies. So I think Foucault told the truth when he said he joined the Communist Party as a Nietzschean.

EL:

You are offering a psychological reading of Foucault. “Reason is and only ought to be the slave of the passions.”

COH:

What passions?

HR:

Shame and anger for being an outcast among his schoolmates, love for his mother, antipathy toward his father.

EL:

You don’t have much to go on. You can’t interview young Paul-Michel as Sigmund Freud interviewed Little Hans.

HR:

We have the whole corpus of Foucault’s writings. We have the testimony of many people who knew him.

COH:

Why do you think you can understand Foucault better than he understood himself?

HR:

Erving Goffman …

EL:

… the symbolic interactionist …

HR:

… points out that observers often have an advantage over actors when it comes to understanding what the actors are doing. In Flaubert’s novel when Madame Bovary falls in love she is the last to know she is falling in love …

EL:

What about Charles her husband? Did he not catch on even later than she herself did?

HR:

I mean compared to the reader. The reader who is an outside observer knows she is falling in love long before Madame Bovary herself knows.

EL:

You might be projecting. Your own writings might be driven by your love for your mother and you might be imagining Foucault’s to be also.

COH:

Have you ever been psychoanalysed?

Discussion

HR:

Not exactly, but I have been in therapy. I am in therapy now. I believe in therapy and I think everybody should get as much of it as they can. My therapists tell me I have irrational fears. However, I must say that I also believe in sociology. Many problems that present as psychological are, at root, social.

EL:

I love your argument, dear Howard. Only, I personally do not like the term therapy for what you are doing. I would say that it is rather a co-creation of deeper understanding of yourself and the world, cocreated with your “therapist”. You are simply using a rich diversity of avenues towards understanding. You manifest unity in diversity also in your thinking, and in this way you avoid the poverty of uniformity and the fragmentation of division. I believe Foucault decided not to go into therapy …

HR:

… on the advice of Louis Althusser. It was bad advice.

EL:

I know what you are deciding whether to say or not. You are undecided about whether to mention that Althusser, following his own advice, did not go into therapy either and then later, in a fit of rage, murdered his wife.

HR:

There would be a lot less domestic violence and a lot fewer crimes of passion if more people were in therapy, or if they cannot afford therapy, in peer counselling or support groups. But also – this I know from my own childhood – there would also be a lot less domestic violence if there were less unemployment, less economic hardship, less machismo.

COH:

In our last discussion you advocated a critical realist way out of what might be called dilemmas of post-modernism. I offered transformation by enlargement, rescuing modernity by learning from modernity’s other. Foucault chose a Nietzschean way out. That made “power” his central concept. Of course I am simplifying.

HR:

We won’t hold it against you. Anybody who tries to be clear and brief has to leave out qualifications. We know that you know that Foucault knew that Nietzsche knew that there are no simple truths. Foucault treated Nietzsche’s work as a source of useful ideas without labelling himself as a “Nietzschean” in any narrow sense.

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EL:

I do not think we are talking about three mutually exclusive options. We are attaching simple labels to three viewpoints that can support each other and learn from each other. In practice, one often finds it useful to borrow from many theories, even theories one disagrees with.

HR:

For example, toward the end of his life, Niklas Luhmann spoke very well when he said our problems are worse than we think because it does us no good to come up with solutions when society is ungovernable. We are unable to implement any solutions we might come up with. On a practical level, I like to quote Luhmann on this point in order to underscore the importance of working to make society governable, even though, in theory, I tend to side with Habermas – both in the HabermasFoucault debates and in the Habermas-Luhmann debates.

EL:

On a practical level, part of your advice would be that everybody should be in therapy. I think I see what you are trying to mean in spite of my misgivings about the word “therapy”.

HR:

Foucault declines to give explicit practical advice, but implicitly, he advocates “resistance”, somewhat as Heidegger declines to give explicit practical advice but implicitly advocates “authenticity”.

EL:

I think you are saying that if we trace Foucault’s intellectual history, we find that “power” became a key word first, and then it led him to formulate something to temper the excesses of power. “Resistance” appeared in his vocabulary to play a role that became a necessary role because of a linguistic decision he had made earlier.

HR:

When Foucault first starts talking about power it assumes the role of the general form of all oppression. That led to a need for a word that would seem to name the general form of non-oppression.

EL:

Why “would seem”?

HR:

OK, he frankly applauds resistance; at least at certain times in his life he applauds it. Wherever there is power there is resistance. Resistance seems – let me say “seems” this time because I am saying this in a way Foucault himself might not say it – to be triggered by the body’s natural yearning for freedom. But then as the months and years go by, in Foucault’s thinking, power becomes more and more the producer generating more and more of social reality …

EL:

… and natural reality?

HR:

… and when it assumes a productive role power is no longer implicitly the villain.

Discussion

EL:

Treating power as the metaphysical principle producing everything would be in line with Nietzsche. However, Nietzsche does not really write about power as such. He writes about Wille-zur-Macht …

HR:

… will to power.

EL:

Nietzsche was influenced by Arthur Schopenhauer’s great book, The World as Will and Idea …

HR:

Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, which could also be translated as The World as Will and Representation. Will is …

EL:

… for Nietzsche, will-to-power …

HR:

… the general metaphysical principle that creates everything. Let me make it clear that I do not have a bad attitude toward metaphysics.

COH:

Neither do I. Every person, every culture, has its categories of thought. Acknowledging that we all have our key categories for organising discourse and practice …

EL:

… as Auguste Comte had the key category of “scientific laws that govern all phenomena” but did not acknowledge it as a metaphysics …

COH:

… is a giant step toward second-level indigenisation. When westerners come to the table, pretending that they have no metaphysics, they tend to regard everyone else as retarded because everyone else is not yet scientific. Foucault helped me to see this.

HR:

I would identify as a central category in my metaphysics “culture-in-ecology”.

EL:

As a central category for Schopenhauer would be will, for Nietzsche willto-power, for Foucault, at one point, episteme, at another point énoncé, and now power …

COH:

… or power/knowledge.

HR:

My general perspective is that humans create cultures, which then can be more or less successful as adaptations to physical reality.

EL:

I think Antonio Gramsci somewhere said something similar, that the role of the intellectual is to adjust culture to physical reality.

HR:

Which, perhaps, amounts to the same thing as John Dewey seeing the brain, the body, the mind, culture, and language, all as having evolved to solve the problems that life presents …?

COH:

… from which it would follow that the societies honoured today as “developed” are not nearly as “evolved” as they think they are, because they cannot solve their problems …

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HR:

… I would say first and foremost their “meta-problem”.

EL:

Do you mean “metaphysical problem”? Are you connecting a “metaphysical problem” with Luhmann’s point you quoted earlier, that society has become ungovernable?

HR:

That is what I want to say, but I am afraid people will misunderstand me. Most people would say the meta-problem is an economic problem.

EL:

You mean problems like debt, poverty, inequality, inflation, unemployment. But here, “what most people would say” is, in itself, a meta-problem. Most people think the problems of economics have solutions within economics.

COH:

You mean they think they are posing questions economists can answer …

EL:

… so if we would be brave and say the meta-problem is metaphysical, or that solving it requires a paradigm shift, or a culture-shift, or unbounded organisation …

COH:

… or the rise of indigenous, subjugated knowledges, second-level indigenisation …

EL:

I am tempted to say revolution, but I refrain because I do not want to imply violence followed by central planning and repression. But we have to say something that pushes the envelope of conventional thought to wake people up.

COH:

We could say the meta-problem is not an economic one because it cannot be solved within the constitutive rules provided by the mainly Roman law legal framework of the global economy.

HR:

Let me say what the problem is.

EL:

You mean the meta-problem.

HR:

The meta-problem, the one that raises the stakes to the level of categories of thought …

COH:

… and practice. The metaphysics of a people is not just thought, it is lived. Foucault helped me to see this too.

HR:

The meta-problem is not just that we cannot get our priorities straight. As I was saying if we had our priorities straight more people would be riding bicycles and more people would be in therapeutic communities, in some broad sense of “therapeutic” that would include, for example, our local branch of the third order of Saint Francis in the neighbourhood where I live …

Discussion

COH:

… or maybe we should just say more mutual support among human beings so as not to confine ourselves within the somewhat ethnocentric and pseudo-medical concept of “therapy” at all.

HR:

OK. If we had our priorities straight, there would be a massive shift to green technologies and sustainable lifestyles.

EL:

And so on. We could make a list of what ought to be.

COH:

It could be almost a consensus list. Actually, we already have what amounts to a consensus on what ought to be in the universal declarations of rights, declared in international treaties and conventions and ratified by most of the world’s governments.

HR:

But when we try to move from what ought to be into practice, we are paralysed. We have to do what the economy requires.

COH:

… with help from Michel Foucault …

EL:

… that economics, as we know it, works within the imperatives of a system rooted in basic categories of thought/practice most people take for granted. Maximising profits trumps mental health, ecology, human rights and so on, not because capitalists are greedy, but because profit-maximising is the mainspring that moves the system that generates everybody’s daily bread. If you break the mainspring you get unemployment, stock market crashes, capital flight, businesses closing, banks failing, prices rising, the value of money falling, savings wiped out, cutbacks in public services like health and education – and yet if you do not break the mainspring, if you do everything you can to create a business-friendly environment, sooner or later you get some of these same things anyway, along with rising inequality, falling real wages, and a dying biosphere. So until we convert to a “dignity economy” running on different categories of thought/practice, we are trapped.

HR:

Karl Marx once wrote that we are still living in the pre-history of humanity. The history of humanity, properly so-called, will not begin until we are free to create institutions that solve our problems.

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LECTURE ELEVEN 23 May, 2013 In the spring of 1972 the staff of Esprit sedorganised another round table with Michel Foucault. This one was about the role of social workers in France’s then new urban public housing. These were the multi-family apartment buildings that the government was building for the dangerous classes. France was creating neighbourhoods similar to the neighbourhoods that in the USA are called “the projects” (Foucault, 1972a). Another member of the panel, the urbanist and cultural historian Paul Virilio, remarked: One could say that one passes through three stages: the self-regulation of primitive societies, the regulation of our societies, and now we are heading toward a species of dérégulation, through the urbanization you just talked about, which is itself a new phenomenon because one speaks today of global cities. (Foucault, 1972a: 331)

Virilio and others observe that the time is coming, if not already here, when the marginals, le plèbe non prolétarienne, will be the majority. I will comment first on Viriolo’s suggested three stages, and then on Foucault’s reaction to Virilio’s  suggestion. Self-regulation: In French, the connection between self-regulation and rules is clear. The French word for “rule” is règle. Régulation is the fact of assuring a form that is régulier (regular), that is, one in conformity with the règles (Le Robert, 2006). Without romanticising primitive societies, one can acknowledge that, in their great variety, they exhibit many customary ways of patterning social relationships with rules, also known as norms. Virilio can be read as echoing those of us who say that humans are a species biologically coded to be culturally coded. We are capable of self-monitoring and of mutual monitoring in groups. Regulation: Skipping over civilisations that are neither primitive nor “our societies”, Virilio refers (as is clear from passages I have not quoted) especially to those European social democratic welfare states that, in 1972, were already beginning the process of decline under the impact of globalisation. “Regulation” is identified particularly with regulating the economy to produce full employment, with plans and industrial policies that make it possible to transfer large parts of the surplus generated by the economy to the social sector, and with administering social safety nets that provide cradle to grave security for all citizens. “Regulation” is a key word, because it is the social democratic regulating of the economy that makes comprehensive social security possible.

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Dérégulation: This word echoes what Hannah Arendt in her phenomenology of contemporary society reads as a “crisis of authority”. As social democracy declines, the breach between the numbers of people who can be integrated into society through satisfying steady, well-paid employment; and the numbers of people who arrive in the city, either by birth or by migration, is a widening breach. The proletariat is becoming a smaller proportion of the total population. The marginals, formerly known as the Lumpen, are becoming a larger proportion (Foucault contributes to the round table discussion the nuance that workers who are not unemployed often voluntarily marginalise themselves, preferring a life of crime and drugs to boring low-paid jobs (Foucault, 1972a: 338).) The result: chaos. Neither the customary norms of primitive societies nor the discipline provided by steady employment in regulated societies governs daily life in the banlieues of Paris, where the dangerous classes live. The social workers are assigned the impossible task of stemming a tidal wave of social disintegration produced by urbanisation and marginalisation. Foucault speaks next. The vocabulary he employs differs from Virilio’s vocabulary as rules differ from power, and, in that respect, he implicitly answers Virilio. He expresses a different way of talking and displays a different way of seeing, but the question Foucault directly addresses is not whether Virilio’s three stages are valid, but instead a question raised earlier in the round table discussion by the historian J. Vuillard – whether the social worker is, in effect, a police officer. The implicit function of the social worker is, says Vuillard, “de maintien de l’ordre” (Foucault, 1972a: 330). Foucault mainly agrees with the point Vuillard makes. He elaborates on it by proposing that the functions of the social worker and the functions of the police officer are subsets of a broader and more comprehensive social function that Foucault names as surveiller et corriger (surveillance and correction, anticipating the title of Surveiller et punir which Foucault will publish three years later). Correction, in turn, has two parts: punishing and educating. Those who perform this broader social function named as surveiller et corriger include, besides social workers and police officers, priests, psychiatrists, and teachers. A recurring theme in Foucault’s thought is that in the modern world psychology and medicine have replaced religion; psychiatrists have replaced priests. What used to be called sin is now called sickness. The medieval alliance of religion and nobility has become an alliance of medicine and law. A young person whose fate it is to be born in banlieues of Paris where the plèbe non prolétarienne resides will almost inevitably end up either before a judge or before a psychiatrist. It does not greatly matter which. The function of both is surveiller et corriger. The similarities between life in prison and life in a mental hospital are greater than the differences. Nor is being in school much different from being in a jail or in an asylum. The teacher too has inherited the function of the priest of yesteryear,

Lecture Eleven

de maintien de l’ordre in the words of Vuillard, surveiller et corriger in the words of Foucault. The significance of the proliferation of social workers in the world’s great cities, according to Foucault, is that political power has lost confidence in priests and teachers. It prefers to have agents more directly under its control. Virilio, as I read him, does not see the urban Lumpen through Foucault’s Nietzschean lenses, but rather through Durkheimian lenses. For Virilio, the integration into society of those who are now marginal would be desirable if it could be achieved. He wants to somehow revive the best of the self-regulation of primitive communities, replacing atomistic individualism with norms of reciprocity and mutual obligation, fuelling co-operation and solidarity by appealing to the deepest sentiments of a species that has lived in small tribal groups of hunters and gatherers for the bulk of the time it has existed on the planet. If we could only revive the best of the regulation of social democracy; if we could implement the rights of l’homme expressed in the universal declarations of human rights, including the now standardly accepted universal right to cultural and individual diversity; if this time around we could make economic and social democracy work, and deepen it, and thus achieve ever higher levels of inclusion and equity; then such a devoutly to be desired synthesis of primitive selfregulation and modern regulation would save us from the dérégulation that is now turning the world’s great urban conglomerations into hell on earth. I take some such proposal to bring the lost sheep back into the fold to be Virilio’s subtext. I agree with it. I agree with what I think I discern reading between the lines of Virilio’s remarks. At earlier stages of his career, Foucault would have agreed with Virilio too, or at least with parts of Virilio’s apparently Durkheimian line of thinking or at least with parts of it suitably rephrased. In 1972 Foucault will have none of it. In the short tumultuous years between 1969 and 1972 Foucault became a professor at the Collège de France, which meant that he would be highly paid for the rest of his life to study the history of systems of thought, while teaching twelve classes each year to report on his results. He also became a revolutionary. The same philosopher who had devoted himself to refuting the revolutionary philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre now worked together with him (Eribon, 1989: 295–297). I have to qualify something I said before, in case anybody remembers it: I said that when Sartre and Foucault marched together in demonstrations Sartre was being a general intellectual and Foucault was being a specific intellectual (to use Foucault’s terms); I said they were doing the same things for different reasons. What I said before was true enough for later years. But in 1972 it appeared for a time that there was not only practical collaboration between the two of them but also theoretical convergence. Some of Foucault’s new ideas were published in Sartre’s journal, Les Temps modernes, in a collaborative exchange with two underground Maoists writing under pseudonyms.

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The Maoists were living a clandestine life because warrants had been issued for their arrest (Foucault, 1972b). Foucault reinterpreted his own past. Histoire de la folie now became a study of the exclusion of a particular kind of oppressed person, the person stigmatised as mentally ill. It was the beginning of a general project of studying all the rejected, all the exclusions (see also Foucault, 1971c: 184). Foucault appeared to accept a working definition of oppression offered by another speaker at the round table organised by Esprit on the role of social workers in the projects. Oppression is either exploitation or surveillance or both (Foucault, 1972a: 338). Typically the workers suffered exploitation, while le plèbe non prolétarienne suffered surveillance. What potentially united them in the cause of the revolution was that they were all oppressed, as were also the homosexuals, the so-called mentally ill, the students, and just about everybody. La naissance de la clinique, which he had backed away from and apologised for in 1969, became, by 1971, a good example of Marxist sociological analysis (Foucault, 1971c). Regarding Les Mots et les Choses, Foucault came to agree with the main point Sartre had made in his critique of it – the book leaves the reader in suspense. It does not offer an account of the social practices that produced the shift from the classical to the modern episteme (Foucault, 1971a: 162). Foucault had already implied in the book itself, and had already stated explicitly in the preface to its English translation, that Les Mots et les Choses was not a book that tried to discern causal relationships. What was new was that he now considered this absence to be a gap that needed to be filled. Foucault is still an anti-humanist, but whereas, in 1966, toward the end of Les Mots et les Choses, anti-humanism meant laughing at revolutionary projects because of the absurdity of the very idea of liberating humanity from its chains, in 1972, humanism is identified with the reformists, and no-one is more contemptible than these reformists (Foucault, 1971e). For the Foucault of 1972 anti-humanism is the philosophy of the revolution. After some Maoist activists, including Foucault’s intimate personal friend, Daniel Defert, had suffered the realities of imprisonment, Foucault became the principal leader of an activist group, the G.I.P., Prison Information Group. It was dedicated to raising public awareness. The volunteers who formed the Prison Information Group were not prisoners. They did not pretend to speak for the prisoners. Their project was to facilitate bringing to the ears of the public the voices of the prisoners themselves, and the voices of others affected by the imprisonment such as those who came to visit them in jail. Foucault had come to accept Gilles Deleuze’s principle that nobody should speak for anybody else. Every Saturday, Foucault stood at the gates of

Lecture Eleven

a prison, gathering testimony from those who went in and out. Referring to the work of the G.I.P., Foucault wrote: We want to attack the institution just at the point where it becomes incarnate in an ideology so simple and fundamental as the notions of good and bad, innocence and guilt. We want to change the lived ideology through the dense institutional layers in which it is invested, crystallized, reproduced. To simplify, humanism consists of wanting to change the ideology without changing the institution; reformism consists of changing the institution without touching the ideological system. Revolutionary action defines itself on the contrary as simultaneously shaking the consciousness and the institution. (Foucault, 1971e: 231)

In lines like those I have just quoted, Foucault made it clear that now he wanted to be identified as a revolutionary. In May of 1971 the first brochure issued by the Prison Information Group appeared. Its title: Intolérable. On its back cover, it declared: Intolerable are: - - - - - -

the courts the police the hospitals, the asylums the school, military service the press, television and the State (Eribon, 1989: 237)

Notice that although Foucault now calls himself a revolutionary, capitalism does not make this particular short list of institutions that are intolerable. In a 1971 interview with four French secondary school students, in which Foucault played the part of the interviewer, Foucault began the interview by asking his young interviewees which form of oppression they found most intolerable – that of their parents, that of their teachers, that of the police, or that of the media (Foucault, 1971e: 223). If I had been present at that interview in 1971, I could not have resisted the temptation to follow up Foucault’s question to the students with some questions for Foucault: Are you putting us on? Are you the Foucault whose nickname is “le Fuchs” (“the fox”), of whom Georges Dumézil, who knew you better than anybody, said you were always wearing a mask and were always changing masks (Eribon, 1989: 13)? Are you the same Michel Foucault who, a decade ago in Uppsala, used to dress up as a chauffeur

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to drive your own Jaguar with a lady friend in the back seat as if she were rich and you were poor (Eribon, 1989: 100), now playing the game of the ultra-radical, more radical than all the radicals in the radical atmosphere of Paris in 1971? I would ask the same questions regarding the previously mentioned dialogues with French Maoists published in Jean-Paul Sartre’s journal, Les Temps Modernes, in which Foucault suggests that a court, any court, is a deformation of justice standing between the people and its enemies (Foucault, 1972b: 356). Michael Walzer has pointed out that many of the views expressed by Foucault in interviews in the early 1970s were absurd: “To abolish power systems is to abolish both moral and scientific categories: away with them all” (Walzer, 1986: 61). I am suggesting that Foucault was smart enough to have known, at the time, that they were absurd. The round table convened by the editors of Esprit in 1972 posed an important question: how could the marginalised poor and the traditional proletariat become political allies? To this question Foucault had an answer. Teach them that “power” is their common enemy (Foucault, 1972a: 335–336). From Foucault’s works one might derive a similar question: How can the majority, consisting of the sum total of all the different kinds of people who are marginalised in one way or another, become aware that it is a majority? To this similar question, Foucault suggests the same answer: Teach them that “power” is their common enemy. Power is the general enemy. It is the logical basis of the alliance of all the oppressed. Foucault would be to Marx as Einstein is to Newton, because resisting oppression by economic power is a subset of resisting oppression by power, as Newton’s mechanics is a subset of Einstein’s general theory. Foucault, as activist, put into practice the teachings suggested by Foucault as theorist. When he wrote the Manifesto for the Prison Information Group, he put as the first two sentences, “Not one of us is sure of escaping imprisonment. Today less than ever” (Foucault, 1971b: 174). These words embody a revolutionary strategy. Convince the masses that the cause of the marginals is their own cause. Anybody can be sent to jail. Anybody can be diagnosed as insane and confined to a mental hospital. Although one might not share the orientation of any given sexual minority, in the majority of cases, one’s own sexual practices would be considered immoral by somebody, and, therefore, the cause of sexual freedom is the cause of the majority. When asked what values he would propose to replace humanism and the existing system, Foucault once replied that humanism had to be fought with a “cultural attack: the suppression of taboos, the suppression of limitations on sexual sharing, the practice of communitarian existence, the removal of inhibitions with respect to drugs; the break with all the interdictions and closures by which normative individuality is constituted and guided” (Foucault, 1971e: 227).

