File spoon-archives/foucault.archive/foucault_2001/foucault.0108, message 30


Subject: Re: unconscious of knowledge
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2001 21:33:37 -0400


Ali

As i said in the other mail these remarks will be brief. Well, they will
probably be extensive, but not as much as your queries deserve. I think you
raise some very interesting and pertinent tensions in Foucault's work which
bear close examination.

I must say that I find your reliance on Remarks on Marx somewhat troubling,
especially given your legitimate caution to the citation i made from Truth
and Power. Foucault's interviews can be very illuminating, but they can also
be misleading in that they are sometimes comments made on the spot, and
without the detailed analysis and support of his books or even scripted
lectures. RM is especially troubling given that it is a translation of a
translation, if i recall correctly. There are lots of mistakes or at least
grey areas in translations of Foucault, and they are surely compounded in
twice removed texts. See for example, Two Lectures in Power/Knowledge (like
RM French-Italian-English) and those very lectures in Il faut defendre la
societe. Truth and Power may be another, but i did at least check the
French.

I think that the very late Foucault - WiE? and the later volumes of HS - is
extremely interesting and an area i didn't treat in much detail in what i
have worked on so far. I do think it bears careful comparison with the
earlier work and you rightly identify some tensions and infelicities.

> In AK Foucault defines savior in the similar manner as the conditions that
are necessary 'for this or that enunciation to be formulated" (p. 15). But
in AK Foucault confuses these conditions with discursive conditions, which
is sort of foreclousre of the movement which is necessary for the formation
of knowledge (connaissance).

I think that might be right, although i don't follow the final clause of the
last sentence. I agree that AK emphasises discursive conditions (i don't
think it's confusion) although its not the only conditions at stake, and
then, in later works, he looks at the wider conditions - which still include
discursive conditions - but which also treat power and freedom. For example
what he says about freedom as the condition of possibility for ethics.
Freedom is the condition of possibility of power, which is why resistance is
everywhere. But to see AK as only looking at discursive conditions for
statements [ie connaissance knowledge] is to reduce it to an epistemology.

I still think there is some confusion in your rendering of archaeology being
concerned with connaissance. Of course it is, but in order to investigate
savoir. I think that you are seeing knowledge and the subject as separate,
when if you follow the argument that Foucault is doing ontology then they
are not. The formation of statements is an instance of connaissance, but the
underlying inquiry is that of savoir.

I can't quite put my finger on what is causing us to disagree. I think that
I would have to return very carefully to Foucault's texts to work it out.
What I do think you've uncovered is some inherent tensions in Foucault's
work that bear closer examination.

Archaeology is in some sense the examination of discursive formations, but
as a system whose unity governs the rules of the formation of enonces.
Foucault's archaeology is really an archiveology. What you cite from RM p70
about connaissance is correct, but within a system - a savoir - whose
outlines can be traced by an archaeological analysis.

> May be I am wrong, but I think you are taking Foucault on his words and
that might be a problem. I think it can be misleading to take AK on face
value. As Foucault himself reformulates later on archaeology is concerned
with form of rationality of practical systems while genealogy with their
strategic (freedom) aspect.

I don't think that the first part of this is a tenable argument. You seem to
take RM at face value, whilst i am cautious for the reasons outlined above.
AK is a difficult book, with some awkwardnesses in translation - ie
statement for enonce, connaissance/savoir, etc.. I don't disagree with the
suggestion that Foucault reinterprets himself later on. Of course. But the
way I see it the reading and conceptual apparatus of AK is subsumed in the
later works, even if the explicit formulations don't appear.

> I think this is because in AK Foucault is still not able to conceptualise
adequately because the concept of genealogy is yet lacking. In AK Foucault
is doing both Archaeology and Genealogy but he does not have two names so
both things go under one name that is Archaeology.

I don't think AK or OT miss a conception of genealogy - the realm of
investigation is different. Perhaps Folie et deraison does, but only if you
think that the explicit theorising of power, strategy etc. is necessary. FD
seems to me to work just fine. Its one of my favourite books of F. And Birth
of the Clinic analyses the conditions of possibility as well as any of
Foucault's books to my mind. I think the Rio lectures and the 1974 College
de France work show the medical question in an entirely complementary way -
genealogy to that book's archaeology? Maybe.

>  [The formation of knowledge is what
> happens within a science or a savoir, it is the production of connaissance
> type knowledge.]
>
> I have no problem with this statement, if you do not take formation as
discursive formation.

Sure

> [ But as for what allows that, that is the other level. I
> don't think that is the genealogical level - at least, not if that is
> distinguished from archaeology. It is the archaeological level, which
> relates through analysis of power to genealogy].
>
> What allows what?

The production of knowledge. The formation of statements is part of the
analysis of AK, but it's not the only part.

>Sure savoir is the condition of connaissance. But is this the same level as
that of >rules that govern the statements? I think that is the level of
connaissance. We >'observe' particular science and compare particular
sciences to arrive at the rules >of discursive formations, right? If yes
then is it (that particular science or sciences) >the level of savior or
connaissance?

I think this formulation might have uncovered part of our problem. You seem
to think i am equating statements with instances of connaissance, and the
rules of their formation with savoir. You think that statements are lower
level, and the rules of their formation connaissance. I may have misled, and
if so i apologise. I think that statements are clearly below the level of
connaissance, and so a lot of Foucault's investigation is of the rules of
their formation [connaissance], ie epistemology, but only in order to get
deeper, to look at that lower level of condition of possibility - savoir,
ontology. I think
that the neglect of that other, lower level, is what allows people to read
Foucault as a historical sociologist. To my mind many people miss it - that
lower level - in DP and HS too.

I think i've either covered the other points or have nothing to say.

Best wishes

Stuart



   

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