File spoon-archives/foucault.archive/foucault_1998/foucault.9806, message 26

Date: Fri, 5 Jun 1998 02:23:03 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Colonization:  Habermas and Foucault

On Tue, 2 Jun 1998 wrote:

> have only one question. It sounds as this movement you speak of as
> "colonization" involves one discourse overcoming another (disciplinary
> apparati colonize juridical apparati, for example).

Well, to quibble:  an apparatus (a *dispositif*, in Foucault's notoriously
difficult-to-translate term, also translated as "deployment") is not only
a discourse; it is the combination of a discourse and a set of practices
and institutions.  The deployment of sexuality, the apparatus of
sexuality, involves more than just the spread of the discourse of
sexuality:  it involves certain institutions (medical, psychiatric, etc.)
and practices--the things that are done to you, and by you, to make you
experience yourself as a sexual being of a certain kind.

>  Although I am not versed
> in Habermas' thought, I do have a feeling that if my understanding of your use
> of "colonization" is adequate, then something other than a discourse
> overcoming another discourse is at work in both Marx and Foucault. I am under
> the impression that one discourses emerges from within another (Socialism out
> of Capitalism or Biopolitics out of Sovereignty), and that this emergence is
> the 'birth" that the genealogoical method addesses.

Notwithstanding what I said above, this sounds all right.
>      Does this have import to your  comparison? How does Habermas'
> colonization of life world's relate to what I am speaking of as a sense of the
> emergence of a discourse?

I'm not sure that the comparison goes that far.  In Habermas's scheme,
after the breakdown of "religious-metaphysical" worldviews and the rise of
reason--after the Enlightenment, in other words--there is a bifurcation of
reason into communicative and instrumental reason:  communicative reason
is the kind of rationality proper to the "lifeworld"--that is, the world
of in which people deal with each other as people (as opposed to as
strategic abstractions); the world in which social, ethical, political,
philosophical, critical discourse, from the arcane to the everyday, is
conducted; the world in which the cultural stock of meanings and values is
stored, and which is therefore responsible for the maintenance of social
solidarity, purposefulness, psychological well-being in some
sense--whereas instrumental reason is the kind of rationality proper to
"systems"--the economy, on one hand; systems of the administration and
execution of power, essentially bureaucracies, on the other hand:  systems
which, of their nature, deal in pragmatic, cost/benefit terms.
"Colonization of the lifeworld" occurs when the instrumental rationality
proper to the economic and bureaucratic systems invades the
lifeworld--which is just what Nesta and Larry have been talking about with
regard to market mentalities infiltrating into other areas of life.  When
that happens, relationships based on communication (which fosters
understanding, trust, solidarity) are replaced by relationships based on
pragmatic ends (which fosters exactly the opposite).  Hence, for Habermas,
all the major "pathologies" of the contemporary world....

Now, in Habermas, I don't think there's quite the sense of X giving birth
to Y and then being taken over by Y; communicative rationality does not
give birth to instrumental rationality; the two arise simultaneously.
Nor, I don't think, do "religious-metaphysical worldviews" give birth to
the two forms of rationality--at least, not in the definite way that
Marx's modes of production give birth to each other.  So, like I say, I
don't know if the comparison can be pushed that far.... But I do like the
word "colonization" to refer to what disciplinary appartuses* do to
juridical apparatuses--how they leave all the trappings of the old
apparatus standing, but make those trappings function completely
differently.  (You might also think of what Foucault says in Care of the
Self about Greco-Roman sexual ethics being given a Christian spin while
the associated prohibitions don't change.)

One last note about the Foucault/Habermas comparison:  for Habermas,
colonization is a bad thing, a pathological thing.  Foucauldian
colonization, if you want to call it that, is not a bad thing in itself:
it brings with it its own kind of pathologies, which are perhaps neither
better nor worse than the kind of pathologies we'd otherwise have to
contend with.

*I just looked it up, and the plural of "apparatus" is either "apparatus"
or "apparatuses".  How about that. :)

----Matthew A. King------Department of Philosophy------McMaster University----
     "The border is often narrow between a permanent temptation to commit
     suicide and the birth of a certain form of political consciousness."
-----------------------------(Michel Foucault)--------------------------------


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