Lecture Eleven

Although part of the rationale for Foucault’s concept of power as the general enemy was that it was a conceptual umbrella, broad enough to be the ideology of an alliance among the workers, the homosexuals, other kinds of sexual minorities, the prison inmates, the students, the children, those whom society judges as insane, and all oppressed people, it followed from his analysis that the existing organisations of the French working class were conservative and anti-revolutionary. The labour unions were conservative. The Communist Party was conservative (Foucault, 1971c: 187–188). Indeed it follows from Foucault’s choices about how to talk and how to see (I am talking now, not Foucault) that not only is the Communist Party conservative, but any political party is necessarily conservative. Any political party must seek votes among normal adults. We know from psychological research, from sociological research, and from common everyday experience that the majority adheres to conventional morality. It tends to defend law and order as it is constituted, however it may be constituted at any given time and place. So this is what usually is called Foucault’s brief radical period in the early 1970s. Next time, we will look at Foucault’s rather rapid transmutation into becoming one of the most important intellectual leaders of the wave of anti-Marxism that swept through French universities in the middle and late 1970s.

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LECTURE ELEVEN Discussion COH - Catherine Odora Hoppers EL - Evelin Lindner HR - Howard Richards

HR:

I am suggesting that, for Foucault, the crisis that began in 1968 was a replay of the crisis of his youth. Once again, the future of France hung in the balance. Once again, a totalitarian outcome seemed likely, perhaps probable. Once again, he rushed to the defence of the values he learned at his mother’s knees.

COH:

Jacques Derrida had accused Foucault himself of writing a totalitarian philosophy in The Order of Things.

HR:

Exactly. Foucault himself …

EL:

… and others besides Derrida.

COH:

No doubt there was an interaction of critique and self-critique as Foucault became aware of how The Order of Things …

EL:

… which turned out to be a surprise best-seller …?

COH:

… might be misunderstood and misused.

EL:

So then, the Foucault who later in The Archaeology of Knowledge reinterpreted discursive unities with extreme methodological parsimony …

COH:

… a methodological parsimony that echoes Derrida´s différence and difference …

HR:

… in both cases, anti-totalitarian politics went with ultranominalistic epistemology …

COH:

… in The Archaeology of Knowledge …

EL:

I have lost track. What were you saying about The Archaeology of Knowledge?

COH:

I was just saying that at a certain point in French intellectual history being consistently anti-totalitarian …

HR:

… consistently “anti-fascist”, in Gilles Deleuze’s terminology …

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COH:

… came to be identified with epistemologies that opposed any kind of holism and favoured dispersion. But I think Howard was saying that the author of The Archaeology of Knowledge, and the Foucault whose antitotalitarian sentiments led him to the extreme of joining his students in throwing rocks at the police, were the same person …

HR:

… the same son of Anne Foucault …

EL:

… and of Dr. Paul Foucault, M.D.?

HR:

… who wanted his son to follow him into the medical profession. He was supposed to be Paul Jr., but his mother suggested adding Michel, so he was christened Paul-Michel. Later – echoing an African practice of choosing your own name when you come of age – he changed his name to Michel.

EL:

Your conjecture is that there was an interaction of these details of one person’s personal history and the history of social structures.

HR:

In 1968 and its aftermath in France, there was what might be called a structural need – a need of the structure for the sake of its own preservation, almost instinctively felt by those who feared chaos leading to a loss of liberty – for the energies of young people and activists to be redirected away from directions likely to lead to a leftwing dictatorship …

COH:

… or to a right-wing dictatorship. That must be on your mind. You lived through the breakdown of Chilean democracy.

HR:

Energies had to be directed to worthier causes, like prison reform.

EL:

Are you saying that was a good thing? Or are you saying that the powers-that-be found their privileges threatened and came to count on people like Foucault to defuse the revolutionary energies of the youth? Are you saying it is better for young idealists to work for prison reform, or to save an endangered species of owls, or for the right of gay couples to get married like anybody else, instead of fighting for a Bolshevik Revolution?

HR:

Actually I do not think a Bolshevik Revolution was in the cards in Paris in 1968. One of the main slogans of the rebels was l´imagination au pouvoir! In any case a Bolshevik revolution is certainly not in the cards anywhere today.

EL:

Would you say that one of the reasons why it is not in the cards is the success of philosophers like Foucault and Derrida in replacing Marxism with post-modernism as avant-garde philosophy?

Discussion

HR:

Yes, but a more important reason is that when the Bolsheviks took power, it did not lead either to achieving the Enlightenment ideals of socialism, or to the productivity of capitalism. In Russia, in China, in Vietnam, and in Cuba, the Marxists won military victories. But the economic system they put in place did not work.

EL:

I was aware that in Russia, China, and Vietnam the governing elites themselves became convinced that central planning did not work and introduced liberal reforms, but I do not know much about Cuba.

HR:

Many people do not realise how much practical experience in Cuba has catalysed a consensus among the elite and among the masses that their Soviet-style economic model is not viable. Recently, the Cuban government organised neighbourhood discussion groups all over the island to generate ideas for reinventing the economy. Every Cuban was invited to participate and most did.

EL:

So you are saying that whatever influence post-modern philosophers may have made in changing the course of history, the conclusions drawn by elites from unsuccessful experiences with centrally planned economies have had more influence. But what about Europe now? What about inviting all citizens to participate in similar discussion groups all over Spain, all over Italy, all over Greece, all over Europe, all over Africa?

HR:

OK. Let’s do. Let’s re-imagine and re-construct the economy, starting in every neighbourhood in Athens.

COH:

Do you mean this as an imaginary exercise, starting from scratch, or do you have in mind some of the re-invention of institutions going on in parts of Latin America today, that you like to talk about in coffee breaks? You have been telling us that citizen participation at the local level in brainstorming for a new economy is already happening now, as we speak, in Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil, and other countries where the philosophy of Paulo Freire has taken root.

HR:

Actually what I was leading up to was bringing us back to Foucault in Paris in 1968. Suppose you were a facilitator of a neighbourhood meeting in the town where you live and you had the task of starting a discussion on how to re-invent the economy and you began by asking the following questions: “Who are you most oppressed by?” Maybe the police, your teachers, your parents or the media?

EL:

I think you are saying that the context of the development of Foucault’s philosophy …

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HR:

Thank you for helping me express my rather vague and general idea about how Foucault fitted into the moods of the hour driven by the great historical conflicts of the day. I cannot help but remember one morning in Chile, 1973, a few months prior to September’s military coup, when I was invited to have breakfast with a community of Jesuit priests in their house in Santiago. The priests are more sympathetic with the right complained that there was no fresh bread. The priests who are more sympathetic with the left, claimed that days-old bread was delicious when it was toasted.

EL:

You are comparing breakfast with the Jesuits at their house in Santiago with Foucault interviewing secondary school students in the studio of a radio station in Paris.

HR:

These obscure events happening in little corners of the world are meant to shed light on the coming-to-be of something much better known, namely Foucault’s classic philosophy of the 1970s, the philosophy expressed in Discipline and Punish, the one whose central concepts are power …

COH:

… power/knowledge …

EL:

… and normalisation.

COH:

You have said that your interest is not in Foucault’s philosophy for its own sake. You want to dilute or nuance or build an alternative to Foucault’s philosophy because of its enormous influence in the world. Would it be an exaggeration to say that it is the classic Foucault of the 1970s that has had the most influence? More influence than his work in the 1980s until his death in 1984, and more influence than his work prior to the 1970s?

HR:

I do not think it would be an exaggeration. My worry is that classic Foucault leads us to ask one-sided questions. It leads us to ask whom power is oppressing, how power is oppressing, and how to resist and overcome power.

Discussion

COH:

You might call them one-sided questions, but I would not call them wrong questions. Although they are not the only questions, we will not get far if we ignore them. Would you agree? But we were discussing a different although probably related point. We were saying that Foucault – especially working with students after he was appointed to head the philosophy department at the new experimental university at Vincennes – worked with young people, not just to help them think about power – which they were already doing anyway – but to devote their energies to more specific issues, like prison reform …

EL:

… instead of being just generally radicalised and against the system. But you can hardly say that Foucault in the early 1970s was not generally radical. What could be more generally radical than being against all rules?

HR:

Or pseudo-radical. An implausible, radical idea like being against all rules …

COH:

… which was, in any case, only a temporary posture by Foucault in an emergency situation, like imposing price controls during a war. When France became more normal, Foucault’s opinions about rules became more normal, although to be sure, they did not become opinions you or Charles Taylor or John Searle would agree with …

HR:

… does not do anything to further radical causes.

EL:

OK. An implausible, radical idea, like being against all rules, does not do anything to further radical causes. But are you in favour of radical causes? Are you saying the more people become radicalised and antisystemic, the better? Are you saying that Foucault, in his so-called radical period, was radical in an unproductive …

COH:

… and agent provocateur way, sabotaging the movement by tricking it into advocating impractical policies and unbelievable ideas …

EL:

… and that, to be truly radical and anti-systemic, as Foucault allegedly was not, would be good?

HR:

Well. Let me take a deep breath before responding. Let’s start by noticing that the word ‘radical’ comes from the word ‘root’. It suggests etymologically getting at the root of systemic problems. Without deciding all at once whether it is a good idea to endorse the word “radical” or not, I would start from the premise that the modern world system has systemic problems. It works well for some people, but for most people it works badly or not at all. In any case it is not sustainable.

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EL:

Although I think the three of us would agree that it does not work for most people and is not sustainable …

COH:

… I would …

EL:

… nevertheless, I think we should make a note that the fact that three people agree does not make such a statement either self-evident or scientifically demonstrable. Many people would regard it as exaggerated with respect to social issues, and unduly alarmist regarding ecology. But anyway go on. Tell us more.

HR:

If we were to succeed in transforming the system to make it work for everybody and to be sustainable …

EL:

… that reminds me of something Buckminster Fuller used to say, “What they do not want you to know is that it is perfectly possible to make the system work for 100% of humanity without ecological damage,” or something like that …

HR:

… then, if we could achieve what Bucky Fuller said was possible, would it be the same system transformed, or would it be a different system?

COH:

I could go either way.

EL:

So could I. When a house needs repair, we ask: are the problems structural or cosmetic? We may find that some parts of the house need more radical attention than others – we may need to build a few new main pillars, while we may want to keep in place other parts of the house that have proven to be sturdy. At the same time, we could let our creativity imagine completely novel combinations of traditional and futuristic solutions for housing. Likewise, I believe our present-day world system has problems that are more than cosmetic. As Catherine likes to say, we need new constitutive rules, rather than only regulatory rules. Yet, we do not need to demolish the entire house to provide space for our creativity. Today, we have access to a knowledge base that none of our forefathers possessed; we can “harvest” the best cultural contributions of the entire human family from the past, including all of its indigenous knowledge systems, and let this flow into novel creative solutions that were unimaginable in the past.

HR:

I would add that today we have access to wonderful knowledge bases that were not available to our ancestors because of the findings of psychologists. The application of psychology to the solution of social problems has hardly begun.

Discussion

COH:

So perhaps we are leading up to two conclusions. First that the work of natural scientists like Bucky Fuller, and psychologists like Lawrence Kohlberg and Carol Gilligan and Evelin Lindner and Linda Hartling, plus a new awareness of what indigenous knowledge systems have to teach us, puts the whole question of “radical vs. non-radical” in a different light. Second, whether Foucault or anyone else ought to be radical, and whether it is a fault to be not radical enough, is really a pragmatic question whose answer depends on whether using the word “radical” is likely to do more good or more harm in a given context. There really is no bright-line conceptual distinction, distinguishing those who want to transform the system from those who want a new and different system.

HR:

I think you suggested a distinction with a clearer conceptual basis: distinguishing those who see a need to change the constitutive rules of the modern world-system, from those who do not see that need.

EL:

Working back from these two conclusions to the pragmatic question whether it would be a good thing for more people to call themselves radical and anti-systemic at the present time – now before the necessary transformation happens – we would conclude that we are comfortable either way. If people want to say they are against the system and working to build a different system, we can see that they might well have solid grounds for choosing to speak that way …

COH:

… we may have to disagree with something else they say, but not with that …

EL:

… but if people want to say they want to preserve the same system and transform it to make it work, we have no blanket objection to that either.

HR:

I think we all do have strong objections when people do not choose to call themselves anti-systemic radicals, but other people pin such labels on them …

EL:

… or twist the meanings of the labels they have given themselves …

HR:

… and then use the labels as pretexts for bombing them from unmanned aircraft, or sending undercover agents to assassinate them, or defining them as dangerous public enemies on television, and so on through the chambers of horrors we know too well. It is one thing for people to define themselves, but it is quite another for people to be persecuted because of how other people define them.

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COH:

In the 1970s Foucault came out in favour of “specific intellectuals” and against “general intellectuals”, which, at first, would seem to mean that he was not in favour of anybody thinking either about how to transform the system or about how to replace the system with a different one. On the other hand Foucault, as much as anybody, showed how the worldsystem we live in …

EL:

… that so many people take for granted, as though it had always existed …

COH:

… is a product of history, not of nature, and that it has been imposed by power, not by love.

HR:

One could make a case that, when we get down to the nitty-gritty of transforming the system, we need specific intellectuals. We need specific experts on taxation who can design systems that socialise rents while at the same time assuring industry the resources and incentives it needs. We need specific experts on community psychology, who can facilitate a transition to a culture of peace …

EL:

… this is a culture of dignity. We need to remember that people want dignity. When we work for a world with dignity for all, we are tapping an enormous wellspring of human motivation …

HR::

We need specific experts on co-operatives, worker-owned enterprises, social entrepreneurship, barter systems, community currency, non-profit management, permaculture, community currencies, local exchange trading systems, gift economies, labour organising, reciprocity, and redistribution who can build a plural economy that is free of the overriding imperative to generate investor confidence, whatever else has to be sacrificed to that end.

EL:

You mean that – whether you call it system transformation or changing the system to a different one – the logic of accumulation has to cease to be a dominating logic, and to become an accountable logic, whose performance can be evaluated and governed.

HR:

We need specific experts on indigenous knowledge systems and on business ethics and on community development.

Discussion

COH:

I like the way Foucault’s idea of “specific intellectuals” helps us bring problems down to earth, out of the stratosphere of great generalities. It helps us to see that transforming the system is not really as hard or as out-of-this-world as it might seem at first. We can all contribute to it in one way or another. It is mostly a matter of empowering subjugated knowledges and practices that already exist, many of which have worked for centuries, tapping wellsprings of motivation that already exist …

EL:

… so that one happy day we wake up in the morning …

COH:

… perhaps you would add here, “we or our grandchildren or our grandchildren’s children wake up in the morning”, but in Africa, we do not need that addition because on our continent the first person plural already includes the ancestors, the living, and the yet unborn.

EL:

And lo, we are able to live with dignity in a sustainable world. We are no longer prevented from doing what needs to be done by systemic imperatives beyond human control.

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LECTURE TWELVE 26 May, 2013 Let us review the early phases of the evolution of Foucault’s concept of power, for a bit. The review will illuminate his role in the wave of anti-Marxism that swept over French intellectual life in the mid 1970s. Even before Foucault cast power in the role of general enemy, power had been groomed for the role because it had played a somewhat similar role in the past. Whatever else “power” (“le pouvoir”) denoted, power was the entity that had reestablished itself by putting down the revolts in France in 1848, in 1870, and in 1940 (Deleuze & Foucault, 1972: 308). It tended to be the word that named whatever put down popular revolts anywhere; so that, if the revolt was successful, one, said the people won; if the revolt failed one said power won. There are two other words that appear in the discourse of Foucault and his friends in the early 1970s that are sometimes taken to be synonyms of “le pouvoir” and used interchangeably with it. They are “le bourgeoisie” and “le capitalisme” (for example, Foucault, 1970a: 120; 1971c: 191–192; 1972a: 336). Choosing “power” instead of one of the other two carried with it the choice of a conceptual framework. Gilles Deleuze elaborated an anti-power conceptual framework at the level of a critique of metaphysics and epistemology (Deleuze, 1969a; 1969b). Foucault enthusiastically endorsed it (Foucault, 1970c). Traditional metaphysics, revived in a new form in the twentieth century by Martin Heidegger, had organised knowledge in categories. At the root of all the categories was the concept of being. Being was substance. Being was logos. Being was God. Traditional metaphysics extracted from logic the idea that before anything could be said, there had to be a concept of what it was to be. Once a concept of to be was established, order, and therefore oppression were also established. Deleuze, following Nietzsche and followed by Foucault, denied that knowledge required any concept of order. Non-being, not being; diversity, not unity; difference, not sameness; was the root of the scientific concept. Thus philosophy contributes to social equality. For example, a philosophy that puts all linguistic events on the same level, without hierarchy, implies that black English is no better and no worse than standard American English (Deleuze, 1986 15). The general enemy was power. The general philosophical strategy of the revolution was to dismantle the conceptual tools for imposing oppression that power over the centuries had fashioned. Foucault wrote in the course of praising Deleuze, “to liberate difference, it is necessary to invent thinking without categories” (Foucault, 1970c: 34). Deleuze wrote in the course

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of praising Foucault: “Foucault’s book [he refers to L’archéologie du savoir] represents the most decisive step toward a theory and practice of multiplicity” (Deleuze, 1986: 23). Following consistently this line of thought, Foucault suggests that people found his inaugural lecture at the Collège de France troubling, “perhaps because I am hostile to any institution whatever” (Foucault, 1971a: 173). It was not a matter of building continually better institutions to replace the defective and in principle improvable institutions humanity now has. It was a matter of resisting power. Since power takes the form of institutions, it was a matter of resisting institutions. It was not a matter of changing the rules of a given culture in order to live life according to a better set of rules; it was a matter of breaking down the exclusions that distinguish the good people, the ones who follow the rules, from the bad people and the ones who do not. Foucault at this point endorses whatever is transgressif (transgressive) (Foucault, 1970a: 120; 1971d: 206). Foucault said in an interview: Intellectuals often make an image of the working class as having the same humanist values as the bourgeoisie. But that is not true. If you look closely at the working class, you will see in the end that it is anti-law (illégaliste). It is against law, because law has always been made against it. (Foucault, 1973: 422) Rules, in general, and not just any particular set of rules, are to be resisted. “It is good – and here is true theatre” to transcend the bourgeois way of life, “in the mode of play, playfully and ironically; it is good to be dirty and bearded, to wear long hair, to look like a girl when you are a boy (and vice-versa)” (Foucault, 1971: 193). Although part of the rationale for Foucault’s concept of power as the general enemy was that it was a conceptual umbrella, broad enough to be the ideology of an alliance among the workers, the homosexuals, other sexual minorities, the prison inmates, the students, the children, those society judges as insane, and all oppressed people, it followed from his analysis that the existing organisations of the French working class were conservative and anti-revolutionary. The labour unions were conservative. The Communist Party was conservative (Foucault, 1971c: 187–188). Indeed, it follows from Foucault’s choices about how to talk and how to see (I am speaking now, not Foucault) that not only is the Communist Party conservative, but any political party is necessarily conservative. Any political party must seek votes among normal adults. We know from psychological research, from sociological research, and from common, everyday experience, that the majority adheres to conventional morality (Grusec and Hastings, 2008). It tends to defend law and order as it is constituted, however it may be constituted at any given time and place (Kohlberg, 1984).

