Revising Foucault: The History and Critique of Modernity
PHILOSOPHY AND SOCIAL CRITICISM, Forthcoming
29 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2008
Date Written: October 30, 2008
I propose a major reassessment of Foucault's philosophico-historical account of the basic problems of modernity. I revise our understanding of Foucault by countering the misinterpretations proffered by influential European critics such as Habermas and Derrida. Central to Foucault's account of modern was his work on two crucial concept pairs: freedom/power and reason/madness. I argue against the view of Habermas and Derrida that Foucault understood modern power and reason as straightforwardly opposed to modern freedom and madness. I show that Foucault held a much more complex view of these pairs, a view encapsulated in his term "reciprocal incompatibility." By revising our interpretation of Foucault's work on modernity in this way, we open the way to much more effective deployments of his critical apparatus.
Keywords: Foucault, Habermas, Derrida, Modernity, Discipline
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