Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Foucault against Himself (2015)

FoucaultAgainstHimselfFoucault against Himself
By (author) Francois Caillat
Translated by David Homel

Arsenal Pulp Press

Price: $17.95 CAD $17.95 USD
ISBN: 9781551526027
EPUB ISBN: 9781551526034 (check your favourite retailer)
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A thought-provoking collection of essays on Michel Foucault that reframes his legacy.

In his private life, as well as in his work and political attitudes, Michel Foucault often stood in contradiction to himself, especially when his expansive ideas collided with the institutions in which he worked. In Francois Caillat’s provocative collection of essays and interviews based on his French documentary of the same name, leading contemporary critics and philosophers reframe Foucault’s legacy in an effort to build new ways of thinking about his struggle against society’s mechanisms of domination, demonstrating how conflict within the self lies at the heart of Foucault’s life and work.

Includes a foreword written especially for this edition by Paul Rabinow, Professor of Anthropology at the University of California (Berkeley) and an influential writer on the works of Foucault; he is the co-editor of The Essential Foucault.

Foucault against Himself features essays and interviews by

Leo Bersani, American Professor Emeritus of French at the University of California (Berkeley) and the author of Homos

Georges Didi-Huberman, French philosopher and art historian; his most recent book is Gerhard Richter: Pictures/Series

Arlette Farge, French historian and the author of The Allure of the Archives

Geoffroy de Lagasnerie, French philosopher and the author of La derniere lecon de Michel Foucault


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Animé par Jean-François Braunstein et Daniele Lorenzini

Samedi 18 avril 2015, 10h30 – 12h30

Judith REVEL (Université Paris-Ouest Nanterre)
“Foucault avec Merleau-Ponty : une ontologie politique”

Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
UFR de philosophie
17 rue de la Sorbonne, Escalier C, 1er étage droite, salle Lalande


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brownWendy Brown, Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution, Zone Books, 2015

Political Science | Philosophy
$29.95 | £20.05 cloth 978-1-935408-53-6
296 pp. | 6 x 8
Available January 2015
Zone books
Also available from MIT Press

Neoliberal rationality — ubiquitous today in statecraft and the workplace, in jurisprudence, education, and culture — remakes everything and everyone in the image of homo oeconomicus. What happens when this rationality transposes the constituent elements of democracy into an economic register? In vivid detail, Wendy Brown explains how democracy itself is imperiled. The demos disintegrates into bits of human capital; concerns with justice cede to the mandates of growth rates, credit ratings, and investment climates; liberty submits to the imperative of human capital appreciation; equality dissolves into market competition; and popular sovereignty grows incoherent. Liberal democratic practices may not survive these transformations. Radical democratic dreams may not either.

In an original and compelling theoretical argument, Brown explains how and why neoliberal reason undoes the political form and political imaginary it falsely promises to secure and reinvigorate. Through meticulous analyses of neoliberalized law, political practices, governance, and education, she charts the new common sense. Undoing the Demos makes clear that, far from being the lodestar of the twenty-first century, a future for democracy depends upon it becoming an object of struggle and rethinking.

“Wendy Brown’s new book, Undoing the Demos, is a clarion call to democratic action. In close conversation with Michel Foucault’s 1979 lectures on The Birth of Biopolitics, Brown brilliantly explores how the rationality of neoliberalism is hollowing out the modern subject and, with it, our contemporary liberal democracies. Delving deep into the logic of neoliberalism and widely across the spectrum of neoliberal practices, from benchmarking to higher education policy, Brown offers a compelling new dimension to the critical work on neoliberalism. It is necessary reading today — powerful and haunting.”  — Bernard E. Harcourt, Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law, Columbia University and Directeur d’études, École des hautes études en sciences sociales

“With this passionately incisive critique of neoliberal (ir)rationality, Wendy Brown delineates the political stakes of the present. Tracing its antipolitical and antidemocratic impulses, she challenges us to defend and extend the possibilities of a popular politics that makes the promises of democracy come true.”  — John Clarke, Professor Emeritus of Social Policy, The Open University

“This is a book for the age of resistance, for the occupiers of the squares, for the generation of Occupy Wall Street. The premier radical political philosopher of our time offers a devastating critique of the way neoliberalism has hollowed out democracy. But the victory of homo oeconomicus over homo politicus is not irreversible. Wendy Brown has little time for ‘left melancholy.’ Hers is a call to arms for the defense of the enlightenment principles of freedom, equality, and solidarity and for reimagining and deepening democracy. After reading Brown, only bad faith can justify the toleration of neoliberalism.”  — Costas Douzinas, Director of the Birkbeck institute for the Humanities and author of Philosophy and Resistance in the Crisis