Lecture Twelve

In just a few years, the ultra-revolutionary philosophies of the late 1960s and early 1970s contributed to the wave of anti-Marxism that swept over Paris in the mid-1970s with some earlier harbingers. A loosely-knit school of about a dozen philosophers, known as nouveaux philosophes, quickly seized on the philosophies of non-being and “difference” as weapons to use in their fight against Marxism. The nouveaux philosophes were mostly still in their thirties. They were mostly exMarxists. Most had been activists in the uprising of 1968, who were disappointed by its failures, and who were critical of the French Communist Party for having been one of the causes of its failures. Some then turned to Maoism, only to be disappointed again when China itself turned its back on Mao’s Cultural Revolution and embraced liberal economic reforms. They all read Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago when it became available in French in 1974. One of their number, Michel Le Bris, expressed a sentiment quite likely shared by the other nouveaux philosophes, when he titled one of his books, Dieu est mort, Marx est mort, moi-même je ne me sens pas très bien (God is dead, Marx is dead, and as for myself I am not feeling very well) (Freund, 1978: 178)2. Besides Le Bris, the group included, among others, Jean-Marie Benoist, author of Marx est mort (1970); Guy Lardreau and Christian Jambet, coauthors of L´ange (The angel) (1976); Bernard-Henri Lèvy, author of Le Barbarie à Visage Humaine (Barbarism with a Human Face) (1977); François Lévy, author of Marx, Histoire d´un Bourgeois Allemand (1976); and Andre Glucksmann, author of The Master Thinkers (1980, French original 1977). They argued that Marx was the quintessential metaphysician, and they did not need to do much work to make their case, because Foucault and Deleuze and their allies had, for the most part, already made their case for them. Nietzsche replaced Marx as the avant-garde philosopher. Resistance to concepts, to any concepts at all, because concepts are tools of power, became their cause. This was Lyotard’s general incredulity toward metanarratives. The first (indeed apart from psychoanalysis, virtually the only) kind of metanarrative toward which the Parisian intellectuals of the late 1970s first directed their incredulity, was Marxism. Their incredulity expanded to doubt also any materialist conception of history. It included those that featured in their attempts to explain historical discontinuity and the expansion of markets to include large geographical areas and, indeed, in the end, the entire globe. That is to say, it included incredulity toward the economic reading of history that Foucault had set out to dispute in his 1969 book, L’archèologie du Savoir, and had combated with a proposed methodology whose key word was dispersion. A few years after 1969, the concept of power as the general enemy sows the seeds of a movement that will lead 2

This appears to be a title Le Bris announced for a book he was going to publish, but then did not publish.

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to a philosophy of dispersion by a different path, a path that identifies categories of thought with that general enemy. In the anti-Marxist intellectual atmosphere of Paris in the late 1970s, Foucault would declare, “I have never been a Marxist”, and would identify his own philosophy as having emerged from the one intellectual tradition in French universities that had never been allied with Marxism, that of Georges Canguilhem’s work in the history of science (Foucault, 1994: 113–114). By now you know that regarding that entity called “power” that reasserts itself after popular revolts, such as those in France in 1848, 1870 and 1940, I hold the opinion that whatever else may explain the resilience of the status quo ante the systemic imperatives of regimes of accumulation explain at least much of it. You know, too, what I think about those cases where a new system replaces an ancien régime without being quickly reversed by a subsequent reaction, as in China in 1948, and more slowly but not less transformationally, in the gradual social democratic evolution of the Scandinavian countries beginning in the 1930s. The new system succeeded in large part because it succeeded in meeting basic human needs. It did not dismantle the previous regime of accumulation and leave a vacuum in its place. In both types of case, those where change was visible and those where it was not, a great part of the swelling tidal advance toward the almost inevitable, or perhaps entirely inevitable, dénouement, is to be explained by the ability or inability of one side or the other in the conflict to reliably deliver the daily bread that Adam Smith expected to be reliably supplied by his baker’s self-interest. It is not that a few capitalists magically defeat the masses who vastly outnumber them. It is not that a tiny group of revolutionaries styling itself as the vanguard of the proletariat scientifically seizes control of the lives of millions. It is not even, at least not mainly or not entirely, as Antonio Gramsci suggests, that the people voluntarily consent to their own exploitation because they have been socialised to believe wholeheartedly in capitalist institutions. It is rather, simply and basically, that people must eat. The morning of September 11, 1973, in Santiago de Chile, I saw with my own eyes and heard with my own ears poor people – presumed to be the beneficiaries of socialism, and therefore, when well informed, its partisans – who had been standing in a long line to buy bread, or to try to buy bread, who, upon hearing the news that the armed forces had deposed President Allende, cheered and shouted, “We’re free!”. I am informed and believe, on the basis of my readings, and on the basis of my conversations with Alexander Kerensky (who was the elected premier of Russia, deposed by the partisans of V.I. Lenin), as we walked together from Palo Alto to Stanford on winter mornings, that physical exhaustion from fighting World War I, which had made Russia incapable of providing the basic necessities of life for its citizens, made the masses impatient with democracy (to which they were, in any

Lecture Twelve

event, not accustomed) and ready to accept the dictatorship of those who promised to transfer all power to the soviets and to end the war immediately. In a capitalist world, or in any world whose basic cultural structure is the western one, derived from Roman laws and institutions, the decisions that cause production to go forward depend, to a large extent, on expectations of profits (see, for example, Keynes, 1936: 27; Winters, 1996). Therefore, it is to the interest, in the short run, not only of those who stand to make profits, but of all those whose welfare depends on production going forward, to establish conditions under which profits can be made; or else, as Oskar Lange says in “On the Economic Theory of Socialism” (Lange, 1936), to replace the dynamic of capitalism quickly with another dynamic, not leaving a gap between one and the other when there is no dynamic. If there is going to be a gradual transition to a new dynamic, or to a new mix of several dynamics (or as John Dewey and Karl Popper advocate, a transition to a constantly evolving perfecting of mixed institutions, whose evaluation and revision are informed by research in the social sciences, and regularly debated in the media and in diverse forms of citizen participation), then there must be a systematic effort to maintain and guide the old plurality of dynamics, while the new mix of several dynamics is being invented and tried out – as in Otto Neurath’s image of the renewal of a wooden boat, whose planks can be replaced one at a time, but whose planks cannot be replaced all at once, because that would sink the boat. This situation – the one I have described, the one where some set of incentives and some set of rules is required to organise what Marx called the metabolism of society, its interchange of matter and energy with the environment; in one word, its work – is not going to change because somebody “takes power”. It can only be changed by changing the rules. It can only be changed by introducing different norms which channel and guide different dynamics. Foucault was right at the beginning of Les Mots et les Choses when he suggested that society is not organised by the wills of subjects, but by its basic cultural codes. He was wrong to suppose that the codes that are basic are those he called epistemes, the ones that govern the production of knowledge. From the foregoing, it seems to me to follow that ethics runs history. Here, I take a page from the book of Francis Fukuyama and think of history as the competition of social and economic systems (Fukuyama, 1992). Since social and economic systems are made of institutions, and institutions are made of rules, and rules are ethics, the outcome of the competition will depend upon factors Aristotle called ethos. Some types of character, some customs, some social habits work better than others, and prove to have an evolutionary edge. The historical evolution of the institutions that form the great prison, which, as the Foucault of 1975–76 says, we are all – not just the prisoners in jails – now trapped

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in, is the evolution of ethos. In terms Foucault sometimes uses, history is about basic cultural codes. People follow the basic cultural codes, the customs of their tribes, not mainly because they are following the orders of a god, a father, a chief or king, or a psychiatrist to whom “power” has delegated the role of keeping order, but mainly because the human body is the body of a cultural animal. Under normal conditions as Jean Piaget shows, and as Lev Vygotsky shows in a somewhat different way (Wertsch, 1985), a human develops into a creature that participates in groups with rules. Biology and culture have, on the whole, evolved as they have because they work. They do not work very well; they could work a lot better; they may not work many centuries more; but on the whole they have worked. If they had not worked, our species would have become extinct. Even gods, even fathers, even chiefs and kings, even psychiatrists, follow rules that, on the whole, facilitate the performance of biological functions. But maybe I have made wrong choices about how to speak, and Foucault has made right ones. Maybe it would be a better way to do philosophy, a better way to decide how to talk, to follow Foucault in saying that the news from biological research is all bad news for humanists, that it tends to show that human life is “a detour to assure reproduction encore et toujours” (Foucault, 1970b: 101), that is to say, reproduction of DNA molecules (ibid.: 100). Maybe saying that myths organise cultures is not good philosophy. It is not that the Foucault of the early 1970s, and I disagree about the facts discovered by the biologists. It is a matter of choosing to speak a different language, to see the world through different lenses, to do social science with a different conceptual framework. Maybe it is true, or warranted by the facts, or the best discursive choice, all things considered, to say that ethics is nothing but politics and sex taboos, and that once one chooses liberation as one’s ethical principle regarding sex, there is nothing else for ethics to be about but politics, and that politics is about power (Foucault, 1975a). Perhaps the best thing to do about power is to resist it, and perhaps the best way to resist it is to transgress rules. I do not want to be unfair to Foucault. I do not even want to say that I disagree with him. I say that for two reasons. Firstly, he changed his mind or at least his emphasis. What he said in 1972 was not what he said in 1984. He clarified one point in 1976: “To use terror for the revolution is in itself a totally contradictory idea” (Foucault, 1976: 85). In 1982, he said in a seminar at the University of Vermont that he had, perhaps, overemphasised domination and power (Foucault, 1982: 785). By 1984, he was saying things with which I could not agree more, such as that power “should be given legal rules, techniques of management and also of morality, an ethos, a practice of self, so that the games of power can be played with a minimum of

Lecture Twelve

domination” (Foucault, 1984: 727). Secondly, I perhaps misunderstood him. Lastly, understanding him has not been my first priority. What I am really interested in, is solving problems, and to that end, I am interested in building cultures of solidarity in which people co-operate and share resources (not by abolishing private property but by establishing clear rules of the game that work out for everybody’s benefit). A culture of solidarity will lead to better solutions to problems, if only because solving the problems will be the objective. In principle, co-operation and sharing include inventing cultures that play friendly competitive games, in which self-interest is harnessed, as Adam Smith recommended, facilitating co-operation. They (the cultures of solidarity) would be diverse, each in a sustainable relationship to its environment, each held together by perpetually evolving and increasingly non-authoritarian ethics. Sceptics will say I am naïve to expect ethics to play a larger role in the future than it has in the past. In reply I agree with those who hold that ethics (understood as norms, customs, rules, institutions made of rules) has always played a large role in history. In the next lecture, I will continue my conversation with Foucault by taking up what might be called “classic Foucault”. Classic Foucault would be the Foucault who wrote what is perhaps his most influential book, Discipline and Punish of 1975.

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LECTURE TWELVE Discussion COH - Catherine Odora Hoppers EL - Evelin Lindner HR - Howard Richards

HR:

I mostly agree with Foucault that liberalism and Marxism have the same legal framework.

EL:

Why “mostly”?

HR:

“Mostly” may not be quite the right word.

EL:

Why not, dear Howard?

HR:

Because Foucault himself would probably agree with the qualification that I would add. So I would probably agree with Foucault entirely.

EL:

How would you qualify the claim that liberalism and Marxism have the same legal framework, or I think you might say even the same basic cultural structure?

HR:

At the beginning of Capital, when Marx says his book will be about that form of society whose wealth consists of vast collections of wares …

EL:

… in other words, of merchandise to be sold for profit …

HR:

… he implies that there are also other forms of society, which, presumably, would have normative frameworks different from a liberal one, and in some of his writings he has some things to say about those other societies. So does Adam Smith. He has a lot to say about laws different from those of 18th century Scotland and England in his lectures on the history of jurisprudence.

COH:

The people who live in those other societies with different constitutive rules have a lot to say for themselves. We have our own voices. It is time to reorganise the universities – to reorganise knowledge – incorporating the knowledges of peoples who have lived for many centuries in cultures with basic structures, different from the legal framework Foucault identifies as common to liberalism and Marxism.

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EL:

This would be part of what you mean by second-level indigenisation, not just a first-level indigenisation that invites the formerly colonised people to participate in the regimes of accumulation established by colonialism.

COH:

It would. The universities can lead in giving those people who still keep human values alive confidence in their own heritages, in their own identities, not for the sake of tearing down the modern world, but for the sake of rescuing modernity from its excesses and voids.

EL:

You used the word “human”. I think I hear, again, an echo of Bantu words such as ubuntu.

COH:

One way to translate ubuntu and similar terms is to say that it simply means “human”. When a mother scolds a child she will sometimes say, “Are you ubuntu?” meaning “Are you human?” But let’s get back to Foucault. We were commenting on Foucault’s observation that, although liberals advocate capitalism while Marx writes a critique of political economy, they think within the same legal framework.

EL:

Obviously. The free markets of liberal theory do not make any sense without individual legal subjects who own property and meet in markets, each to exchange something one owns for something the other owns. Basic Marxist concepts like surplus value, accumulation, and the falling rate of profit do not make any sense either without these institutional assumptions.

COH:

Having grown up in a different culture, I sometimes say I was born post-Marxist and post-liberal. On a traditional homestead in Uganda, we were not individual legal subjects owning property and gaining a livelihood by each individual exchanging with each other individual, by mutually agreed contracts. Common words like “sister” and “brother” and “mother” had meanings for us, different from their meanings in the modern West.

HR:

You have always had an outsider’s perspective on institutions many people take for granted.

Discussion

EL:

Me too, I grew up on a traditional farm, and even though this was in Europe, it was a context where many people and other animals lived together in a kind of organic connectedness. I have the exact same feelings as Catherine has when entering mainstream Western environments, namely, a sense of “Oh, I am in the wrong film!” (and in a very destructive film on top of it). Dear Catherine, do you feel that Foucault, with his genealogies, is supporting people like you and I by bringing delegitimated knowledges and practices back into legitimacy?

COH:

Yes.

EL:

Then, Foucault says we need to read history outside of the now standard legal frame, and to do that, he draws on ideas borrowed from Nietzsche.

HR:

I would turn to anthropology.

COH:

“Anthropology” is not a word I like. It tends to mean them studying us.

HR:

Nowadays some anthropologists agree with you. They sometimes go to professional conferences, together with their indigenous informants, for the purpose of letting the indigenous people speak for themselves in their own voices.

EL:

But perhaps there is another sort of question we could address. It would be the questions of whether it is worth our time to keep thinking about ideologies that we already know do not work in practice. Should it not be obvious to everyone by 2014 that there is no need to continue belabouring points that Foucault made in the 1970s? Maybe we should leave behind liberalism and Marxism?

HR:

Are you also suggesting that the middle way of European style social democracy …

EL:

… yes, I think we could make a case that it is old news, that social democracy does not work either and we do not need to go on repeating why it does not work … Wherever I go on this planet, and I have lived globally for the past forty years, terms such as capitalism and socialism have degraded into markers of cycles of humiliation. I have been thrown out of the room by people who got viciously angry at me simply because they heard me say one of these terms. At the same time, people have forgotten what these terms originally meant, and they have also forgotten their own aims. What they really want, mostly, is simply a good life. For my part, I want dignity for all, within our ecological frames. I have, therefore, suggested coining a new word to replace old worn-out terms: why not dignity-ism, or dignitism, or dignism?

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COH:

So it may be time to take the full range of human cultures seriously on planet earth, and to stop looking for solutions where we know they cannot be found.

HR:

I think we are saying that it may well be that the time has come to follow Foucault by paying more attention to the local, minority, and unofficial knowledges.

EL:

Foucault studies illegal knowledges and those of the insane.

HR:

I had in mind the cultural creatives, things like Buddhist monasteries, permaculture, solidarity economy, economy of communion, Local Exchange Trading Systems, feminist collectives.

COH:

… and umoja, ubuntu, satyagraha …

EL:

… what these minority forms of power/knowledge – if we can call them that – have in common, is creative co-operation …

COH:

But we should not exaggerate by saying all traditions are good. My mother, who was a leader in women’s movements in Uganda, while I was growing up, found a great deal to affirm in indigenous traditions, but also a great deal to reform.

HR:

Still, however much we may decide that we already know there is no salvation within the limits of the legal framework of markets that Foucault analyses, and no matter how much we decide it is time to get on with building creative alternatives, nevertheless, Marxism and liberalism are not going to go away.

EL:

Would you say that, after all the valid criticisms made by Foucault and the nouveaux philosophes, Marx is still relevant? And Adam Smith? Immanuel Kant? Are the great liberal thinkers still relevant too?

HR:

I mean, it makes a difference whether our thinking is post-Marxist or pre-Marxist. Let me give an example.

EL:

Please, before you give your example, can you explain what you mean by making a distinction between pre-Marxist and post-Marxist?

HR:

Even though the neo-liberals and the Austrian school economists come, chronologically, after Marx, I would say they are pre-Marxist.

EL:

Why?

HR:

Carl Menger, the founder of the Austrian school, is typical, if I may engage in the double entendre of calling him “typical” for finding the foundation of economic science in what he calls the general or “typical” phenomena.

Discussion

EL:

What does he find “typical” or general?

HR:

In the first instance, buying and selling. In his own words, the first foundational phenomenon for pure economic science is the phenomenon des Kaufes, of the purchase, or from the point of view of the seller, of the sale.

EL:

Is that not the same thing Marx said, when he said his book was about that form of society whose wealth consists of Waren, wares for sale?

HR:

There is a difference. For Menger, pure economics, economics as a theoretical science, starts with what Wittgenstein might call certain typical language-games of modern western culture. Menger goes on to name others: leasing property, renting, saving money.

EL:

I think I see what you mean. The pre-Marxist is ethnocentric, taking the kind of human relationships that were imposed on Africa by colonialism to be the foundation stone of a general theoretical science, applicable always and everywhere, Marx at least defined Waren as the form of wealth of a particular historically created form of society.

HR:

So, however much a post-Marxist may acknowledge that the labour theory of value is untenable as a theory of prices, and that overly comprehensive central planning is unworkable as an economic institution, she or he will not go back to Menger´s practice of writing a supposedly universal science, based entirely on the behaviour of what Menger calls “economic man”. She or he will not go back to a “pure economic theory” that makes Pareto optimality in perfect markets, by definition a maximisation of human welfare.

EL:

That would make Karl Polanyi or any of the substantive anthropologists or Catherine Hoppers a typical post-Marxist, and at the same time, a typical post-Liberal, if I may continue the double entendre using the word “typical” to describe people whose theorising does not presume to deduce universal truths from allegedly “typical” individual behaviour. A post-Marxist, instead, is open or “unbounded” as Gavin Andersson says, looking for real-world solutions in plural and complementary discourses and practices. But you were going to give a concrete example. I am ready for one. I am feeling faint from abstraction.

HR:

My example is about a small dysfunctional family in a neighbourhood near my home in Chile. Are you ready for it?

COH:

OK. I am sorry I have been so quiet. I have been listening, but I have also been daydreaming about my father …

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EL:

Tell us about your father.

COH:

It is not really relevant, but if you insist.

HR:

We insist.

COH:

I was remembering that when he sent me off to school he told me to study to find out why it is that white people have been so mean in the way they have treated us, the colonised peoples. But I digress. Tell us about your dysfunctional neighbours in Chile.

HR:

Let me give the characters in this real-life drama, the fictitious names of Maria, Jesus, and Pablo. Maria, age 48, is the mother. Jesus, age 24, is her son. Pablo …

EL:

… Pablo would be Paul in English. In English nobody would name a son Jesus, but in Spanish-speaking countries that is common.

HR:

Actually Jesús. The accent is on the second syllable in Spanish. Pablo, age 28, is her other son, the older of the two …

COH:

… no father, or an absent father.

HR:

Maria barely gets by. She has a job playing piano in a restaurant two nights a week. She makes a little money when she can by taking in garments to mend as a seamstress. She gets some help with household expenses from her two sons, who, like the majority of Latin American men, have precarious employment at low pay.

COH:

By “precarious” you mean their work is not steady and reliable. They do not have job security.

EL:

Theirs is a hanging-on-by-the-threads situation, avoiding falling off a cliff into destitution by family solidarity, an echo of hundreds of situations I have seen throughout my travels, and of millions I have not seen.

HR:

Jesus plays the role of moral guide to Pablo. He insists that his older brother not spend all of his small income on drink. He talks him into contributing to the household.

COH:

So this is a drama where the temptations of liquor and the love of mother compete for mastery of Pablo’s soul.

HR:

And Jesus tips the balance somewhat in favour of love of mother. Then Jesus dies of a drug overdose.

EL:

So Jesus was no angel. I can tell this is a true story.

Discussion

HR:

It is a true story but I gave the characters fictitious names. I chose the name Jesus for the younger brother because it was the name of the founder of the Christian religion.

COH:

Jesus of Nazareth, the second person of the trinity.

HR:

The divine Jesus calls us, in the 25th chapter of Matthew, to see his face in the faces of those all who are hungry, all who are homeless, all who are sick.

COH:

… all who suffer.

HR:

I chose the name because, today, Jesus often appears to us intoxicated, high on drugs, bipolar if not outright psychotic, and with a criminal record.

