Mark Redhead, Complimenting rivals: Foucault, Rawls and the problem of public reasoning, Philosophy Social Criticism February 16, 2015

doi: 10.1177/0191453715568922

This article pursues two questions: Can one use Foucault’s later writings on parrhesia and Kant to create a Foucaldian approach to public reason? If so, what lessons might those attracted to John Rawls’ well-known model of public reason draw from a Foucaldian orientation? By putting Foucault into a competitive yet productive relationship with Rawls, this article addresses some of the latter’s shortcomings. In doing so it also makes a larger argument about the need to develop approaches to democratic deliberation that involve engagement with – rather than simple toleration and/or accommodation of – the various ‘reasonable’ ethical commitments deliberators, on some fundamental level, reason in light of. The justificatory aims of public reason are best achieved when participants’ most-cherished beliefs are opened to critical dialogue rather than banished to the realm of the ‘non-political’. The article begins by briefly illuminating the salient features of Rawls’ model of public reasoning as well as three problems that ensue with the limitations it places on discourses regulated by public reason. It then attempts to distill a Foucaldian approach to public reason by briefly discussing 4 elements of Foucault’s later work on Rawls’ philosophical godfather Kant together with several features of the antiquarian studies of parrhesia that Foucault was conducting at the time these Kantian works were written. Third, Jeffrey Stout’s recent account of theistic democratic actors in some of the most economically disadvantaged US localities demonstrates how many of the ideals integral to this Foucaldian approach to public reasoning built on engaging (rather than simply tolerating and/or accommodating) contrasting ethical perspectives are central to some concrete practices of public reasoning. It concludes with some thoughts on the necessity of publicly reasoning through rather than independently of our deepest commitments.

Deliberative democracy
Michel Foucault
grass-roots organizing
public reason
John Rawls

Originally posted on Progressive Geographies:

I attended and spoke at three workshops last week. First, at the Monash University study centre in Prato, Italy, on modern reappropriations of Hellenistic Ethics. I ran a reading seminar on Foucault’s reading of Artemidorus. The other sessions were by Susan James and Aurelia Armstrong on Spinoza’s Ethics; Daniel Conway and Keith Ansell-Pearson on Nietzsche’s reading of Epicurus; and John Sellars and Matthew Sharpe on two translations in progress of essays by Pierre Hadot. It was a tremendous privilege to hear the other discussions, especially – for me – Keith and Dan on Nietzsche, and Matt on Hadot.

The day of reading sessions was between two workshops with formal papers, only small parts of which I was able to attend. Initially the seminar was supposed to be just a discussion session – of the first chapters of History of Sexuality Vol III and the chapters on sexual dreams from…

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Asli Daldal, Power and Ideology in Michel Foucault and Antonio Gramsci: A Comparative Analysis, Review of History and Political Science, Vol 2 No 2 June 2014

Full PDF available

In devising their theories of power and ideology both Gramsci and Foucault make use of Machiavelli’s notion of “relations of force”. They therefore diffuse the power relations to the complex mechanisms of society. Power in Gramscian analysis resides in ideology. Or in other words, to be conscious of the complex social network-hegemonic forces-within which an individual realizes himself already generates power. Once a social group is able to modify the ensemble of these relations and make it “common sense”, it is creating a hegemonic order. The concept of power is everywhere in Foucault’s analyses as well as in his theory. Power is “omnipresent”. It comes from everywhere and is produced every moment. Similar to Gramsci, Foucault also sees power as a relation of force that only exists in action. Foucault’s basic difference from Gramsci is that the latter saw power relations in terms of binary oppositions(such as the leaders and the led, the rulers and the ruled etc.). For Foucault though, power, as well as the resistance it generates, are diffused and not localized in some points.

Michel Foucault and the philosophy of punishment, Talking history, Panel discussion, 29 November 2014 Newstalk radio 106-108FM. Irish radio station

Page includes audio podcast.

The philosophy of punishment is an area of study that is relatively unaddressed and certainly does not resonate in the wider public consciousness.

The work of Michel Foucault went a long way to shedding further light on the philosophies behind discipline and punishment. This was particularly evident with his work ‘Surveiller et Punir: Naissance de la Prison’ (Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison) published in 1975.

While much study had been conducted in this area prior to Foucault, with this publication, he brought the issue to the fore in the 20th century.

Foucault analysed the development of a culture that resulted in the prison system dominating the area of punishment, as society gradually moved away from the use of torture.

Foucault ultimately suggests that it is the use and subjugation of power that influences an institutions use of punishment. He rejects any notion that the development of this system had been motivated by any humanitarian ideals, or that this philosophy of punishment was initially intended as a form of rehabilitation.

While he does not suggest that this is the result of some grand master plan, he evaluates why it has developed in this manner and how this relates to society on a larger scale.

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Hanna, P., Johnson, K., Stenner, P., Adams, M.
Foucault, sustainable tourism, and relationships with the environment (human and nonhuman)
(2015) GeoJournal, 80 (2), pp. 301-314.

