Political Science 2231E Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Logocentrism, Foundationalism, James Der Derian

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©Nigmendra Narain
General Arguments
o Michel Foucault / Jacques Derrida (French philosophers)
Response to failures of Western leftist failures & Socialist failures under USSR
Challenge "Enlightenment" (what is this?)
o Challenge assumptions of Dominant and Marxist approaches
o Argued against these Enlightenment assumptions:
Reality can be understood through reason (logocentrism)
Separation between observer and what is observed/known
Claims of Western knowledge to being superior -- progressive,
advanced & civilized
Claims of Western knowledge being rooted in firm foundations,
unbiased approaches, and progressive accumulation of knowledge
(phonocentric = authoritative voice)
There are 'universals'
'Meta-narratives': big, continuous 'stories' of humanity unfolding
Power is productive = creates limits and constraints; creates our categories for
Power is created by discourses: representational practices creating meaning,
identities, social relations, legitimate political & economic relations
Modes of representations: systems of representing ideas and connecting them to
other ideas (onomasiologically)
Power and knowledge are inseparably linked
o Against foundationalism (knowledge is founded on universals observable
to observer)
o Production of knowledge = Production of power
o Producing dominant ideas, knowledge, representations, and ideology
o Creates dichotomies: two ideas which are related to each other in
opposition and hierarchy
o Legitimation: allows claims of knowing the "truth" and dismiss other claims
as false
Can you think of claims which were once considered false, but now
are considered true?
Reality does exist, BUT reality cannot exist for humans outside of language and
representation (socially constructed in words & sounds)
No general theory to explain the world
No general plan or blueprint for universal human emancipation Knowledge and
power are linked
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