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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

About
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
Acknowledgements
Abbreviations of Frequently Cited Texts
Introduction
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
Conclusion
Bibliography
Index

Reviews
“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.

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Formalized Epistemes: Foucault’s Incomplete Order of History.By Alex Lee, Entropy January 9, 2015

Review of The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences by Michel Foucault

To answer why do things make sense, in The Order of Things: An Archeology of the Human Sciences, Foucault starts by drawing historical periods of sense making. Because he cannot account for why change has happened to determine how our sense making operates, he instead presents a view that historically-speaking sense making comes in stages.

This trajectory is threefold: in the sixteenth century and before we had resemblance as the episteme of knowing. This past heuristic did not distinguish as strictly between valid and invalid modes as our current epoch of sense making might. For example, today astrology isn’t considered valid but modern scientific formulation is. For the previous the seventeenth century, Foucault writes:

The world is covered with signs that must be deciphered, and those signs, which reveal resemblances and affinities, are themselves no more than forms of similitude. To know must therefore be to interpret: to find a way from the visible mark to that which is being said by it and which, without that mark, would lie like unspoken speech, dormant within things.

This is another way of saying that before the Classical era, knowledge was the ability to name and relate signs to one another heuristically. Likewise, our knowledge about manipulating the material world was through access to those named marks. As Foucault adds “This is why the plants that represent the head, or the eyes, or the heart, or the liver, will possess an efficacity in regard to that organ; this is why the animals themselves will react to the marks that designate them.” This is an understanding of the world in terms of the names of things, or what we might dismiss as interacting with the world through wordplay. We can draw a parallel with how the secret Agent Sterling Archer in the animated TV show “Archer” resolves his conflicts through wordplay with other characters. The application of discursive meaning on the material world reflects the violent process of discourse alignment through his aggressive puns, and seemingly non-sequitur connections, which are always revealed to have an interior logic that is respectful to the reality of the Other (be this other a steak, or a wild ocelot, or a gigantic St. Bernard). Often, Archer’s wordplay slides between his fulfillment of his desires, and as a kind of justification to his mother or to mother figures (the men around him also all answer to mother figures, or at least other women in the office). Nonetheless, violence and disobedience coexist in his ability to get what he wants. In other words, minimally justifying his spy actions from his domineering mother is simultaneous with his hermeneutics. In pre-Classical applications of knowledge, this is akin to Archer being a sorcerer, to needing to say all the magic words to change material and social situations to hide his indiscretions.

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L’Essai et la revue du jour
par Jacques Munier

France Culture, 9 June 2015
Audio

Michel Foucault : Théories et institutions pénales. Cours au Collège de France 1971-1972 (EHESS/Gallimard/Seuil)

« C’est un document exceptionnel » préviennent les éditeurs François Ewald et Bernard E. Harcourt dans le texte qu’ils consacrent à la Situation du cours, à la fois dans l’époque – l’immédiat après mai 68 et l’émergence de « nouveaux mouvements sociaux – mais aussi dans le parcours intellectuel de Foucault, dont c’est le deuxième cours prononcé au Collège de France. On voit dans ces treize leçons prendre forme la méthode généalogique qui sera sa « marque de fabrique », ainsi que sa théorie du pouvoir, saisi à travers la diversité de ses applications concrètes (police, justice, prison, folie, médecine, sexualité etc.) Il s’agit en l’occurrence de montrer la naissance au XVIIe siècle absolutiste de l’appareil répressif moderne et de l’État judiciaire à partir de l’analyse minutieuse d’une opération de « justice armée » destinée à mettre fin à la révolte antifiscale des Nu-pieds en Normandie. Mais l’actualité s’insinue dans l’histoire, comme toujours chez Foucault, et d’abord de la manière la plus directe. En cette fin d’année 1971 la répression est à l’ordre du jour, en particulier contre les militants de la « Gauche prolétarienne » emprisonnés. La présence policière reste très forte au Quartier Latin et lorsque Foucault commence ses cours il faut encore franchir plusieurs cordons de CRS pour entrer au Collège de France. Dès l’ouverture il pose la question de « la raison d’être de ce cours ». Réponse : « il suffit d’ouvrir les yeux »…

On le savait très engagé dans ces années 1971-72, notamment au sein du GIP, le « Groupe d’informations sur les prisons » et certains en ont déduit que cette activité militante avait fait passer au second plan le travail de la pensée. On voit avec ces cours qu’il n’en était rien, même si Surveiller et punir ne paraîtra que quatre ans plus tard. C’est même, insistent les éditeurs, « une des périodes les plus riches, les plus innovantes, sans doute les plus intenses » de sa vie. On assiste en effet dans ces leçons à la mise en œuvre de l’entreprise généalogique, d’inspiration nietzschéenne, comme méthode d’investigation philosophique. Dans le cours de 1975, Il faut défendre la société, il la définit ainsi : « Appelons, si vous voulez, généalogie, le couplage des connaissances érudites et des mémoires locales, couplage qui permet la constitution d’un savoir historique des luttes et l’utilisation de ce savoir dans les tactiques actuelles. » Immédiatement après Théories et institutions pénales, dans le cours de l’année suivante sur La société punitive, il élargit la focale à l’ensemble des sociétés à économie capitaliste, brassant un matériel historique jusque-là inédit concernant l’économie politique classique, les Quakers et « Dissenters » anglais, leur philanthropie, leur conception du pénitentiaire dans le pénal et de la moralisation du temps ouvrier.