DOI: 10.1007/s10708-014-9557-7

Drawing on contemporary research into ethical consumption and sustainable tourism this article starts by outlining the ways in which sustainable tourism (and other forms of ethical consumption) has been understood as a means to perform class based distinctions. At this stage, it is suggested that whilst class may be one factor in understanding such a complex phenomena there might also be a need to examine the practices of sustainable tourist in a manner that takes seriously individual attempts to ‘be ethical’. Foucault’s understanding of ethics is then offered as a means through which this can be achieved. A brief account of the method used to read individuals accounts of sustainable tourism through an ethical Foucauldian lens is then presented. Following this the paper presents the analysis of interviews with sustainable tourists focusing on two key elements. Firstly, the analysis presents the emotional and reciprocal elements of interactions between sustainable tourists and the human ‘other’. Secondly the analysis examines the relationship between the sustainable tourist and non-human environments to further develop the understanding of the emotional and reciprocal elements in light of a Foucauldian ethics. In conclusion it is suggested that rather than merely representing a mode of class distinction, sustainable tourism can be understood through an appreciation of the emotional and reciprocal relationship with the other, thus taking seriously individuals attempts to engage with ethical practices. © 2014, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

Author Keywords
Ethics; Foucault; Relationships to the environment; Sustainable tourism

Index Keywords
Philosophical aspects; Class-based, Ethical practices, Ethics, Foucault, Human environment, Key elements, Relationships to the environment, Sustainable tourism; Sustainable development

Arun Iyer, Towards an Epistemology of Ruptures The Case of Heidegger and Foucault. Bloomsbury, 2014

See also Review by H.A. Nethery at Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

By systematically uncovering and comprehensively examining the epistemological implications of Heidegger’s history of being and Foucault’s archaeology of discursive formations, Towards an Epistemology of Ruptures shows how Heidegger and Foucault significantly expand the notions of knowledge and thought. This is done by tracing their path-breaking responses to the question: What is the object of thought? The book shows how for both thinkers thought is not just the act by which the object is represented in an idea, and knowledge not just a state of the mind of the individual subject corresponding to the object. Each thinker, in his own way, argues that thought is a productive event in which the subject and the object gain their respective identity and knowledge is the opening up of a space in which the subject and object can encounter each other and in which true and false statements about an object become possible. They thereby lay the ground for a new conceptual framework for rethinking the very relationship between knowledge and its object.

Table Of Contents
Abbreviations of Frequently Cited Texts
1. Heidegger’s Reformulation of the Essence of Thought (I): From the Transcendental Power of the Imagination to the Ontological Power of Thought
2. Heidegger’s Reformulation of the Essence of Thought (II): On the Relationship between Thought and Being
3. Heidegger’s Reformulation of the Essence of Knowledge: From Husserl’s Transcendental Idealism to Heidegger’s Historical Ontology
4. Foucault’s Reformulation of the Essence of Thought in The Order of Things
5. Foucault’s Reformulation of the Essence of Knowledge: From Husserlian Phenomenology to Foucauldian Archaeology

“Epistemology as traditionally conceived seeks to determine the nature of knowledge and justification. Its point of departure is Plato’s critique of the relativism of Protagoras, who according to Plato erred by accepting Heraclitus’ construal of being as becoming. Truth, knowledge, and justification must be grounded in timeless entities of some sort. Arun Iyer shows how Heidegger and Foucault reverse this Platonic argument. For them, truth, knowledge, and justification are irreducibly historical. Iyer’s elaboration of their views is subtle, original, and thought-provoking.” –  Andrew Cutrofello, Professor of Philosophy, Loyola University Chicago, USA

“This book makes it clear how one can develop a strictly epistemological approach to thinkers as complex as Husserl, Heidegger, and Foucault, and how one can draw basic consequences from their thoughts for a theory of knowledge that admits of breaks, ruptures, and discontinuously emerging epistemic formations. Moreover, it shows how a historical thinking in philosophy can be elaborated without having recourse to any aprioristic philosophy of history. Finally, it provides a lucid analysis of the historical conditions human knowledge finds itself submitted to. For all of these reasons, it is a highly remarkable contribution to contemporary continental European philosophy.” –  Laszlo Tengelyi, of Bergische Universität Wuppertal, Germany.

Zembylas, M.
‘Pedagogy of discomfort’ and its ethical implications: the tensions of ethical violence in social justice education
(2015) Ethics and Education, 12 p. Article in Press.

DOI: 10.1080/17449642.2015.1039274

This essay considers the ethical implications of engaging in a pedagogy of discomfort, using as a point of departure Butler’s reflections on ethical violence and norms. The author shows how this attempt is full of tensions that cannot, if ever, be easily resolved. To address these tensions, the author first offers a brief overview of the notion of pedagogy of discomfort and discusses its relevance with Foucault’s idea of ‘ethic of discomfort’ and the promise of ‘safe classroom.’ Then, he focuses on Butler’s account of ethical violence and norms to show how the subject’s constitution and regulation are inextricably linked to violence in several ways. In the final part of the paper, the author turns more specifically to the ways in which a pedagogy of discomfort might entail ethical violence, suggesting how the turn to a nonviolent ethics might become possible or whether the ethical resonances of that challenge will always entail a degree of ambivalence. © 2015 Taylor & Francis

Author Keywords
ethical norms; ethical violence; Judith Butler; pedagogy of discomfort; social justice education


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