EL:

Jesus dies of a drug overdose. I mean the 24-year-old nearly destitute Chilean male who lived with his mother and barely got by. What does his brother Paul do?

HR:

Pablo reacts the same way his namesake, who wrote the Epistle to the Romans, would have reacted. Without Jesus, he falls prey to the temptations of the flesh.

EL:

And Maria?

HR:

Pablo still lives at home, but he no longer helps Maria pay the household expenses. Sometimes he stays out all night and sleeps on the street or by the river.

EL:

I know. And when he shows up, he is drunk or hung over. He harangues his mother. He may beat her. Am I right?

COH:

This sort of thing could not happen in a village like the one I grew up in. Women were never living alone in apartments. They were always with sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts. Of course sometimes men misbehaved. But it was not a problem for a woman to face alone.

HR:

People are also less alone in Cuba, and were less alone in the Soviet Union. You can read in A.K. Makarenko’s books about militants from local party cells intervening in families to tell wayward young people to shape up and mend their ways.

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EL:

Is that good or bad? I have thought about this for the past forty years – about how destructive collective pressure can be, and, in contrast, how collective nudging can be constructive. The first time I was thrown into those questions, very forcefully, was when I worked as a clinical psychologist in Cairo, Egypt. I did this for seven years and was the only Western clinical psychologist in Egypt, to my knowledge at least, who offered long-term conversations and counselling. Since I speak many languages, people from many backgrounds could come to me, both from the West, which meant mostly those who worked in Egypt or were married there, but also people coming from totally traditional backgrounds, who would first go the sheikh and then to me to compare insights. Everybody could come and enter into long-term conversations with me about precisely these questions. Basically, for me, it was a huge learning laboratory as to how these questions are handled in different cultural contexts. Later, I would live in other parts of the world, and it was mostly during my three years in Japan that I refined my understanding of the nature of collective pressure versus collective nudging. May I ask you, dear Howard, what support is available to Maria in neoliberal Chile?

HR:

The most reliable support available to a woman like her, lacking family ties, would come from people with strongly pre-modern ideologies.

COH:

Like?

HR:

Like for example Jehovah’s Witnesses.

EL::

What about psychologists?

HR:

You know, I think community psychology is a great hope for the future. There are others in Chile who think the same, but so far, we do not have the organisation or the financing to make much of a difference.

COH:

It would have to be massive. So we are not talking about the individual treatment of an individual pathology. We are talking about a culture of poverty, not every culture of poverty but a particular one that exists today in certain places.

HR:

In Chile we sometimes call it, “la cultura del garabato”, the culture of the insult. Drinking is part of it. So is loud music. So is fighting. So is the absence of a norm against stealing, and the expectation that one will spend part of one’s life in jail as one’s parents and grandparents did. It is not a culture of people who want to change. It is a culture of people who fiercely defend their own way of being, and resist interference by outsiders.

Discussion

EL:

I think I see where you are going. I can also guess Pablo’s attitude. “I do what I want. Nobody can tell me how to spend my money, least of all a woman.” It is a culture that has developed over many generations that is functional for people who live in precarious conditions. It is a survival strategy. You and I would perhaps join the cultura del garabato, too, if we grew up in a township in Chile.

COH:

Foucault would add that, besides being functional, it is preferred over the boring path of conforming to the norms of the middle class and aspiring to join the middle class.

HR:

A working-class friend of mine, who happened to be a member of the Chilean Communist Party, once told me that the men turn to drink, abandon their families, get into what Foucault calls illegalismes, and hang out with other men because they cannot possibly comply with social norms that instruct them to earn enough money to be good providers for their families.

EL:

… turning to crime and turning to substance abuse.

HR:

The two go together.

COH:

It is interesting to have an example from Chile that is parallel to the sort of breakdown in human relationships we see so often in Africa. I think that part of what my father meant when he sent me off to school was that ever since Europeans arrived in Africa, imposing the law and culture of the market, destroying the traditional organisation of human life in extended families and clans, we have had problems without solutions.

EL:

I think you would add, dear Catherine, that although these problems may appear, at first, to have no solutions, on second thought we can find solutions by thinking in terms of what you call transformation by enlargement, transforming our minds by opening them …

COH:

… to IKS, Indigenous Knowledge Systems, or maybe I should say IPKS, indigenous power/knowledge systems. I think it was in the back of my father’s mind that people lived for thousands of years by different rules, gift economy, reciprocity, redistribution, restorative justice, co-operation and sharing.

EL:

Would you say that the future may resemble the past, in the sense that some of the best practices that have been typical of the human species may make a comeback?

COH:

Surely the future of humanity is more likely to be happy if we learn more about tried and true practices of cultures that were ecologically and socially sustainable for many centuries.

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EL:

I know you have some reservations about anthropology, dear Catherine, yet, also the anthropologist, Alan Page Fiske, describes four basic ways people can live together. He calls them communal sharing, authority ranking, equality matching, and market pricing. At present, the pillars of our global and local systems are built on market pricing. What we overlook is that we, as humankind, by doing so, “sell out”, literally, all communal forms of mutual care. Basically, we sell out our human dignity and we sell out our planet. In my work, I suggest to look at the richness of cultural realms of our planet and “harvest” all those philosophical principles, traditions, practices, and skills that nurture dignity, and that we then build our systems, globally and locally, accordingly. The best local practices risk faltering, if the larger frames do not support them. I thought Howard wanted to draw a similar conclusion from his account of a real-life drama in Chile.

HR:

Yes, the larger frame of Jesus, Pablo, and Maria in my story was a society where independent individuals have to sell something – their labour power or whatever else they might have to sell – in order to earn a livelihood. You are on your own, or if not quite on your own, you are part of a small and fragile nuclear family

EL:

So the legal framework of political economy still frames the context for community psychology.

HR:

Yes. Even though it is old news that, within those constitutive rules, there are no adequate solutions, those rules are not going to go away because they structure the societies that, day by day, we have to live with.

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LECTURE THIRTEEN On Discipline and punish “Normalisation” is probably Foucault’s most influential concept. Discipline and Punish (Foucault, 1975) is the book where he constructed it. (The importance of the concept of normalisation for the book is emphasised in its very last words, page 360, where Foucault writes, “Here I interrupt my writing of this book which should serve as historical background for further studies of the power of normalization and the formation of knowledge in modern society”.) It is probably his most influential book. Stanley Cohen (Cohen, 1985) wrote “to write today about punishment and classification without Foucault, is like talking about the unconscious without Freud”. In Self-Transformations: Foucault, Ethics and Normalised Bodies, Cressida Heyes bravely attempts to summarise what “normalisation” means for Foucault, in a few words. It is “a set of mechanisms for sorting, taxonomising, measuring, managing, and controlling populations, which both fosters conformity and generates modes of individuality” (Heyes, 2007: 16). I think we can taste the flavour, not only of Foucault, but of the Foucauldian diaspora – the worldwide outpouring of studies influenced by Foucault – by noticing three kinds of normalising that Heyes analyses. They are sexual reassignment surgery, weight loss dieting, and cosmetic surgery. At one level, Discipline and Punish – the book from which the concept of normalising comes – is not about any of Heyes’s three examples. It is subtitled, “The birth of the prison”. It is about how western society, especially France, has dealt with criminals from the late 18th century until the present – that is to say, until 1975, the year when Discipline and punish was published. At another level, Discipline and Punish is about these three examples and more. One of its remarkable conclusions is that we now live in a jail-like society (this conclusion is expressed in the last chapter, “Le carcéral”: 342–360). Our world has become, in important ways, one big jail; therefore, if you want to understand our world in general, study prisons in particular. What Foucault sees when he sees prisons and prison-like institutions everywhere, is suggested in the final remark concluding Part Three of the book – the part where he most explicitly develops his twin concepts of “discipline” and “normalisation”. Foucault writes: That the prison with its cells, with its schedules, with its obligatory labour, with its techniques of surveillance and record-keeping, with its masters of normality who transmit and expand the functions of the judge; has become the main instrument of the modern criminal justice system should come as no surprise. It should come

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as no surprise either that the prison resembles the factory, the school, the military barracks, and the hospital; or that all these resemble prisons. (Foucault, 1975: 264) Discipline and Punish has four parts: - Part One: Torture. Pages 1–86 (the French name of Part One, Supplice, is sometimes

kept in French when Foucault is translated into English because it has connotations not captured by “torture”). - Part Two: Punishment. Pages 87–158 - Part Three: Discipline. Pages 159–266 - Part Four: Prison. Pages 267–360 Notice that Part Three, the part whose last lines I just quoted, is the longest. Part One presents a startling contrast between two very different ways of dealing with criminals. The first is a spectacle: the torture and killing of a man who had tried to kill the king, conducted before a crowd of spectators in a public square in Paris in 1757. It is an extended ritual of atrocities, in which the body of the condemned man is subjected to maximum pain and utterly destroyed. The second is a timetable –it is a minutely detailed regime regulating the daily lives of the inmates of a Paris reformatory some 80 years later. Remember that it is just this time period – the end of the 18th century, the beginning of the 19th, the time of the French Revolution and its aftermath – that Foucault associates with the end of what he calls the “classical” period (the period from about the middle of the 16th century to a little after the middle of the 18th century). The end of the “age classique” is the beginning of “notre modernité”. What Foucault will trace in Discipline and Punish, is the transition between the first way of dealing with criminals he dramatically depicts in Part One, the public display of authorised violence, and the second. The second – introduced in Part One as a flash-forward giving the reader a glimpse of what is to come – is systematic discipline behind closed walls. Discipline and Punish is a story about power. It is about the evolutionary origins of power in what Foucault takes to be its productive modern form, the form of discipline. What modern productive discipline produces is normalisation. Punishment, the topic that lends Part Two its title, is to be understood, according to Foucault, as a political tactic within the general field of the study of power relations. Power relations, in turn, are to be understood in the light of two other key foci of attention: knowledge and the body. With respect to knowledge, the genealogy of power assuming its modern forms as disciplines must be understood as inseparable from the genealogy of psychology, sociology, criminology and other human sciences. The more they know about people, the more people become controllable. Foucault’s hyphenated expression, power-knowledge, expresses the mutually reinforcing

Lecture Thirteen

and overlapping dependence of power on knowledge and knowledge on power. In deference to Foucault, I am saying “genealogy of sciences” where others would say “history of sciences” because Foucault insists that he is not a historian; he was (before his Nietzschean turn) an “archaeologist”; now (after his Nietzschean turn) he is a “genealogist”. With regard to the body, the genealogy (others would say the history) of modern discipline is ultimately about bodies. The human body is the ultimate material that is seized and shaped by all political, economic and penal institutions. All systems of domination fundamentally depend on the subjugation of bodies. Bodies must be rendered docile, obedient, useful. Chronologically and conceptually, the focus of Part Two is mostly on the newin-the-18th-century ideas of systematic legal thinkers, of whom Cesare Beccaria (1738–1794) was the most famous and most seminal. They advocated rational punishment. The old way was expensive, irrationally and unnecessarily violent, and ineffective. Modern commerce required a carefully graduated system of punishmentsfitting-the-crime that would teach whole populations to respect property and persons, especially property. Besides, under the old system, sometimes the crowds, who were supposed to be cowed into obedience by torture-unto-death staged as a public spectacle, sympathised with the condemned criminal and became rebellious. In part three, the heart of the book, power goes further conceptually while shifting backwards a bit chronologically. Throughout the 18th century (with some glimpses before and after), power establishes systematic discipline, not just in the treatment of criminals but generally in the army, in schools, in churches and convents, in hospitals, in orphanages, and in factories and other workplaces. It does this by confining people in limited spaces, where they can be more closely observed and more efficiently controlled (Foucault, 1975: 166–175). (In Foucault’s terms, power becomes cellular.) It does it by precisely scheduling people’s time, first in the monasteries with their around-the-clock routines of ora et labora and eventually in all institutions (Foucault, 1975: 175–183). It does it by prescribing precisely what they are to do (Foucault, 1975: 183–199). It does it by examinations, in schools in clinics and everywhere. Examinations turn individuals into cases and establish files that turn individuals into documentary records (Foucault, 1975: 217–227). In a sense – here we need to tread lightly because Foucault’s meaning is neither simple nor clear – discipline creates individuals, because individuals in the form they assume in disciplinary society did not exist at all before discipline. Put differently, discipline creates souls. The brutal torture of the body with which Part One opened becomes the infinitely more effective, infinitely more insidious and infinitely more pervasive discipline of a soul, and of a body via a soul. The soul becomes the prison of the body. Part Three concludes with a long discussion of Jeremy Bentham’s design for an ideal prison, the Panopticon. The

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Panopticon principle (which can be applied in factories and elsewhere as well as in prisons) permits a warder in a central location to gaze simultaneously into the cells of all the prisoners. Knowledge becomes power and power becomes knowledge because everything the prisoner does at every moment of the day and night is subject to total scrutiny and therefore to total control. In part of Section Two of Part Three Foucault writes about “normalisation” and “normalising” (Foucault, 1975: 209–216). He says that in every disciplinary institution there functions a system of punishment that he calls “infra-penal”. Discipline fills with light punishments, spaces that the law with its heavy punishments leaves empty (Foucault, 1975: 209). In school, at work, and in the army there are, for example, little sanctions that can be called light punishment for being late or for being impolite. But discipline is not just small-scale punishment. It has its own characteristic ways of making people conform (Foucault, 1975: 210). It is corrective. If a student or a soldier or a novice in a monastery fails an examination, a frequent consequence is not being promoted, having to study more and practise more, and taking the examination again later. “Châtier, c´est exercer”, writes Foucault (Foucault, 1975: 211), which can be interpreted as saying, freely translated, “The kind of punishment imposed in disciplinary institutions often consists of giving people exercises to do”. Carefully graded punishments are typically only one side of a disciplinary system, which is typically complemented by another side, consisting of equally carefully graded rewards. The carrots often outweigh the sticks. Foucault gives the example of an 18th century military school in France, where the cadets were periodically promoted and demoted according to their performance. Those in the higher ranks enjoyed more privileges. Those in the lower ranks suffered more shame (Foucault, 1975: 213–215). He concludes, “The perpetual punishing [he seems to mean mainly systematic small-scale punishing combined with systematic small-scale rewarding] that penetrates everywhere in disciplinary institutions and controls at all times, compares, differentiates, establishes hierarchies, homogenizes, and excludes. In one word, it normalizes” (Foucault, 1975: 215). Before going into more detail about normalisation, let us step back for a moment and look at the big picture. What is Foucault doing? Why is he doing it? I have been suggesting, sometimes with more subtlety and sometimes with less subtlety, that throughout his life, Foucault was loyal to his mother. He was loyal to her class interests as a member of a rentier class threatened by the herd, by democracy, and by socialism. Although it is true that, as Alasdair MacIntyre has written, “Foucault in each major transition changed direction” (MacIntyre, 1993: 57), it is also true that his motivation was consistent. He changed directions, but he did not change loyalties. His loyalty to his mother fused with loyalty to himself as a

Lecture Thirteen

highly eccentric sexual dissident; also threatened by the herd with its well-known proclivities for homophobia, xenophobia, and general phobia towards anybody creative and/or different; and also engaged in what I imagine to be a rather standoffish relationship with the medical establishment, as represented by her husband and his father, who was both a practising physician and a professor at a medical school (these points were discussed in Chapter One and are derived mainly from Didier Eribon’s biography of Foucault cited there). So my general answer to the general question, “What is Foucault doing?” would be that he is doing, in his own words, “critique”, where critique is understood as “an instrument for those who fight, those who resist and refuse what is” (Foucault, 1981: 13). Friedrich Nietzsche’s Genealogie der Moral, a seminal book for Foucault, is subtitled eine Streitschrift, that is, a fighting-writing. I am suggesting that, for Foucault, what needs to be criticised and fought is modernity’s drift into ever more conformist and ever more technocratic mediocrity. My general answer to the general question, “Why is he doing it?”, is that he is motivated by love for his mother and by love for himself. Discipline and Punish fits into the large picture, thus, lightly sketched in three ways: - As a polemic against the humanist ideals of the welfare state; - As an apology for individualism; and - As a displacement of the intellectual centre of gravity from Marx to Nietzsche;

and at a more sophisticated level, striking a pre-emptive blow against any attempt to change the rules of the capitalist game. Rules-talk is out. Power-talk is in.

Let me comment briefly on the first two, and, at length, on the third: Soon after Discipline and Punish came out in English, Clifford Geertz called it the “Whig history in reverse”. While the Whig history that most of us were brought up on reads the story of the past few centuries as a story of the gradual progress and triumph of freedom, Foucault traces the Rise of Unfreedom and the inexorable regress of liberty (Geertz, 1978). Most of us think of the abolition of judicial torture and its replacement by what we now call “correctional institutions” as moral progress; it is a big step toward social democracy, as are public education and health care for all. Foucault tells a different story, and one which discredits and undermines what common sense usually regards as the slow and painful but steady implementation of human rights and human values. (Although Foucault does not repeat in Discipline and Punish his earlier attacks on humanism, he refers pejoratively on page 166 to “l´homme of modern humanism”, confirming that he still counts himself as an anti-humanist.) In calling Discipline and Punish an apology for individualism, I mean to say that it chimes in with Nietzsche’s condemnation of herd morality, but I need to distinguish

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two senses of the word “individual”. Foucault is emphatically not a eulogist of “the individual” created by modern disciplinary institutions. He is in favour of “the individual” as the body. It is in the end the human body that normalising seeks to render docile and obedient. It is, in the end, the human body that can be counted on to “to fight, to resist, to refuse what is”. In the words of David Garland in Discipline and Punish, “it is ‘the body’ that somehow represents the individual’s instinctive source of freedom” (Garland, 1986: 879). Interpreting “individualism” in this second sense, and reading Discipline and Punish as posing the alternatives starkly in terms of this binary polarity (normalising power/the body’s resistance to it), I read it as a text motivated by Foucault’s continuing loyalties. What I mainly have in mind in reading Discipline and Punish as rejection of Marx and advocacy of Nietzsche, is not Marxism, as a cluster of schools of thought that dominated French universities until the mid-1970s – although that is important. What I mainly have in mind is Foucault’s rejection of the structural analysis of capitalism, whether it is done by Weberians, Durkheimians, Keynesians, Annales historians, or anyone else Marxist, non-Marxist or anti-Marxist. It would take a long time to recite here, today, all my reasons for believing that, to do a proper structural analysis of capitalism, we need to think mainly in terms of rules (also known as norms). It would take a long time to explain why I believe that if we think only or mainly of power, we will not understand where we (humanity) are, how we got here, or, most importantly, how to get out of the structural traps we are in.3 We will be handicapped in changing the rules of the modern world-system if we fall into the habit of disregarding rules as mere fictions. Fortunately, today I can take a shortcut because Foucault himself seems to have thought about the same issues, and to have arrived at a conclusion that is the mirror image of mine. Foucault appears to agree with me that “rules vs. power” expresses a key, perhaps the key, methodological question, even while he disagrees with my answer to it. Because he emphatically disagrees with a rule-based approach, from my point of view, Foucault could not – even if he wanted to – do a structural analysis of capitalism or of any other institution.

3

See my (1995) Letters from Québec. San Francisco and London, International Scholars Press; (2000) Understanding the global economy. Delhi, Madhya Books, revised edition (2004) Santa Barbara, Peace Education Books; my and Joanna Swanger´s (2006) Dilemmas of social democracies. Lanham MD, Rowman and Littlefield; (2012) Gandhi and the future of economics. Lake Oswego OR, World Dignity University Press; my and Catherine Odora-Hoppers (2010) Rethinking thinking: Modernity’s other and the transformation of the university. Pretoria, University of South Africa; John Searle (1995), The construction of social reality. New York, Free Press; Rom Harre and Paul Secord (1972), The explanation of social behaviour. Oxford, Blackwell; Charles Taylor (1971), “Interpretation and the sciences of man” in Review of Metaphysics. Volume 25: 3–51; Alasdair MacIntyre and D.R. Bell (1967), “Symposium: The idea of a social science” in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society. Volume 41: 95–132.

Lecture Thirteen

Just before beginning his long discussion of Bentham’s Panopticon, Foucault writes: One often says that the model of a society that would have individuals for its constitutive elements is borrowed from the abstract juridical forms of contract and exchange. Mercantile society would be represented as a contractual association of isolated juridical subjects. Maybe. The political theory of the 17th and 18th centuries often seems to obey this schema. But one should not forget that there existed during the same epoch a technique for effectively constituting individuals as the correlative elements of a power and a knowledge. The individual is, no doubt, the fictitious atom of an ‘ideological’ representation of society; but he is also a reality fabricated by that specific technology of power that one calls ‘discipline’ (Foucault, 1975: 227). [For comment on the phrase “isolated juridical subject”, see Hoppers and Richards 2012: Chapter four.]