“Wendy Brown vividly lays bare neoliberalism’s perverse rationality, the ‘economization of everything,’ documenting its corrosive consequences for public institutions, for solidaristic values, and for democracy itself. Essential but unsettling reading, Undoing the Demos is analytically acute and deeply disturbing.”  — Jamie Peck, author of Constructions of Neoliberal Reason

“Brown deepens the conceptual analysis and criticism of neoliberal ideology, now on the point of becoming the dominant way people think about themselves, their lives and their social world. In illuminating detail, she also discusses the real and horrifying social changes taking place partly as a result of the way in which this ideology is being implemented. A major contribution, presenting its arguments with power and clarity, this book helps us understand the world we have increasingly been forced to live in, and to begin the process of thinking about what might be done to revitalize our political imagination and practices.”  — Raymond Geuss, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, University of Cambridge

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Searching for Foucault in an Age of Inequality

Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins and Alexander Arnold on Critiquer Foucault: Les Années 1980 et la tentation néolibérale, Los Angeles Review of Books, 18 March 2015

JACOBIN RECENTLY PUBLISHED an interview with a little-known sociologist that provoked a wave of reactions. A young Belgian scholar named Daniel Zamora claimed that the philosopher Michel Foucault — a major contributor to radical thought of the last 30 years — not only helped bring about the success of free-market ideology, but also is significantly responsible for the left’s inability to oppose it. Immediately after the interview’s publication, many scholars and intellectuals rushed to Foucault’s defense. Supporters claimed that although Foucault was never a rank-and-file socialist, he never abandoned his radical commitments or embraced the ideology, neoliberalism, often associated with the rise of the modern right. Zamora did not back down. Five days after the release of his interview he published another piece in Jacobin raising the stakes. Foucault, he said, “actively contributed” to the “destruction” of the welfare state and “in a way that was entirely in step with the neoliberal critiques of the moment.” Again, Foucault’s defenders refuted Zamora’s arguments as based on weak, ahistorical, and ideologically driven readings of the philosopher’s works.

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Madness in Civilization: from the Bible to Freud, from the Madhouse to Modern Medicine by Andrew Scull
Reviewed by Salley Vickers, The Telegraph, 29 Mar 2015

I doubt whether many people other than social science students read Michel Foucault these days. Andrew Scull, whose review of Foucault’s The History of Madness in 2007 took the French philosopher to task for historical inaccuracies, references his most famous work, Madness and Civilization, in the title of his own book (a sly corrective?). As the subtitle of Madness in Civilization suggests, Scull’s book is as epic as Foucault’s in its aim to consider “the encounter between madness and civilisation over more than two millennia”. This not inconsiderable undertaking encompasses the ancient civilisations of Greece, China and Persia, the art and writings of the Renaissance, the First World War poets and brain imaging, to name just a few of Scull’s subjects.

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vrin-15Michel Foucault, Qu’est-ce que la critique? Suivie de La culture de soi
Édition établie par H.-P. Fruchaud et D. Lorenzini
Introduction et apparat critique par D. Lorenzini et A.I. Davidson

Vrin – Philosophie du présent
192 pages – 12,5 × 18 cm
ISBN 978-2-7116-2624-3 – mars 2015

Further info

PDF Table des matières

Le 27 mai 1978, Michel Foucault prononce devant la Société française de Philosophie une conférence où il inscrit sa démarche dans la perspective ouverte par l’article de Kant Qu’est-ce que les Lumières? (1784), et définit la critique, de manière frappante, comme une attitude éthico-politique consistant dans l’art de n’être pas tellement gouverné. Ce volume en présente pour la première fois l’édition critique.

On y trouvera également la traduction d’une conférence inédite intitulée La culture de soi, prononcée à l’Université de Californie à Berkeley le 12 avril 1983. C’est le seul moment où, définissant son travail comme une ontologie historique de nous-mêmes, Foucault fait le lien entre ses réflexions sur l’Aufklärung et ses analyses de l’Antiquité gréco-romaine. Au cours du même séjour en Californie, Foucault participe aussi à trois débats publics où il est amené à revenir sur plusieurs aspects de son parcours philosophique. On en trouvera le texte à la suite de la conférence.

