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On Problematization Elaborations on a Theme in “Late Foucault”
By Clive Barnett, Nonsite.org, Issue 16, June 22, 2015

1. What is a “Foucault”?

For at least four decades now, the ideas of Michel Foucault have resonated across a wide range of academic fields in the English-speaking academy. While this influence is perhaps most clearly felt in the humanities, Foucault has also provided a frame of reference in social science disciplines, including sociology, cultural studies, human geography and anthropology, amongst others.1 Foucault’s work is often used to bring a darker image of power relations to social theory, and to recommend that social scientists should develop an historical imagination towards their objects of analysis.2 In these and other uses, the authority of “Foucault” is most often deployed to support models of critical social science, understood as a set of procedures for revealing the operations of power in the routines of everyday and organisational life.

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Colin Koopman, The power thinker, Aeon, 15 March 2017
Original, painstaking, sometimes frustrating and often dazzling. Foucault’s work on power matters now more than ever

Imagine you are asked to compose an ultra-short history of philosophy. Perhaps you’ve been challenged to squeeze the impossibly sprawling diversity of philosophy itself into just a few tweets. You could do worse than to search for the single word that best captures the ideas of every important philosopher. Plato had his ‘forms’. René Descartes had his ‘mind’ and John Locke his ‘ideas’. John Stuart Mill later had his ‘liberty’. In more recent philosophy, Jacques Derrida’s word was ‘text’, John Rawls’s was ‘justice’, and Judith Butler’s remains ‘gender’. Michel Foucault’s word, according to this innocent little parlour game, would certainly be ‘power’.

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Geoffroy de Lagasnerie, Du droit à l’émancipation. Sur l’État, Foucault et l’anarchisme

Séminaire ETAPE n°19

A voir aussi


Séance à partir d’un texte de Geoffroy de Lagasnerie, sociologue et philosophe, auteur notamment de : La dernière leçon de Michel Foucault. Sur le néolibéralisme, la théorie et la politique (Fayard, 2012), L’Art de la révolte. Snowden, Assange, Manning (Fayard, 2015) et Juger. L’État pénal face à la sociologie (Fayard, janvier 2016)

Rapporteur « compréhensif » : Manuel Cervera-Marzal, docteur en science politique
Rapporteur « critique » : Rafael Perez, doctorant en histoire de la philosophie et co-fondateur des éditions libertaires Albache
Rapport compréhensif contribution Phillippe Corcuff

Du droit à l’émancipation. Sur l’État, Foucault et l’anarchisme
Geoffroy de Lagasnerie

La réflexion que je voudrais proposer porte sur la question du pouvoir, de la théorie du pouvoir et, plus spécifiquement, du problème de l’Etat. Je voudrais réfléchir sur la place que la théorie critique et la théorie de l’émancipation doivent accorder à l’Etat et sur l’image de l’Etat que, pour nous aider dans cette tâche, nous pouvons tirer des analyses de Michel Foucault. C’est une réflexion que j’ai été amené à conduire dans le cadre de mon dernier livre sur le système pénal et l’appareil répressif, puisque réfléchir sur le Jugement, la forme-Tribunal, la peine, c’est nécessairement rencontrer la problématique de l’Etat, du droit et du pouvoir d’Etat.

Je voudrais essayer de dire pourquoi, alors que j’ai longtemps pensé mon travail comme « anarchiste », je le suis de moins en moins – ou autrement dit comment écrire et réfléchir pour moi a consisté à m’éloigner de l’anarchisme et à renouer avec une certaine croyance dans l’Etat et dans le droit.

Cependant, contrairement à ce que pourrait laisser penser une lecture rapide, cela ne signifie en aucun cas que l’Etat soit absent de la vision de Foucault. L’idée selon laquelle le pouvoir vient d’en bas ne conduit pas à de désintéresser de l’Etat ou à l’éliminer comme objet de la théorie. Au contraire, la vision foucaldienne est solidaire d’une certaine image de l’Etat, d’une certaine conception de l’Etat dans ses rapports aux pouvoirs.

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Jodi Sita and Marco Amati, The Panopticons are coming! And they’ll know when we think the grass is greener, The Conversation, August 22, 2016

Eye-tracking technology helps us understand how people interact with their environment. This can improve policy and design, but can also be a tool for surveillance and control.


[…]we asked park users in the City of Melbourne to view films of walks.

We used eye tracking – a technology that allows us to look deeply into exactly what you are looking at or paying attention to. Eye trackers follow your gaze as you look naturally around a scene. We see where your eye dwells and what things you skip over.


French philosopher Michel Foucault argued that a panopticon ably maintains social and power imbalances while using that most passive method of control: observation. As governments and private corporations increasingly use eye-tracking data, everyone can act as observers, recorders and the observed – whether they intended to or not.

In this sense we could argue that the increasing development of eye tracking could usher in the age of the mass panopticon. Yet, the relationship between a selfie society, an “all-seeing, all-knowing” culture and the future of eye tracking in open domains remains to be “seen”.