Let me react to this key passage commenting on one sentence at a time. The first sentence is: “One often says that the model of a society that would have individuals for its constitutive elements is borrowed from the abstract juridical forms of contract and exchange.” Who is the “one” who often says this, or often says something of this sort? I think and I think Foucault thinks that it is the just about everybody I evoked earlier as Weberians, Durkheimians, Keynesians, Annales historians and anybody else who does structural analysis of capitalism. I think there is general agreement that Sir Henry Maine was onto something significant when he characterised the transition from traditional to modern society as a transition from a society based on status to a society based on contract (Maine, 1861). To understand modernity, you have to understand commerce. You have to understand buying and selling in markets. I would agree with Charles Taylor and others, that in addition to understanding commerce, one needs to understand much else. One must understand the sources of the self that made the modern identity (Taylor, 1989). Here, Foucault alludes to what “one often says”. Presumably, it is a prelude to Foucault saying something new and different. But I do not think “one” says exactly what Foucault says “one” says. Foucault wants to take credit for ground-level insight into everyday life as it is really lived while “one” traffics merely in “abstract juridical forms”. I think it is the other way around. Property, contract, sales, commercial exchange, and so on, are the stuff of everyday life as it is lived on the ground. In support of my view that the general consensus that Foucault is about to challenge sees the principles of contract and exchange as not just abstract law, but also as the common sense of everyday life, I can cite not just Marx (for example, his analysis of commodity fetishism, Marx, 1867: Chapter 1, Part IV), but also just about anybody

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else, including distinguished anti-Marxists such as Friedrich von Hayek. Hayek freely acknowledges that the legal and moral principles that govern contractual relationships and property ownership and that constitute individuals as independent juridical subjects who buy and sell are neither universal nor natural. But he says that, during the last few centuries, the principles of contract and exchange have become firmly established in the morality and common sense of the people. They are the going morality, the morality that is, the morality that governs daily life. This is one of the main reasons for Hayek thinking that it is fatal arrogance on the part of intellectuals and governments to think they can improve on capitalism in ways that alter what the masses, in their hearts and minds, know is right (Von Hayek, 1989). Foucault’s second sentence in this passage is: “Mercantile society would be represented as a contractual association of isolated juridical subjects.” Here, there is a shift. It is a shift away from using the juridical framework of exchange as a model for understanding capitalist society – which is near to, if not exactly at, what “one” commonly does. It is a shift toward attributing to others the implausible opinion that society is constituted by a social contract among pre-existing individuals. The third sentence consists of just one word: “Maybe”. I think Foucault is conceding, here, that it might, to some considerable extent, make sense to understand capitalism by understanding its rules. We will see in the next lecture that a year later, in 1976, he retracted this “maybe”. The fourth sentence alludes to some thinkers who really did say society began with a social contract. It reads: “The political theory of the 17th and 18th centuries often seems to obey this schema.” Here, Foucault associates the plausible model of his first sentence with some implausible (for us today) notions of John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and others. His point may be that distantly similar ideas about contract law have been around for a long time and have had great influence. In the fifth sentence, Foucault speaks for himself, stating his own views: “But one should not forget that there existed, during the same epoch, a technique for effectively constituting individuals as the correlative elements of a power and knowledge.” Taking his words literally, he is not asking for much. It is as if he is willing to allow his opponents to define modern individuals as the civil law defines them, as juridical subjects capable of owning property and entering into contracts, as long as he is able to add his postscript to mainstream social science. The postscript addressed to social science by Michel Foucault would be: Especially since the 17th century, and even previously, techniques of discipline used in schools, monasteries, armies, workplaces, orphanages, and reformatories have been creating individuals by normalisation, filling in spaces left blank on the canvas painted by the law.

Lecture Thirteen

The sixth and last sentence reads: “The individual is, no doubt, the fictitious atom of an ‘ideological’ representation of society, but he is also a reality fabricated by that specific technology of power that one calls ‘discipline’.” Foucault allies himself, here, with many others who also find that talk of contracts and rules often disguises reality more than it reveals it. Most Marxists would say that, at a deep level, that of production relations, the class of owners of the means of production extracts surplus value from the proletarian class, while at a superficial level, that of ideology, exploitation is disguised by contracts signed by separate “atomic” individuals (see Marx, 1867: the last two paragraphs of Volume One, Chapter 4, part 3). The conservative sociologist, Vilfredo Pareto, says something similar: what goes on in people’s conscious minds has little or no significance for the scientific, causal explanation of social phenomena (Winch, 1958). And of course, for Nietzsche, the will-to-power loves to wear masks, and liberal democracy under the rule of law is one of its favourites (Vivian, 2007). Foucault has important allies when he reminds us that rule-talk is often ideological fiction. But all of this leaves open the question whether the abstract juridical forms of contract and exchange, to some considerable extent, really do define the rules of the capitalist game as it really is played. “One” thinks they do. While Foucault, in this passage, admits that “one” may have a point, he seems determined to whittle away at it, claiming more and more for power while conceding less and less to rules. Hopefully this digression to examine a single passage in some detail will now prove helpful as I take up the question of the relationship of power to normalisation in Discipline and Punish. As David Garland points out in his exposition and critique of Discipline and Punish, for Foucault the proposition that it is power that generates normalisation is not a hypothesis. It is an assumption. Foucault approaches the study of disciplinary institutions on the assumption “that everything that occurs there is fundamentally oriented to the enhancement of control and the maximization of regulatory power” (Garland, 1986: 873). Foucault writes from a “power-perspective”. Foucault writes “a critique of morals in the name of power” (Garland, 1986: 877). Garland finds Foucault’s power-perspective disconcerting. While most people who write histories of penal institutions consider several possible explanations of events. For Foucault there is in principle always only one (Garland, 1986: 876 and passim). That values other than control, such as compassion or improving health care or helping children learn their ABCs more effectively, might have played a role in the history of disciplinary institutions is ruled out not as an empirical finding after study but as

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a point of departure before study begins (Garland, 1986). Foucault makes assertions that are supported by little or no evidence, but which are necessitated by the logic of his own assumptions. For example, Foucault takes what Garland regards as an unintended consequence of prisons, the formation of a criminal class that learns crime in prison and practises it upon release, to be an intended consequence of the broader political strategy of power (Garland, 1986: 875; Foucault, 1975: 299–342.). “Power” becomes an all-pervasive entity that is everywhere and nowhere: it is never exercised by anybody with a name and a face, but sometimes by abstractions such as “the dominant class” or “the state” or more often, by nobody at all. Often, Foucault avoids the question of who is exercising power by naming “power” itself or a surrogate, like “strategy”, as the agent exercising power, or by writing sentences without subjects in the passive voice. Having constructed a blueprint of what totalised discipline would look like, he goes on to write as if his blueprint and observed reality were identical (Garland, 1986: 877). All of this is due to what Garland calls Foucault’s “theoretical preconception” (Garland, 1986: 873). Nevertheless, Foucault became, and remains to this day, a charismatic celebrity, while the myriad authors who have called attention to how the “theoretical preconception” of his “power perspective” leads him into logical and factual errors, have remained obscure (see Garland for references to historical and other studies calling attention to Foucault’s misrepresentations of facts). If you have been listening attentively to these lectures, you will see these matters in a somewhat different light. I have been saying, in agreement with Foucault himself, that the two great intellectual experiences of his life were reading Heidegger and reading Nietzsche. I have been saying that Heidegger insisted from the beginning of his career, even before he wrote Sein und Zeit, that there is such a thing as pretheoretical knowledge (Lambert, 2002). Foucault never gave up the Heideggerian claim to be writing at a level somehow prior to and immune to criticism by ordinary scientific research. Whether writing archaeologies or genealogies, he always insisted that he was not a historian, not a social scientist, not a scientist of any kind, and therefore, implicitly, not to be judged by any ordinary criteria for evaluating research. I have been tracing where and when the idea of “power” first became central for Foucault; how it functioned to locate him “to the left of the left” at a place where he could both condemn the main working class ideologies as conservative and attract rebellious spirits to apparently more radical causes. Some listeners may remember that I did not claim to say anything on this point that had not already been said or implied by Jürgen Habermas. Nietzsche’s will-to-power saved Foucault from the twin embarrassments of either being guilty as charged in Jean-Paul Sartre’s criticism of Les Mots et les Choses of writing castles in the air of self-referential discourse referring only to other discourse, or else falling into a historical materialism incompatible with his deepest loyalties. Hence, in the light of what I have been suggesting in earlier

Lecture Thirteen

lectures, when writing Discipline and Punish, Foucault had no intention of writing the sort of history of disciplinary institutions that any garden-variety historian might write. He wanted to write a Streitschrift, a fighting document, fighting against humanism, and for a Nietzschean power perspective. I conclude that what Garland calls Foucault’s “critique of morals in the name of power”, and what I have been calling the “rules vs. power” methodological issue, is indeed the central issue. If Foucault is right to see will-to-power operative everywhere, and causing everything, if that is, in some sense or other, the valid or preferable or only legitimate or most realistic or best way to understand this world we live in, then he can be forgiven for fudging facts. It was for a good cause. Foucault apparently agreed that such was the central issue, for it is the issue he addressed in his next book, the first volume of his projected History of Sexuality, published in 1976 and one year later. In the first volume of his History of Sexuality, he takes back the “maybe” discussed above, where he conceded – temporarily as it turned out – that there might be something to be said in favour of “one” taking the abstract juridical forms of commodity exchange as a model for understanding our capitalist society. I will examine, in the next lecture, the central issue in Foucault’s most famous book, Discipline and Punish, and the central issue for normalisation, his most famous concept, namely the issue of power. I will examine it by looking at another book that came out a year later and was devoted to that issue. After that, and in the light of that, I will come back again to Discipline and Punish to consider its concluding Part Four, the part about prisons.

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A COMMENT ON LECTURE THIRTEEN Evelin Lindner Garland and other critics seem to be correct when they point out that Foucault disregarded many facts that did not fit his theoretical perspective. Nevertheless, Foucault’s account of normalisation rings true for many people. It rings true for me. It has been a revelation for many of us to put on Foucault’s glasses and to see the world through them. I sympathise with Cressida Heyes’s employment of Foucault’s discourse about how power normalises bodies in studying sexual reassignment surgery, weight loss dieting, and cosmetic surgery. I think we all know what it feels like to be under pressure to conform to what a woman is supposed to be, or to conform to what a man is supposed to be, or to be thin, or to be beautiful. From Foucault, we get new ways to articulate what many have long felt. Perhaps Foucault saw some things so clearly that they crowded out other things from his field of vision. What he did focus on and see clearly seems, to me, to be especially prevalent in what you, dear Howard, have explained so well, namely the social democracies that have turned out to be rather disappointing. Especially in Europe, the working classes fought long and hard to reach goals like free education for all and comprehensive health care for all. One might add humanitarian reform of the penal system to the list. But when they got what they had been fighting for, the outcomes turned out to be not so wonderful. Mass education, universal access to medical treatment, and trying to rehabilitate lawbreakers in correctional institutions all seemed to be afflicted by a curse. They seemed to fall inexorably under the sway of the pseudo-sciences and bureaucratic, petty tyrannies that Foucault brilliantly exposes. Yet, when the private sector was called on to be the saviour with its superior “efficiency”, tyranny mostly only changed form and justification. We are challenged to apply what we know about psychology to humanise and to personalise what has become an inhuman and impersonal world. But I have to qualify my words. Psychology itself is too often captured by pseudo-science and even by bureaucracy. Psychology too often becomes part of the problem. And Foucault himself did not want to be known as a humanist. Surely those of us who do want to be known as humanists can draw inspiration from his work to use in our work? Only, perhaps we should be careful not to presume to identify his name with the spirit of our own projects.

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LECTURE FOURTEEN Mainly on The First Volume of Foucault’s History of sexuality; Le volonté de savoir (The will to knowledge) Unlike those who saw social democracy as a compromise between capitalism and communism, and who then saw its decline as a consequence of the fall of communism, because once the threat of communism ended, capitalism no longer needed to compromise, I hold that social democracy declined because it was incompatible with the basic rules of the game of capitalism. In other words it is the basic cultural structures of the modern world (Richards and Swanger, 2006). Unlike those who believe that history has demonstrated the superiority of capitalist democracy (for example, Fukuyama, 1992), I hold that history has demonstrated the desirability of social democracy (see, for example, Wilkinson, 2005), although not – at least not yet – its feasibility. Unlike those who see the task of increasing labour’s share of the social product as primarily one of forging a powerful alliance of the majorities against the privileged minorities (for example, Laclau and Mouffe, 2001), I see the task as primarily one of transforming the basic structures of the modern world, and, therefore, the rules that govern capital accumulation (for example, Richards, 1995; 2007). I do not see the interests of the privileged minorities as opposed to eliminating poverty or to achieving ecological sustainability, nor do I see their interests as incompatible with strengthening ethical norms in a world-system now driven not so much by the egoism of a privileged few, as by the implacable logic of accumulation. To some degree, unlike those who take a pessimistic view of the economic future of the majority of humanity, as labour inevitably loses what little bargaining power it still retains, while capital roams the globe in search of jurisdictions that offer lower costs and higher profits (for example, Winters, 1996), I am moderately optimistic about the prospects for local development and a pluralistic economics of solidarity (Coraggio, 2004; 2004a). But we will not get far in constructing an economy that includes the excluded without understanding the rules that award Ricardian rents, far in excess of the opportunity cost of capital to a privileged few, while excluding those who find no buyers for what they have to sell, from the economy. Here it is to be noted that the basic constitutive rules of the system make inevitable a chronic weakness of effective demand at the same time that they make inevitable Ricardian windfalls (Keynes, 1936, updated in Krugman, 2008, interpreted in Hoppers and Richards 2012 and in Richards and Swanger, 2006). They also make it inevitable that

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the only alternative to a regime of accumulation (say the Fordist/Keynesian regime right after World War II; see Harvey, 1989) is some other regime of accumulation (such as a neoliberal one, perhaps now to be supereded by that of a developmental state). To break free of the systemic imperatives that run our lives, to end what Marx called the pre-history of humanity and begin history properly so called, when the open society that Karl Popper, advocated and the experimental society John Dewey advocated, will be possible because it will be possible to make rational decisions and carry them out, we must study constitutive rules. We must change them. To transform the basic cultural structures of the modern world, to escape from the systemic imperatives of capitalism that have now assumed the form of globalisation, I recommend less power-talk, more rule-talk, more caring human relationships (which, I believe, we can systematically nurture today better than in former times because of advances in psychology and applied ethics). At first glance, it might appear that Michel Foucault lived on some other planet where people worried about different issues, asked different questions, and therefore necessarily got different answers. At second glance, it appears that if we are speaking of the classic Foucault, if we are speaking of the best-known Foucault, if we are speaking of the author of Surveiller et Punir (Foucault, 1975) (Discipline and Punish), of the author of the first volume of a never-completed six volumes on the history of sexuality, La Volonté du Savoir (Foucault, 1976) (The Will to Knowledge), of Foucault’s lectures at the Collège de France, in the academic year 1975–1976, that were transcribed and later published as Il Faut Défendre la Societé (Foucault,1997) (Society Must be Defended), of the Foucault who wrote a history of the birth of the prison, who saw the society we live in as a carceral society, as one large jail penetrated everywhere by disciplinary power and by its corollary normalisation; then, in at least in one respect, we are not talking about a Foucault who lived on some other planet, but rather of one who lived on the same planet at the same time, but chose to talk about it differently. In the later of the two books published in Foucault’s lifetime, La Volonté du Savoir (1976), Foucault writes the word “power” (pouvoir) 359 times in 211 pages, not even counting numerous sentences, in which dispositif du pouvoir, or mécanisme du pouvoir, or technique du pouvoir, appareil du pouvoir, or strategie du pouvoir, is expressed in shorthand as dispositif, mécanisme, technique, appareil, or strategie – invoking pouvoir as a shadow word that the reader reads even though the writer has not written it. Each of Foucault’s three 1975–1976 books systematically attacks juridical thinking that associates power with law and with rules. On second glance, it would seem likely that, if Foucault were alive today, he would regard my recommendation to do less power-talk and more rule-talk not as an irrelevant answer to questions that do not interest him, but rather as relevant but wrong.

Lecture Fourteen

I will now consider more passages where Foucault goes into greater depth on the meaning of the power perspective he used to construct his concept of normalisation in Discipline and Punish. Foucault provides, in a section of La Volonté du Savoir, a detailed explanation of exactly what he does and does not mean when he writes the word “power” (Foucault, 1976: 121–135). I will soon quote from it a passage that can be called a “definition” of “power”. But before examining Foucault’s formal definition of the word I will first look at how he uses it in the first half of La Volonté de Savoir. “Power” occurs 188 times in the 120 pages that precede its definition. Power makes its first appearance on page 12. It surely would have appeared earlier, if so many of the initial pages of the book had not been left blank. On page 12, the reader is told that, since the classical age (the 17th and 18th centuries), power in the form of repression has been thought to be the fundamental link connecting power with pleasure and with knowledge (Foucault, 1976: 11–12). This word “power”, which will prove to be so key, is not introduced at first with any particular fanfare, and legitimately so. It is not surprising to find the word “power” in any text, whether woven by Foucault or woven by someone else. “Power” like any other word carries conventional baggage presumed to be familiar to writer and reader. I would nevertheless add that, in this particular case, that of “power”, quite apart from the creative use Foucault will make of this particular well-known noun, the conventional baggage it carries is itself unusual. “Power”, along with its near-synonym “force” (and its mathematisation as impact of a functionally dependent variable), is a word among words. It is modernity’s characteristic root metaphor (Richards, 1995; Husserl, 1937). It was the pivot of the paradigm shift from medieval scholasticism to early modern European philosophy. It was (I claim) the pivot of what Richard Rorty describes as the project of the early modern thinkers to create a secular public discourse, independent of theology (see Rorty, 1980). What will be surprising is Foucault’s hyper-modernity; the sheer magnitude of the cargo of coal he brings to Newcastle; his proposed philosophical super-saturation of a culture that was already saturated with power-talk even before Michel Foucault put pen to paper (see, for example, Heidegger, 1938). In attributing to “power” a central meaning in modern worldviews, I mean to include (that is, to count as more modern and less traditional) along with “power” terms with similar meanings, notably “force” and the Latin “vis” (vis being the protagonist of the tale told by Isaac Newton in his Principia Mathematica); and I mean to exclude cases where a word like “power” is employed but its meaning is more mythical, magical, or personal (for example, St. Paul’s allusions to “the powers”, see Freudenthal, 1982).