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manifestolibriMichel Foucault. Genealogie del presente, Con un’intervista a Michel Foucault e un’intervista a Daniel Defert
Saggi di Laura Cremonesi, Daniele Lorenzini, Orazio Irrera, Martina Tazzioli, Paolo B. Vernaglione
Manifestolibri, 2015

Further info

Dall’Introduzione al volume:

L’occasione di questa pubblicazione è stato il trentennale della scomparsa di Michel Foucault. Nel 2014 in tutto il mondo convegni e libri hanno reso testimonianza dell’opera di chi, a ragione, può essere considerato tra i grandi della storia del pensiero. Ma l’occasione non ha fatto e non può fare di Foucault un “classico” della filosofia, o dell’epistemologia, tantomeno la sua vasta produzione può essere circoscritta nell’area accademica ­– benchè ormai università e centri di formazione, luoghi di produzione e condivisione del sapere e imprese editoriali abbiano moltiplicato l’interesse per l’autore dei corsi al College de France. La figura di Foucault infatti, come accade a quei filosofi che da una posizione decentrata riscrivono categorie e forme del sapere, vive in questi anni di un paradosso: un pensiero del fuori e una cultura della marginalità sono stati indagati e compresi a partire dalle scansioni temporali che filosofi, storici ed epistemologi hanno assegnato ai grandi eventi e ai passaggi d’epoca, l’antichità, l’epoca classica, la modernità. Con Foucault infatti la pratica della storia ha aperto il pensiero, infrangendo le barriere disciplinari e gli specialismi, per catturare un’ontologia del presente di cui l’attualità chiede la restituzione.

Del resto il paradosso di un archeologo non può che essere questo. D’altra parte produrre discorso nell’orizzonte di una critica radicale del sapere, dei rapporti di potere e delle forme di soggettivazione comporta una reazione forte di quella modernità che è stata criticata e messa in scacco con i suoi stessi strumenti concettuali.

Da questa particolare postura, assunta nell’elaborazione di un metodo genealogico, a partire dagli scorsi anni Sessanta, si stacca la problematizzazione dello strutturalismo e della fenomenologia, e deriva quello sguardo trasversale sul sapere e la storia che ha molto in comune con il gesto sovversivo di Nietzsche nei confronti della metafisica. L’”uso” che è stato e continuerà ad essere fatto del pensiero di Foucualt costituisce, non solo per questi motivi, il lascito più importante e produttivo per le generazioni a venire. Infatti movimenti di contestazione, comunità gay, teorici politici radicali, nonchè quei rari filosofi che assumono l’archeologia dei saperi e del linguaggio come orizzonte complessivo di ricerca, e la genealogia come metodo analitico, hanno continuato l’opera foucauldiana, rendendo esplicito l’intreccio inestricabile di pensiero e prassi e sgombrando in via definitiva il campo sia dall’ideologia dell’intellettuale come figura separata dalla società, ideologia resistente fino a Sartre, sia dall’idea che la militanza politica escluda la riflessione e sia l’orizzonte esclusivo dei conflitti.

D’altra parte la ricerca e il dibattito intorno alla follia, all’organizzazione discorsiva dei saperi, ai dispositivi disciplinari e alle forme di soggettivazione vivono nella contraddizione che si è aperta tra ricezione del pensiero di Foucault e la rilettura più o meno filologica della sua opera. Ricerca e confronto che hanno impegnato almeno tre generazioni di studiosi, militanti e ricercatori, prima di acquisire il rango di tematiche del presente, con l’inevitabile genericità che comporta l’adattamento ad un’attualità che le respinge, di questioni inscritte nella carne viva di esistenze compromesse. Così, mentre negli anni Sessanta il metodo inaugurato da Le parole e le cose e L‘ Archeologia del sapere si scontrava con la tradizione storicista e lo strutturalismo, risultando di difficile penetrazione anzitutto in Francia, negli anni Settanta la stagione dei conflitti operai e studenteschi produceva un controeffetto sul lavoro che Foucault sviluppava sulle istituzioni disciplinari e la microfisica del potere, annodando riflessione e pratica politica, teoria e analisi delle contraddizioni del capitalismo nel confronto con il pensiero di Marx, letto a sua volta per la prima volta fuori e contro i “marxismi”.

Laddove poi la modernità assumeva l’abito e il ritmo della “modernizzazione”, negli anni Ottanta, la grande riflessione di Foucault sulle pratiche di soggettivazione, la parresia, la cura di sè e il governo dei viventi, rendevano esplicito il rapporto essenziale tra l’ “inattualità” del metodo archivistico e la registrazione del presente, dotando il pensiero di un formidabile strumento di penetrazione di una realtà considerata debole perchè postideologica. Ciò che è successo dopo, con la pubblicazione progressiva dei Corsi, dell’impressionante mole dei Dits et Ecrits e con la progressiva pubblicazione delle conferenze e degli interventi degli anni Ottanta, di cui abbiamo anche parziale testimonianaza on line con le registrazioni audio e video, ha contribuito in larga misura a rendere popolare la ricezione e l’ascolto di Foucault, aprendo quel piano concettuale che va sotto il nome di “biopolitica”. Questo rimane a tutt’oggi il luogo più discusso e rielaborato del suo pensiero.

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