Why foucault


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Why foucault

  1. 1. 12/03/2014 1 Why Foucault? New Directions in Educational Research Michael A. Peters University of Glasgow
  2. 2. 12/03/2014 2 Introduction: Why Read Foucault Today?  Foucault is dead and we have killed him.  What relevance does his work have now? (He died in 1984).  Reading (like interpretation) is a political and ethical process.  Foucault is read differently by different audiences and generations.
  3. 3. 12/03/2014 3 The Reception of Foucault  Foucault in America – Irvine, Berkeley & Vermont; received as a „poststructuralist‟ by Dreyfus & Rabinow.  Foucault in Britain – Nik Rose, Colin Gordon „reception … difficult and uncertain‟.  German reception dominated by Habermas‟ early polemics.
  4. 4. 12/03/2014 4 Who, What and Why Foucault?  “structuralist, idealist, neoconservative, post- structuralist, antihumanist, irrationalist, radical relativist, theorist of power, missionary of transgression, aestheticist, dying man, saint, or, if nothing else „post-modern‟?” (Faubion)  Foucault rejected labeling: “I have never been a Freudian, I have never been a Marxist, and I have never been a structuralist” (Foucault)
  5. 5. 12/03/2014 5 The ‘death’ of the author  “The coming into being of the „author‟ constitutes the privileged moment of individualization in the history of ideas, knowledge, literature, philosophy and the sciences” (Foucault)  Nietzschean idea of an „aesthetics of existence‟  Remaking ourselves through literature and theory
  6. 6. 12/03/2014 6 Four Foucaults Dreyfus and Rabinow (1982) 1. A Heideggerian Foucault - typified by his study of madness and reason. 2. An archaeological or quasi-structuralist Foucault - characterised by The Archaeology of Knowledge and The Order of Things. 3. A genealogical Foucault motivated by Nietzsche‟s A Genealogy of Morals. 4. An „ethical‟ Foucault influenced by Kant (and Pierre Hadot).
  7. 7. 12/03/2014 7 Foucault’s self- description (alias ‘Maurice Florence’)  “To the extent that Foucault fits into the philosophical tradition, it is the critical tradition of Kant, and his project could be called A Critical History of Thought”  “What are the processes of subjectivation and objectivation that make it possible for the subject qua subject to become an object of knowledge [connaissance], as a subject?”
  8. 8. 12/03/2014 8 Foucault’s objective  “My objective has been to create a history of the different modes by which, in our culture, human beings are made subjects. My work has dealt with three modes of objectification which transform human beings into subjects…The first is the modes of inquiry which try to give themselves the status of the sciences…In the second part of my work, I have studied the objectivizating of the subject in what I shall call „dividing practices‟ …Finally, I have sought to study – it is my current work -- the way a human being turns him- or herself into a subject.”
  9. 9. 12/03/2014 9 A Critical Ontology of Ourselves  „critical thought that would take the form of an ontology of ourselves, of an ontology of the present‟  „the form of reflection that extends from Hegel to the Frankfurt School via Nietzsche and Max Weber‟.  strongly influenced by his readings of both Nietzsche and Heidegger
  10. 10. 12/03/2014 10 Nietzsche’s Influence  Nietzsche‟s work, in particular, provided Foucault with novel ways to re-theorize and conceive anew the operation of power and desire in the constitution and self-overcoming of human subjects.  It enabled him to analyse the modes by which human beings become subjects without according either power or desire conceptual priority over the other, as had been the case in the discourses of Marxism (with its accent on power) and of Freudianism (with its accent on desire).
  11. 11. 12/03/2014 11 Foucault in Educational Research  Foucault as naturalised Kantian: J. D. Marshall  Foucault as critical ethno-sociologist: Stephen Ball  Foucault as Nietzschean genealogist: Tina Besley  Foucault as historian of systems of thought: Bernadette Baker
  12. 12. 12/03/2014 12 Foucault in Educational Research  Foucault as historical materialist (and democrat): Mark Olssen  Foucault as social epistemologist: Tom Popkewitz & Marie Brennan  Foucault as crypto-feminist: Sue Middleton  Foucault as poststructuralist: Michael A. Peters