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On page 12, the reader sort of learns, but does not really learn, that repression is what connects power with pleasure and knowledge. Foucault is writing in oratio obliqua. He is outlining not his own views, but the Marxist repressive hypothesis of Herbert Marcuse and Wilhelm Reich, which makes the Victorian repression of natural sexuality the companion and the consequence of the repression of the proletariat by the bourgeoisie. Although he refers to their ideas here, he does not mention Marcuse or Reich by name, but he does name them in the contemporaneous, but posthumously published Collège de France lectures (Foucault, 1997). One can describe the general aim of La Volonté du Savoir by saying that it is to refute the repressive hypothesis, not in the sense of proving it to be false, but in the sense of showing it to be part and parcel of a defective worldview (“worldview” is a term I chose, not one Foucault would have chosen). The defective worldview, to be aufgehoben, is, as Dreyfus and Rabinow put it, one that simply takes it for granted that there are subjects, desires, and interdictions, and that these explain history and society (Dreyfus and Rabinow, 1986: 114). I think the Hegelian term aufgehoben is appropriate here, since rather than denying that there are subjects, desires, and interdictions, Foucault is proposing, what I am calling an allegedly better and more comprehensive worldview, in which subjects, desires, and interdictions are talked about and seen in the light of storiesabout-power, “genealogies”, tracing their origins. The saturation of his text with power-talk makes it evident from the get-go that power-talk will be Foucault’s proposed better worldview’s constituting discourse. It is sometimes difficult to tell whether a given instance of power-talk in the book is Foucault speaking in his own voice, or whether the speaker is the seductive voice of the misleading and inadequate repressive hypothesis, or whether – a third possibility that Foucault discusses at length – the speaker expresses a juridical rules-talk representation of power. Power appears a second time on the same page in the course of describing what the advocates of the repressive hypothesis want. They want transgression of the laws, the lifting of prohibitions, the restoration of pleasure in reality. In sum, they want “a whole new economy in the mechanisms of power” (Foucault, 1976: 12). Power, therefore, has mechanisms. Or mechanisms have power. There are some mechanisms that are “of power”. Since we know from the Collège lectures that Foucault construes power as a relation and not as a substance, we must be careful, while noting that power and mechanism are somehow connected and associated, not to interpret power as a substance, one of whose qualities or accidents is mechanism. On the next page, it appears that one thing the repressive hypothesis does is to formulate, in terms of repression, the relationships of sex and power (Foucault, 1976:  13). Therefore, whatever else power may be, it is something that has relationships

Lecture Fourteen

with sex. More remarkably (Foucault is still speaking in oratio obliqua), the speakers who dare to talk about repression, who dare to talk about the forbidden subject, by the very fact of violating prohibitions (prohibitions about what it is allowed to talk about) as well as by the fact of advocating violating prohibitions, enjoy the pleasure of placing themselves to a certain extent “outside power” (Foucault, 1976: 13). They are speaking “against the powers” (Foucault, 1976: 14). The charms of the repressive hypothesis are such that anybody who denies it – anybody who says the relationship of power to sex is not repression – has to compete on unfavourable terms with the discursive interest of its proponents in enjoying the pleasures of transgression (Foucault, 1976: 15–16). Foucault’s question, then, is not why people are repressed, but rather why they so passionately say they are repressed. Why do they speak of abuse of power as a sort of sin against sex (Foucault, 1976: 17)? Why do they identify power with repression, and especially with the repression of useless energies, intense pleasures, and irregular behaviours? On the next page Foucault introduces the phrase, “the intrinsic mechanisms of power” (Foucault, 1976: 18). I am unable to discern whether this phrase here is in oratio obliqua or in his own voice. In any case, he soon ratifies “mechanics of power”, as spoken in his own voice, in the course of doubting whether power’s “mechanics” are really repression. Is prohibition and repression really the form in which power is generally exercised? Foucault’s answer to his own question will be negative. In the course of asking it, he alludes to his view that “power” is something that is “exercised”. Power is exercised rather than possessed (Foucault, 1975: 35). It is not the privilege of a dominant class, but rather the effect of a “set of strategic positions”. He will continue to speak of power as exercised (for example, Foucault, 1976: 21, 45, 57) without specifying any person, any institution, any social class, or any group that is doing the exercising. The “intrinsic mechanisms of power” exercise themselves. Foucault frequently uses the French reflexive form of the verb: power “s’exerce” (for example, Foucault, 1976: 18, 21, 45, 57). Above, I described Foucault’s general aim in the book as showing that the repressive hypothesis was part of a defective worldview and proposing a better worldview. Now I can rephrase my interpretation of Foucault’s general aim in Foucault’s own words: the general aim is “to determine, in its functioning and in its rationale, the regime of power-knowledge-pleasure that sustains discourse about human sexuality in our culture” (Foucault, 1976: 19). Foucault will not talk about a social class or any group of people wielding power, but rather about power itself, “penetrating and controlling daily pleasure” (Foucault, 1976: 20). The polymorphous techniques of power determine the production of discourse and its (power’s) effects of power lead to formulating what is taken to be the truth about sex. He will defend his way of talking as superior to the Freudo-Marxism of the repressive hypothesis and also, as

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superior to a related way of talking about power and law that he will call juridicaldiscursive. This is what I had in mind in the last lecture when I said, that in 1976, Foucault withdrew the “maybe” of 1975 that conceded that perhaps something, indeed a lot, could be said in favour of making the abstract juridical forms of exchange a main model for understanding modern society (see Foucault, 1976: 109). Foucault says later, in a section called “Enjeu” (“what is at stake”), that the mistakes he is correcting are not just about sex; they are also about political analyses of power, and are, in general, deeply rooted in the history of the West. The repressive hypothesis will not be refuted in the sense of being shown to be false. It will be shown to be a limited description of certain local tactics of power. Foucault will place it in a larger context, in which power and discourse are produced (Foucault, 1976: 21). On the same page, page 21, Foucault introduces the key idea we have seen already in Discipline and Punish of mise en discours, putting in discourse, and then in apposition to mise en discours, he writes technique du pouvoir, technique of power. Putting in discourse is a technique of power. “Technique of power” is virtually interchangeable with mechanism of power, dispositif of power, strategies of power, tactics of power, apparatus of power. When he needs to choose a general term to cover all these ways of saying more or less the same thing, Foucault tends to choose “mechanisms of power” (for example, Foucault, 1976: 45). The most notable “mechanism” is mise en discours. In the last lecture we had a foretaste of mise en discours in the examinations that created files where individuals were documented. These rather abstract appearances of power, in the first pages of La Volonté de Savoir, become concrete when Foucault discusses, once again, the practice of confession in the Middle Ages and later (Foucault, 1976: 26–30, 78–94). Everything about sex had to be mise en discours. The father confessor had to know about the positions of the partners, their attitudes, who touched whom and how, the exact moment of pleasure, thoughts, desires, imaginary pleasures; all the movements of the soul, of the will, of the understanding; all the words, all the actions, all the dreams. Traditional penitence imposed the infinite task of saying over and over again, as often as possible, both to oneself and to another, everything about pleasure. Desire had to become discourse (Foucault, 1976: 30). The Marquis de Sade, and the anonymous 19th century English libertine who devoted eleven volumes titled My Secret Life to describing his sexual pleasures, were “governed by the same prescription” (Foucault, 1976: 31). Tell all. Scandalous writings, too, were part of the “grand process of mise en discours of sex” (Foucault, 1976: 32).

Lecture Fourteen

But the techniques of power that penetrated and, at the same time, incited pleasure by verbalising it, might have remained matters of Christian spirituality and private sexual practice if the extension of mechanisms of power had not become a matter of public interest (Foucault, 1976: 33). Here, Foucault names a specific “mechanism of power”. It is “population” (Foucault, 1976: 35). It is the word “population”; the very idea of population; it is population-talk that is a mechanism of power. “Population” constitutes an economic and political problem. It is manpower. It is a matter of attaining equilibrium between population’s growth and the available resources. It is population-richesse (Foucault, 1976: 35–36). It is not society; it is not a set of individual bodies. “It is the notion of ‘population’”, a notion that provides a rationale for an extension of power that Foucault calls “bio-power” (Foucault, 1997: 218). Talking about population is a strategy of power that leads to making the sexual conduct of the population both an object of analysis and a target of intervention (Foucault, 1976: 37). That sexual conduct should be controlled is independent of whether the policy is pro-natalist or anti-natalist. In either case there are numbers to be calculated and optimised. There is an intensification of pouvoirs and a multiplication of discourses in which the population becomes more known, and at the same time, more disciplined. From the 18th century onward, even the sex life of children and adolescents becomes an enjeu, penetrated by innumerable institutional dispositifs and discursive strategies (Foucault, 1976: 42). Although they are diverse, the dispositifs and strategies have in common that they are constraining, contraignants (Foucault, 1976: 45). They are coercive, coercitives (ibid.: 47). They are not outside power or against power; they are, themselves, exercises of power and means of its exercise. From the single imperative that commands everybody to make of her or his sexuality a permanent object of discourse, amplified to the level of the population, there grow multiple mechanisms of power in the fields of pedagogy, of medicine, and of justice (ibid.: 45). But, contrary to the repressive hypothesis, power did not annul pleasure, nor did pleasure annul power. From the 18th century forward, the mechanisms of power produced a certain amount of prohibition, but they also incited and excited. By producing a whole science of sex in which perversions were classified as botanists classify plants (Foucault, 1976: 71–98), they gave each a name and a social status. They produced profitable specialties in such fields as medicine, psychiatry, pornography, and prostitution. On page 66, the word “power” appears as the name of something that extends itself, and which, by extending itself, proliferates sexualities (Foucault, 1976: 66). On page 108 Foucault considers a possible objection. He accuses himself, or imagines a reader accusing him, of having confused repression and law, as if they were equivalent ideas. This is a far-fetched objection, since Foucault has neither stated nor implied

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any such equivalence. Far-fetched or not, it gives Foucault an opportunity to make a gracious transition to a critique of what he calls a juridical-discursive representation of power, that is to say: to a critique of errors concerning the relationship of power to law that he has accused himself of falling into or seeming to fall into. Foucault outlines what he takes to be some of the principal features of a juridicaldiscursive view of power (Foucault, 1976: 110–112). Like the repressive hypothesis it is negative. Power can only say no (ibid.: 110). On this view that Foucault articulates but does not agree with there is a general form of power: it is the law. The law is the voice of power. “Il parle, et c’est la règle” (ibid.: 110) (“Power speaks, and it is the rule”). It is the same in the state and in the family; the same for a prince, a father, or a judge. According to this mistaken view, power mainly punishes transgressions. On one side, there is the power that legislates; on the other side, obedience: the subject obeys the monarch, the child obeys the parent, the citizen obeys the state, and the disciple obeys the master (ibid.: 112). Foucault next asks why people so easily accept a juridical-discursive conception of power (Foucault, 1976: 113). His first answer to his question is a move that, in Charles Taylor’s view, is an admission revealing a weakness in Foucault’s case. The answer is: the juridical-discursive view, which views power as, at once, law and repression, which overlooks the fact that desires are themselves products of power, allows people to think they are free. Their desires are their own before the law, to some extent, represses them. The law performs the legitimate function of placing some limits on everybody’s freedom. In this way, power becomes acceptable. If power were completely cynical, if it did not take the general form of tracing limits to liberty, then, in our modern western societies, power would not be acceptable (Foucault, 1976:  113–114). Taylor takes the view that Foucault’s account of the power of humanitarian ideals cannot be true, because he underestimates the historical influence of humanitarian ideals. Power is not power, that is, it does not succeed in imposing itself, unless it compromises with humanitarian ideals in order to be accepted. I think the difference between Foucault and Taylor, here, is that for Foucault, the humanitarian ideals are themselves dispositifs of power, while for Taylor, they are gatekeepers without whose blessing power is not legitimate, and therefore, to a considerable extent not viable (see Taylor, 1985: 163–166). Foucault then provides an historical explanation of why a juridical-discursive power seems natural to us. Our modern societies (of course he thinks of France first), are the successors of the monarchies of the classical age. Pace theories of law, which would assert that the law is and always has been whatever the sovereign says it is, the so-called absolute monarchies of the West, were, in fact, legal monarchies. Law constituted them. Their power was built on top of a series of forms of power

Lecture Fourteen

that already existed before them, such as the possession of arms. Arms-related power extracted the agricultural surplus as rent from those who cultivated the land. Monarchy gradually dominated aristocracy as it established order and hierarchy among pre-existing powers. The law (we learn from the Collège lectures that Foucault has in mind Roman law) was not just an ideological weapon, skilfully wielded by the monarchs. Law was the mode of their appearance on the stage of history and the form of their acceptability (Foucault, 1976: 115). Since the Middle Ages, in western societies, the exercise of power has always been formulated in law. So far, I almost agree with Foucault and Foucault almost agrees with Taylor. We see the same facts and, to some extent, we interpret them the same way. Foucault then goes on to say that it is an error to take, at face value, the republican propaganda of the 17th to 19th centuries, that associates royalty always with non-law, with caprice, with abuse, with exceptions, with government that is de facto and not de jure. It is an error that forgets the fundamental historical fact that the western monarchies were constructed as legal systems. The royal mechanisms of power functioned as forms of law. The republican critique demanded the rule of law without the rule of the monarch. It did not question the underlying principles that law ought to be the form of power, and that power should always be exercised in the form of law (Foucault, 1976: 116). It was not until the 19th century (Marx, of course, being the most famous example) that a more radical critique appeared: real power was something above and beyond the rules of law; and indeed, the rules of law themselves were a form of violence exercised for the profit of some at the expense of others. But even this more radical critique at bottom conceived of power as in essence something that ought to be exercised (even when in the societies criticised it was not exercised) according to fundamental principles of right (droit) (Foucault, 1976: 117). Here Foucault implies that his own Nietzschean critique is more radical than the radical humanist critiques of the 19th and 20th centuries. It turns out, that although for a moment it seemed that I would agree with Foucault because he had changed his mind, in the end he continues to see rules and laws as techniques of power, not as something other than power. Foucault goes on to say that the West is still haunted by the ghost of the juridical monarchy. Its collective mind is still inhabited by power in the form of law. But today law represents power’s practice less and less. Today it becomes more and more evident that law is what it always was. In practice it is every day clearer that power functions today not as law (droit) but as technique (Foucault, 1976: 118). Instead of law (loi), power relies on normalisation (ibid.). Instead of relying on punishment mainly administered by the state, power proliferates in networks of control penetrating all institutions.

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The task that Foucault then assigns himself is to build an analytic of power in its concrete procedures – one that no longer represents power as law (Foucault, 1976: 119). It is to think “sex without law and power without king” (Foucault, 1976: 120). It is, at this juncture in La Volonté du Savoir, with these cards on the table, or to vary the metaphor with these balls in the air, that Foucault decides to devote ten pages to explaining what he, Foucault, does and does not mean by “power”. He does not mean by the term a set of institutions that guarantees the subjection of the citisens to the state (Foucault, 1976: 121). He does not mean that form of subjection that, unlike violence, takes the form of rules. In general he does not mean by “power” a system by which some group or entity dominates others. An analysis in terms of power should not postulate the sovereignty of the state. On the contrary, the sovereignty of the state should emerge, if at all, as a conclusion, as a terminal form, of the analysis (ibid.). Forms of law and domination should also be explained as conclusions of the analysis, not presupposed at its beginning (ibid.). What Foucault does mean by “power” is quite a mouthful: It is “the multiplicity of relations of force (rapports de force) that are immanent to the domain where they exercise themselves or are exercised (s’exercent), and which are constitutive of their organization; the game (jeu) that by way of struggles and confrontations incessantly transforms them, reinforces them, reverses them; the supports that the relations of force have with each other, so that they form a chain or a system, or, on the contrary, the slippages, the contradictions, that separate some from others; the strategies by which they take effect, and of which the general design is the institutional crystallization which takes form as the state apparatus, as the formulation of the law, as social hegemonies” (Foucault, 1976: 121–122). This is a long definition but it has a short kernel: relations of force. At this point, Foucault ought to confess something he never confesses, namely that the omnipresent generality of “power” naming relations of force in his discourse cannot be reconciled with his and Deleuze’s nominalistic methodology of “dispersion” (Digeser, 1992: 986). The rest of the definition mainly talks about what the relations of force do. If we ask, “As opposed to what?”, that is, “What other way of looking at power is rapports de force supposed to be an alternative to?” We will find an answer in Foucault’s lecture at the Collège de France on 7 January 1976: power is not mainly about the maintenance of economic relationships (Foucault, 1997: 15). If we go on to ask what Foucault means by “force”, we will find that he does not elaborate on it in any special or unusual way (Philp, 1983). We are left with the ordinary meanings of the term without any special senses peculiar to Foucault. What are, however, peculiar to Foucault, are his accounts of how strategic relationships of force are stabilised in institutions, reinforcing one another in ways that make institutions very difficult to change (for example, Foucault, 1982: 742).

Lecture Fourteen

Although we may feel that we learn more about what Foucault means by ¨power” studying his actual use of the word and its surrogates than by a definition that ends up calling power “force”, it is in any event pretty clear that, for Foucault, power is not many things other scholars have deemed to be central to explanation in the social sciences. Foucault’s “power” is not Margaret Mead’s “customs” or “mores” (Mead, 1942). It is not Karl Marx’s Verhältnisse (relations, as in “relations of production”). It is not Emile Durkheim or Adam Smith’s “division of labour”. It is not Max Weber’s Verstehen (Weber, 1981). Foucault has made a reasonably intelligible proposal to study society differently from the ways that others have studied it. He recommends doing a lot more power-talk than most scholars do. In the next lecture, I will consider reasons one might adduce for and against following Foucault’s lead. I will be evaluating his recommendation and, for the most part, declining to accept it.

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A COMMENT ON LECTURE FOURTEEN Evelin Lindner Foucault’s remarks on legitimate government, in La Volonté de Savoir bring home to me the deep meaning of what Catherine Odora Hoppers has been saying to us about second-level indigenisation. Foucault makes the very important point that the so-called enlightened despots of what he calls the classical age in Europe were not really despots. They were legal monarchs. They were authorised by law to be sovereign rulers. They were obligated by law to respect and maintain a legal order. Their legitimacy and their power depended on a legal framework that existed before their birth and would continue after their death. I know I am not doing justice to the subtlety of either Foucault’s or Charles Taylor’s or anyone else’s analysis of the relationships between law and power, either in general or in the France of the 17th and 18th centuries that Foucault mainly discusses. But, unless I am missing something, whatever the subtleties may be, and even if, in some sense, in the last analysis law is nothing but a dispositif of power, the monarchs of early modern Europe had the right to sit on their thrones because they were the legal successors of the monarchs who preceded them. They were expected to respect the legal rights of their subjects and they mainly did. When they needed more money than they could rise by taxes, they had to borrow money from its owners like anyone else. As Foucault says, we should not believe the republican propaganda of the revolutionary period that depicted royal rule as a system where kings and queens did whatever they personally chose to do. One of the main points you, dear Catherine, make in the book that you wrote with our esteemed Howard, is that the mostly Roman legal framework of modern European society is quite different from what law has been in most of the world’s indigenous cultures (Hoppers and Richards, 2012). Roman legal principles fostered an individualism that can be traced back to the absolute power within his little realm of the Pater familias. The meaning of “emancipation” was in Rome, and down to our own times still continues to be, modelled on the notions of getting out from under the “hand” (manus) of the Pater familias and becoming, like him, autonomous and free. Property, dominium, was first identified with war winnings (Vogel, 1948). It was what was dominated by the Pater familias, and then by whomever stood in his shoes.

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Rome stands out like a sore thumb in the array of the world’s early legal traditions. In most of them, law is closer to folk customs, to religion, to the wisdom of elders, and to communal processes of reaching consensus. Foucault underlines the point that the characteristically Western legal framework did not appear suddenly at the time of the French Revolution. It was not imposed on the rest of society by a triumphant bourgeoisie. Even though the leaders of the new order sometimes portrayed themselves as establishing the rule of law, where formerly, there had been only arbitrary rule by kings, in reality the roots of the western legal order were far older and deeper. Foucault and other authors trace the Western tradition forward from its beginnings. Our contemporary democratic governments are no freer to change the basic structures of society than the French kings were in the 17th century (Renner, 1904; Richards and Swanger, 2006). In democratic constitutions, for example, in the Constitution of the European Union, it is usually made explicit that basic rights provide the framework for government. They are not created by government. In Sweden, there was the famous Saltsjöbaden Agreement of 1938, in which business and labour jointly agreed to work within the existing order. Foucault’s study of the deep roots of legitimacy in the West can help us to appreciate the deep significance of Catherine’s call for second-level indigenisation. Wherever the West conquered, it did not just impose its science. It did not just demote the knowledge the Africans already had to the status of unreason. It did more than bring capitalism and Christianity to Africa. It also brought a concept of legitimate government. Like the kings of France in the 17th century, the Africans, too, were obliged to live within the confines of a legal framework inherited mostly from Rome. The connection between Foucault´s remarks on the history of legality in France and Catherine’s call for second-level indigenisation partly explains why we chose the title, Following Foucault, for our book. When we think in terms of second-level indigenisation, we are going back to the roots of the roots. We are remembering that, in many parts of Africa, and also on other continents there were, and in many cases still are, cultures where individualism is not built into society’s basic constitutive rules. In Discipline and Punish and in La Volonté de Savoir Foucault analysed power’s recent metamorphoses in the Western tradition. Power is coming to rely less and less on society’s basic legal framework and more and more on disciplinary normalisation in typical contemporary Western institutions such as schools, hospitals, businesses, prisons and barracks.

A comment on Lecture Fourteen

He does not go where you, dear Catherine, go, back to the early times when Roman and then European institutions differentiated themselves from the typical institutions of the rest of the world, only to return many centuries later as institutions imposed on the rest of the world, by conquest.