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Robin Rymarczuk, The Heterotopia of Facebook, Philosophy Now, Issue 107, August/September 2016

The other spaces and faces of Michel Foucault by Alex Lawrence Foucault images © Alex Lawrence 2015 Please visit preposterous.carbonmade.com

The other spaces and faces of Michel Foucault by Alex Lawrence
Foucault images © Alex Lawrence 2015 Please visit preposterous.carbonmade.com

Robin Rymarczuk is Michel Foucault’s ‘friend’.

Facebook was founded on February 4, 2004, by Mark Zuckerberg and his Harvard University room-mates Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes. What started out as an on-campus online ‘hot or not’ tool resulted in the registration of a billion users by 2012. Its rapid growth and perpetually expanding corporate power, as well as its part in the ‘digital privacy’ controversy, has attracted many seeking to explain its remarkable popularity as well as peoples’ discontent with it. Although interesting and important, these studies focus predominantly on what users do on Facebook, leaving underexposed what Facebook does to the user.

Facebook possesses properties that can be construed not just in terms of globalized online networks, but also in terms of a type of space. In these terms, Facebook is a world within the world that attracts or repels people by its geography as much as by its social life. So what kind of space is Facebook? I claim that it’s what philosopher Michel Foucault (1926-1984) ingeniously called “un espace autre” – “an other space”; better known as a heterotopia. As I will elaborate, understanding Facebook as a heterotopic space offers a style of critical thinking that invites moral reflection on digital culture and its relation to other spaces in our everyday lives.

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Kojiro FUJITA, Comment la philosophie de Foucault voyage-t-elle ?
Ici et ailleurs, Association pour une Philosophie Nomade, 14 juin 2016


La question qui m’intéresse particulièrement est : « comment la philosophie, les théories et les concepts voyagent-ils ? » ; plus précisément, « la philosophie, les théories et les concepts occidentaux peuvent-ils se transférer à l’Orient sans y apporter aucune domination coloniale ou commerciale ? » Or, moi, chercheur extrême-oriental, je travaille depuis longtemps sur une philosophie occidentale, la pensée de Michel Foucault : après l’avoir étudiée en France pendant longtemps, j’ai soutenu l’année dernière ma thèse portant sur un aspect théorique des travaux foucaldiens (1) et c’est avec ce résultat de recherche que je suis récemment retourné à mon pays d’origine, le Japon, pour développer cette philosophie occidentale dans notre contexte oriental. Ainsi, dans mon cas, il conviendrait de spécifier la question ainsi : « comment la philosophie de Foucault voyage-t-elle ? » ; plus précisément, « peut-elle se transférer au Japon sans colonisation ni commercialisation ? »

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Sam Kriss, Flat-Earthers Have a Wild New Theory About Forests – The AtlanticSEP 9, 2016

What it means to believe that “real” trees no longer exist.

Something tremendous is happening; over the last few weeks, without too many of its globe-headed detractors noticing, a surprisingly vast community on the tattered fringes of intellectual orthodoxy is in turmoil. A bizarre new theory has turned the flat earth upside down. The flat earth is still flat, but now it’s dotted with tiny imitations of the truly enormous trees that once covered the continents, and which in our deforested age we can hardly even remember.

Against both the panpsychicism of hippie ecology, the bleary-eyed invocations of some dismally all-encompassing Mother Earth, and the pedantic materialism of most sciences as they’re actually practiced, ‘No Forests on Flat Earth’ proposes a kind of hylothanatism, a pessimism for our own weary age: this world was once alive, everything was once beautifully connected, but not any more. This earth has been dead for millennia; what we think of as progress is just the rot spreading through the cadaver of the world.

There are mythic assonances here—beyond the familiar world-trees of Norse cosmogony, the notion of a world built on a corpse has always fascinated people; Babylonian mythology, for instance, has the entire universe butchered out of the body of Tiamat, the primordial mother. Its mode of argument—‘this thing looks like this other thing, therefore they’re the same thing’—is also familiar. In The Order of Things, Foucault describes the medieval episteme: “It was resemblance that organized the play of symbols, made possible knowledge of things visible and invisible, and controlled the art of representing them.” The world was configured as one single text, a great chain of being explicable to those who knew how to read the signs. Bestiaries would record not just the physical characteristics of various animals, but their symbolic attributes. If a plant resembled a part of the human body, it could be used to treat its diseases; the map of the cosmos is also a map of the human body, and the pattern of the stars is also a horticultural manual. Foucault quotes Crollius: “Just as each herb or plant is a terrestrial star looking up at the sky, so also each star is a celestial plant in spiritual form, which differs from the terrestrial plants in matter alone.”

Foucault himself has a very ‘No Forests’ sadness for the loss of this world of interlinking resemblances in the 16th century, lamenting that “there is nothing now that still recalls even the memory of that being. Nothing, except perhaps literature.” The experience of modernity is one of a lost unity, and with an emerging capitalism came a world no longer required to be explicable, only fungible. But this lost world is not just something that falls away with modernity—as Freud points out, the formation of the conscious mind is similar: the ego is a “precipitate of lost objects.”

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