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Lecture 1 - Foucault

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University of Ottawa
Sonia Sikka

Nov. 18, 2013 Transition from Heidegger to Foucault  A worldview is a product of a certain age  The call for a person to be authentic against the force of the they  What enables change/transformation, is that we feel distress – the underlying sensation that the world is not right  Focusing on what doesn’t fit – register that something is wrong  Art and poetry – one may not initially be able to express what’s wrong – that’s where art comes in – to register distress FOUCAULT  More of a critic than positing a new view  Does not want to formulate new utopian ideas of how things should be  Born in 1926 in France into a bourgeois middleclass family  Studied under Jean Hyppolite  Degrees in philosophy and psychology  1960 – became head of the philosophy at a university in France  Madness & Civilization (1961)  Birth of the Clinic (1943)  {Insanity in medicine}  Order of Things (1966)  The Archeology of Knowledge (1969)  {classics of structuralist thought]  Discipline & Punish (1975)  History of punishment – the way it was viewed/what it was doing  History of Sexuality – only 2/3 volumes were published before his death  Political activist for repressed groups – women, criminals, etc.  He didn’t want to be categorized or accused of using 1 methodology  Not building a system belongs to his view of philosophical knowledge  Rejects totalization  His works are particular approaches to particular problems  Condemns totalizing philosophy and totalizing politics  His works are historical accounts  His aim is the write the history of the present – of the various facets of modern western culture which will enable us to better understand what is taking place at present  Historically based critique of forms of rationality which includes the progressive rationalization of society  The attempts to order, classify, and control  Phenomenology – insists it is one of the things he is NOT doing  Not looking at the objects of a universal consciousness  The foundation of meaning for Husserl was the subject  For Foucault, there is no such meaning giving subject which can give us the truth through a phenomenological investigation  The subject Foucault is trying to show is self-structure through various social practices – power  The subject doesn’t construct reality – it is constructed by reality  No basic autonomous subject that structures the world and could become transparent to us  Foucault stresses situatedness  The very nature of the human nature is constructed  Understanding ourselves means understanding the structures of the historical moment in which we are  That understanding can only come about through analysis  There isn’t any deep truth about the human subject – no authentic being which is hidden  The truth of the subject lies in a historically constituted set of relations of power  How we come to see ourselves in a certain way  Very influenced by Heidegger  There is no autonomous subject that can
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