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LECTURE FIFTEEN Evaluating the power perspective By choosing to speak of human relations in terms of force and strategy, Foucault reaffirms his decision to speak in broadly Nietzschean terms. He distinguishes his way of seeing and talking about human relationships from that of Jürgen Habermas. Habermas says that, when people speak to one another in everyday acts of communication, they are involved in a reciprocal process of making and justifying three types of validity claims: a claim to the truth of what is said or presupposed, a claim to the normative rightness of the speech act in the given context or of the underlying norm, and a claim to the truthfulness of the speaker. For Habermas, “reciprocity” offers an alternative to “strategy” (Habermas, 2003: 19). Late in his career, Jacques Derrida (echoing strands of Aristotle) explicitly offers “friendship” as an alternative to relationships of force (Derrida, 1994: 45). Habermas, Aristotle and Derrida are, of course, just examples: there are many ways of seeing human relationships and talking about them, different from those of the Foucault of 1975–1976. Whether we should follow Foucault and speak as he did at a certain point in time, is, in part, an empirical question and, in part, a pragmatic question. It is empirical insofar as it is a question of fact whether the world is as Foucault describes it. It is pragmatic insofar as his philosophy helps or hinders problem-solving. I do not want to say that the two categories, empirical and pragmatic, exhaustively list the reasons one might have for deciding to talk one way or another. In the course of history, philosophers have proposed many different kinds of reasons for deciding that one way of talking is preferable to another. I do, however, want to organise my thoughts on how to evaluate Foucault’s power perspective according to these two categories. I will assimilate into the pragmatic category the Austinian question whether there is sufficient reason for deviating from ordinary usage. Austin places the burden of proof on those who want to change the meaning of a word, claiming that other things being equal, we should leave the tried and true meanings of words alone (Austin, 1962). Foucault acknowledges that facts are relevant to determining the merits of his way of talking about power, when he claims that the adoption of his proposed power-talk is not a matter of choice, but rather an adoption compelled by a correct understanding of history. In Foucault’s own words: It is a matter in sum of orienting oneself toward a conception of power that in place of the privilege of the law substitutes an objective point of view … and that not

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because of a speculative choice or a theoretical preference; but because in fact it is one of the fundamental traits of occidental societies that the relations of force that have for a long time found their principal expression in war, in all the forms of war, are now gradually incorporated (investis) in the order of political power. (Foucault, 1976: 135) Gilles Deleuze supports Foucault on this point. According to Deleuze, Foucault has demonstrated that the rule of law is not peace, but rather the result of winning a war. Law itself is war (Deleuze, 1986: 38). The facts which Foucault, here, says compel the acceptance of his version of power-talk and compel the rejection of a juridical-discursive version of power-talk are presented in the Collège lectures. Carl von Clausewitz had famously said, “War is nothing but a continuation of political processes with a mixture of other means” (Von Clausewitz, 1853: 120). Foucault almost equally famously suggests that it is the other way around: that politics is the continuation of war (Foucault, 1997: 1–19; Foucault 1975: 197). He argues persuasively in his Collège lectures, that the juridical-discursive theories according to which society is formed by a social contract, are accurately viewed as ideological weapons in a continuing war. Social contract theory is not accurately viewed as a viable scientific alternative to Boulanvier’s view, endorsed by Foucault, that today’s institutions were established by yesterday’s wars. Instead of war being a relatively narrow concept, subsidiary to a broader concept of political purpose, as Clausewitz would have it, politics becomes, for Foucault, a relatively narrow concept, subsidiary to a broad concept of “all the forms of war” (Foucault, 1976: 135). Sometimes he seems to suggest that all the multitudes of mechanisms of power, found not just in military institutions but also in schools, factories and other civilian institutions have (or in the classical age had) at bottom a single double purpose: winning wars against foreign states and preventing domestic revolts (for example, Foucault, 1975: 197–198). But usually, perhaps when correctly interpreted always, his meaning is not so much that all disciplinary practices are, in the last analysis, military, as it is rather that power is pervasive throughout human relationships and consists of rapports de force. It is puzzling that factual evidence is relevant to determining the merits of Foucault’s claims because still in the mid-1970s Foucault is claiming Heidegerrian methodological privileges. Remember that Heidegger claimed to do philosophy at a level that was pretheoretical and pre-scientific, and therefore, presupposed by science and not refutable by science. In the 1970s Foucault’s aim is still to dégager (Foucault, 1976: 20), dégager being a possible French translation of Heidegger’s Freilegung (Heidegger, 1927: 15). Freilegung is “setting free”, Heidegger also speaks of uncovering, of interpreting, and of understanding-reading (verstehend-auslegend, Heidegger, 1927: 149). Remember that, for Heidegger, the phenomenon is being showing itself, not just a surface image

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(Heidegger, 1927: 28–31). Proceeding to dégager power, as Foucault does (and Hannah Arendt does), bypasses the usual processes of criticism of scientific work because everything that is discovered is supposed to be prior to science, presupposed by science. In Heidegger’s case, it is ontology that is presupposed, because science presupposes being. In Foucault’s case, it is first archaeology and then genealogy, presupposed because the analysis of the global discursive facts (Foucault, 1976: 20; Foucault 1969) is supposed to be prior to any theories about causal explanation. Surveiller et Punir is a genealogy (Foucault, 1975: 30). Foucault is doing analysis, not theory (Foucault, 1976: 121). He is not offering causal explanations (Foucault, 1976: 125). If he were proposing a scientific theory or explaining phenomena, he could be refuted with counterexamples. He could be asked to present a falsifiable hypothesis. One could argue that, by the mid-1970s Foucault’s Heideggerian methodological privileges are wearing thin; whatever he may say he is doing; one could argue that he is, in effect, claiming that war is a causal force shaping history. If so, one could claim to be entitled to judge Foucault’s causal explanations of phenomena, as the reader would judge the hypotheses of any other writer, notwithstanding Foucault’s claims to have no theories, to offer no explanations, and neither to make nor need hypotheses. One could also perhaps complain that critical realists with our emphasis on the causal powers of structures also deviate from mainstream science’s most common self-interpretations; so it might be a case of the pot calling the kettle black for us to complain that Foucault deviates from mainstream accounts of what science is about. One could insist that Foucault’s claims be judged by criteria he himself did not consider applicable to the kind of research he was doing. But I prefer to accept Foucault’s terms. To do so, I need to try to understand why he can simultaneously claim Heideggerian privileges, and assert that he has proven with facts that “it is one of the fundamental traits of occidental societies that the relations of force that have for a long time found their principal expression in war, in all the forms of war, are now gradually incorporated (investis) in the order of political power”. Here is a clue. The clue is that the methodological problem is about naming. “Power”, Foucault writes, “is the name one gives to a complex strategic situation in a given society” (Foucault, 1976: 123). Foucault himself says he is naming. So we can interpret him as saying that the facts cry out to be named as he names them. In other words, accepting his names is not a free choice, but a choice compelled by the historical evidence. If so, we should be entitled to say that we do not find the evidence, making Foucaulttalk mandatory, compelling. We should be entitled to suggest what we take to be good

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reasons for not speaking of “power” as the name of a “complex strategic situation”. We should be entitled to assert the existence of facts that are more distorted than depicted when we essay to look at them through the lenses of Foucault’s power perspective. As pragmatists and herd-moralists (“pragmatists” because we want solutions that work, “herd-moralists” because we mean here “work for the good of all”, when we refer to “work”), we are entitled to say, further, that we prefer to choose to do more rule-talk and less power-talk, because we find that understanding human institutions in terms of the norms that constitute them helps us to solve the principal problems that humanity now faces. OK. Facts count. Foucault is not completely abandoning his Heideggerian privileges by acknowledging that they count. But he is opening the door to other people having reasons for finding facts that count against, not for, adopting his vocabulary. So, now, let us ask what facts count for Foucault in favour of naming the world as he names it. The question has no clear answer. Foucault’s historical evidence concerning the role of war in shaping institutions (that is, concerning why facts about war compel us to see and talk about institutions as he talks about them) is, itself, cast in the terms of a number of variations on the theme of power understood as rapports de force. Having formulated his evidence in his own language, he can hardly avoid concluding that his language is the one that best describes his evidence. He also wants us to see in his evidence a pattern applicable beyond it. He means his war-talk to count in favour of a generally Nietzschean worldview. Even though the leading topic of the 1976 book is sex, much of the historical evidence is about politics. In other words, he wants to convince his readers that it is not just an option, but rather a requirement of intellectual honesty to adopt a general perspective, a powerperspective, applicable to sex, politics, or anything else. What he has to say about the key role of war in European history and the shaping of European institutions (which I have no time to review in detail) is offered as evidence in favour of conceiving power as Foucault conceived it in 1975–1976. It is implicitly offered as evidence in favour of the threshold premise that how to conceive power is the question we should be asking, because power is what we should be thinking about. Let me here mention without repeating, at length, that I and others have reasons for thinking that war characterises the evolutionary survival strategy of our species less than co-operation does; for thinking that “culture” more than “force” identifies our ecological niche. For thinking that, if Weimar social democracy had succeeded, there would have been no Hitler and no World War II. For thinking – generalising the preceding points – that cultures of peace can be created by solving problems, and that consequently the wars and civil wars that plague our planet are not so much

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proof that war must necessarily be the ultimate arbiter as they are symptoms of our failure, so far, to learn how to solve our problems. Nor for thinking that the Dutch succeeded in freeing themselves from Spanish rule at the end of the Thirty Years War, not because the Dutch had more “power”, whatever that might mean, but because the cultural structures of Holland had evolved to the point where the Dutch had superior means for financing wars; nor for saying – generalising the preceding point – that nations organised by rapports de force tend, on the whole, and with notable exceptions to lose wars, while those with relatively humane institutions both tend to win the wars they fight and to establish peace among themselves (see, for example, Russett, 1994). Nor for thinking that, if even more humane institutions than any that have so far existed on earth (except perhaps before patriarchy) could be created, they would be stable and could defend themselves. Nor will I repeat my claim that the facts about war justify understanding the modern world in terms of cultural structures (or in Habermas’s language “symbolic structures”) more than they justify understanding culture in terms of force. Culture creates power more than power creates culture. This last claim is true, by definition, if one adopts Hannah Arendt’s definition of power as the ability to act in concert (Arendt, 1970). I will give a reason for finding that some observed facts count in favour of declining to accept Foucault’s 1975–1976 power perspective. I will claim that a different perspective – one relying on the idea that the constitutive rules of capitalism condemn us to live under regimes of accumulation – provides a more realistic and illuminating lens for viewing certain facts about prisons. I will be going back a year from The Will to Knowledge, of 1976, to Part IV of Discipline and Punish of 1975. Observations about prisons are relevant because Foucault is claiming that all observed social facts fit his power-perspective. Those about sex, recited in La Volonté de Savoir, and those about war in Il Faut Défendre la Societé, and also those about war (with less detail) in La Volonté de Savoir, are presented as part of the same pattern as the facts about prisons in Surveiller et Punir. My perspective: An important characteristic of the current regime of accumulation (the neoliberal one) is the locational revolution that gives a bargaining advantage to capital vis-à-vis government and vis-à-vis labour. Another important characteristic is the end of the Age of Keynes. That age featured making business profitable by boosting consumer demand by taking measures to create a large middle class and a well-paid working class. Keynes regarded full employment as desirable because, among other things, he considered it virtually equivalent to maximising production. But the full employment policies he and others persuaded governments to adopt proved to be incompatible with the basic cultural structures of the modern world; they were inflationary; they led to mountains of costly debt; they were in short

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unsustainable. Globalisation and super-exploitation are the current ways to make business profitable. They imply the de-industrialisation of the first world, growing inequality, stagnant or declining real wages, and chronic unemployment especially in areas like Western Europe that hang on to some of the labour-protecting features of the old Fordist/Keynesian regime. Two consequences can be drawn for prisons: Firstly, in conditions of declining employment and wages and rising inequality, there will be more deviation from the norms prescribing that people should not steal other people’s property; more despair conducive to alcoholism and drug addiction; more illegal business opportunities in the drug business; and consequently, more prisoners in jails. Secondly, when governments fear capital flight; when governments must rely on regressive forms of taxation to sustain themselves because they increasingly lack the power to tax mobile wealth; when governments are increasingly strapped by demands to pay for infrastructure and to provide other incentives to attract business to their locations; and when, simultaneously, governments are called upon to pay health care and retirement bills no longer paid as fringe benefits of employment, there is a fiscal crisis of the state (O’Connor, 2002). In the light of such reasons derived from structural analysis of contemporary capitalism, we can understand that it is impossible for prison construction and staffing to keep up with the need to take proper care of the prisoners. Foucault’s perspective: From a power-perspective, Foucault finds facts and sees facts such as those evoked in the conclusion at the very end of Surveiller et Punir. In the very last paragraph, Foucault writes of a jail city (ville carcéral) as if it were a twentieth century reality, although it was presciently described by an anonymous contributor to a Parisian newspaper on August 10, 1836. Listen “moralists, philosophers, legislators, flatterers of civilization”, writes Anonymous, “here is your Paris put in order with all similar things united” (quoted in Foucault, 1975: 358). Anonymous describes a Paris where the jails are at the city centre, together with hospitals for all maladies, hospices for all miseries, and asylums for the insane. Foucault tells us that the image of a city with the prisoners and fools usually called marginal at the centre is symbolic of our condition. There is no centre of power, no king from whom all power emanates, no sovereign people acting as stand-in for an absent king. There are, instead, networks of diverse elements – walls, spaces, institutions, rules, discourses. Power is a strategic distribution of elements of different natures and levels (Foucault, 1975: 359). The jail is an emblematic institution. It demonstrates the tendency of all the others (Foucault, 1975: 297). The whole city is named a ville carcéral because the general characteristics of the whole are clearly shown in the specific parts of the whole that are jails. He goes on to say that, behind all the complex relations of power (presumably including those he just described), it is necessary to hear the roar of battle. Earlier, Foucault had written that the prison is the concentrated figure of all

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the disciplines (Foucault, 1975: 297). It brings together political techniques of isolation and hierarchy, economic techniques of forced labour, and medical techniques of cure and rehabilitation (Foucault, 1975: 288). In the prison, there is constant surveillance of each detainee, of his or her behaviour, of deep dispositions, of progressive improvement (Foucault, 1975: 289). To show that the conclusion from thinking in terms of how the rules of capitalism work – that it is impossible for prison construction and staffing to keep up with the need to take proper care of the prisoners – is confirmed by the facts; while the conclusion drawn from Foucault’s power-perspective is not, to begin with, I call myself as a witness. As a practising lawyer in California, I had occasion to see inside prisons. My personal experience coincides with the findings of a systematic study by Fred Alford. Citing extensive criminological literature and his own research, Alford concludes, “There is no subtle way to put it. Each aspect of capillary power to which Foucault refers is absent in most prisons in the United States” (Alford, 2000: 133). There is no surveillance, no systematic normalisation, and no examination. What actually happens for the most part is that the inmates are warehoused and ignored. Alford describes a day in the life of a typical prisoner identified as Mr. Prior. He is in a block with forty or fifty others. Guards appear rarely, and when they do, it is to take a head count to verify that nobody has escaped. He is careful to behave with extreme politeness because he knows that the least unintentional insult can cost him his life, not at the hands of the guards but at the hands of a fellow prisoner. Prison labour is unsupervised and disorganised; it is something to do whenever one feels like it to relieve boredom. The one thing Mr. Prior does regularly is to work out at the prison gym. He needs to keep his body in shape to maintain his prestige in what Alford calls the “physiocracy” of the prisoners (Alford, 2000). At the one place where a prison was actually built according to Jeremy Bentham’s plan for a Panopticon, the Statesville Prison in Illinois, the prisoners have covered the windows of their cells with blankets and cardboard. They have recovered the privacy Bentham sought to take away from them (Alford, 2000: 134). Criminologists fault Foucault for basing his book on writings about prisons with insufficient observation of contemporary prisons. A broader point is that his way of naming the world exaggerates some facts, omits others, and ends up naming a world that does not exist. An economic and cultural approach, starting with the legal framework provided by the constitutive rules of the modern world describes a world that does exist. Specifically, in conditions of declining employment and wages, and rising inequality, there really is more crime and, consequently, there are more prisoners in jails. In conditions where governments fear capital flight, where they are increasingly called upon to pay for infrastructure and to provide other incentives to

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attract business to their locations, where governments are called upon to pay health care and retirement bills, which are no longer paid as fringe benefits of employment, it really is impossible for prison construction and staffing to keep up with the need to take proper care of the prisoners. The failure of Foucault’s power perspective to account for many facts about prisons, confirms the evaluation of Fredric Jameson: Foucault’s power-talk is ultimately unsatisfactory because social reality cannot be understood unless the functional relationships of economic exploitation are articulated (Jameson, 1988: 184). I would make a general point that takes a step beyond Jameson’s point here: the functional relationships of economic exploitation are themselves to a very large extent explained by the cultural norms that organise and guide it (Richards, 2000; Richards and Swanger, 2006; Hoppers and Richards, 2012). There are therefore at least sometimes – at least in the case of prisons – facts that count in favour of choosing to name what we see, more in terms of a rule-perspective, like mine, and less in terms of a power-perspective, like Foucault’s. The points below have already been made implicitly many times. I will try to make them less repetitive by expressing my point of view on a pragmatic question not yet explicitly discussed: what to do about globalisation. Immanuel Wallerstein has shown that, from the very beginning, that is to say from the Peace of Westphalia of 1648, the nation-state has been part of an international system (Wallerstein, 1974–1988). The normative framework of the international system is private law. When public law is conceived from the beginning as framed in a context where private law is already established, globalisation becomes intelligible. Making it intelligible is a step toward thinking clearly about what to do about it. Globalisation is a story about markets; it is a story about markets governing states more than states governing markets. Stories about markets are stories about the rules that constitute them. In David Korten’s words, “Today’s borderless global economy pits every person, community, and firm in a relentless race to the bottom, as private economic power extends out and governments compete to attract jobs and investment by offering the biggest subsidies and the lowest regulatory standards” (Korten, 2006: 163). “Globalisation” describes the recent evolution of what Immanuel Wallerstein describes as starting out as a European world-system. It has, now, become a global world-system. It is a system which has, from the beginning, been governed by the basic constitutive rules of the modern world. It is a system in which states have always been partly defined by their roles in international trade. The dynamics that drive it – understood by

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understanding regimes of accumulation required by constitutive rules (see Hoppers and Richards, 2012) – reframe the relationship of knowledge (savoir) and power (pouvoir). They reframe the normalisation of the modern soul by a scientific-judicial complex (for Foucault’s framing, see Foucault, 1975: 30). They place Foucault’s world in a context shaped by systemic imperatives implicit in social structures, defined by private law, and therefore, in broader terms, defined by basic cultural structures. My pragmatic point, here, echoes Jameson’s theoretical point: social reality cannot be changed unless the functional relationships of economic exploitation are articulated (Jameson, 1988: 184). Followers of John Austin can make another sort of complaint against Foucault’s power-talk of 1975–1976 – that he has invented idiosyncratic meanings when there was no good reason to do so. Why describe the relation of doctor to patient as an effect of power, when we could perfectly well continue to say that doctors have legitimate authority in matters of health because of their special knowledge? Why rewrite history without persons as actors when the idea of “person” and the idea of “action” have so many tried and true uses in ordinary language and in science? Why recast the idea of “norm” as something “our modernity” invented as a tool of disciplinary power, in contrast to law, when anthropologists and sociologists are accustomed to thinking of norms as something even the earliest human groups had, and jurists are used to thinking of laws as legal norms? Why name as “discipline” and as “power” what we are used to calling “socialisation” and “authority”? I will not try to answer the questions I have attributed to Austinians, but I will discuss an unfortunate consequence of uncritically falling into the habit of thinking in Foucault’s terms. Foucault’s vocabulary is not only, as Austin might regard it, a matter of jettisoning patterns of speech we already have, to replace them with novel ones. It is also a matter of inventing a new language, in which a number of propositions appear to be self-evidently true, just because they are implied by the way Foucault has chosen to speak. On closer examination, they turn out to not be self-evident. Like certain propositions, for example, “if there were no war there would be no politics”, or “Nazi terror was a simulacrum of truth” that appear as self-evident when couched in the terminology of Carl Schmitt’s political theory, or in the terminology of Alain Badiou’s philosophy, there are indeed good reasons for classifying them as not true. For example: Foucault asserts that the utility of making prisoners work in prison is not profit; it is not teaching useful skills; it is, instead, the constitution of a relationship of power, an empty economic form, a scheme of individual submission and adjustment to an apparatus of production (Foucault, 1975: 282). If we have fallen into the habit of thinking in Foucauldian language, this proposition appears to us as self-evidently true. What else could prison labour be? But if we then follow

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Wittgenstein in examining particular contexts where language games, including the words “prison labour” might be played, we will see that what is self-evident if we speak and see as Foucault recommends, ceases to be so when we look closely at various language-games where the phrase “prison labour” is employed. We might look closely at Mr. Prior dropping into the workshop for a while, and then growing bored with it and moving on to the more important business of working out at the gym. And then we might look at private corporations running prisons for profit, renting out their prisoners as agricultural labourers. We might focus on prison labour being drafted in an emergency to shore up the dikes that are about to break and flood New Orleans. Conclusion: talking the way Foucault talks is more appropriate in some contexts than in others, and it is, in any context, a choice and not an obligation. I have a larger pragmatic objection to Foucault. I recommend choosing to talk as if inclusive human relationships were possible as a step in the direction of bringing more of them into existence. I find that the word “power” as Foucault employs the term functions more to discourage than to encourage a dynamics of inclusion. In some respects to be sure the opposite is the case, and insofar as the opposite is the case I want to encourage Foucault and his followers. Foucault encourages in some respects the social inclusion of the mentally ill, of prisoners, and others frequently discriminated against. But if the sorts of views of the dynamics of capitalism that I am sympathising with are “telling it like it is”, then even the prisoners and patients whose causes Foucault specifically espouses are prejudiced in the end, because his conceptual apparatus overlooks a dynamic of exclusion that separates the haves and the have-nots. I distinguish, here, three layers of exclusion: first, the reign of private property, dominium, which excludes those who own nothing, compelling them to sleep on the street because they own no real estate and have no money with which to rent a place to sleep; second, the reign of the market governed by the law of contracts and exchange, which excludes those who have nothing of value to sell; and third, the dependence of production on profit. The third is the key to the preservation, over time, of the other two, and it is the dynamic of exclusion, properly so-called. The first two create the distinction between haves and have-nots. The third cements it into place (see Richards and Swanger, 2006). But Foucault tells us that representing power as excluding is only a superficial way to think about power. He directs our attention to the disciplinary power that produces individuals, a pouvoir that is inseparable from the savoir of psychiatry, criminology and the other human sciences. Resistance replaces yearning for inclusion. Instead of seeing the world as one in which the have-nots are excluded and need to be included, he sees the world as one in which mechanisms of power produce docile bodies (for example, Foucault, 1975:

Lecture Fifteen

Chapter 3). The have-nots (not Foucault’s term, but a term which on the whole names the same people as the ones whose normalisation is described in Histoire de la Folie and Surveiller et Punir) are encouraged to follow their natural bent toward unrule. They are implicitly and sometimes explicitly encouraged to resist becoming the docile bodies that disciplinary power wants to turn them into. Resistance to power is conceived as wanting out, not as wanting in. Some of us want to insist that inclusion is also bonding. Promoting inclusion means encouraging a spirit of caring, a characteristically feminine spirit that complements formal changes in rules (Eisler, 2007). It puts into practice the sorts of mutual obligations to meet each other’s needs, the sorts of reciprocity and partnership and gift-giving that anthropology and sociology show to be typical of the cultures of human groups (Gouldner, 1960). Inclusion is about tying heart to heart in all the charming ways that make homo sapiens sapiens such a storybook animal. But Foucault tells us that life is all about power and power is all about rapports de force. The story about Heidi’s rapport with her grandmother flies under his radar. Let me close with a pragmatic point in favour of Foucault. In spite of his professed anti-humanism, the pragmatic result of reading his texts is often humanistic. Much of Surveiller et Punir echoes the protests Heidi might make against the inhuman treatment of human beings, provided that one reads it – as no doubt many readers do – with eyes in love with bonding and repelled by cruelty. Foucault tells us, for example, that in the 18th century Prussian army, discipline took the spirit out of the body, making the body a target manipulated by new mechanisms of power (Foucault, 1975: 181–182). All of society was conceived in military terms, as permanent coercion in which the entire population was treated as parts of a machine (Foucault, 1975: 198). In schools, people were treated as if they were machines (Foucault, 1975: 208), and similarly in orphanages, reformatories, at work, in convents, and, of course, in jails (for example, Foucault, 1975: 350). The story Foucault tells moves Heidi to tears. In spite of whatever Foucault may say about how he wants to be read, reading what he writes makes Heidi cry. Foucault implicitly reverts to the humanistic principles of his first writings – and it is natural for readers to understand him that way – every time he goes into detail depicting how human beings are objectified, made into objects, treated as objects to be manipulated rather than as creative subjects who are the authors of their own lives. I will stop here. I have made only a few references to the period from 1977 until Foucault’s death on June 25, 1984. I have not described how Foucault moved toward an ethics of autonomy in the 1980s. I have not described how the prison soul of 1975 imposed by external powers for the purpose of disciplining the body (Foucault, 1975:

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38) became the work of art soul crafted by persons whose project in life is to create themselves (Foucault, 1984). But I have commented on his life and thought up to the mid-1970s, when vital themes from his past converged and waxed to form the body of ideas most commonly associated with the name “Michel Foucault”.

