Ideas from 'works' by Michel Foucault [1978], by Theme Structure

green numbers give full details    |     back to texts     |     unexpand these ideas


2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 7. Status of Reason
Foucault originally felt that liberating reason had become an instrument of domination
                        Full Idea: In early work Foucault writes in opposition to the Enlightenment. ..The reason that was supposed to liberate us has itself become the primary instrument of our domination. ..His heroisation of the mad aims to set up an alternative to the regime of reason.
                        From: report of Michel Foucault (works [1978]) by Gary Gutting - Foucault: a very short introduction 7
                        A reaction: Adorno and Horkheimer are cited as background. I hear Spinoza turning in his grave, because right reason could never be an instrument of domination.
13. Knowledge Criteria / E. Relativism / 1. Relativism
Foucault challenges knowledge in psychology and sociology, not in the basic sciences
                        Full Idea: Foucault's project is to question quite specific claims to cognitive authority, made by many psychologists and social scientists. He has not problems with other domains, such as mathematics and the basic sciences.
                        From: report of Michel Foucault (works [1978]) by Gary Gutting - Foucault: a very short introduction 5
                        A reaction: Nowadays we describe his target as Epistemic Injustice (see book of that title by Miranda Fricker).
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 1. Consciousness / a. Consciousness
Unlike Marxists, Foucault explains thought internally, without deference to conscious ideas
                        Full Idea: Unlike Marxists, Foucault's project is to offer an internal account of human thinking, without assuming a privileged status for the conscious content of that thought.
                        From: report of Michel Foucault (works [1978]) by Gary Gutting - Foucault: a very short introduction 4
                        A reaction: His project is historical. Personally I resent anyone who claims to understand my thought better than I do. I suppose my intellectual duty is to read Foucault, and see (honestly) whether his project applies to me.
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 2. Natural Values / c. Natural rights
Nature is not the basis of rights, but the willingness to risk death in asserting them
                        Full Idea: The decision 'to prefer the risk of death to the certainty of having to obey' is the 'last anchor point' for any assertion of rights, 'one more solid and closer to the experience than "natural rights"'.
                        From: Michel Foucault (works [1978], EW III:449)
                        A reaction: I recall a group of Afrikaan men going to face certain death, rather than give up apartheid.
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 5. Right to Punish / d. Reform of offenders
Power is used to create identities and ways of life for other people
                        Full Idea: For Foucault power is less about repressing people or issuing commands, and more about producing identities and ways of living.
                        From: report of Michel Foucault (works [1978]) by Andrew Shorten - Contemporary Political Theory 01
                        A reaction: I take this to be the culmination of the Hegelian view of a person, as largely created by social circumstances rather than by biology. I'm beginning to think that Foucault may be a very important philosopher - although elusive.