Archive for March, 2012

I am agreeing with Elisabeth Grosz’s plea that we need to address the Real again; the Real which makes texts possible, and which we couldn’t speak about in academia for decades, because of deconstruction, she says – despite the value of deconstruction as a tool with limited purpose (the same goes for Luhmann systems theory in sociology or for rational choice).

Foucault was aware of this, of course, and his lecture project in the 1980s can be seen as an argument for just this case. He counters Derrida, in particular in his Lectures from 1982/1983, ‘the Government of self and others’ (in particular March 2, 1983), arguing (as Frederic Gros in his Afterword on the Context of Foucault’s lectures, also elaborates) that Plato’s rejection of writing did not occur due to a defense of a pure logos, but “a silent work of self on self which disqualifies all logos, written or oral.” (383). The issue, with reference to Derrida, is not between written or oral – as I myself argue that these two are both ‘textual’, and, therefore, not exhaustive of the notion of discourse or of narrative. Instead Foucault saw the difference between a “logographic mode of being of rhetorical discourse and an auto-ascetic mode if being of philosophical discourse” (ibd.). Thus, philosphy for Foucault’s Greek philosopher is in relation to parrhesia a kind of psychagogy, unlike rhetoric, which is tasked to influence and persuade, philosophy (or theory) is an operation with ‘will enable souls to distinguish properly between true and false, and which, through philosophical paideia, will provide the instruments to carry out this distinction.“ (305, my emphasis; paideia means a rich concept of enculturation through education and exercise of practice). In relation to Plato’s Phaedrus , it is also striking that Foucault discusses this matter on the example of medicine, Hippocrates, therapeutic regimes and the body, culminating in the strong statement that echos our criticism of current Western medicine and its focus on Neo-Kraepilinanism, (bio-)medicalization and pharmacologicalization:

[I]t was Hippocrates who thus substituted or completed medical art, or enabled it to be not just the application of a recipe,

but well and truly an art of curing through knowledge of the body.” (334)

It is also in this context that one must see the Foucauldian project in its entirety from his earliest works the Binswanger introduction with its Rene Char invocation and his Cassirer-based intro to Kant’s anthropology, via his writings on the heterotopic relation between language and space, to his final musings on Enlightenment: An anthropology without anthropos. For him (from the beginning to his ouevre to the), that meant asking the Kantian question: What is man? Not as an encyclopedic nor analytic enterprise, he did not take the question to mean that we must take (hu)man, the anthropos, as degre zero or zero-point, he did not accept the anthropos as the subject or object, but he was asking for a concept of the human sciences, Norbert Elias’s Menschenwissenschaften, that was able to be a critical anthropology that would ask for the conditions of possibility of ‘humanity and the concept of human’ (both in their political meaning as well), in other words for the conditions of possibility of anthropos that was, however, at the same time neither explicitly nor, more importantly, implicilty including the question for the anthropos. Such a type of question would have made it anthropos into a telos, telelogically (humanities) of teleonomically (social sciences – this is the problem of the idea of the ‘social’ as explanatory, which Latour warns about), or would have implicitly and, that is the more dangerous and in the natural sciences too often occurring route of inquest, merely reified the concept without its actual appearance, however in effect thereby negating it in ts technological advances: The veiled idea of ‘human’ in the natural sciences will, eventually, destroy humanity, in eroding qua technology the necessary conditions for the existence of the human beings and for the peaceful and cooperative means to cooperate (polis) that constitute humanity.

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