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EPILOGUE As the Objects begin to have Voice Catherine Odora Hoppers I want to end this book on a note of gratitude. If we can now go beyond Foucault, it is because we can go farther on paths that he has opened for us. Although I will speak now in the first person singular, I am sure that I speak for many. Foucault opened my eyes. He helped me to go beyond simply saying that “we were colonialised” and, therefore, vehemently hating colonialism. Foucault helped me to see that, in what we call “normal”, we are treading a very delicate path; partly because of the legal institutions set up by the colonial masters to police generation after generation to follow the regulatory rules that were already in place at the time they left; and partly because of other “good things” colonialism brought that we are now trapped by – science, technology. Foucault helped me see the knowledge component in colonialism and its post-colonial aftermath. He forecasted the insurrection of subjugated knowledges. He showed me how their historical contents have been buried and disguised in a functionalist coherence or formal systemisation. He drew our attention to those blocs of historical knowledge that were present but disguised, and that criticism, of the kind he is known for, has been able to reveal. Let us not forget that it was Foucault who reminded us about a whole set of knowledges that had been disqualified as inadequate to their task or insufficiently elaborated: socalled naive knowledges, located low on the hierarchy, beneath the required level of cognition or scientificity. He believed strongly that criticism performs its work through the re-emergence of these low-ranking knowledges – these unqualified, even directly disqualified, marginal, parallel knowledges excluded from the “hierarchy of knowledges”. He led us to question what passes for being universal common-sense knowledge. He showed that it is also, on the contrary, a particular, local, regional knowledge that owes its specious capacity to pass for universal knowledge to history and to power. It is through the re-appearance of these local popular knowledges, these disqualified knowledges, that criticism performs its work (Foucault, 1980). Denigrated, treated as

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deviant knowledges incapable of unanimity, owing their force only to the harshness with which they are opposed by everything surrounding them, they have survived. In the 21st century, at last, are we “insurrecting them”. We are putting colonialism to the task. It is here that insights from post-colonial theorists become inescapable. Cultural difference is an important heuristic that has the capability to gradually corrode the grand narratives of evolution, utilitarianism and evangelism, as technologies of colonial and imperialist governance. Foucault forces us to focus on a point the post-colonial theorist, David Hiley, makes about the consequences of the recognition of what diversity poses and compels us to propose. The true challenge before us is understanding the political significance of diversity (Hiley, 2006). As Seyla Benhabib has put it, our challenge is the challenge to build a democracy of difference (Benhabib, 1996). The title Following Foucault is meant to affirm the post-colonial theorist, Homi Bhaba, when he says that, in the 21st century, history is taking place on the outer limits of the subject/object. History is giving rise to new moments of defiance that rip through the sly civility of the grand narratives of the past, exposing their violence. Subaltern agency emerges as a process of reversing, displacing and seizing the apparatus of value coding that had been monopolised by the colonial default drive. According to Bhaba, it is the contestation of the “given” symbols of authority that shifts the terrain of antagonism. This, he states, is the moment of renegotiation of agency. It is the voice of an interrogative, calculative agency, the moment when we lose resemblance with the coloniser, the moment of “rememoration” (Morrison, 1973) that turns the narrative of enunciation into a haunting memorial of what has been excluded, excised, evicted (Bhaba, 1995). The title Following Foucault alerts us that what is unfolding out there is a growing demand that scholarship should not be content with documenting the histories of resistance of the colonised to colonialism. Scholarship should turn those accounts into theoretical events that not only make those struggles relevant for their moment in time, but also relevant for other moments in times to come. The “people without history” then get back their central place in history finally away from the dingy “ethnography corner” to which colonial discourse would want them to remain cast for eternity. They become full agents and makers of history current and future.

Epilogue

In this way, the light that began by being cast on colonialism and the legacy of domination and abuse is changed to vigilant analysis of its failures, silences, and to a systematic spotting of transformative nodes that were not recognisable before, but which are now released into public spaces. The casting of light at last onto subjugated peoples, knowledges, histories and ways of living unsettles the toxic pond and transforms passive analysis into a generative force that valorises and recreates life for those previously museumised (Hoppers, 2008; Visvanathan, 2000; Prakash, 1995). In Prakash’s words, it “throws open for realignment the conflictual, discrepant and even violent processes that formed the precipitous basis of colonialism”. It is a process of engaging with colonialism in a manner that produces a programme for its dislocation (Prakash, 1995: 6). This dislocation is made possible, not only by permitting subalterns direct space for engaging with the structures and manifestations of colonialism, but also by inserting into the discourse arena totally different meanings and registers from other traditions. It is here that subaltern and heterogeneous forms of knowledge such as indigenous knowledge systems and related forms of agency that had no place in the fields of knowledge that grew in compact with colonialism and science at last have a place. By their stirring presence, they become revolutionary heuristics in a post-colonial transformation agenda. Of significance here, then, is how the victims of unjust and dehumanising systems go about exercising their power. The immediate task, according to Rahnema, is that of deciphering the hidden transcript of the subordinate group’s resistance (Rahnema, 1997; 1997b). It is here once again that Visvanathan (1997) comes in with cognitive justice. Cognitive justice affirms the right of different forms of knowledge to survive – and to survive creatively and sustainably, fully participating in the fraternity of knowledges. An experiment in cognitive justice can turn a hierarchy into a circle. Visvanathan continues that the search for cognitive justice becomes not just one for equality, but a search for methods of dialogue. Fraternity at the cognitive level is born only with a method for exploring difference, and providing for reciprocity and empathy. But it is not just respect for the knowledge system. It is an understanding of the life forms, a livelihood and a way of life. It is fraternity at the epistemological and ontological level that we need, and it is in this search for cognitive justice as a fraternal act that the future university lies. In other words, fraternity cannot be reduced to community-level hosted programmes or summer visits. Local knowledges, tribal knowledges, civilisational knowledges, dying knowledges all need a site, a theatre of encounter that is not patronising, not preservationist, not fundamentalist, but open and playful (Visvanathan, 2000).

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The times we live in are times of renegotiation of agency. They are moments when we lose resemblance with the coloniser. Rememoration (in Toni Morrison’s words), turns the narrative of enunciation into a haunting memorial of what has been excluded, excised and evicted. Individual memory meets social memory in a contemporary space. A moment of harrowing ethical repositioning provides an impetus for ethical judgment to undergo purposive, radical revision (Bhaba, 1995). We live in times when public memory accepts responsibility for the past and commits to restoring agency (Cleary & Connolly 2005). The African perspective should entail delineating a distinctive conceptual and analytical lens. It should entail demarcating a mental position or plane of projection from which a wide variety of issues are viewed, reviewed, judged, and from which propositions for new visions or directions are made. If this is so, then African intellectuals and other conscientious intellectuals and researchers have to deepen their current way of thinking, and look where no-one has looked. Africa’s reclaiming of human agency, and of her status in world citizenship, as a subject and not an object, requires a broad range of strategies. As Beji has forecasted, the 21st century will be one in which the political freeing of the continent from various strands of colonial control as an act linked with the attainment of political sovereignty, will transform itself and morph into freedom as a creative act of the spirit (Beji, 2001). However, in order to realise the full reclaiming of human agency in Africa, the dysfunctions of modern and European-programmed notions of progress have to be confronted. Africans and all of us need to become critical explorers of human and societal possibilities. We need to establish new evaluation and appraisal criteria towards the transformation to new futures (Fatnonwa and Pickett, 2002). We need to look beyond the regulatory rules and fish deep into the constitutive rules seeking to find out the way systems – including the academic, political and economic systems that had been shoved onto us – really work. We need to find out how our indigenous peoples can reclaim custodianship over their knowledge in public spaces, along with the right to speak and be determining agents of cooperative contemporary change. We need to make up our minds whether the adults, standing as they do between the past and the future to be built, will look into the future, and make that crucial distinction between producing more offspring, and producing offspring that are not crippled (Gergen, 1994). The SARChI Chair in Development Education in UNISA works towards such change, and believes in building capacity for transdisciplinary, basic, applied, and most of all,

Epilogue

strategic research in support of Africa’s and the world’s re-development in this light. When new relationships and modi operandi need to be created, as is evident in the mandate of this government-funded SARCHI Chair, new interpretive elements need to be introduced into the research and development landscape in order for fresh, purposive and shared commitments to be brought to bear. Accordingly, new concepts and new interpretative elements have been brought in during the years, which the South African Research Chair in Development Education has been in operation, such as Second-level Indigenisation, Transformation by Enlargement, (after Visvanathan) Cognitive Justice. As the objects begin to have voice, we are creating new notions of justice, of democracy, of rights and of cognitive justice. We are re-working the democratisation of knowledge. In a word, we are democratising the so-called “development” that was linked to the formerly hegemonic colonialist notions of science. It is democratisation, very much in the spirit of Foucault, that goes farther on paths opened by his achievements. It is a democratisation based on a new articulation of people-to-people and peopleto-nature relations. It provides for and promotes cultural diversity in a global perspective, rather than western industrial hegemony. The new democratisation is an eco-centric perception. It places humanity within nature as part of nature, rather than as superior to it. It is a democratisation which sees the development of people in the round – as wholes – both as individuals and as members of social communities. It calls for a truly human development that caters to people’s needs of being, of doing, and of relating as well as, of course, the now dominant need of having. It is a democratisation that rejects the idea that the 30 percent of the world’s population that still, today, sustain their livelihoods on other formulas elliptical to the western model are now “disposable”, as far as the modern project is concerned. Finally, it is a democratisation that promotes autonomy, initiative and capability based on a commitment to social justice. The organisation and support for a new kind of people’s power, that can both resist the onslaught of modern development and, at the same time, further the common good, is a formidable and uncertain task, but it is not impossible (Ekin, 1992).

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I come back again to the title: Following Foucault. Tormented soul that he was, full of contradictions as his critics have shown him to be, always ready to explore new terrain as he did, Foucault opened up for us paths for the re-emergence of low-ranking knowledges. Their re-emergence brings us love that the wisdom of the future – like the wisdom of the past – recognises as indispensable. By sharing Foucault with you, we intend to show that, in our midst, we had the codes of what is, in fact, possible.

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REFERENCES Notes: Foucault, Michel. 1994. Dits et écrits, Paris: Gallimard, is here often abbreviated as DE. It is a four volume (four Tome) collection of his miscellaneous (non-book) writings edited by Daniel Defert and François Ewald. Pages are normally cited to the reprinting in DE rather than to the original writing. When DE is cited Tome I means Volume 1, Tome II means Volume 2 etc. Unless the context or an explicit statement indicates otherwise all translations in the lectures and in these references are by Howard Richards. For some publications we do not know a volume number or page numbers and provide other information instead. Achebe, C. 1958. Things fall apart. London: William Heinemann. Aglietta, M. 2000. A theory of capitalist regulation: The US experience. London: Verso. [French original: 1997. Régulation et crises du capitalisme 1976–1997. Paris: Opus.] Alford, C.F. 2000. What would it matter if everything Foucault said about prisons were wrong? Discipline and punish after twenty years. Theory and Society, 29: 125–146. https://doi.org/10.1023/A: 1007014831641 Althusser, L. 1971. Lenin and philosophy and other writings. New York: Monthly Review Press. Althusser, L. 2003. The humanist controversy and other writings. London: Verso. Amin, S. 1974. Accumulation on a world scale. New York: Monthly Review Press. Anderson, P. 1980. Arguments within English Marxism. London: Verso. Andersson, G. (forthcoming) Unbounded organization: Embracing the societal enterprise. Archer, M. 1995. Realist social theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511557675 Archer, M. 2001. Being human: The problem of agency. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Arendt, H. 1958. The human condition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Arendt, H. 1970. On violence. New York: Harcourt Brace and World. Aristotle. Approximately 330 B.C. The Nichomachean ethics. Various editions. Austin, J. 1962. Sense and sensibilia. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Bachelard, G. 1938. La formation de l´esprit scientifique. Paris: Vrin. Bauman, Z. 2001. Community: Seeking safety in an unsecure world. Cambridge: Polity Press. Beck, U. 1992. Risk society: Towards a new modernity. London: Sage. [German original: 1986.] Belloc, H. 1937. The crisis of civilization. Rockford, IL: Tan Books. Beji, H. 2001. Tomorrow, women. Learning to live together: Towards a new social contract. In: J. Binde. (ed.), Keys to the 21st century. Oxford: Berghahn Books. Benhabib, S. 1996. Democracy and difference. Contesting the boundaries of the political. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Benoist, J.M. 1970. Marx est mort. Paris, Gallimard.

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Bergson, H. 1911. Creative evolution. New York: Henry Holt. [French original: 1907.] Bernstein, R. 1978. The restructuring of social and political theory. Philadelphia: The University of Pennsylvania Press. Bhaba, H. 1995. In the Spirit of Calm Violence. In: Prakash, G, After colonialism: Imperial histories and post-colonial displacements. 326–346. New Jersey: Princeton University Press. Bhaskar, R. 1978. A realist theory of science. Hassocks UK: Harvester Press. Bhaskar, R. 1979. The possibility of naturalism: a philosophical critique of the human sciences. New York: Humanities Press. Bhaskar, R. et al. 1998. Critical realism. London: Routledge. Bhengu, M. 2006. Ubuntu: The global philosophy for humankind. Cape Town: Lotsha Publications. Bourdieu, P. 1979. La distinction: critique sociale du jugement. Paris: Minuit. Bourdieu, P. 1985. L’ontologie politique de Martin Heidegger. Paris: Editions de Minuit. Braudel, F. 1979. Civilization and capitalism. Three Volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers. Burke, K. 1969. A grammar of motives. Berkeley: University of California Press. Campbell, J. 1994. The way of the myth. Boston: Shambhala. Carroll, D. 1978. The subject of archaeology, or the sovereignty of the episteme. MLN. 93: 695-722. https://doi.org/10.2307/2906601 Chege, M. 1996/1997. Africa’s murderous professors. The National Interest. 46: 32-40. Cleary, J. & Connolly, C. 2005. The Cambridge companion to modern Irish culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL052182009X Cohen, S. 1985. Visions of social control. Cambridge: Polity Press. Comte, A. 2009. A general view of positivism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [French original: 1844.] https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511692888 Coraggio, J.L. 2004. La gente o el capital. Buenos Aires: Espacio Editores. Coraggio, J.L. 2004a. De la emergencia a la estrategia. Buenos Aires: Espacio Editores. Debord, G. 1994. The society of the spectacle. Translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith. New York: Zone Books. [French original: 1967.] Defert, D. & F. Ewald. 1994. Chronologie. In: DE Tome I. Paris: Gallimard. Deleuze, G. 1969a. Répetition et différence. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. Deleuze, G. 1969b. Logique du sens. Paris: Minuit. Deleuze, G. 1986. Foucault. Paris: Editions de Minuit. Deleuze, G. 1997. Desire and pleasure. In: Davidson, A. (ed.), Foucault and his interlocutors. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. [French original: 1977.] Deleuze, G. & Foucault, M. 1972. Les intellectuels et le pouvoir. L’Arc. 49: 3-10. Reprinted in DE Tome II: 306-315. Derrida, J. 1963. Cogito and the history of madness. In: J. Derrida, Writing Difference. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. [French original: 1963.]

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Fiske, A.P. 1992. The four elementary forms of sociality: Framework for a unified theory of social relations. Psychological Review. 99: 689-723. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.99.4.689 Flaubert, G. 2009. Madame Bovary. New York: Penguin Books. [French original: 1856.] Forrester, V. 1996. L´horreur économique. Paris: Fayard. Foucault, M. 1954. Maladie mentale et personnalité. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. Foucault, M. 1955. Introduction to Ludwig Binswanger. Rêve et existence. Paris: Desclée de Brouwer. Reprinted in DE Tome I, 65-119. Foucault, M. 1957a. La psychologie de 1850 a 1950. In: D. Huisman & A. Weber. (eds.), Histoire de la philosophie européene, Tome II. Paris: Librairie Fischbacher. Reprinted in DE Tome I ,120-137. Foucault, M. 1957b. La recherche scientifique et la psychologie. In: E. Morére (ed.), Des chercheurs francais s’interrogent. Orientation et organisation du travail scientifique en France. Toulouse: Collection Nouvelle Recherche no. 13, 173-201. Reprinted in DE Tome I, 137-158. Foucault, M. 1961. Histoire de la folie à l’age classique. Paris: Gallimard. [Reprinted: 1972. English version translated and reworked: 1965. Madness and Civilization. New York: Vintage.] Foucault, M. 1961a. Alexandre Koyre, la revolution astronomique: Copernic, Kepler, Borelli. La Nouvelle Revue Francaise. Reprinted in DE I: 170-171. Foucault, M. 1961b. Interview with Michel Foucault by J P Weber in Le Monde: 9. Reprinted in DE Tome I, 167-169. Foucault, M. 1963. La naissance de la clinique. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. Foucault, M. 1963a. Raymond Roussel. Paris, Gallimard. Foucault, M. 1963b. Hommage à Georges Bataille. In: Critique, 195-96. Partially translated and reprinted as “A preface to transgression” in Michel Foucault, 1977. Language, counter-memory, practice. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Foucault, M. 1963c. Language to Infinity. Tel Quel, 15. [Translated and reprinted in Michel Foucault. 1977. Language, counter-memory, practice. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.] Foucault, M. 1966. Les mots et les choses. Paris: Gallimard. [English translation: Michel Foucault. 1971. The Order of Things. New York: Pantheon.] Foucault, M. 1966a. L’arriere-fable. In: L’Arc. 29, 5-12. Reprinted in DE Tome I, 506-513. Foucault, M. 1966b. Interview with R. Bellour regarding Les mots et les choses. In: Les Lettres Francaises. 1125, 3-4. Reprinted in DE Tome I, 498-504. Foucault, M. 1966c. Interview with Madeleine Chapsal regarding Les mots et les choses in La Quinzaine Littéraire. 5, 14-15. Reprinted in DE Tome I, 513-518. Foucault, M. 1966d. Message ou Bruit. In: Concours Médical. 88, 6285-6286. Reprinted in DE Tome I, 557-560. Foucault, M. 1966e. “L’homme est-il mort?,” interview with C. Bonnefoy, Arts et Loisirs, 8-9. Reprinted in DE Tome I, 540-544. Foucault, M. 1966f. “La pensée du dehors.” Critique, 523-46. Reprinted in DE Tome I, 518‑539.

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