File spoon-archives/foucault.archive/foucault_2004/foucault.0410, message 29

Date: Sat, 9 Oct 2004 13:50:46 +1000
Subject: Re: happy positivism

Hi Clare

As always, the definitive answer! See you next week when I 
return from HK (I slipped away with Elizabeth who is over 
here for a week to teach)


---- Original message ----
>Date: Fri, 8 Oct 2004 22:12:47 +1000
>From: "Clare O'Farrell" <>  
>Subject: happy positivism  
>To: foucault-AT-lists.village.Virginia.EDU
>On the subject of 'happy positivism'. There was a well-
known review 
>of The Order of Things published in Les Temps Modernes 
>journal) in 1967 by Simone de Beauvoir's 
secretary/assistant Sylvie 
>Le Bon. The title of this piece was 'Un positiviste 
desespere: Michel 
>Foucault' (a desperate positivist). Georges Canguilhem 
referred to 
>this criticism in his own 1967 review of Foucault's work in 
>journal Critique. Obviously the term  positivist was 
intended as an 
>insult in relation to Foucault's 'structuralist' stance. 
>Foucault's remark about being happy to be a positivist was 
an oblique 
>response to this (existentialist) criticism.
>  Happy would definitely be the right word in this context! 
There are 
>quite a few problems with that first translation of The 
order of 
>At 23:53 -0400 6/10/04, Brodie Richards wrote:
>>I do not recall Foucault using the exact phrase "happy 
>>not at least in the English translation of Archealogy of 
>>What he does say about it is on page 125 of A/K and what I 
>>leads to the phrase being created by commentators is the 
>>passage. He says: "If,  by substituting the analysis of 
rarity for 
>>the search for totalities, the description of relations of 
>>exteriority for the theme of transcendental foundation, 
the analysis 
>>of accumulations for the quest of origin, one is a 
positivst, then I 
>>am quite happy to be one."  This is referring back, on the 
>>page, to his "willingness" to use the term "positivty" to 
>>the emergence of a discursive formation.  So, unless I am 
wrong, F. 
>>himself does say he is employing a "happy positivism".  In 
>>sense, the term positivity is more important to his 
argument and to 
>>any argument about what he meant than the phrase "happy 
>>"Happy positivism" has a polemical usfulness but not much 
else in my 
>Clare  O'Farrell


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