Dans son cours précédent, le premier au Collège de France, sous l’intitulé La volonté de savoir, il était revenu aux institutions grecques de la justice (le serment, la juste mesure, la loi, les rituels de purification). La mesure, en particulier, y était décrite comme une forme de « pouvoir-savoir ». Ici, c’est l’enquête qui devient la forme judiciaire de référence, et le passage de la pratique accusatoire à la pratique inquisitoire, avec ce qu’elle emprunte à l’administration carolingienne, mais surtout au modèle de gestion et de contrôle ecclésiastique. On voit se déployer la remarquable cohérence de la démarche. Foucault embrasse d’un même regard à partir de positions dispersées dans le temps, la constitution progressive de l’État moderne, la fin du monde féodal qui conduira les seigneurs à abandonner leur privilège de justice à une instance royale centralisée, le moment où punir devient « enfermer », où l’on passe dans l’économie de la justice d’un prélèvement sur les biens, d’un supplice public et spectaculaire, à une ségrégation des hommes, par l’élimination – enrôlement, enfermement, travaux forcés – des chômeurs, vagabonds, brigands « qui servaient de cadre – je cite – de fer de lance, d’agents de communication des révoltes ». Et il ne lui suffit pas de voir dans la répression – orchestrée par Richelieu – d’une émeute antifiscale la naissance de l’État moderne, mais d’y lire le mouvement social dont il est contemporain comme devant s’inscrire dans cette réalité du « pouvoir ».

« Toutes les grandes phases d’évolution du système pénal sont des façons de répondre à des formes de luttes populaires » conclut Foucault, qui s’emploie à montrer dans ce cours que le droit pénal n’est pas une réaction à la délinquance ou à la criminalité, lesquelles sont plutôt produites par lui comme effet d’une lutte sociale.

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Stuart Elden, Peasant Revolts, Germanic Law and the Medieval Inquiry, Review of Théories et institutions pénales: Cours au Collège de France 1971-1972, by Michel Foucault, edited by Bernard E. Harcourt, Paris: EHESS/Gallimard/Seuil, 2015.

Berfrois, June 2, 2015

Foucault remains full of surprises. This course, Théories et institutions pénales (“Penal Theories and Institutions”), was the second he delivered as Professor of the History of Systems of Thought at the Collège de France. In it, he discusses two main historical themes: popular revolts in seventeenth century France, and medieval practices of inquiry and ordeal. The second theme relates to Foucault’s longstanding interest in what he called the ‘politics of truth’. From courses given in Rio de Janeiro in 1973 and Louvain in 1981, it is clear Foucault saw the medieval period as crucial to that story (a review of the second appeared in Berfrois last year). He said in Brazil that “one could write an entire history of torture, as situated between the procedure of the ordeal and inquiry”. But only now do we have the sustained study of the inquiry that those two later courses drew upon. The first theme merely receives hints elsewhere. Foucault’s example is the Nu-pieds (“bare feet”) revolts of 1639-40 in Normandy. Given that Foucault is often criticised for talking of the positive, productive side of power, but rarely examining it outside of antiquity; or of never showing how resistance takes place or is even possible, this course provides an important corrective.

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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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Emanuele Leonardi, Review of Dardot & Laval’s The New Way of the World: On Neoliberal Society, Theory Culture & Society, Nov 13, 2014

Link to full review

Abstract:
The review highlights how the new book by Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval can be interpreted as a twofold contribution. On the one hand, it represents much-needed commentary to the lectures delivered by Michel Foucault at the Collège de France in 1978/1979, entitled Birth of Biopolitics. On the other one, it provides a compelling analysis of neoliberal governmentality in the era of capitalist financialization – which is also the epoch of a fully deployed crisis of Fordism. Whereas in the first part the authors elaborate a multifaceted and plural image of liberalism and a convincing reading of the emergence of neoliberal rationality, the second section assembles a critical genealogy of ‘entrepreneural governance’. This latter refers to a ‘neo-subject’ which functions according to a regime of ‘jouissance of oneself’ – whose deployment accounts for the incorporation of the shareholder logic and for the self-entrepreneur’s socio-clinical pathologies.

Keywords: Entrepreneural governance, Foucault, Liberalism, Neoliberalism, Neo-subject.

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