File spoon-archives/foucault.archive/foucault_2001/foucault.0108, message 31

Subject: Re: Augenblick and event
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2001 21:28:22 -0400


I've arrived back, but have a backlog of work which needs attention. You
raise a lot of very interesting questions. Through necessity these further
thoughts will have to be brief.

However, even if I had lots of time I'm not sure I'd have much more to say.
There are a number of reasons for this. Part of them is that I am away from
my own collection of books and it is just to difficult to check all these
many citations. For the other reasons I think tracing them might be the best
way to say something to these concerns.

First, and most important, there are a number of relations between Heidegger
and Foucault that I haven't, and I don't think anyone has, thought through
in depth. Equally of course there are some i haven't thought through that
others have. There's an edited book on their relation out next year which i
think will be very instructive. Despite your claim that "there is no doubt
Heidegger's influence on Foucualt. It is all pervasive." - which i agree
with - i really don't think that the issue has been realised, or thought
through in any detail. Many people deny all relation. I don't think there
are "generalities we all know" - not in this area of Foucault's thought. I
think much work remains to be done, and there will be many disagreements of
what precisely is at stake. I don't agree with everything Scott, Megill,
Dreyfus etc. say (these are only a few, but there are not many more), and i
don't expect people will agree with all i say. That's a good thing.

Second, to state all the differences between Heidegger and Foucault strikes
me as less interesting than to note the similarities. Of course they are
different thinkers. But it doesn't seem terribly interesting to say that in
several different ways. If the comparison is instructive or illuminating
that's one thing, but there are so many differences i'm not sure that would
always be the case. To note Foucault's indebtedness to Heidegger is not
designed to belittle or diminish him as a thinker, an independent thinker,
who is interesting for far far more than his relation to Heidegger. (In fact
i think it makes him a much more serious thinker)

Third, i make quite a thing of the difference between Being and Time and the
later work, without buying into the notion of the 'turn' [Kehre]. In fact, i
that the lecture courses show that a chronological development of
Heidegger's thought is inherently problematic (compare Kisiel or Krell -
critical - to Richardson, who introduced Heidegger I and II, say). But there
is a development
between division II of Being and Time and the unpublished but projected
divisions which is crucial. Foucault strikes me as having much more in
common with the
historical Heidegger than that of the published Being and Time. (Actually,
i'd say the vast majority of Heidegger has more in common with the
historical than Being and Time's existential analytic)

That said, i do think there are some parallels between conceptions of truth
in the two thinkers, between freedom and concern or care (cf William
McNeill's work - "Care for the Self: Originary Ethics in Heidegger and
Foucault", Philosophy Today, Vol 42 No 1, Spring 1998.). Some, but very
little of that is in the book. It may be an area i return to.
L'hermeneutique du sujet may be the spur.

As far as I know the 1964 Tunisia interview is not available in English.
It's a real shame. It would clear up much of what we think about Foucault's
relation to structuralism. Some of his later comments are clearly protesting
too much. Equally it's very instructive to compare the earlier edition of La
naissance de la clinique with the later one, which was the one translated
into English. James Bernauer's Force of Flight analyses the differences.
Foucault attempted to cover his tracks, ridding it of explicitly
structuralist language, but we can uncover them again. What you say about
event and cite seems accurate, but from the perspective of the later

You seem to have some interesting lines of inquiry. I hope you have a chance
to develop them. Someone once suggested i
write my book so that people who were interested in Foucault didn't need to
read Heidegger. My aim is exactly the opposite. More people interested in
Foucault should read Heidegger - because i genuinely think that a detailed
knowledge of Heidegger would make Foucault appear in a number of different




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